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

St Mary's Home For Girls, Eastnor

Photograph of St Mary's Home For Girls, Eastnor

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St Mary's Home For Girls, Eastnor

Clencher's Mill Lane, Eastnor, nr. Ledbury, Herefordshire

(1900 - 1946)

Lady Henry Somerset, of Eastnor Castle, gave St Mary's Home for Girls to the Society on 1 June 1900. She had previously established the Home in 1884 as a memorial to her late father, but by the turn of the century she had decided that the Society would be better able to run the Home. Lady Henry agreed with their idea that children's homes should be just like small family groups, and not like the typical large institutional homes that were common in late Victorian Britain.

The Home could originally house 20 girls, who were aged 8-15, but in 1904 it was decided to increase this number to 30 and to take in baby girls as well. These girls were trained in laundry work, basketwork, and needlework as well as attending the local school and Sunday school.

As with all of the Society's Homes the Summer holidays were always looked forward to. During 1917 the girls at Eastnor helped a local farmer by working in his fields to help raise money for the Home, and many of the girls were given individual holidays with other local families each year. Christmas was always an exciting time for the girls - but it was not the presents left under the tree or the large amount of food that was donated which made the girls happy. As one girl comments in the 1917 edition of Our Waifs and Strays 'we have great fun in the Home, making almost as much noise as we like'.

In 1946 St Mary's started looking after boys as well as girls and by the 1950s was offering training in child care to all residents. It finally closed in 1983.

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