Religious bodies

This guide was last updated in 2012

The Church of England’s Waifs & Strays Society (now the Children’s Society) was established in 1881 and by 1905 ran 93 homes.

Enquiries about records can be sent to The website, meanwhile, provides extensive information on the homes.

What became the National Children’s Home (NCH, now Action for Children) was founded in 1869 by Methodist minister TB Stephenson and eventually ran approximately 50 homes. More information on NCH records is available on the organisation's website; for details of NCH homes, see

Roman Catholic children’s homes were mostly organised within Catholic diocesan areas. Some were run by branches of the Catholic Children’s Society who (sometimes now renamed) may hold records: Westminster data, for instance, is available at, while Southwark information can be explored via

Others were run by religious orders such as the Sisters of Nazareth ( whose Nazareth House home at Hammersmith featured in Samantha Womack’s episode.

If the premises are still occupied by an order, records may still be on site. Otherwise the order’s present-day headquarters may be able help. Diocesan archives may occasionally also have records – a useful starting point is


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