St George's House,
Northern Police Orphanage. 1898-1956  Harrogate, Yorkshire, England.

 

 

 

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Christmas & Winter

All children love Christmas time and St George's orphans were no different to any other in that respect. Miss Knocker and her staff made every effort to make it a happy time for all of the children who were away from their families.

                                                                            

The warm and close relationship that St George's House had with St Andrew's Police Convalescent Home, located 'next door', was never more apparent than at Christmas time. The children usually always stayed at St George's during the Christmas holiday period and one of the traditions carried out every year was the 'Stirring of the Christmas Pudding' during the evening, at St George's. Miss Knocker would invite the St Andrew's police 'inmates' to come over to St George's. The children, staff and men would all assemble in the Senior Girls' Playroom, the fireplace was lit and each child would be called up to the huge mixing bowl to stir the pudding mix with large wooden spoons. If there was a policeman present from the child's Force, he would be called up to mix the pudding with the relevant child. All of the men and children were involved, stirring the mix and making a wish.

                                  
                                   St George's House at Christmas time

Christmas was a wonderful time at St George's, every year Miss Knocker would prepare a hand written Christmas Calendar of Events and activities, which was huge and displayed in the Hall for all to see, amongst which were included:
                 Christmas Church services.
                 A Christmas Carol event held in the Assembly Room.
                 Various Police Force Concert Parties coming to St George's and performing for the children in the Gym.
                 The children each writing a letter to Father Christmas requesting a special gift.
                 The Childrens own Christmas Party, where small presents would be exchanged between children. 
                 Games to be played in the Gym: musical chairs, reel dancing and other games.
                 Film shows for the children.
                 Magic Lantern Slide Shows, usually about trips to foreign lands etc.


                                                         
                                                  
      Posting letters to Father Christmas.
                                                          
Left side: Tom Berry & Rhoda Smith the other two children, unknown.

On Christmas morning, instead of being awakened at 6.20am by a bell ringing, Miss Knocker, dressed as Father Christmas, would blow a horn at the top of the main staircase and when washed and dressed, bedside prayers said, both boys and girls would gather at the staircase and at a further blowing of the horn, we would run around our separate wings searching for our name tagged Christmas stockings, which the staff had hidden around the house on Christmas Eve night. On one occasion one boy still hadn't found his stocking by the time the breakfast bell had rung.
After breakfast we were all sent outside to see if the Postman was calling on us, it was then the boy eventually found his stocking, which was on the top of the flagpole on the top turret of St George's
At breakfast, on each side plate, there would be coins with little slips of paper telling us that 1/-s, 2/-s, 3/-s etc had been donated to each child by a particular Police Force. The money would be held in the office by Miss Adams, under the name of each child, to be used for special occasions.

                                                                                              

After tea on Christmas Day, we all gathered in the Gym and a man, dressed in Father Christmas outfit, would hand out presents to the children from a huge Christmas tree on the stage.  These gifts were officially paid for by what would have been the equivalent of St George's Police Trust, as it is now, the present was usually what the child had asked for in the letter to Santa Claus. Other gifts from the childrens families were also distributed, every child receiving one, even if they had no surviving parents.

                                                                                              


The St Andrew's policemen were also invited to attend our Police Concerts, our Christmas Parties, Christmas Dance and our Christmas Present evening, in fact the role of Father Christmas was more often than not carried out by one of the St Andrew's men.  On all of these occasions the children were permitted to mix freely with the policemen, to chat and laugh and many remember those times with great fondness.Many children felt that they were their 'fathers' for the day.
The association with St Andrew's carries on to this day through the Old boys and Old girls, who meet for coffee every year at St Andrew's, after their main annual reunion at the Majestic, Harrogate.

                    
           Invitation to St Andrew's                                                    Practice tasting of Christmas pudding

                    
           The official mixing of Christmas pudding                                 Older children decorating the rooms

                     
           Christmas carol singing                                                        Out on the toboggans 


                      
           The attraction of Christmas           'Twas the night before Christmas.....        Present time

          
      Opening the stockings                                                     Time for a snowball fight

         
      Trudging back home through the snow                              The religious influence showing through on our Christmas card

     The Christmas Story reproduced below was written for the Harrogate Grammar School magazine, Summer 1946 edition, by  
     John Milburn, St George's child number 490 at age 14 years 1 month.

                            
                                    The 1946 magazine.                               John G. Milburn 490. Photo taken 1976.

                             John Milburn joined the Police Force (possibly Northumberland) and quickly rose through
                             the ranks to become the youngest Inspector in his Force. When he retired, John
                             took on the role as publican of The Rising Sun in Christchurch, Dorset. John had a brother
                             Tom, and two sisters, Evelyn & Margaret (Peggy).

                                   
                                   
                                    This magazine kindly supplied by St George's supporters, Clarrie & Mollie East.
                             Mollie, an old girl of Harrogate Grammar School, recalls that St George's pupils
                             attending HGS, were allowed to wear their blue uniforms instead of the usual
                             brown school uniform. Her maiden name was Mollie Hugill and she left HGS in                                                            1946. 

                             Shown below is a 1947 Christmas card sent by Miss Knocker to the Bracken family

                                   

                                   

                   
                            
                                                     This is an example of a Christmas postcard sent by the Bracken children
                                          to their mother Hannah Bracken, it was supplied to them by the Lady
                                          Superintendent of that time, Miss Emma Chapman.                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                
  

                                                                  

During the war years times were hard, nevertheless we recall Christmas time at St George's with great feelings of happiness and delight. The pent up excitement when we waited outside the Gymnasium  (the children's stockings were all tied to the monkey bars and the climbing ropes, and hidden in all manner of places) then, with permission, to rush in and search for a stocking with ones name on it, was both exhilarating and memorable.

                                                                                                   

              
 

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                                         Email contact: stgeorgesharrogate@gmail.com