Ancestry UK

The Church Army

The Church Army was founded in 1882 by the Rev Wilson Carlile as an evangelistic mission for the Church of England, working in the slum areas of London and other cities. The Church Army's Social Department aimed to "raise the hopeless outcasts of society" by providing labour, rescue and lodging homes, of which around 120 were eventually established in London and the provinces, together with a farm colony at Hempstead in Essex. By the early 1900s, the organization was dealing with about 400,000 cases a year. Although its focuse was largely on adults and older teenagers, particularly girls, it operated children's homes at Fellet and Godstone.

A separate page gives a list of Church Army establishments that fall within the scope of this website.


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.

  • The bulk of the Church Army's archives have been deposited in the Bible Society Library, housed at Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR. The material does not include minute books or admission records, however.


  • Lynch, Donald Chariots of the Gospel. The Centenary History of the Church Army (1982, H.E. Walter)
  • Rowan, Edage Wilson Carlile and the Church Army (1905, The Church Army)
  • The Church Army, Wilson Carlile Centre, 50 Cavendish Street, Sheffield S3 7RZ.