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

St Hilda's Home For Girls, Beckenham

Photograph of St Hilda's Home For Girls, Beckenham

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St Hilda's Home For Girls, Beckenham

Crescent Road, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 2NF

(1905 - 1939)

The Waifs and Strays' Society always had a strong presence in Beckenham. During the early years of the Society many meetings and fundraising events had been held there. The strong community link with the Society made Beckenham an ideal location for a home. St Hilda's was opened in 1905, to hold 30 girls who were aged 6-14. The Bishop of Rochester dedicated the new Home on 26 October. St Hilda's took its first children from its namesake home in Marylebone when that changed its function to become one of the Society's receiving homes.

The 'pleasant-looking, creeper-clad' Victorian house on leafy Crescent Street had large rooms that were 'well lit and airy' - perfect for its purpose. It did not need many modifications because the building was previously a convalescent home (where patients could rest and recover after an operation or illness). Miss Rutherford provided the furnishings, which were 'very favourably commented on by the visitors', and the Countess of Dudley provided photographs to hang on the walls. The Honorary Secretary, Miss Constance Wylde, made sure everything was in order, before finally retiring in 1919.

As it stood by 'itself in an open situation, with a good piece of garden', St Hilda's could hold many outside events. In the Summer the great oak tree in the grounds provided shade for visitors on very hot days. Miss May Winter-Were organised the entertainments and every year she arranged an annual celebration for the Home's birthday, which 'were always worth attending'. The second anniversary party on 2 November 1907 was poorly attended because of bad weather, yet this did not stop the generosity of the locals who donated well over 800lbs. of gifts to support the Home.

In c1940 the building closed and the residents were evacuated to Worthing. The building then briefly acted as a Receiving Home for children prior to their evacuation. At the end of the Second World War in 1946 the building reopened as St Hilda's Nursery, Beckenham until its closure in 1975.

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