Ancestry UK

Devon and Exeter Reformatory and Refuge / Training School for Girls, Exeter, Devon

Devon and Exeter Reformatory and Refuge for Girls was established in 1858 at 80 Polsloe Road, Exeter. On June 26th, 1858, it was officially certified for the accommodation of 60 girls aged 12 to 16 committed by magistrates. The 'Refuge' part of the establishment was for voluntarily admitted discharged prisoners which previously located at Lawn Lodge, Sidwell Street, Exeter.

Girls at the institution were engaged in laundry work and needlework, although this was gradually extended to include knitting and other general skills relevant to domestic service. The girls were given physical exercise in the form of drill sequences. There was a large garden which provided fruit and vegetables for the School and each girl was given a small area of flower garden to cultivate.

In 1927, the establishment was renamed The Devon and Exeter Girls' Training School. In 1933, it became an Approved School, a new type of establishment introduced by the 1933 Children and Young Persons Act to replace the existing Reformatory and Industrial Schools. The School could house up to 48 Senior girls aged 15 to 17 at their time of admission.

In January 1960, the School relocated to new premises known as Farringdon House at Farringdon, near Exeter.

The Polsloe Road premises still survive, now converted to private residential use.


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  • Devon Heritage Centre, Great Moor House, Bittern Road, Sowton Exeter EX2 7NL. Holdings include: Refuge Casebook (1850-61); Register of girls detained (1859-68); Papers for some girls admitted (1859-73); Accounts (four volumes, 1859-91, includes lists of names of inmates); Minute book (1862-80, includes list of inmates with discharge dates); Benefaction/subscription lists (1858-69); Directors' meeting minute books (1858-88); House Committee minute books (1859-88); Matron's Journals (1858-59, 1868-82); Visitors' inspection book (1858-60); House rules and regulations; Schoolmistress's Regulations and Duties (1896). Farringdon House holdings are mainly administrative items such as ledgers. The archives include number of items such as Discharge Registers where it is unclear as to which institution they may relate.
  • The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU. Holds a number of papers, for example:
    File BN62/2005 - Inspection reports (1962-73).