Ancestry UK

Ever Open Door, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland

In February 1892, Dr Barnardo opened an 'Ever Open Door' receiving house at 4 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh. It was one of seven such establishments being set up in Britain's provincial cities at that date, the others being in Bath, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle upon Tyne and Plymouth. The Ever Open Door houses, with their slogan 'No Destitute Child Ever Refused Admission', were open twenty-four hours a day and provided short-term shelter for homeless youngsters while consideration was given to their future, which would generally be in a long-term Barnardo home or emigration to Canada.

Because of Barnardo's explicit policy of proselytising all his children into the Protestant faith, the presence of the Ever Open Door in the city was viewed with antipathy in Roman Catholic quarters. The Catholic Herald published a story alleging cruelty and neglect by James and Janet Graham, the managers of the home. Although the Grahams successfully sued the paper's publisher, Charles Diamond MP, Barnardo decided to withdraw from Edinburgh and the home was closed shortly afterwards.

The property still survives, now in commercial use.

4 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh.


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  • Barnardo, Syrie Louise, and Marchant, James Memoirs of the Late Dr Barnardo (Hodder & Stoughton, 1907)
  • Batt, J.H. Dr. Barnardo: The Foster-Father of "Nobody's Children" (S.W. Partridge, 1904)
  • Bready, J. Wesley Doctor Barnardo (Allen & Unwin, 1930)
  • Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain's Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
  • Rose, June For the Sake of the Children: Inside Dr. Barnardo's: 120 years of caring for children (Hodder & Stoughton, 1987)
  • Wagner, Gillian Barnardo (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1979)