Limpley Stoke Girls' Reformatory, Bath, Somerset
A Reformatory for girls at Limpley Stoke, near Bath, was officially certified for operation on January 9th, 1861. The premises, at the east side of Lower Stoke, could accommodate up to 60 girls, aged 14-16, sentenced to a period of detention by magistrates.
The establishment had a shaky start. An early inspection noted that the matron's previous experience had been in a prison and that the girls were being subjected to an excessively strict regime and given too little active employment. A new matron and schoolmistress were appointed and, thanks also to the efforts of the Lady Superintendent, Mrs Sheppard, things gradually began to improve. Laundry work was introduced followed by needlework, knitting and wool-work. The girls also assisted with all the housework and in the kitchen.
In 1867, the institution almost closed after the Secretary of State ordered the discharge of one of the inmates whom the management committee felt ought to be retained. At one stage, the committee resigned their Certificate but later withdrew this.
In 1870, the accommodation was expanded with the incorporation of a cottage that was attached to the main premises.
Over the years, Limpley Stoke Reformatory persistently suffered from a frequent turnover of staff and of indiscipline amongst its inmates. In 1894, perhaps in an attempt to grapple with these problems, the management of the Reformatory was taken over by the Bishop of Salisbury, assisted by a committee of management. However, the following year, notice was given of the committee's intention to close the establishment. Shortly afterwards, an outbreak of diphtheria amongst the residents, precipitated an even earlier closure than planned.
The main Reformatory building, later known as the Manor House, no longer exists. The adjacent Manor Cottage, which became part of the premises, does survive however.
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.
- None identfied at present — any information welcome.
- Carpenter, Mary Reformatory Schools, for the Children of the Perishing and Dangerous Classes, and for Juvenile Offenders (1851, General Books; various reprints available)
- Carlebach, Julius Caring for Children in Trouble (1970, Routledge & Kegan Paul)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Abel Smith, Doroth Crouchfield: A History of the Herts Training School 1857-1982 (2008, Able Publishing)
- Garnett, Emmeline Juvenile offenders in Victorian Lancashire: W J Garnnett and the Bleasdale Reformatory (2008, Regional Heritage Centre, Lancaster University)
- Hicks, J.D. The Yorkshire Catholic Reformatory, Market Weighton (1996, East Yorkshire Local History Society)
- Slocombe, Ivor Wiltshire Reformatory for Boys, Warminster, 1856-1924 (2005, Hobnob Press)
- Duckworth, J.S. The Hardwicke Reformatory School, Gloucestershire (in Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 1995, Vol. 113, 151-165)
- Red Lodge Museum, Bristol — a former girls' reformatory.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.