Dorset reformatories


In February 2014, the Mirror published photographs of children who had been convicted of a crime and sentenced to time spent in reform schools in Dorset.




St Andrew's Reformatory and Boys' Industrial School. Based in Milborne, this school was set up in the late nineteenth century (c.1857) by JC Mansel-Pleydell


Established earlier in the nineteenth century was the 'Little Commonwealth' boys' reformatory at Flowers Farm, Batcombe, which was running from the 1820s. [see correction on the right].


It seems that at the time of the photographs, some children may also have been sent further afield - to Limpley Stoke Reformatory School in Somerset.




There are some annual reports and other records from St Andrew's school which are held by the Dorset Archives in the Dorset History Centre:


- Annual Reports of Milborne St Andrew Reformatory and Boys Industrial School  1857 - 183


- Pamphlet describing the work of the school, 1900


- Newspaper cuttings of addresse s given by J C Mansel-Pleydell about school, 1861 and 1863


- Letters from ex-pupils, some serving in S African war, 1898-1900


- Correspondence on handing over of school to Dorset County Council 1900-1


- Memorandum by County Council on adopting school, with summary of accounts, 1900  


The Dorset History Centre website is here.








































We have been sent the following information from Hugh:


"The Little Commonwealth was actually 1913 - 1918. It had both boys and girls. See A Dorset Utopia by Judith Stinton for the full story. Homer Lane was the famous man there. After it closed it became a religious community, as it continues to be today, and I am a member. A conference in 2013 celebrated the Little Commonwealth's centenary - see details at

I discovered your website because I live at the place itself, and am researching its history further, and your website came up when i searched for Flowers Farm."


Thanks Hugh!