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Family History

Christian Family Concern started life over 120 years ago and has gone through many changes before becoming what it is today. 

Founded at a time when pregnancy outside of marriage and struggling families were barely acknowledged, many young women suffered shame and lived in poverty.

Fortunately times have changed, but the legacy of that past era lives on. We regularly receive calls from people seeking to discover more about their heritage. They are keen to find out where a parent was born, or perhaps where they themselves were born.

Maternity Homes

We ran several maternity homes (see History Timeline below) but we only have the registers for those births which took place at Birdhurst Lodge, South Croydon.

Adoption

When we ceased to be an adoption agency in 1992, all our adoption files were transferred to Croydon Council. If you or the person you are enquiring about was adopted through one of our former agencies, a file may exist there and enquiries can be made through:

Senior Post Adoption Worker
Croydon Council — Children Families and Learning
Adoption and Permanence
7th Floor, Jeanette Wallace House
1 Edridge Road
Croydon  CR9 1AF

Tel: 020 8726 6400   Ext. 84554

Email:  adoption.enquries@croydon.gov.uk

If they confirm that a file does exist, they will arrange for an Adoption Support Worker to liaise between the parties concerned.

You might find the following information sheet useful, which Senior Post Adoption Worker, Frank Hancock has prepared:

ADOPTION HISTORY CROYDON.pdf

Children’s Homes

Likewise, if you (or the person you are enquiring about) lived in one of our children’s homes, those files are now in the safe-keeping of the Archives Unit and permission to access them is granted through ourselves.

If you wish to make an enquiry, please click on the link below to download the Family History Enquiry Form.

We charge £15 for the initial enquiry and once your payment and form are received, we will deal with your request.

Family History Enquiry Form.doc

History Timeline

Haven of Hope founded

Janet Ransome Wallis founded the Haven of Hope (later called The Haven of Hope for Homeless Little Ones) in a small rented house at 4 Shernall Street, London E17. 

She had been moved by a visit to a London Maternity Hospital where she had met a young woman nursing her nine day old baby, and crying bitterly because she had nowhere to go when she left hospital with her baby the next day. 

Mrs Wallis’ own baby daughter had died and her son became seriously ill. As she prayed for her child, she vowed that if the Lord spared him she would devote her life to helping needy mothers and their children. 

Her prayers were answered and her son got better. So, on 26 January 1893 the first child arrived at the home.

1893

The charity moves to bigger premises

Very soon 12 cots were filled and a year later they moved to bigger premises at Vine House, Walthamstow which accommodated 40 children, up to 10 years old. 

1894

Another move

After a few years the society moved again. It leased Castle House, Walton Heath where 60 – 70 children were cared for. Mrs Wallis did not feel this location ideal as it was too far for the mothers to come and visit their children, but the children loved the Heath.

Around 1900

Hurst House

The first Croydon home, Hurst House, Hurst Road was purchased and used as an office and children’s home. Other large houses with large gardens in and around Croydon and South London were acquired. 

1906

The Society became a limited company

1908

Campaigning for better laws

Mrs Wallis lobbied the Royal Commission on the Poor Law regarding the unsuitability of the workhouse in caring for the unsupported mother and her child. Her aim was to provide care for the mother in pregnancy and afterwards, and then to provide for the child by means of foster parents, children’s homes or adoption. 

1909

Hope House

The Society opened its first Rescue Maternity Home at Hope House, 93 Grove Lane, Denmark Hill, South London

1910

Rokeby and The Moorings

Rokeby, 54 Leigham Court Road, Streatham was purchased, and this became a maternity hospital and headquarters of the Mission from 1914. 

A third maternity home was also acquired at The Moorings, 2 Champion Park, Denmark Hill.

1913

Mrs Wallis’ husband Ransome

Mrs Wallis’ husband Ransome joined her in the work, and they became Co-directors.

1914

World War 1

The social upheaval of the First World War led to a considerable demand for the Mission’s services and nowhere was this more marked than in the number of unmarried mothers seeking help.

It was at this time that the society changed its name to the Mission of Hope

At about this time Birdhurst Lodge, South Croydon was acquired.

1914 – 1918

Homeless Children’s Aid Founded

The Homeless Children’s Aid and Adoption Society, a separate organisation, was founded in 1920 by Dr F B Meyer. He was a Baptist Minister and well known as a preacher and writer and was Chairman of the Mission of Hope until a conflict of views led him to establish his own adoption agency. The Society also ran a children’s home at Hutchinson House, Leytonstone (which was taken over by the local authority in the late 1940s).

The organisation’s full name was the Homeless Children’s Aid and Adoption Society and F B Meyer’s Children Home.

Birdhurst Lodge HQ

Birdhurst Lodge became the headquarters. The Mission was running six children’s homes: Hurst House, Deepdene, Essendene and Deanfield (all in South Croydon) and Lillian Baker Home and Tower House (Anerley);  and three maternity homes: Hope House, Rokeby and The Moorings.

The work had become centred round Birdhurst Lodge and the South Croydon properties, so many of the other properties were disposed of. Rokeby was the only non-Croydon property to be retained, and this acted as the Mission’s maternity hospital until 1931. During a period of financial difficulty it was then sold and the maternity hospital function was transferred to Birdhurst Lodge.

1922

Ransome Wallis retires

Ransome Wallis retired as a Co-Director, and died in 1927

1924

End of an era

Mrs Wallis died, and Adeline Wallis, their daughter took over. She had worked for the Mission since 1913 and had been Assistant Director for some years. 

1928

Faith Mission

The Mission was reconstituted as a ‘Faith Mission’ which meant that the staff pledged to trust in God for all their financial needs and provision.

Antique furniture from Birdhurst Lodge was sold to raise money.

1934

Adeline Wallis died

Adeline Wallis died and was succeeded as Director by Joyce Muddiman. 

1962

Birdhurst Lodge Demolished

The decision was taken to dispose of the Hurst Road houses and demolish Birdhurst Lodge. 

Part of the building was retained and used for administration. It became known as Old Birdhurst.

Late 1960s

Deepdene Built

The new Deepdene (now the Birdhurst Nursery building) was built and opened as children’s home.

Beracah (17 Birdhurst Avenue) was built and opened as a mother and baby home.

1968-1970

New Hurst House Built

The new Hurst House (now Wallis House, 42 South Park Hill Road) was built as a home for older children. 

1969

Two Societies Amalgamate

Owing to their shared history the Mission of Hope and the Homeless Children’s Aid and Adoption Society and F B Meyer’s Children Home always maintained close contact and on 8 April 1980 the two societies were amalgamated as the Mission of Hope for Children’s Aid and Adoption.

1980

Change On The Horizon

During the 1980s the Society continued to run an adoption agency, children’s homes and mother and baby support services. However change was on the horizon.

1980s

Christian Family Concern

In 1989 it was felt that a less cumbersome title was needed and the name was changed to Christian Family Concern.

Also this year our last children’s home closed. 

1989

Adoption Agency Closed

Our adoption agency closed and all the records were transferred to the care of Croydon Social Services.

1992