The Old Parish of Nonington

A small place in East Kent history

The Orphanage at the Nonington Vicarage

The Nonington Orphanage.

In the autumn of 1872 the Reverend Frederick Chalmers, then vicar of Beckenham in Kent, was appointed as vicar of Nonington. The Reverend had been running an orphanage at Beckenham for several years a part of which, along with his wife and the children, he literally moved to Nonington with him. The Beckenham orphanage had an iron hut in the garden for the children to play in and this was brought to the vicarage at Nonington, now “Hatchetts” at the top of Oak Hill (Vicarage Lane), where, according to a contemporary letter by Catherine Marsh, it was ” set up in the Vicarage Garden, to the delight of the orphans. It was sufficient for the small number of children now left in it”. 
The orphanage appears to have been in a building or buildings attatched to the vicarage as the Reverend Chalmers and his household are listed as living in the vicarage in the 1881 census.

The 1881 census listed the following as living in the orphanage::

Sarah Fagg, Head, 43, Matron

Emma D. W. Evans, boarder, 32, Elementary School Teacher

Emily Phillips orphan, 23, general servant.


Mary A. Garland 13 London, Middlesex, England

Sidney Davies 14 Bromley, Kent, England

Letitia M. Potter 15 Beckenham, Kent, England

Emily Rudd 12 London, Middlesex, England

Annie Dennis 12 London, Middlesex, England

Louisa J. Clayson 10 Nonington, Kent, England

Richard Tapsell 9 Sundridge, Kent, England

Walter O. Scott 13 London, Middlesex, England

Edith C. Fagg, niece, orphan, 9, Yorkshire, Sheffield

Thomas C.H. Bailey 8 Beckenham, Kent, England

The orphanage appears to have closed when the Reverend Chalmers died on 15th July, 1885, during his service at Nonington. He was succeeded by the Reverend Frederick Carus Wilson.

Below are the obituaries of the Reverend Chalmers and two of his sons.


  1. beth wilson

    My great grandfather, Aubrey Neville, was born in Paris and was apparently brought up in the Nonington orphanage. He went to sea and eventually settled here in Australia. I have letters written to him between 1880 and 1885 from the Nonington Vicarage, the 1885 letter informing him of the death of Mr. Chalmers. In one letter he is advised not to come back yet, as the orphans he knew have all moved on and financially times are not good. I wondered if you had any information on Aubrey. Perhaps his parents came from Kent, something happened to them and he was sent back to Kent. His father’s occupation is listed as soldier.
    I would be very grateful for any information you might have.
    Yours sincerely, Beth Wilson

    • Thanks for the info, but I unfortunately have no further details of the orphanage other than what I’ve gleaned from the cencuses and the internet.

      • beth wilson

        Thank you so much for replying. We treasure Aubrey’s old letters, but don’t seem to be able to make any progress.

        Regards, Beth

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