Ancestry UK

St Joseph's Orphanage for Boys, Orpington, Kent

The St Joseph's Orphanage (or Home) for Roman Catholic Boys was established in 1893 at Sevenoaks Road, Orpington.

On 6th September, 1893, the establishment was formally accredited as a Certified School, allowing it to receive boys boarded out by the workhouse authorities. In 1897, the premises could accommodate 120 boys, aged from 8 to 16 at their date of admission. A charge of 6s. a week was made for each boy, with inmates being taken from any Board of Guardians in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

As well as classroom and religious education, boys at St Joseph's were given industrial training which included shoe-making, tailoring, and farm and garden work. The home also had its own boys' band.

In about 1903, St Anne's Orphanage for Girls was erected on a site adjacent to St Joseph's.

The two Schools are shown on the 1909 map below.

St Joseph's and St Anne's Orphanages, Orpington, c.1909.

On February 7th, 1938, St Joseph's was certified for use as an Approved School for Boys. On April 6th, 1950, it was announced that the managers of the School had decided to resign its certificate.

The premises were later occupied by St Joseph's RC Secondary School. The buildings no longer survive and the Holy Innocents Church now stands on the site.


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.

  • Diagrama (formerly Cabrini), 49 Russell Hill Road, Purley, Surrey CR8 2XB. Cabrini holds records for children adopted through:
    • Cabrini Children's Society
    • Catholic Children's Society
    • Southwark Catholic Children's Society
    • Southwark Catholic Rescue Society
    • Portsmouth Diocesan Catholic Child Welfare Society


  • Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain's Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
  • Hyland,Jim Yesterday's Answers: Yesterday's Answers: Development and Decline of Schools for Young Offenders (1993, Whiting and Birch)
  • Millham, S, Bullock, R, and Cherrett, P After Grace — Teeth: a comparative study of the residential experience of boys in Approved Schools (1975, Chaucer Publishing)