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.
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.
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.
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.
The Society became a limited company
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.
The Society opened its first Rescue Maternity Home at Hope House, 93 Grove Lane, Denmark Hill, South London
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.
Mrs Wallis’ husband Ransome
Mrs Wallis’ husband Ransome joined her in the work, and they became Co-directors.
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.
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.
Ransome Wallis retires
Ransome Wallis retired as a Co-Director, and died in 1927.
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.
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.
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.
Adeline Wallis died
Adeline Wallis died and was succeeded as Director by Joyce Muddiman.
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.
New Hurst House Built
The new Hurst House (now Wallis House, 42 South Park Hill Road) was built as a home for older children.
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.
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.
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.
Adoption Agency Closed
Our adoption agency closed and all the records were transferred to the care of Croydon Social Services.