- 1875-1975 (Creation)
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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.
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