Caritas Care was established in 1934 as The Lancaster Diocesan Protection and Rescue Society, the social welfare arm of the Catholic Diocese of Lancaster and approved as an adoption agency.
We hold a small number of records for some other institutions which cover:
- Nazareth House, Lancaster
- John Reynolds Home
- Lytham and Moorfield Orphanage for Girls
- Moorfield Orphanage
Caritas Care has deposited historical records which relate to St Vincent’s Boy’s Home, with the Archives Service Manager, Lancashire Records Office, Bow Lane, Preston, PR1 2RE. Requests for these records should be made direct to Lancashire Records Office.
Brettargh Holt, the Sacred Heart Convent near Kendal was opened on the 8 December 1944 and was staffed by Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The accommodation for up to 35 mothers and babies was opened in February 1946. The Sacred Heart Maternity Home provided care for unmarried mothers who entered 6 weeks before the birth of their baby and remained for 6 weeks afterwards. If the mother was unable to look after her child, the baby was cared for by the nuns at Lancaster or an adoption would have been arranged.
The former home is now run as a hotel, wedding venue and conference centre and the current owners welcome visitors who are seeking information about Brettargh Holt.
The society arranged between 30 and 40 adoptions a year. From records indicating Baptisms performed at the nearby Church of Holy Trinity & St George in Kendal, it is possible to estimate that approximately 2000 children from the home were baptised in the period 1944-1968.
The changing attitude of society towards unmarried mothers, linked with the Social Security benefits which became available, resulted in the numbers of mothers requiring the home to reduce to a level where it was no longer economically viable and admissions ceased in June 1968.