Ministering Children's League Home, Ottershaw, near Chertsey, Surrey
The Ministering Children's League was founded in 1885 by the Countess of Meath (formerly Lady Brabazon). The organisation, whose membership was open only to children, who were encouraged to develop habits of kindness, unselfishness and usefulness, and a desire to help the needy and suffering. The rule of the League was that 'every member must try to do at least one kind deed every day'. Branches of the League were established in Canada, Australia and India, with its membership reaching 35,000 by 1890.
In 1888, funds raised by the League was used to help establish a home for destitute boys at Brox Road, Ottershaw, near Chertsey, Surrey. The land for the Home was provided by Lady Meath. A home for 21 boys was opened in 1888 and a home for 22 girls in 1890. Another home for 21 boys was completed in 1895. A sanatorium was built in 1906 by the Countess of Meath and given to the League for use by convalescents.
Boys were admitted between the ages of 5 and 8 years. When they were old enough, they were sent to the School of Handicrafts in Chertsey to learn trades such as carpentry, tailoring, boot making, farming and gardening.
In 1930, the establishment was renamed the Meath Home. It subsequently became the Meath School, now run by the charity I CAN for primary aged children with speech, language and communication needs.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 6ND. Has Committee Minutes, Annual Reports, photographs and some other material.
- London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R OHB. (The Ancestry website also has LMA records relating to workhouses and other institutions — more details.) Has Children's Ledger (1921-35).
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Meath School website.
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