Ancestry UK

St Joseph's Home, Stepney, London / Enfield, Middlesex

St Joseph's Home for Roman Catholic Boys was established in 1887 at Rose (now Ratcliffe) Lane, Stepney, London. It resulted from an initiative by Cardinal Manning who later wrote that 'of all the souls committed to my charge those that were most in peril were the souls of little children'. The Home was opened on December 31st, 1887, and run by Father William Barry. It took in 'orphans, outcasts, abandoned waifs and strays, rescued from Protestant institutions or from the gutters of the street.'

Father Barry also set two a small homes at 713 Commercial Road for girls under 10, and another at 715, next door, for young boys, each of the each under the charge of a matron.

In 1890, St Joseph's was relocated to Holtwhites Hill, Enfield, where a house and two acres of ground had been acquired for £4,000. Following the move, the Commercial Road homes were closed, and the Rose Lane property kept for a short time as a receiving home, eventually being given up in 1893.

The Enfield establishment, whose running was taken over by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, could accommodate up to 180 boys aged 5 to 12 years at their date of admission.

In 1899, the home became part of the Westminster Diocese's Crusade of Rescue organisation.

St Joseph's Home, Enfield site, c.1913.

St Joseph's Home, Enfield, from the east,1920s. © Peter Higginbotham

St Joseph's Home, Enfield, Early 1900s.

St Joseph's Home - dining room, Enfield, Early 1900s.

St Joseph's Home - dormitory, Enfield, Early 1900s.

St Joseph's Home, Enfield, Early 1900s.

St Joseph's Home, Enfield, Early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

The Enfield Home closed in 1981. None of the Home's premises survives. The Enfield site is now covered by the modern housing of John Gooch Drive.


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  • Waugh, N These, My Little Ones (1911, Sands & Co.)
  • Hyland, Jim Changing Times Changing Needs: A History of the Catholic Children's Society (Westminster) (2009)