Beatrix Nursery, East Knoyle, near Salisbury, Wiltshire
The Beatrix Nursery was opened by the Waifs and Strays Society in November 1943 at Knoyle House, East Knoyle, near Salisbury. The home was located on the top floor of the house which was the home of the Dowager Lady Pembroke. The nursery was named after Lady Pembroke's daughter, Beatrix, who as Countess of Wicklow later became president of The Children's Union. The nursery provided accommodation for up to 14 homeless babies that had come into the care of the Society.
In March, 1946, the nursery was transferred to another property in East Knoyle, known as Clouds House, which had been used by the army during the Second World War. The additional space and large grounds of Clouds House allowed the nursery to accommodate up to 42 babies and toddlers. The outdoor playground gradually acquired a sandpit, paddling pool, swings, a slide, and an aviary with budgerigars.
As at other Society nurseries, the children in different age groups were placed in separate sections of the building which were named after flowers — 'Daffodil' and 'Tulip' for the toddlers and 'Primrose', 'Bluebell', and 'Pinks' for the older children. The home was also used as a training facility for nursery nurses.
Due to rising running costs and its inconvenient location, the home was closed in July 1964. The children were then dispersed to other homes.
Knoyle House no longer exists. Clouds House is now used as an addition treatment centre.
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: email@example.com). 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.