Russell-Cotes Shaftesbury Home, Parkstone, Dorset
The Russell-Cotes Children's Home, run by the Shaftesbury Society, was opened in 1919 on Constitution Hill Road at Parkstone in Dorset. The home, intended to cater for poor town children needing a prolonged residence in the country, was named after its benefactors Sir Merton and Lady Russell-Cotes. Sir Merton was a prominent figure in nearby Bournemouth, having been mayor of the town in the 1890s, and also major contributors to charities such as Barnardo's and the Shaftesbury Society.
A site for the new school was provided by Sir Merton's donation of part of his 40-acre Parkstone estate, with Barnardo's Russell-Cotes Training School as its neighbour. The scheme, designed by Mr W Ernest Hazell, was calculated to cost around £10,000 for the first essential buildings, with additions on the rest of the site to be made as funds became available. As well as providing the land, the Russell-Cotes also donated £3,000 for the central house. The initial phase of development accommodated up to sixty boys and girls. The first house to be erected contained most of the central administrative offices given the name of Lady Russell-Cotes House. Separate blocks of dormitories for the boys and girls connected with the central building by covered ways, with an open-air school located among the trees.
The official laying of the foundation stone of the Lady Russell-Cotes House was carried out by Princess Marie Louise on 15th July, 1919. At her arrival, a guard of honour was formed by the girls of St Faith's Home (Parkstone), the 5th, 2nd and 1st Poole and the 2nd and 4th Parkstone Troops of Girl Guides, under Captain Miss Wingfield (5th Poole), and members of the National Association of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers, under Mr HEC Conway. Children from the Victoria Home, Bournemouth West, sang songs pending the arrival of the Royal visitor and the Mayor, and then led the singing of the hymn "Praise God from whom all Blessings Flow".
The location of the home is shown on the 1924 map below.
After the closure of the home, the site was taken over by the adjacent Parkstone Sea Training School. None of the old Shaftesbury buildings still exist and the site is now covered by modern housing.
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.
- The London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London, EC1R 0HB now holds the archives of the Shaftesbury Homes and Arethusa Training Ship. More details in their online catalogue entry.
- Bailey, Marion Chance of a Lifetime - the Story of the Shaftesbury Homes and Arethusa (1996, Dianthus Publishing)
- Cuthbert, V Where Dreams Come True: A Record of 95 Years (1937, London: Shaftesbury Homes and "Arethusa" Training Ship)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Hodder, Edwin The Life and Work of the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, K.G. (1886, Cassell)
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.