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

Knebworth Home For Boys

Photograph of Knebworth Home For Boys

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Knebworth Home For Boys

Knebworth, Stevenage, Hertfordshire

(1888 - 1975)

Knebworth Home for Boys was founded when a sickly London Rector, Mr Herbert Edward Jones, was advised by his doctor to live in the country for the good of his poor health. He had not wanted to move out of London and end his work with impoverished children from the slums, so when he saw a cottage in the small Hertfordshire village of Knebworth he knew he had to convert it into a home for London boys. The Home opened in September 1888 with room for six boys.

The boys were taught how to tend the garden, and they produced a good supply of fruit and vegetables for the Home with little assistance. They all attended the village school, which was conveniently located opposite the Home. Mrs Smith worked as the matron of the Knebworth Home, with Mrs Montague Price as the Honorary Secretary, and Dr Thomas attending as doctor. The age range of the residents varied but boys as young as three years old were at the Home.

As the Society grew, the number of boys increased and the Home needed to expand. The Society decided to construct a new house on nearby London Road. During the building work, Knebworth Home was temporarily closed (1912-1914) and the boys were sent to other Society homes. Lady Lytton opened the new Knebworth home on 27 May after a dedication service, conducted by Archdeacon Gibbs. At this time, the Home also changed its name to St Alban's Home for Boys. The new house could accommodate 40 boys.

Mr May worked as the Superintendent of the new Home, with the Revd AH Gurney as the first of many Honorary Secretaries. Like many boys' homes, Knebworth formed its own Scout group. Their most illustrious moment came in 1921, when the boys were presented with a flagstaff so they could proudly fly the Union Jack.

The founder, Mr Herbert Edward Jones, died in 1920 but the Home's work continued until its closure in 1975.

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