25 April 2011
THE CONVOCATION LECTURESHIP OF THE NATIONAL CHILDREN’S HOME
“I SAT WHERE THEY SAT”
At the Convocation of 1945 the workers of the National Children’s Home decided to institute
A CONVOCATION LECTURESHIP
and for this purpose to invite to the Annual Convocation a distinguished exponent of some aspect of child-welfare practice.
It was further agreed that this series of Convocation Lectures thus constituted should be published and circulated as widely as possible as a timely contribution towards the solution of some of the most important and pressing problems of child care.
The former lectures in this series included:
1954: ‘I Sat Where They Sat’, by Rev John H. Litten, CBE; formerly Principal National Children’s Home.
In this Lecture, the Rev John Litten states:-
“It will be remembered that, when the founder opened his first little home at Lambeth, it was for boys only, but it is significant that he did not call it a Boys’ Home, for he knew that his work was bound to grow, and would need room to shelter girls as well. There were many compelling reasons for this. In addition to the fact orphanhood and neglect befell girls as well as boys, there were, alas in the New Cut, the Mint, and the highways and byways of the Waterloo neighbourhood, many poor girls, unprotected and undefended, who were in sorrier and more perilous plight than even were the boys. From his first beginnings, therefore the Founder’s title for his life-work was THE CHILDREN’S HOME. Wings were added to it later – on the one side NATIONAL, and on the other side AND ORPHANAGE. They are descriptive wings, but they don’t fly.
What’s in a name? A great deal may be in it when it is well and wisely chosen, and THE CHILDREN’S HOME is a good name. In the shortest possible compass it describes, without patronage or immoderate sentiment, WHAT is being done – the care of CHILDREN; and then HOW it is being done – by finding them a HOME. It is a name, too, that with the years has gathered to itself the happy associations and the sustained affection of one of the biggest families in the world.
It is good to see, too, throughout the Home’s widespread family to-day that many happy, homely, and distinctive names are being used, not only for individual houses, but for whole Branches. Each Branch of the Children’s Home has, of course, its official letter-heading for formal and business correspondence. This gives particulars of the central Headquarters, the local Branch address, and the names and functions of the Home’s central executive, as well as the name of the Branch Governor, or Sister-in-charge; but it may be much less embarrassing for both staff and children – especially the older ones – when writing personal letters to their friends, to do so under a note-paper heading that does not tell everybody everything every time, for those who live in the Children’s Home can use their own happy, distinctive, and homely designations, such as Holmwood, Highfield, Danesford, Evenley Hall, Tregarn, Penhurst, Headlands, Sea View, Ryalls Court – and all the rest of them. It may, perhaps, seem a small thing to which to call attention – but it is not so little as it looks.”