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

St Audrey's Home For Girls, Bedford

Photograph of St Audrey's Home For Girls, Bedford

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St Audrey's Home For Girls, Bedford

25 St Cuthbert's Street, Bedford, Bedfordshire

(1908 - 1919)

We believe St Audrey's home opened during early 1908, as it was already in operation when Bishop Hodges came to dedicate the home on 7 April. Hodges was the chairman of the Home's Committee - and stood in for the Bishop of Ely who was ill. Society homes that were named after a Saint often had dedication ceremonies in place of an opening ceremony.

The Home was originally built for up to 20 girls and staff. One notable staff member in the early years of the Home was Miss Hippisley, who was St Audrey's first Matron. The supporter's newsletter Our Waifs and Strays noted on her resignation in 1911 that 'Not only this particular home, but the whole Society, is poorer through losing the unwearying services of Miss Hippisley'. By 1915 the Home had grown to house 30 girls, and moved to new premises. In place of a Dedication ceremony for the new building there was a Benediction, or blessing ceremony. The Archdeacon of Saint Albans led the prayers while the girls from the home formed the choir.

Although the home was only open for 11 years it participated in many local social activities and fundraisers. The September 1916 edition of Our Waifs and Strays tells of a Sunday trip for a tea party at the Vicarage of the local Chaplain in Bromham (a nearby village). The newsletter reports 'Tea was in the lovely garden, and after came treasure hunts, cricket, and races, which they all most thoroughly enjoyed. It was a record day, and as the wee lasses remarked on their way home, 'Us shan't forget it, for we has enjoyed ourselfs lubly every bit'. They were also allowed to pick fruit from the Chaplain's garden, from which they made a dessert called 'Chaplain's Pie'.

The welfare of the children was improved in some very basic ways when they arrived at St Audrey's. Even the provision of basic amenities and sanitation was something new. On one occasion two new girls reportedly 'yelled and shook when they saw the baths waiting for them for their Saturday dip soon after they arrived. They quite thought they would be 'drownded' as they had never seen baths before like that, or been in one, but now what was once a Saturday sorrow is a Saturday joy-dip instead'.

The Home closed in 1919.

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