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

St Monica's Home For Girls, Ashbourne

Photograph of St Monica's Home For Girls, Ashbourne

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St Monica's Home For Girls, Ashbourne

37-39 Windmill Lane, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 1E

(1911 - c1986)

St Monica's was presented to the Waifs and Strays' Society, by Mr and Mrs Peveril Turnbull. The Home was to stand as a memorial to their two deceased daughters, Monica and Dorothea.

On 9 August 1911, a crowd of local people gathered to witness the formal opening of the Home. The Dean of Lichfield conducted a ceremony, dedicating the Home to its name-saint. He also took the time to remember Mr and Mrs Turnbull's daughters, stating that the Home 'enshrines the memory of a great sorrow, transfigured through death into a blessing of the life of others.'

The first two children arrived on 27 September, and it was filled to its capacity soon after. The first intake was made up of 22 younger girls aged 5-16, and six older girls. The younger ones attended the National School, and it was hoped that they would later attend the local Grammar School (Queen Elizabeth's in Ashbourne). The older ones were trained in housework, laundry and cooking, by the two resident matrons.

Mr and Mrs Turnbull were keen to create a happy home life for their 'family'. They believed that 'as few irksome rules as possible may be enforced, the hope being to save by love rather than by fear.' Mr and Mrs Turnbull were regarded as father and mother figures for the children. Upon Peveril Turnbull's death in 1926, the Society's newsletter Our Waifs and Strays noted that 'the loving parental care which he and his devoted wife lavished on St Monica's Home, Ashbourne, has made it into a real home in every sense of the word.'

By 1931 (its 20th anniversary), 70 girls had passed through the Home and many had been educated at the Grammar School. To mark their success, Mrs Turnbull took the girls on a trip to the coastal holiday town of Southport, and illuminations were placed around the Home. At the outbreak of war in 1939, the children moved to Mrs Turnbull's private residence Sandybrook Hall, also in Ashbourne. This allowed the children from a Manchester home (Audenshaw) to move into St Monica's.

From c1947 to the 1970s the Home began to specialise in caring for physically disabled children and improvements were made to the Home in 1966. By 1972 it was a special home for children with educational problems and by 1976 was a teenage unit for physically disabled residents (aged 12-16).

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