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

St John's Home For Girls, Mildenhall

Photograph of St John's Home For Girls, Mildenhall

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St John's Home For Girls, Mildenhall

Mildenhall, Suffolk

(1883 - 1907)

St John's Home was presented to the Society in 1883 by the Revd Livingstone, who asked only for a nominal annual rent of £10 in return. The Home was certified to receive girls (aged 7-12) who had been found living in squalid workhouses. These 'pauper orphans' were sent to the Home by organisations called the Guardians of the Poor, which were local government bodies who oversaw the workhouses. Children who arrived through this route made up half of the Home's intake, with the other girls coming through the Society's own work with 'waifs and strays'.

By the end of 1883, St John's was already full, with 12 girls living in the Home, which was scenically located in 'an old farm-house surrounded with an expanse of garden and fen land that make a Londoner's mouth water'. At the back of the house, stood a large orchard and a kitchen garden which Matron and the children would look after. Children's homes were always looking for ways to be self-sufficient, and home-grown fruit and vegetables made a welcome addition to any Matron's kitchen.

St John's Home was run as a close-knit family, with Matron as a mother figure for the children. They even kept their own family pet pig who lived in a sty in the old farmyard. One visitor to the Home painted a very happy scene of life in St John's. He found that the children were all 'fond of Matron, fond of school, fond of Church, fond of play, fond of work, and fond of one another'.

The Home closed in 1907, and the children moved to the newly opened St Audrey's Home in Bedford.

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