St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, near Kendal, Westmorland
The St Mark's Home for Boys was founded in 1882 by the Rev. Charles Whitaker, Vicar of Natland, near Kendal. On 23rd January, 1886, the home was accredited as a Certified Home allowing it to receive boys boarded out by the workhouse authorities.
In 1894, the home was taken over by the Waifs and Strays Society and could accommodate 24 boys, aged from 6 to 12 years. It was formally re-accredited as a Certified School on 2nd March, 1896.
The boys at St Mark's contributed to the daily household chores of the home, which included cooking the breakfast porridge.
Swimming was a popular activity at the home, with the boys regularly winning prizes for their displays. In 1899, following the installation of a running water supply and improvements in the drainage, it appears that some kind of swimming bath was constructed at the home.
From the early days of the Boy Scouts movement, the home had its own troop.
St Mark's also had its own football team which played matches against local school sides.
In 1960, St Mark's changed from a boys-only establishment into a mixed home. In 1974, it stopped being a residential home and instead served as a holiday centre for children from other branches.
The home finally closed in 1994. The following year, the property became an independently run treatment centre for children from difficult backgrounds.
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
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.