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

St Deniol's Home For Boys, Arthog

Photograph of St Deniol's Home For Boys, Arthog

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St Deniol's Home For Boys, Arthog

Arthog, nr. Dolgellau, Gwynedd, Wales

(1891 - 1903)

Set in the Welsh countryside, in the Mawddach Valley near Barmouth, St Deniol's Home was based in a spacious villa known as Bron Merrion. It was already in operation as a children's home when it became part of The Waifs and Strays' Society in the Autumn of 1891.

In 1888 Lady Elizabeth Legge had bought the building from a famous Irish artist (Albert Hartland), and she had been able to house four young boys. One large room, which had previously been a picture gallery, made an ideal nursery. Three years later she offered the Home to the Society on 'most generous terms', and it was opened on 22 October 1891 by the local parish vicar, the Revd JE Davis.

The Local Government Board certified that St Deniol's could house up to 16 children, but its numbers wavered. Upon being brought under the banner of the Society, there were eight children all between the ages of 5-12. By 1901 the number of boys had been increased to 13, with a slightly reduced age range of 5-10. Lady Legge continued her previous work as matron, with the assistance of a sub-matron.

It was believed that the Welsh countryside would provide the children with a beneficial contrast to the urban slums many of them had previously lived in. The Society's newsletter Our Waifs and Strays states in 1892 that the children 'will indeed find a change in their surroundings when transferred from a slum to the beauties of North Wales, and from neglect or friendlessness to such loving care.' Unfortunately the isolated location of the Home also brought difficulties in terms of transport and administration.

We believe that the Home closed in 1903, as it disappears from our records during that year.

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