fonds YCT/SSO - Records of St Stephen's Orphanage, York

Identity area

Reference code



Records of St Stephen's Orphanage, York


  • 1875-1975 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.08 cubic metres

4 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

St Stephen’s Orphanage was founded in 1870 to care for poor orphan girls in the city of York. Initially the orphanage was located in Precentor’s Court but in 1872 it moved to two houses in Trinity Lane, close to Micklegate.

In these early years St Stephen’s provided care for 13 girls between the ages of 3 and 10 who had lost one or both of their parents. Entry was charged at up to £9 per girl per year, although urgent cases could be admitted for as little as £5.

Financial and administrative difficulties resulted in the orphanage being reconstituted c.1875 and placed under the control of a committee of twenty-six who met annually, and a sub-committee who met quarterly. By 1919 government of the orphanage was by the Executive Committee who met monthly. The committee appointed orphanage staff and worked to raise funds for St Stephen’s through Sales of Work, public meetings, and other functions.

In the late 1870s the orphanage moved to Trinity Lane and expanded its accommodation and facilities. By 1880 there were 31 girls in residence.

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 these were moved to 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 orphanage site was expanded again with the addition of a dining room and gymnasium and the extension of the playground. Structural damage to the Trinity Lane properties however necessitated a further move in 1919 to a house at 69 The Mount. In 1939 the Worsley Wing was added to the house there in memory of Sir William Worsley.

From the 1930s St Stephen’s had a number of active support groups, including a Kirk Hammerton Committee, and the ‘Friends of the Orphanage.’ Regular fundraising events were held in York and appeals were made on BBC Radio and in the local and national press.

In 1940 the institution was renamed ‘St Stephen’s Home.’ In 1944, following an unsatisfactory visit from the Ministry of Health, the Home underwent a number of changes including modernisation of facilities and a reduction in the number of resident children from 28 to 23. From 1945 girls were encouraged to remain at the Home until the age of 16 and were not allowed to leave without the consent of the Executive Committee.

In 1948 official responsibility for the Home was transferred from the Ministry of Health to the children’s branch of the Home Office who ruled in 1953 that girls aged 15 or over should be moved from the Home into a suitable hostel. In 1954 a hostel was opened at Rawcliffe Holt with the financial support of York Corporation and the Rowntree Village Trust.

In the 1950s the numbers of residents began to fall and the Home began admitting boys with their sisters from the mid-1950s. In 1969, at a meeting between representatives of the Home Office, the York Children’s Department and the Committee of the Grey Coat Home, it was decided that there was no longer a need for two voluntary children’s homes in York. St Stephen’s and the Grey Coat School were subsequently amalgamated and the St Stephen’s property was later sold.

In 1976 the funds of York Charity Schools, St Stephen's Home, the William Richard Beckwith Fund, the Arthur Gill charity, the Matthew Rymer charity and the Ethel Crombie Memorial Fund were amalgamated to establish the York Children's Trust.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute in 1993.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

St Stephen’s Orphanage trust deed, 1902, and appointment of new trustees, 1952; committee minutes, 1875-1911, 1918-1975; book of benefactors, 1875-1936; property leases and agreements, 1919-1969; papers relating to the purchase of a holiday home at Filey, 1925-1952; deeds of covenant to St Stephen’s, all expired 1961-1973; visitors’ reports, 1929-1966; visitors’ book, 1945-1968; children’s records, 1877-1929, 1931-1939, 1941-1950, 1958-1968.


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A typescript finding aid, to file level, is available for consultation in the searchroom of the Borthwick Institute.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

The archives of the Blue and Grey Coat Schools in York, the Blue and Grey Coat Children's Home, and York Children's Trust are also deposited at the Borthwick Institute.

Publication note

W.B. Taylor made use of the archive in, 'Blue Coat Boys and Grey Coat Girls: the Blue and Grey Coat Schools and St Stephen's Home of York 1705-1983' (York, 1997).

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by S. A. Shearn, 09.06.15.




Accession area