Scope and Content

The records relate to the administration of the schools, pupils, property and finance and comprise the following series:




6129/1/ Annual reports 1780-1939
From 1871 onwards annual reports and lists of governors and subscribers were printed separately (for the latter, see -/1/88-109 below)

6129/1/ Lists of governors and subscribers 1871-1938

6129/1/ Minutes 1758-1941

6129/1/ Presentations and nominations 1775-1930
For a presentations register, c.1920-1954, see -/4/4 below.


6129/1/ General Committee 1759-1946
The General Committee was occasionally called the Board of Management. All volumes are indexed.

6129/1/ Finance Committee 1849-1935

6129/1/ Quarterly Committee of Governors 1824-1843
Most meetings of this committee took place on the school premises, and dealt with matters such as children's clothing, performance of staff and fabric of school. It received reports from the Ladies' Committee and itself reported to the General Committee.

6129/1/ House Committee 1842-1939
For minutes of the Alexandra Orphanage House Committee, 1879-1907, see -/1/208-216 below. For minutes of a meeting of the House Committee, 24 Nov 1832, see -/1/147 above.

6129/1/ Election Committee 1888-1919
For minutes of the Petitions, later Election, Committee, 1870-1888, see -/1/204 below.

6129/1/ Petitions Committee 1910-1930
The Petitions Committee considered all applications for entry to the school and advised the General Committee as to the circumstances of all candidates.

6129/1/ Ladies' Committee 1854-1931

6129/1/ Estate and related Committees 1847-1939
For minutes and report relating to claims to interest in property made by tenants and to proposed ejectment of tenants on the City Road estate, 1839-1840, see -/1/137,138 above; for minutes of the Building Committee, 1840-1843, see -/1/147 above, and 1844-1847, see -/1/202 below; for minutes of the Building Committee, 1859-1861, see -/1/206 below; for minutes of a special committee to consider Maitland Park estate roads, 1892, see -/1/205 below.

6129/1/ Ad hoc committees 1844-1914
For a volume recording various minutes including stewards' meetings relating to fund raising and special and sub-committees appointed for specific tasks, 1824-1843, see -/1/147 above.

6129/1/ Sub-committee to investigate amalgamation with Kingsdown Orphanage, Highgate, London 1925

6129/1/ Alexandra Orphanage House Committee 1879-1907

6129/1/ Alexandra Orphanage Managers' meetings 1925-1939
Managers' meetings were attended by representatives of the London County Council and AO.

6129/1/ Margate Convalescent Home Sub-committee 1879-1914


6129/1/ Papers of Joseph Soul 1842-1854
Joseph Soul was secretary to OWS, 1840-1875. Apart from -/1/231 the following items were found together, along with -/1/233 below.

6129/1/ Later correspondence and papers 1893-1947]
A number of files in this section have been weeded.

6129/1/ PUPIL RECORDS 1760-1945

6129/1/ Admission registers 1760-1939
Later admission registers are held at the school.

6129/1/ School ledgers 1858-1945 All volumes are indexed.

6129/1/ Examination books 1907-1942

6129/1/ Rewards 1812-1841

6129/1/ Medical records 1876-1935

6129/1/ Address books 1930s

6129/1/ Attendance records 1914-1926

6129/1/ Registers of boys' occupations on leaving school nd [c.1905]

6129/1/ Case files 1922-1944
These were retained as examples to show administrative procedures.

6129/1/ SCHOOL RECORDS 1865-[1947]

6129/1/ Log books 1865-1939

6129/1/ School prospectus nd [1944 x 1947]

6129/1/ Stock books 1926-1939

6129/1/ FINANCE 1765-1947
For a register of property tax claims and of dividends, 1905-1949, see -/4/78 below.

6129/1/ Annual accounts (1839)-1860
For annual income and expenditure accounts, 1907-1949, see -/4/49 below.

6129/1/ General ledgers 1914-1946

6129/1/ Personal ledger 1923-1940

6129/1/ Purchases books 1926-1944

6129/1/ Cash books 1765-1947

6129/1/ Journal 1899-1940

6129/1/ House expenses 1818-1837

6129/1/ Receipts for stocks 1863-1875

6129/1/ Organ fund 1873

6129/1/ Bond to secure repayment 1861

6129/1/ Bond of fidelity 1825

6129/1/ Solicitors' bills 1868-1870

6129/1/ ESTATE RECORDS (1690)-1941

6129/1/ Schedules of deeds 1848-1940

6129/1/ City Road estate (1690)-1920

6129/1/ City Road estate: leases and related papers 1818-1922
For registers of leases and assignments, 1844-c.1938, see -/1/391,392 below.

6129/1/ Haverstock Hill estate 1844-1937

6129/1/ Haverstock Hill estate: leases and related papers 1842-1895
For registers of leases and assignments, 1844-c.1938, see -/1/391,392 below.

6129/1/ Payments by tenants, Haverstock Hill 1920s-1941

6129/1/ City Road and Haverstock Hill estates: registers of leases and assignments 1844- c.1938

6129/1/ Margate convalescent home 1875-1916

6129/1/ PLANS 1822-1947

6129/1/ City Road estate 1865

6129/1/ Haverstock Hill estate 1855-1936

6129/1/ Margate convalescent home 1923

6129/1/ Duxhurst 1939-1946
For correspondence and papers relating to the proposed school at Duxhurst, with which -/1/414 above and -/1/417,419-422 below were found, see -/1/258 above.

6129/1/ OLD SCHOLARS 1925-1947
The association of old scholars was called the Maitland Association. For a file containing issues of the Maitland Bulletin and correspondence with old scholars, 1938-1942, see -/1/253 above.

6129/1/ PHOTOGRAPHS AND PRINTS 1874-1995

6129/1/ Photographs used by the school for exhibition purposes [1937]-1995
Apart from -/1/446 and -/1/450 the following photographs mounted on board were photographed in 1995 for ease of storage, and the originals not retained.

6129/1/ Prints from printing blocks nd [20th cent]
The following prints were made in 1994.

6129/1/ EVENTS AND APPEALS 1874-1947

6129/1/ Visitors' book 1912-1939

6129/1/ School events 1874-1939

6129/1/ Annual festival dinner 1877-1939
Papers have been sorted into years and include items such as fund raising letters, blank invitations, lists of contributions, appeal leaflets, menus and seating plans.

6129/1/ Fund raising performances 1930-1947

6129/1/ Appeals 1904-1944


6129/1/ Commemorative volumes [1852]-[1908]

6129/1/ Scrapbooks c.1864-1947
For a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings and advertisements, 1946-1961, see -/4/88 below.

6129/1/ Press notices 1903-1910

6129/1/ Newspapers and journals 1861-1944

6129/1/ Reedham Orphanage 1926-1932

6129/1/ MISCELLANEOUS 1744-1938
It is not clear in what way these papers are connected with the school.

6129/2/ ALEXANDRA ORPHANAGE TO 1877, 1865-1876

6129/2/ ENDOWMENT 1867


6129/2/ Annual reports 1865-1876
For copies of annual reports, 1871 and annual accounts, 1873-1875, see -/2/7 below. From 1877 annual reports of the OWS include details of the Alexandra Orphanage (see -/1/45-57 above).

6129/2/ Minutes 1865-1876

6129/2/ Plans nd [c.1867]

6129/2/ EVENTS 1867

6129/2/ PUBLICATIONS 1869


6129/3/ CONSTITUTION 1939

6129/3/ RULES AND REGULATIONS 1890-1892
For domestic rules for the management of RAOA, 1889, see -/3/70 below.


6129/3/ Annual reports 1865-1928

6129/3/ Minutes 1902-1904
For reports and minutes of annual general meetings of governors and subscribers, 1867-1948, see Managing Committee minute books, -/3/19-41 and -/4/12 below.

6129/3/ Presentations 1864-1935


6129/3/ Managing Committee 1864-1945

6129/3/ Finance (and General Purposes) Committee 1902-1941

6129/3/ House Committee 1899-1911

6129/3/ Ad hoc committees 1905-1920

6129/3/ PUPIL RECORDS 1864-1944

6129/3/ Admission and pupil registers 1864-1943
For a register of boys, c.1880s-1900s, see -/3/82 below.

6129/3/ Cases book 1922-1940s

6129/3/ Case files 1943-1944
These were retained as examples to show administrative procedures.

6129/3/ Medical journal 1913-1931

6129/3/ SECRETARY'S PAPERS 1888-1942

6129/3/ School log books 1871-[1900s]
For a log book of the girls' school, 1867-1870, see -/3/59 above.

6129/3/ SUPERINTENDENT'S PAPERS 1888-[1906]

6129/3/ FINANCE 1864-1947
For annual accounts, 1865-1928, see -/3/4-15 above.

6129/3/ Accounts relating to foundation of orphanage 1864-1865

6129/3/ Annual accounts 1882-1945

6129/3/ Ledgers 1902-1944
For a bought ledger, 1944-1949, see -/4/52 below; for a private ledger, 1944-1949, see -/4/53 below.

6129/3/ Cash books 1902-1947

6129/3/ Journals 1903-1946
For a general journal, 1897-1949, see -/4/68 below.

6129/3/ Receipts and payments 1891-1943

6129/3/ Monthly statements of expenditure 1927-1947

6129/3/ Fees 1919-1947
For a volume recording pension allowances for pupils' maintenance, 1943-1944, see -/4/44 below.

6129/3/ Contributions and legacies 1890-1940

6129/3/ Superintendent's cash received 1921-1934

6129/3/ Farm and garden accounts 1941-1947

6129/3/ ESTATE RECORDS [1864]-1947

6129/3/ Plans [1864]-[c.1945]

6129/3/ Deeds (1888)-(1931)

6129/3/ OLD SCHOLARS 1908-1912

6129/3/ PHOTOGRAPHS AND PRINTS 1912-1923

6129/3/ EVENTS AND APPEALS 1920-1941

6129/3/ Fund raising events 1920-1933

6129/3/ NEWSPAPER CUTTINGS 1888-1943
For newspaper cuttings relating to the orphanage, c.1876-1883, see -/3/80,81 above.


6129/4/ CONSTITUTION 1949


6129/4/ Annual report 1949

6129/4/ Minutes 1904-1967

6129/4/ Presentations register c.1920-1954
For registers of junior and senior petitions, 1911-1954, see -/4/39,40 below.

Most of these minutes appear to have been kept by Brigadier J G Smyth, comptroller of the school until Sep 1963. Minutes of some meetings are missing. Reports, memoranda, accounts and other papers relating to meetings are included. For copy minutes of an organising committee for a charity performance of My Fair Lady to be held at Drury Lane, 1957, see -/4/27 below; for copy minutes of a sub-committee regarding outstanding debts of parents, 1959 and 1960, see -/4/29,30 below.

6129/4/ Plenary Committee, later known as the Royal Alexandra and Albert Board of Management 1947-1961
The Plenary Committee was set up in Dec 1947 when the decision was made to amalgamate the Royal Alexandra and Royal Albert Schools. It consisted of three representatives from the Board of the Royal Alexandra School and two from the Board of the Royal Albert School. It was responsible for policy and all major decisions relating to the running of the school. After the Act amalgamating the schools was passed in Sep 1949 it became known as the Royal Alexandra and Albert Board of Management.

6129/4/ Royal Alexandra School Board of Management, later Royal Alexandra and Albert School Managing Committee (Bishopswood and Gatton) then Royal Alexandra and Albert School House Committee (Bishopswood and Gatton), afterwards Royal Alexandra and Albert School House Committee (Gatton) 1939-1955
While the Plenary Committee (set up in Dec 1947) was responsible for policy and major decisions relating to the amalgamated schools, the Royal Alexandra School Board of Management continued to oversee the running of the schools at Gatton and Bishopswood Camp. The Royal Alexandra School Board of Management was formally dissolved in Dec 1948 and management of the schools at Gatton and Bishopswood Camp was transferred to the Royal Alexandra and Albert School Managing Committee (Bishopswood and Gatton), later known as the House Committee (Bishopswood and Gatton). In Jan 1953 the House Committee (Gatton) was formed following the dissolution of the House Committee (Bishopswood and Gatton) and of the House Committee (Camberley).

6129/4/ Board of Management of the Royal Alexandra and Albert School (Camberley), after July 1949 of the House Committee (Camberley), and after Nov 1952 of the Camberley Sub-committee of the Royal Alexandra and Albert School 1945-1953
Following the decision in Dec 1947 to amalgamate, the school at Collingwood Court, Camberley, continued to function. While the Plenary Committee (set up in Dec 1947) was responsible for policy and major decisions relating to the amalgamated schools, the RAAS Managing Committee (Camberley), concurrently and later known as the RAAS House Committee (Camberley), continued to oversee the running of the school locally. This was dissolved in Nov 1952 and four members joined the new House Committee set up to govern the school at Gatton, for minutes of which see -/4/10 above. All members of the House Committee (Camberley) formed a new committee, the Camberley Sub-committee, to oversee the domestic running of the school at Camberley until pupils were moved to Gatton in Jan 1954.

6129/4/ Royal Alexandra and Albert School Finance Committee 1935-1953
For occasional minutes of the Finance and General Purposes Committee, 1946-1948, see -/4/12 above; for copy minutes of the Finance Committee, 1957-1958, see -/4/27,28 below; for copy minutes of the General Purposes and Finance Committee, 1959-1961, see -/4/29-31 below.

6129/4/ Applications Committee 1955
For copy minutes of the Applications Committee, 1957-1961, see -/4/27-31 below.

6129/4/ Royal Alexandra and Albert School Estates (later Finance and Estates) Committee 1949-1956

6129/4/ Sub-committee on rules and regulations 1948

6129/4/ Gatton County Secondary School 1952

6129/4/ School Council nd [c.1949]
The Council was appointed by the Plenary Committee in Sep 1948.

Brigadier J G Smyth was appointed comptroller of the school (a salaried post) and secretary to the Plenary Committee in Jan 1948. (Eric Corner was secretary of the school from Feb 1948 and was responsible for the administration of the school.)

6129/4/ Correspondence files [1953]-1963
One file was kept for each year from 1953 to 1961 and 1962/63 and files were arranged alphabetically mainly by name of correspondents and committees. The files have been weeded to remove standard correspondence.


6129/4/ Royal Alexandra and Albert School (CAMBERLEY) BURSAR'S FILE 1943-1948

6129/4/ PUPIL RECORDS 1911-1985
Admission registers are held at the school.

6129/4/ Petitions 1911-1954
For a register of presentations, c.1920-1954, see -/4/4 above.

6129/4/ Register of medical examinations 1924-1955

6129/4/ Register of scholarships and funds 1933-1961

6129/4/ Register of pupils' savings accounts 1943-1950

6129/4/ Address books 1940s-1950s

6129/4/ Case files 1963-1985 These were retained as examples to show administrative procedures.

6129/4/ FINANCE 1897-1972

6129/4/ Annual accounts 1907-1954
For final accounts, 1957/58, see -/4/35 above; 1959/60, see -/4/30 above; 1960/61, see -/4/31 above; 1962/63, see -/4/32 above.

6129/4/ Ledgers 1944-1954

6129/4/ Purchases books 1945-1956

6129/4/ Cash books 1939-1972

6129/4/ Journals 1897-1970

6129/4/ Statements of expenditure 1948-1955

6129/4/ Fees 1946-1949

6129/4/ Salaries 1909-1948

6129/4/ Property tax claims 1905-1949

6129/4/ ESTATE RECORDS 1952

6129/4/ OLD SCHOLARS 1956
For bulletins of the Gatton Association, 1961, see -/4/31 above.

6129/4/ PHOTOGRAPHS ND [1958]

6129/4/ EVENTS AND APPEALS 1948-1959

6129/4/ School events 1958-1959

6129/4/ Appeals and fund raising events 1948-1958


6129/4/ History of school 1991

6129/4/ Newspaper cuttings 1946-1961
For newspaper cuttings relating to the resignation of masters, expelling of pupils and alleged offences at the school, 1954, see -/4/24 above; for a cutting relating to the employment of a warden to carry out boarding duties, 1956, see -/4/26 above.

Administrative / Biographical History


The foundation of the Orphan Working School was largely due to the efforts of the Revd Edward Pickard, pastor of the Carter Lane Meeting House, London, with the support of other Protestant Dissenting ministers and businessmen. In 1759 a house at Hoxton, London, was furnished and staff were appointed in readiness for the admission of boys. The institution was seeking to provide a home for legitimate orphan children of respectable parents who had not been in receipt of parish relief. Most were children of families who were members of the Protestant Dissenting churches (Independents (later Congregationalists), Baptists and English Presbyterians). The first admissions were twenty boys in March 1760. A sub-committee was appointed to complete the furnishing of the house, to provide clothing for the children, prepare a dietary table and formulate rules of the institution. This committee appears subsequently to have become the House Committee which reported monthly to the General Committee. Four apothecaries gave their services to the institution free of charge, though by 1836 and possibly earlier a paid physician was employed. In June 1760 the necessary changes for receiving girls were considered, and the first arrivals were in March 1761. The children wore a uniform, and the minutes often refer to the orphanage as 'the family'. Punishment could be severe however, and included caning and solitary confinement. By 1769 the number of children had risen to 53, 28 boys and 25 girls, and by 1845 there were 50 boys and 70 girls in the school, which had moved to new premises (see p 4).

Admission of children

Children were admitted to the school between the ages of 6 and 9. They were nominated by governors in rotation, a person becoming a governor of the institution on payment of an annual sum or a lump sum for life. It was possible to 'buy' a child immediate acceptance into the institution on payment of 60 guineas. Certificates of legal settlement had to be produced, and each child was given a medical examination. Children were refused if they were not healthy enough to enter into the full duties of the house. In 1810 it was decided that pupils should be elected by ballot rather than nomination, each governor having a certain number of votes. Entry could still be purchased, at a cost of 120 guineas, and in 1839 the minimum age on entry was raised to 7 and the maximum age on entry raised to 11 years.

Education and employment of children

The plan of the charity (see -/1/14 below) stated that the children 'be carefully instructed in the principles and duties of the Christian religion...; taught to read and write, so far as may be necessary in any future station; and used to such labour and work as may be convenient and suitable.' Boys were employed in weaving carpets and spinning horse hair, and girls in knitting, darning and housework. A master and mistress were appointed and some children learned cipher. In 1761 two people were appointed to teach carpet weaving in the Persian and Turkish styles. From 1799 the children were taught to make and mend shoes for themselves and for sale. Four years later an experiment was carried out to teach the children net-making, and in 1809 boys were being instructed in knitting stockings. Children and staff were expected to attend divine service twice on Sundays.

In 1810 it was resolved that 'one active person properly qualified is sufficient for the instruction of the boys in reading, writing and arithmetic'. An enthusiastic master was appointed who taught the boys well. History, geography and English books were purchased for the school in 1831 and grammar and spelling books in 1833. In 1833 it was resolved that the school master take sole charge of the boys' education and a separate person be employed to see to the welfare of the boys outside the classroom. Boys were still employed in spinning etc in the 1830s. In 1837 the boys volunteered to contribute from their pocket money towards a proposed lecture in geography. Examinations were introduced in 1840 for boys and girls and the General Committee minutes of the 1840s and 1850s show a much greater emphasis on the intellectual schooling of the children. It seems that the girls, by the mid nineteenth-century at least, were divided into two groups, learners and house girls, the former receiving schooling and the latter instruction in housework.

The rules of the institution stated that children could not be apprenticed out before the age of 14. Most were bound into service or a trade such as shoemaking. It appears that a great deal of care was taken to find suitable positions for the children.


Court of Governors:

Courts were held twice yearly and all governors were invited to attend. Each year a president, treasurer, secretary and master were elected, and governors were appointed to serve on the General Committee. The General Committee submitted a report to the Court once a year, as did the auditors; proceedings of other committees were also reported. Names of new governors and of children elected are entered in the minutes.

General Committee:

The General Committee met monthly and members were appointed from the male governors. Subjects pertaining to the administration of the school were discussed, such as suitability of children proposed for entry and appointment of staff. The resolution of issues was often delegated either to the House Committee or a special committee. The House Committee reported to the General Committee on specific subjects requiring attention, such as complaints against staff or children.

House Committee:

The House Committee is first mentioned in the General Committee minutes of 1760 and the 'House Committee book' was submitted monthly to the General Committee. However the minutes of the House Committee only survive from 1842. Made up of male governors appointed by the General Committee, the House Committee met weekly and kept in closer touch with the school than was possible for members of the General Committee. It was empowered by the General Committee to make decisions on issues such as suitable punishment for boys, repairs to the buildings, new furnishings, etc. Appointments of staff were referred to the House Committee for approval. The housekeeper's and surgeon's books were examined at each meeting, and the committee produced a monthly report to the General Committee.

Ladies' Committee:

A Ladies' Committee is mentioned in the annual report of 1815 and may have existed before this. Minutes survive from 1854. It was intended that members of the Ladies' Committee should be chosen by the General Committee from among governors or wives of governors and that they should meet weekly, but in fact the ladies sought new members for the committee themselves, and decided to meet monthly. One of their number inspected the girls' school weekly for cleanliness and order, and received a weekly report from the mistress. They saw to the girls' and boys' uniforms and made recommendations of girls who would benefit from further time in the school. They looked for situations for the girls when necessary, saw to their leaving outfits, and assigned a member of the committee to each girl after leaving to correspond with and encourage her 'for a few years'. In 1864 they started a 'Missionary Working Party' to encourage interest in missionary affairs.

New premises

In January 1773 a new school was completed in City Road, (now in Islington), where numbers rose from 70 to 135. In 1851 the school moved again to the Maitland Park estate, Haverstock Hill (now in Camden), where the buildings provided accommodation for 400 pupils. For further history of the school following the Act of amalgamation in 1905, see p 5.


The proposal of an orphanage for infants was made in 1864 by Frederick Barlow, treasurer of the OWS General Committee. He offered the use of a house in London free of rent, along with an annual contribution. Other contributions were soon forthcoming and the Alexandra Orphanage received 13 infants in March 1865. The management of the orphanage was in the hands of a committee of twelve governors, six of whom had to be members of the committee of the OWS. A Ladies' Committee was active in overseeing the running of the institution on a local level.

The teacher appointed to instruct the infants was a former pupil of the OWS, and in addition a matron, nurse and servant were engaged. The institution accepted orphan children from earliest infancy to five years of age and educated them until eight years of age. The first educational report on the school, printed in the 1866 annual report (see -/2/4 below), was excellent and subsequent reports continued to be favourable. By May 1866 24 pupils were in residence and plans for larger premises were made. The aim was to construct one central building and around it 16 separate houses for 25 or 30 infants, to encourage a homely atmosphere. Institutions based on this 'home principle' were already in existence in Europe but this was to be the first in England. Work began on the new buildings at Hornsey Rise (now in Islington), in 1867, but the acquisition of funds to meet the cost was slow, and the building programme was never fully completed. In February 1869 the school moved to its new premises. By 1870 100 pupils were in residence, and accommodation was available for 100 more, but with a large debt resulting from the building works, funds were lacking to finance further admissions.

In 1876 the number of pupils still stood at just over 100 while the OWS at Haverstock Hill was in need of further accommodation and unable to enlarge its premises. It was decided to amalgamate the running of the two institutions and that the schools should share the use of the two sites. The management of the OWS and the AO was united in a single committee in 1877 and the two orphanages were run as senior and junior sections of the same institution, although legal amalgamation did not take place until 1905. The institution was known as the Orphan Working School and Alexandra Orphanage.


In 1905 the buildings at Hornsey Rise were sold. An Act was passed in the same year to amend the Act of Incorporation of 1848, and the two orphanages were legally amalgamated. Adaptation of the premises at Haverstock Hill to accommodate 500 pupils was completed in 1909 and the junior pupils were moved there from temporary accommodation. In 1924 the school became known as 'The Alexandra Orphanage (incorporated as the Orphan Working School and Alexandra Orphanage)'.

In 1939, prior to the outbreak of the war, the Board proposed to move the school to larger premises in the country. The London County Council offered to buy the Maitland Park estate, and the Board secured an estate of 180 acres at Duxhurst, Surrey. Plans to build an institution along similar lines as the original Alexandra Orphanage, with children housed in a number of smaller 'homes' around a central building, were interrupted by the outbreak of war.

During the war, senior pupils of the Alexandra Orphanage were evacuated to Bishopswood Farm Camp, Kidmore End, near Reading, Berks. Junior and nursery children were taken to Duxhurst and to Elmcroft, Goring-on-Thames, Oxon. In 1943 the name of the school officially changed to the Royal Alexandra School, although this name had been used simultaneously for some years.


The foundation stone of the Convalescent Home in Harold Road, Margate, was laid on 29 August 1874. The home was founded in connection with OWS and was made over to OWS by its trustees in 1877 when OWS and AO were unofficially amalgamated. Children were first received at the Home in 1876. On its transfer to OWS, it was reported that the home was free of debt and was proving of great benefit to the health of children sent there. The number of children sent to the home each year is recorded in the annual reports until 1916. The home is mentioned on the title page of the reports until 1927, but the reasons why the orphanage ceased to use it thereafter are unclear. The building was sold in 1959.


The minutes of the first meeting of the founders of the Royal Albert Orphan Asylum, held on 2 February 1864, record the intention to establish an asylum for thoroughly destitute orphan children. At the following meeting held in March 1864, it was resolved to purchase an unfinished mansion with 200 acres near Bagshot, part of the estate of Collingwood Court, for £8000.

The Managing Committee met at first twice monthly then once a month in London and was made up of invited gentlemen who had shown an interest in the orphanage and contributed to its funds. A General Purposes Committee was formed in August 1864 'for considering all matters relating to the asylum', to save the time of the Managing Committee. A public meeting was held on 14 December 1864 at the Mansion House, presided over by the Lord Mayor elect, to arouse public interest and support.

A doctor in Bagshot offered his services free of charge for the first two or three years after the orphanage opened. A headmaster and assistant were appointed to teach the boys, and a headmistress and assistant to teach the girls. A matron was engaged to take care of domestic arrangements. A collector and canvasser was appointed in December 1864.

On 29 December 1864 51 boys and 48 girls were admitted to the institution. By 1866 there were 160 children in the school. The Committee's intention was to extend the building to accommodate 1000 orphans when funds permitted, but this enlargement did not take place. Queen Victoria inaugurated the institution on 29 June 1867.

Admission of children

Children to be admitted were to be between 6 and 12 years old. Any person contributing £250 within a period of three years was entitled to have one child of his or her nomination always in the orphanage. Life or annual subscriptions gave the subscriber the right to a certain number of votes at each election. Canvassing for votes was not permitted, but a list of candidates with a short description of their circumstances was circulated prior to each election. A child could be admitted by purchase on payment of 125 guineas or 100 guineas for an older child (who would remain at the school for a shorter period). Boys attended the school until the age of 14 and girls until the age of 15. The committee was permitted to spend £10 on the placing out of a child on leaving the school. The 1870 annual report records that girls from the institution were highly sought after, but finding situations for boys was more difficult until classes in carpentry and shoe-making had been introduced.

Education and employment of children

In addition to religious and educational instruction, pupils were taught agriculture and gardening: in March 1865 it was resolved to purchase seeds for a kitchen garden, and animals and implements for farm work. Boys were taught an elementary knowledge of carpentry and shoe-making from 1870. Girls were trained primarily to become servants, and in addition to housework, were taught to make bread and butter and to milk cows. A long report at the end of the first quarter (March 1865) on the progress of the school (see -/3/19, pp 56-59) informed the committee of very satisfactory progress in all areas. The daily routine is given, and shows that the boys received 5½ hours of schooling, and some (presumably the older) children worked for 3¼ hours each day while the rest played. However it was reported that there was less progress in schooling among the girls as so many of them were employed about the house during school hours. Prayers were said every morning.



An annual meeting of governors was held in March, at which the annual report and accounts were presented, a new Management Committee was elected, and affairs of the orphanage were dealt with. Donors of 5 guineas and upwards were life governors, and those contributing half a guinea were governors for that year. Minutes and reports of these meetings are to be found in the minute books of the Managing Committee (see -/3/19-38 and -/4/12 below).

Management Committee

This committee consisted of not more than 48 and not less than 12 governors. They had charge of appointing and removing staff, of the upkeep of the fabric of the asylum and of other matters pertaining to the institution.

The Council

The RAOA Council was formed in 1924. Minutes of its annual meetings, 1925-1943, are to be found in the minute books of the Managing Committee (see -/3/35-38 below).

Other committees

Full minutes of the House Committee survive only for the period 1907-1911 (see -/3/50 below), but a volume of abstracts of minutes covers 1899-1900 (see -/3/49 below). Minutes of the Finance (and General Purposes) Committee survive for the period 1902-1941 (see -/3/42-48 below), with a few meetings between 1943 and 1948 recorded in the minute books of the Managing Committee (see -/3/38 and -/4/12 below). The only minutes that survive of the Ladies' Committee are of joint meetings with the Managing Committee, 1906-1941, and are to be found in the minute books of the Managing Committee (see -/3/34-38 below). Reports of sub-committees to the Managing Committee are mentioned and sometimes included in the minutes of the latter.

Change of name

A resolution to change the name of the orphanage to the Royal Albert School was made on 20 February 1942, although a newspaper cutting announcing the renaming appeared rather later on 17 July 1943.


The Royal Alexandra School and Royal Albert School made the decision to amalgamate in December 1947 due largely to financial pressures. Their aim was to establish a public school for boys and girls who had lost one or both parents, or whose special circumstances made it desirable that they should attend a boarding school. The Gatton Park estate near Reigate was purchased, and during 1948 the Alexandra infants were moved from Duxhurst to Gatton Hall, and the Duxhurst estate was sold. An Act amalgamating the schools was passed in September 1949 and boarding houses were built for the older children. Surrey County Council undertook to build a Secondary Modern and Junior Mixed and Infants School at Gatton Park (opened 20 Apr 1953) providing education for children boarding at RAAS. The children at Bishopswood Camp were moved to Gatton Park on 18 April 1953 and those at Collingwood Court moved in January 1954.

There are now two voluntary aided schools on the site providing education for children boarding at RAAS. At present (1990s) just over half of the children attending have parents in the armed forces and the remainder are placed there by London boroughs and Surrey County Council.

Access Information

Access restrictions may apply to admission registers, log books and punishment books less than 100 years old and to governors' minutes less than 30 years old.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the Foundation Secretary between December 1992 and July 1993.

Other Finding Aids

An item level description of the archive is available on the Surrey History Centre online catalogue