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

All Saints' Home For Boys, Ashdon

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All Saints' Home For Boys, Ashdon

All Saints' House, Rectory Lane, Ashdon, Saffron Walden, Essex

(1885 - 1972)

All Saints' Home was founded in 1885 by the Rector of Ashdon, Reverend Henry Barclay Swete, as the Society's first boys' home. The Rector donated two thatched cottages to the Society, and even paid for most of the furnishings. The buildings also came with an extensive garden that included a small playground, and plenty of flowerbeds for the boys to look after. The Home could accommodate only eight boys (aged under eight).

After just a few years it became clear that the cottages were too small to meet the demand for places at the Home. Reverend Swete, now Professor of Pastoral Theology at Kings College, Cambridge, paid for a new building to be constructed on land rented from Gonville and Caius College. This was opened on St Michael and All Angels' Day in 1890 (29 September). After a service at the parish church, the clergy and congregation formed a procession led by a cross-bearer. They made their way to the Home, where Revd Swete conduction a Benediction Service (a type of blessing). The new building was double the size of the original home, with space for 12 boys (aged 7-10).

The most notable member of staff during these years was Miss Ellen Whitehead who was appointed as Matron in October 1895 at the age of 29. She stayed at the Home for 37 years, retiring in 1933 - the same year Edward Rudolph died. Upon her retirement, she was described in the Society's newsletter Our Waifs and Strays as 'the excellent mother of a happy family'.

Problems with the water supply meant that the Home depended upon a nearby well. When this ran dry, water had to be carried up the steep hill from the village. This carried on for 48 years, until a mains supply was eventually installed in 1938. A new wing was added in the same year to increase the accommodation to 24 boys.

All Saints' Home for Boys carried on as a 'small and happy family' who 'enjoyed the sympathy and good will of various local friends' for many years. The Home closed in 1961 for renovations and didn't re-open again until 1964. It finally closed in 1972.

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