Tattenhall Home For Boys, Tattenhall, Cheshire

The Tattenhall Home for Boys was opened in 1896 by the Waifs and Strays Society in premises on the High Street, Tattenhall. It replaced the existing Kingsley Hall home which had been established ten years previously.

The new Tattenhall home was officially opened by the Bishop of Chester on Saturday 25th July, 1896. It provided accommodation for 40 boys aged from 8 to 13. The home was renovated in 1904 at a cost of £1,300.

Tattenhall Home For Boys, c.1906. © Peter Higginbotham

Tattenhall Home For Boys, c.1931. © Peter Higginbotham

Tattenhall Home For Boys, c.1900. © Peter Higginbotham

Playroom at the Tattenhall Home. © Peter Higginbotham

Scrubbing dining tables at Tattenhall Home For Boys, c.1900. © Peter Higginbotham

Here is an account of a typical school-day at Tattenhall in the early 1900s:

The fire-boys, two in number, rise at 5.30a.m., and after cleaning the stoves of the kitchen and heating apparatus light these two fires, which heat a sufficiency of water to serve all the boys for washing purposes, when "All up" sounds at 6.30, The ablutions are performed under the supervision of the school Captain, who inspects every boy after washing. When passed as clean, the lads return to their rooms and continue bed-making. A bed having been made, the owner reports himself to the boy who is responsible for the cleanliness and neatness of his room. If satisfactory, he may then commence his allotted work, every boy in the Home having certain duties to perform daily. All the work in the boys' bed, dining, and play-rooms, and the cleaning of passages and stairs leading thereto, is performed by the lads under the direct supervision of a monitor, the masters directing and advising as required. By 7.45 the greater part of the cleaning has been performed and the whistle is sounded for all to fall-in for a quarter of an hour's drill, when deep breathing exercises, arm movements, and running are practised, care being observed to vary the exercises so that the greatest number of muscles may be brought into play.

At 8 o'clock, morning prayers, followed by the reading and exposition of a few verses from the Bible are held in the dining-room prior to breakfast. Breakfast concluded, about twenty minutes remain for band practice, and then at 8.50 it is time to fall-in to march to the village school, which is situated within fifty yards of the home. Dinner is served at 12.15, and after this meal games in season for boys, such as marbles, top-spinning, etc., are indulged in until 1.20, when the boys leave for school. On being dismissed at 4 p.m., organised games of cricket, football, or hockey are carried out under the Master's supervision.

Tea at 5.30, followed by evening prayers, and then band practice until 7 p.m. The second squad, composed of the smaller boys, is drilled until 7.30, when the first squad fall-in for more advanced work, including vaulting-horse, bridge ladder, and parallel bar exercises. By 8.15 the big boys are ready to follow in the footsteps of the second squad, who, after cleaning boots and washing, are ready for bed.

Fife band at the Tattenhall Home, c.1900. © Peter Higginbotham

Fife band at the Tattenhall Home, c.1903. © Peter Higginbotham

On Saturdays, when there was no attendance at school, the morning was devoted to housework. After dinner, if there no football or cricket match with a visiting team was organised, two games were arranged among the boys, with occasionally a small prize for the winning sides. Other means of recreation on Saturday afternoons included picnics, paper-chases, and visits to the grounds of the local cricket or football clubs to watch a game.

Peeling potatoes at the Tattenhall Home, c.1907. © Peter Higginbotham

Buttering bread at the Tattenhall Home, c.1931. © Peter Higginbotham

On August 15th, 1910, the 2nd Tattenhall Baden Powell Boy Scouts Troop was formed at the Home, composed of the 'Eagle' and 'Owl' patrols.

Scout Patrol leaders at the Tattenhall Home, c.1910. © Peter Higginbotham

A good many of boys went on from the Home to join the army. Some joined the Cheshire Regiment but in the early 1900s the majority joined the 1st Battalion (Prince of Wales) Royal Berkshire Regiment, which was the former regiment of the then house father, Mr Hicks. A group of former Tattenhall boys is shown below in their Royal Berkshire uniforms.

Boys from Tattenhall Home serving in Berkshire Regiment, c.1905. © Peter Higginbotham

Boys and staff at the Tattenhall Home, c.1913. © Peter Higginbotham

Boys and staff at the Tattenhall Home, c.1928. © Peter Higginbotham

Boys with the Society Secretary Dr Westcott at Tattenhall Home, c.1930. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1936, the poor state of the building led to the home being closed.

The property has had various uses since then. In recent times it has housed a hairdressing salon.

Records

Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.

Bibliography

  • 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.)
  • 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)
  • 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.