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

St Olave's Home For Girls, Exeter

Photograph of St Olave's Home For Girls, Exeter

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St Olave's Home For Girls, Exeter

Bartholomew Street, Exeter, Devon

(1894 - 1941)

St Olave's was formally opened on 11 October 1894, when the Bishop of Peterborough came to dedicate the Home to its name-Saint. After the ceremony the Bishop briefly inspected the Home before Lady Northcote formally declared it to be 'open'. The first 10 girls (aged 8-14) moved in to their new home shortly afterwards. They were joined by another 10 in the following Spring, and St Olave's was fully established.

The girls stayed at their Bartholomew Street address for only eight years, before the Revd AWB Everitt offered them a larger home in another part of Exeter (Heavitree). Before they moved, Edward Rudolf, the founder of the Waifs and Strays' Society, personally inspected the new premises and 'found it in every way suited for the purpose.'

The new building was much larger offering accommodation for 10 more girls. There was also space for a playroom, and a second sitting-room to be used by the Matron and her assistants. The children moved here in the Winter of 1902, and the Bishop of Exeter opened the Home on 2 February 1903. As this was a new beginning, he dedicated the Home to a different Saint. From this time St Olave's became known as St Lawrence's Home for Girls.

In the early years St Lawrence's staged many successful Pound Days to raise money for the Home. They were always a useful way of stocking up on food, and in 1907 over 1,200 lbs. of goods were collected. Pound Days also brought funds to the Home, as in 1905 when they were given nearly £5 (over £300 today). This money was used to lay a new linoleum floor in the playroom.

At another special occasion in December 1912, all of the girls visited a local lady's house for tea. During their meal, the curtains were drawn back to reveal 'a brightly decorated Christmas-tree, laden with presents.' These had been donated by the pupils of the nearby Modern School, as Christmas gifts for the children. All of the girls went home 'with beaming faces, after spending the final hour playing games and singing Christmas carols.'

The Home closed in 1941 when the troubles of war forced it to evacuate to Colyton, in Devon. After the war the building reopened as St Lawrence's Reception and Intermediate Home and closed in 1956.

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