Ancestry UK

St Stephen's Orphanage, York, YorkshireEastRiding

St Stephen's Orphanage was established in York in 1870, largely due to the efforts of Mrs Blencowe who contributed £100 and raised further funds from her friends. She took a house in Precentor's Court, close to York Minster, and provided for several destitute orphans. Following another gift of £100 from Miss Mathew, larger premises were obtained on Trinity Lane. Mrs Blencowe and Miss Mathew initially acted a joint superintendents of the home, then Mrs Blencowe filled the role on her own until the spring of 1876 when she was succeeded by Miss Arlidge. The home received girls aged from 3 to 10 years who had lost one or both parents, with the inmates coming from towns across Yorkshire. By the autumn of 1877, there were 18 orphans in the institution. After enlargement of the accommodation, in the late 1870s, the home could accommodate over thirty girls.

Former St Stephen's Orphanage, Trinity Lane, York, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1881, an annual summer holiday was introduced for the children. Initially, this was at a property owned by committee member Sir William C. Worsley. After Sir William's death in 1897, the holidays too place at Scarborough House in Scarborough, donated to St Stephen's in 1900 by Lady Londesborough. From 1919, a holiday home was rented at Filey and in 1925 money from the Ethel Crombie Memorial was used to purchase a permanent holiday home there.

Between 1890 and 1906, the buildings were extended again with the addition of a dining room and gymnasium and enlargement of the playground.

By 1912, the home could could accommodate up to 50 girls. The superintendent at that date was Miss Belfield. A payment of £12 a year was requested for each girl admitted.

In 1925, the home moved to new premises at 89 The Mount, York. In 1930, the home had accommodation for up to 35 girls aged from 2 to 7 years at their time of admission. The superintendent was now Miss Marshall, and the annual charge for each girl had increased to £35.

Former St Stephen's Orphanage, The Mount, York, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1940, the establishment was renamed 'St Stephen's Home'. In 1944, following an unsatisfactory report from the Ministry of Health, the home was required to modernise its facilities and reduce the number of inmates to 23. In 1953, the Home Office decreed that girls aged 15 or over should be transferred from the home into a suitable hostel. The following year, a hostel was opened at Rawcliffe Holt, receiving financial support of York Corporation and the Rowntree Village Trust.

In the mid-1950s, a decline in the number of girls being placed at the home led to boys being admitted with their sisters. In 1969, St Stephen's amalgamated with York's other voluntary home, the Grey Coat School.

The Mount home continued in operation until 1975. The building is now home to the Hotel du Vin. The Trinity Lane property has been converted to residential use.

In 1976, the funds of St Stephen's and a number of York children's charities were amalgamated to establish the York Children's Trust.


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  • Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD. Holdings include Committee minutes (1875-1911, 1918-1975); Book of benefactors (1875-1936); Papers relating to holiday home at Filey (1925-1952); Visitors' reports (1929-1966); Visitors' book (1945-1968); Children's records (1877-1968, with gaps).


  • None identified at present.