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

St Elizabeth's Receiving Home, Clapham Common

Photograph of St Elizabeth's Receiving Home, Clapham Common

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St Elizabeth's Receiving Home, Clapham Common

17 Victoria Road, Clapham Common, London, SW

(1909 - 1935)

This home was opened in 1909 by the Bishop of Kingston to replace the Marylebone Receiving Home And Training Home For Girls. As a receiving home, St Elizabeth's gave accommodation to 32 boys and girls (all aged under seven) who had recently been taken in by the Waifs and Strays' Society. The children would only spend a short amount of time here whilst more permanent accommodation was found.

Most of St Elizabeth's children moved out to the countryside to be boarded-out with foster parents. The Home also functioned as a depot, where a large amount of clothes could be stored. Every item of clothing donated to the Society spent some time here, before being distributed to homes around the country.

The children of St Elizabeth's were new to the Society, and most arrived in a dishevelled state. It was normal for a new-arrival to be suffering from an undiagnosed illness, and they all received a thorough medical examination. Many of the children had never even seen a bath before, or knew who a matron was. On her first day at St Elizabeth's, one girl looked at the matron and asked 'Who is that big woman with a curtain down her back and a clean pinny on?'

The children arrived at the Home dressed in tattered old clothes, often without shoes. They received a fresh box of clothes, and many grew very proud of their new possessions. During an air-raid warning in the First World War, one little boy rushed immediately to save his clothes shouting 'They don't bomb my new boots'.

The Home closed in 1935 as the premises had become unsuitable.

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