Rudolf Memorial Home and Special School for Girls, East Dulwich, London
The Rudolf Memorial Home and Special School for Girls was opened by the Waifs and Strays Society at 62 Overhill Road, East Dulwich. The site had previously been occupied by the Society's long-serving Lampson Home. The new home was one of the two to be established in memory of the Society's founder, Edward Rudolf, who died in 1933, the other being the Rudolf Memorial Home for Boys at Balham.
The new building, designed by Paul Phipps, was described as: 'Built of carefully chosen brick, it will present a long frontage to the road, planned to get the maximum amount of sun through its wide windows, and its elevation shows a happy combination of the traditional and the modern'. Construction work began in 1937 and on November 12th, Lord Horder unveiled a memorial inscription above the entrance. It read, 'In Thankful Memory of Edward de Montjoie Rudolf 1852-1933.' The home was formally opened by the Duchess of Gloucester on March 23rd, 1939.
Both the new Memorial Homes were intended for children with educational problems (what were then often referred to as 'backward' children) and for 'those who, while not mentally defective, have serious psychological troubles, due, it may be, to ill-health, cruelty, neglect, or fear which are likely to cause problems in later life if not addressed'. The boys' home at Balham was the first to be opened and was used by the Society to gain experience in dealing with children with behavioural and learning difficulties. The home was assisted and supervised in its operation by London Child Guidance Council.
Late in 1939, with the outbreak of the Second World War, the building was requisitioned by the government for civil defence use and the home was evacuated to Banstead. In 1943, by then amalgamated with the Rudolf Memorial Home for Boys, it moved to Farnham in Surrey. After the war, the boys were transferred to the St Aldhelm Home for Boys at Frome, and the girls to the Cheam, Kibworth or Leighton Buzzard homes.
In 1945, the Dulwich premises were re-opened as the Rudolf Memorial Home for Babies. The home, which housed babies awaiting adoption, was relatively short-lived and closed in 1948.
The property was re-opened again in 1950 as the Rudolf Memorial Special School, reverting to its originally planned use as a home for children with behavioural difficulties.
The building no longer survives and modern flats now occupy the site.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Index of the Society's first 30,000 children's case files ordered by surname.
- Index of the Society's first 30,000 children's case files ordered by date of birth.
- The Children's Society Records and Archive Centre is at Block A Floor 2, Tower Bridge Business Complex, 100 Clement's Road, London, England SE16 4DG (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Files for children admitted to its homes after September 1926 were microfilmed in the 1980s and the originals destroyed. Some post-1926 files had already been damaged or destroyed during a flood. The Society's Post-Adoption and Care Service provides access to records, information, advice, birth record counselling, tracing and intermediary service for people who were in care or adopted through the Society.
- The Society has produced detailed catalogues of its records relating to disabled children, and of records relating to the Children's Union (a fundraising body mostly supported from the contributions of children).
- Bowder, Bill Children First: a photo-history of England's children in need (1980, Mowbray)
- Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society [Rudolfe, Edward de Montjoie] The First Forty Years: a chronicle of the Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society 1881-1920 (1922, Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society / S.P.C.K.)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Morris, Lester The Violets Are Mine: Tales of an Unwanted Orphan (2011, Xlibris Corporation) — memoir of a boy growing up in several of the Society's homes (Princes Risborough, Ashdon, Hunstanton, Leicester) in the 1940s and 50s.
- Rudolf, Mildred de Montjoie Everybody's Children: the story of the Church of England Children's Society 1921-1948 (1950, OUP)
- Stroud, John Thirteen Penny Stamps: the story of the Church of England Children's Society (Waifs and Strays) from 1881 to the 1970s (1971, Hodder and Stoughton)
- Hidden Lives Revealed — the story of the children who were in the care of The Children's Society in late Victorian and early 20th Century Britain.
- The Children's Society
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