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1900s-1940s Orphanages and Childrens Homes

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Sunday schedule in an orphanage, mid-20th century UK

Extracted from the memoirs of Brenda May Wilson, 1927-2003

Sundays were different from every other day at the orphanage. In particular, we were allowed to ease up on the chores.

Sunday best clothes

Best dresses were worn with beige stockings and brown shoes with sandals in the summer.

Going to church

The feature of the day was Church which was at 11 am. It was a Church of England church and we walked there in crocodile formation. There were only two or three Roman Catholics who went to their own church.

At church we sat separately from everyone else in the balcony and made a great clatter going up the wooden stairs, not to speak of all the giggles and whisperings. This went on for some time till the congregation complained and we were told to sit downstairs.

The influence of church on children's lives

All of us over eight years old had to learn the 'Collect for the Day' from the Book of Common Prayer. So we didn't really take much notice of the service as we were much too busy learning. The penalty for not being word-perfect was the dreaded no-pudding rule! Our learning was checked on after the first course when each girl had to stand up and recite the Collect. Not so good if you were called on first, much better to be last and hear all the others first. It didn't exactly make us more religious, rather the reverse, as we didn't think too much of the words. We were just glad to get it disposed of for another week.

I was baptized and confirmed into the Church of England during my stay at the orphanage. I was never asked if I wanted to. I was told I had to.


If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.


Extracted from the memoirs of Brenda May Wilson (1927-2003), courtesy of her son, Kevin Flynn

Based on childhood recollections of Myton Hamlet Children's Home, Warwick, 1938-1941, probably similar to other orphanages in early to mid 20th century Britain

Text and images are copyright


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