Hidden Lives Revealed. A virtual archive - children in care 1881-1981 * Image of handwritten text

St Boniface's Home For Boys, Sampford Peverell

Photograph of St Boniface's Home For Boys, Sampford Peverell

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St Boniface's Home For Boys, Sampford Peverell

Sampford Peverell, nr. Tiverton, Devon

(1907 - 1952)

The origins of St Boniface's lay with the Bersted Home for Boys in Bognor. When the Bognor Home became too small for the boys' needs it was decided to move the Home to a larger building. The new building they found was located in the Devon village of Sampford Peverell, and was previously the East Devon County School. The former school needed many alterations before the new St Boniface's could open - and even after they had moved in the Master and boys were cleaning and painting for what seemed like months!

St Boniface's building consisted of three blocks: the original school, and both East and West wings. The sitting rooms were situated in the old school building. The kitchen, dining room, and two dormitories were built in the East wing. The West wing housed the chapel, cloakroom and upstairs there were recreation rooms. A large covered play-shed was built in the playground at the rear of the Home. Beyond the playground was a garden where the older boys were trained in gardening. Nearby was the carpenter's workshop where the children practised their woodworking skills. St Boniface's could house 70 boys, who were aged 7-14. The Honorary Secretary was Miss Hunton, until 1912, when she was replaced by Miss Noon. In 1914 the Scouts played a part in the war effort and took part in activities such as protecting bridges.

Christmas was always looked forward to in the Society's children's homes. However St Boniface's Christmas of 1907 was a slightly disorganised one - because the Home's renovations were not finished. There were 'stacks of timber, rows of glistening drainpipes, piles of bricks, yawning trenches on three sides of the house, huge mounds of dislodged earth, inches of squelchy mud everywhere - out-of-doors; a make-shift lavatory of Tate's cube boxes, slabs of wood and enamel dishes, a dormitory floor merely grills of beams and joists indoors.' These were the conditions on Christmas Eve. However, the boys did not let it dampen their spirits and a very loud and cheerful 'Happy Christmas, Sir!' greeted the Master's ears when he opened the dormitory doors!

In 1933 the Home became a vocational Training Centre (for market gardening and carpentry) and took in most of the residents from St Giles' Home For Boys, Wrexham. The Home finally closed in 1952 when the building became unsuitable.

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