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

St Michael's Home For Boys, Chislehurst

Photograph of St Michael's Home For Boys, Chislehurst

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St Michael's Home For Boys, Chislehurst

The Common, Chislehurst, Kent

(1895 - 1974)

This home already had a long history when it became part of the Waifs and Strays' Society in 1895. St Michael's had been established 40 years earlier in very modest circumstances. At first it occupied a small cottage, which only housed two boys and a puppy. They were looked after by the Home's founder Miss Marie Anderson, who worked as the Superintendent of the Home. St Michael's expanded quickly and it moved to larger premises on Chislehurst Common in 1861.

By 1895 there were 30 boys living in the Home, all aged 3-12. Under the Society's care St Michael's continued to grow, and it could house 40 boys by 1908. All the children attended the local school, which was just a few minutes walk from their home.

Every year the Home would celebrate St Michael's Day (29 September) with a full day of special events. In 1896 this included a morning service in the Home's private chapel, which was conducted by Reverend Murray. Afterwards prizes were given to boys who had done well over the previous year. An evening sale was also held, and the boys exhibited their needlework and embroidery. According to one visitor, the boys were very skilled at this type of work, and he marvelled at their 'netted string-bags and wonderful cotton mats.' This yearly event became a well-established fixture in the life of St Michael's.

Miss Anderson died in 1904 at the age of 85. She had been with the Society from its very beginning in 1881, and 'was one of the first to recognise the necessity for corporate action on the part of the National Church for waifs and strays.' Miss Anderson was associated with many of the Society's homes, but St Michael's remained her crowning gift.

The Home was evacuated to Guy's Cliffe, Warwick during the Second World War in 1939, and the children were later dispersed to other Society homes. However St Michael's reopened in 1945 and continued as a Home for toddlers until at least 1974.

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