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

St Agatha's Home For Girls, Princes Risborough

Photograph of St Agatha's Home For Girls, Princes Risborough

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St Agatha's Home For Girls, Princes Risborough

Queen's Road, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire

(1909 - 1996)

St Agatha's had quite a soggy beginning. The Lord Mayor of London opened the Home in heavy rain on 27 July 1909. According to eyewitnesses the Lord Mayor had to descend 'from carriages into a sea of mud', while 'the formal unlocking of the door was performed under a roof of umbrellas'. However this did not ruin the day as the people of Princes Risborough still greeted him in person, along with a band, local yeomen and the fire brigade.

Emily Katherine Quinn Bardolph, who was the wife of a former rector of Princes Risborough, founded this home. She gave the land to the Society and donated £500 towards the building costs. On 25 November 1908 Edward Rudolf (the Society's founder and the Home's Honorary Secretary from 1912-1920) laid the foundation stone of a new wing that was paid for by Mrs Bardolph. The new wing stood as a memorial to her late husband and the foundation stone was inscribed with the words; 'To the glory of God, and in the pious and living memory of Reginald Robertson Bardolph, priest, formerly Vicar of Christ Church, Liverpool, and Rector of Princes Risborough, who fell asleep, 1897, aged forty-five'.

The Home could accommodate 30 girls aged 5-16. They attended the local school and formed the backbone of the church choir. Mr B Fieldwick worked as the Honorary Treasurer until 1923 when Mr Robert Bailey took over the role. Edward Rudolph retired as St Agatha's Honorary Secretary in 1920 and was replaced by Mr Gower Williams, who was later replaced by Mrs Cooper in 1923. Despite plans in 1910 to turn it into a boys' home, St Agatha's remained a girls' home until 1942.

Between 1942 and 1946 St Agatha's was converted into a war nursery for children up to five years old. During the Second World War the Society provided temporary homes for young children who had either been evacuated or made homeless as a result of enemy action. The years 1939-45 saw the Society house 6,788 children in 127 war nurseries, one of which was at Princes Risborough. In 1946 St Agatha's became a girls' home again when the children and staff from St Oswald's Home at Natland, Westmorland, were transferred there.

By 1980 St Agatha's cared for 18 children of both sexes aged 3-18 years. Some of these children had disabilities and were placed there as a part of the Society's policy to make its homes as integrated and forward thinking as possible. From 1981 St Agatha's was gradually converted into a teenage unit, known as the Ridgeway Specialist Teenage Project, this eventually closed in 1996.

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