Lambeth, Lambeth, London
In 1869, a small house at 8 Church Street (now Exton Street) in Lambeth became the founding home of what eventually grew into the National Children's Home (NCH), now called Action for Children. It was opened by Thomas Bowman Stephenson, an evangelical Methodist minister who had become concerned by the 'ragged, shoeless, filthy, hungry' children he had encountered while going about his clerical duties in the area. With the support of two Methodist friends, he rented the house which admitted two homeless boys — George Oliver and Frederick James Hall — as its first residents on 9th July, 1869. The home was supervised by the resident house-parents, a Mr and Mrs Austin.
The house had two rooms on its ground floor with a loft above, which became a dormitory. At the rear was a yard where the boys worked at chopping wood, and a stable which was converted into a dining room and washroom. More boys were taken in and by September of that year, with the total reaching twenty, additional accommodation was obtained by renting an adjacent house.
After Stephenson was transferred to the Bethnal Green Circuit in 1871, it was decided that the home needed to be closer to his new location. Accordingly, new premises were found on Bonner Road, Bethnal Green, and the Church Street home was then closed.
The Church Street property no longer exists, although its front door has been preserved.
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.
- Action For Children (formerly the National Children's Home). Can provide access to their own records for individuals who were adopted through the charity or who resided in one of its homes. Help also for those searching for family history information.
- Bradfield, William The Life of the Reverend Thomas Bowman Stephenson (1913, Kelly)
- Curnock, Nehemiah The Story of the Children's Home (C.H. Kelly, 1901)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Horner, Francis Shadow and Sun (Epworth Press, 1920)
- Howard, Philip J Philip: a Strange Child (Dalkeith Publishing, 2007)
- Philpot, Terry Action For Children (Lion, 1994)
- Walpole, Cecil F. Golden Links (Epworth Press, 1941)
- Action For Children.
- Their History — a website on the homes by a former resident.
- Growing up in the NCH — a forum for those who spent time in NCH homes.
- Scenes from various NCH Homes — 1960s film footage.
- NCH Documentary (1954) Part 1 — Arriving at Harpenden.
- NCH Documentary (1954) Part 2 — Harpenden Oval.
- NCH Documentary (1954) Part 3 — Annual Convocation, Alverstoke
- NCH Documentary (1954) Part 4 — Special facilities at Danesford, Chipping Norton, Harpenden and Frodsham.
- NCH Documentary (1954) Part 5 — Founders Day at Princess Alice Orphanage; training at Harpenden.
- NCH Documentary (1954) Part 6 — Harpenden.
- NCH Documentray (1964) Part 1 — Disabled and special needs at Harpenden and Chipping Norton
- NCH Documentary (1964) Part 2 — Disabled and special needs children at Harpenden, Edgworth, Chipping Norton.
- NCH Documentary (1964) Part 3 — Harpenden, Edgworth, Chipping Norton.
- NCH Documentary (1964) Part 4 — Alverstoke.
- NCH Documentary (1964) Part 5 — Alverstoke.
- NCH Documentary (1964) Part 6 — Alverstoke.
- NCH Frodsham (1960s) Part 1
- NCH Frodsham (1960s) Part 2
- NCH Brackley (1960s)
- Danesford School (1960s)
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.