Ancestry UK

Kendall House, Gravesend, Kent

The Kendall House Magdalen Home was established by the Church of England in 1923 at 12 The Grove, Gravesend. It could accommodate up to six 'friendless and fallen' women and girls, typically aged from 14 to 16 at their date of admission.

By 1949, Kendall House — by then designated as a Mother and Baby Home — had relocated to 46 Pelham Road, Gravesend. The premises housed up to sixteen girls (usually aged under 17 at admission) who were either pregnant or had recently given birth, and who were in need of care and protection. By 1964, the home was providing full-time education and training for pregnant girls.

The home closed in 1986. In 2016, an independent review took place concerning claims of abuse made by former inmates of the home between the 1960s and 1980s. The review noted that the inmates at this period were girls aged from 11 to 16 who often had serious behavioural or emotional problems. The review's findings were described by its authors as 'harrowing'. Girls as young as 11 were routinely given high levels of sedatives and other drugs to control their behaviour, placing them in a constant stupor. As well as suffering from serious side-effects, the drugs made them vulnerable to emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Girls who tried to resist the drugs were often isolated in a locked room for long periods, or injected with powerful sedatives. Straitjackets were also sometimes used. Two former inmates alleged that they had been raped while in the isolation room. The report made nineteen recommendations for the diocesan authorities to address.

After releasing the report, the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend James Langstaff, said he was 'appalled and saddened' by what he had learned and 'truly sorry that former residents were hurt and damaged by the actions of people at Kendall House who should have been providing them with a nurturing environment, care and support'.


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