Ancestry UK

Red Lodge Reformatory, Bristol — Rules, 1854



This school is established for the reformation and restoration to society of girls who have cut themselves off from it by dishonest practices.

As a long period is usually necessary for the effectual reformation of such children, which can seldom be obtained without the power of legal detention, the school is particularly intended for children sentenced to a Reformatory School under the Act passed in August, 1854, 17 and 18 Vict. cap. 86; but it will be open to other cases off moral destitution.


No girl is to be admitted if above 14, and it is preferred to receive children under 12; no child will be declined on account of extreme youth, as it is better at once to withdraw from her home a child, however young, who shows a propensity to dishonesty which can not be checked in the circumstances in which she is placed.

No girl will be retained above the age of 16.

No girl will be admitted with any infectious disorder.

No girl will be admitted who is a fit subject for a penitentiary.

The parties sending girls to this school must be responsible for a provision being made for them on leaving, as it will be generally undesirable that they should- return to the unfavourable circumstances in which they fell into crime.

Two suits of strong under-clothing and shoes are to be sent with each girl.

It will be in the power of the superintendent to deviate from these rules under peculiar circumstances; but this will not be done readily.

When girls are sent to this school not under the Act, payment of 5s. per week will be expected, quarterly in advance.


The girls admitted to this school will be usually found to be entirely devoid of any good principles of action; particularly addicted to deceit, both in word and actions; of fine, but misdirected powers; of violent passions; extremely sensitive to imagined injury, and equally sensible to kindness.

The first step toward their reformation will be to awaken a feeling of confidence in their instructors, and to prove to them the anxiety for their welfare that is felt for them; they should be made at the same time to feel that they must yield to a control which will be kindly but firmly exercised; their passions must be as little excited as possible, and when they are so, "overcome evil with good" must be the teacher's watchword. The misdirected energies must be called into healthy exercise, and wisely guided; the intellectual faculties must be judiciously cultivated; and above all, religious and moral principles must be directly enforced, and indirectly, but still more powerfully, taught by the daily life of the teachers, and their evident obedience to truth and duty.


Daily reading and inculcation of the Scriptures, with prayer, and other direct religious and moral instruction.

Intellectual training calculated to excite a taste for useful information, and to awaken the higher faculties. Regular industrial occupation, especially such as will call forth the energies, or exercise patient application; choice being especially made of such kinds as will fit the girls for domestic service, and prepare them for any situation in life in which they may probably be placed.

Innocent amusements, such as may serve to occupy the girls' minds, and distract their attention from injurious objects of thought.

The society of persons of virtuous character and loving spirit, who may insensibly win them over to love virtue, first for their sakes, then for itself.

The availing one's self of every suitable opportunity to act on the child's inner nature, and to rekindle the divine life within her.


The great object of the religious instruction of these children will be to give them accurate and rational acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures; a firm conviction of the truths they contain; a loving faith in their warnings and promises; and a deep and actuating love of God our Heavenly Father, and of his Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They will be taught to seek in all things the aid of God's Holy Spirit, and by prayer and supplication to make known their wants unto Him. it will be attempted to make religion a daily influencing motive; whether they eat or drink, or whatever they do, to do all to the glory of God.

All sectarian teaching will be strictly forbidden.

The girls will attend divine service twice on Sunday with the teacher, at the nearest place of worship which appears eligible.

Regular religious instruction will be given on Sunday afternoon by the superintendent, or by some one authorized by her.


Reading, writing, and the simple rules of arithmetic, are to be carefully and thoroughly taught; also such knowledge of geography as will enable the girls to read with intelligence ordinary books of an interesting and instructive character; and such general information will be given, as will make them more able to discharge well the duties likely to devolve on them in life.

A small library of instructive and entertaining books will be provided.

Singing will be made a part of the moral training, and regular instruction in it will given.

The girls are to be employed from one to two hours a day, at least, in household work, three hours every afternoon at useful needle-work, and a portion of the day at knitting.

The older girls are to be taught washing and ironing, with cooking, and other special kinds of house-work which may help to prepare them for domestic service.

At least an hour every day should be devoted to active exercise, and, if possible, a walk should be taken beyond the premises three times a week.


The clothing of the girls will be uniform, but simple and neat, such as would be suitable for any girl in the labouring classes of society.

Great attention is to be paid to personal neatness and cleanliness.

The food will be wholesome and sufficient, but perfectly simple.

The girls must be led to feel that the allowance made for them by the Government, or by friends, by no means supports them, and that they must do all that lies in their power to aid in the expense of their maintenance. As an encouragement and stimulus, however, to exertion, a third of the profits arising from each girl's sewing and knitting will be credited to her, and will remain in the hands of the matron, to be withdrawn by the girl at the discretion of the matron, or remain in her hands until the girl leaves school, to aid in providing an outfit for her.

When any girl is newly admitted, she must for a time sleep apart from the others, and be under the especial care of the teacher; nor must she be allowed to mix freely with other girls, until it appears that she can do so without injury.


The girls who come to this school must remember that they do so in order to enable them to be honest and industrious members of society in this world, and to prepare them for another and a better.

To effect this, the labour and care of their instructors will be of little avail, unless they also use their own earnest efforts to improve themselves, and endeavour at all times to obey God's commandments, "not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as fearing the Lord."

In addition to the laws of God which are contained in His Holy Word, every girl is required to attend strictly to the following rules:

  • Every girl on entering the school is to begin with a new character; she must as much as possible forget the evil of her past life, and on no account ever converse with any of her companions respecting any of the circumstances attending it.
  • No girl must on any consideration go out of the premises without a pass, unless with a teacher.
  • Strict obedience must be paid to the superintendent, matron, and teachers; respectful attention to superiors, and kind consideration to companions.
  • All irreverent use of God's name, low and vulgar language, slang words and nick-names, are absolutely forbidden.
  • Order, neatness, and cleanliness are especially to be attended to; "a place for every thing, and every thing in its place," being the rule of the house.
  • Diligence and activity in the work appointed are expected from all; "Diligent in business, serving the Lord."
  • No girl must possess any money without the knowledge of the matron.
  • Great care must be taken of the property of others, and of every thing used in the school. Wilful or careless waste or injury of the school property must be paid for from the girl's earnings.
  • No books, pictures, or papers of any kind, are to be introduced into the school, nor are any letters to be sent or received, without the permission of the superintendent.
  • Whoever knows that these or any other rules laid down are broken, without informing the matron of the same, becomes herself an accomplice, and is besides doing injury to her companion, by encouraging her in evil.


Those employed in this work must do it from their hearts, as a sacred duty, to which they will devote themselves with their whole power.

Entire confidence and good understanding must exist among themselves and with the superintendent, who will endeavour, as far as in her lies, to support their authority and influence, with her own.

The girls must be always under watchful care, though treated with confidence.

The teachers must rely more on their own personal influence to secure obedience, and on awakening a sense of duty in the girls, than on any enactments or rules. They must never converse with the girls respecting their past history, which is to be confided to the superintendent only; and they must carefully avoid any expressions or mode of treatment, calculated to awaken resentful feelings in the girls, or make them feel themselves members of a degraded class.

Punishments should never be inflicted arbitrarily, nor with any vindictive feeling, but made as much as possible the natural consequences of actions.

The best teachers will secure obedience and cod conduct with the least punishment.

No intoxicating liquors, except for medicinal purposes, are to be admitted into the house.


This school will not be made a show place. Persons interested in the object may be admitted on Thursday afternoon from 2 to 4, but at no other time without an order from the superintendent. Visitors are particularly requested to abstain from any allusion to the past condition of the girls.

Voluntary teachers who are able and willing to give useful instruction to the children, in conformity with the regulations of the establishment, will be gladly welcomed by the superintendent.

Visits from parents and friends of the children must be regulated by the superintendent, nor will any one be admitted without an order from her.