Annie Croall, Founder of the Stirling’s Children’s Home

Founder of the Stirling’s Children’s Home, Annie Knight Croall (1854-1927) is one of the unsung heroines of Scottish history.  She was the daughter of the first curator of the Smith Institute, and came from Leeds to Stirling at the age of 19.  A deeply spiritual person, her work for neglected and orphaned children started after she found a baby on the Back Walk, left there by its mother who had gone into town for a drink and had been arrested.

In the 1870s there was no social provision for children in need, and Annie Croall struggled to find the means of housing and sustaining those who were sent to her.   She managed to purchase Whinwell House in 1890 and set up a Dorcas Society whose members sewed clothing for the children.  Many of the children were put into emigration schemes at the age of 14, and sent to Canada and Australia.  The Stirling Children’s Home continued to be run by a board of Trustees, until 1980, when the responsibilities were transferred to the Aberlour Childcare Trust.

Annie Croall described her life as “Fifty years on a Scottish Battlefield.” She is buried in the Valley Cemetery. The photograph was gifted by W. F. T. Anderson.


  1. REPLY
    Maureen Bundy says


    • REPLY
      Helen says

      Hi Maureen
      My aunt was in the home until 1944 I am trying to get her a copy of the books Annie Croall wrote and I believe there was 3. She had many happy years there and she loves to look back and she herself has written little stories of her memories there. I would dearly love a copy if you could guide me where to get them. I do so hope you can help.
      Kind regards

      NOTE: Hi Helen, I removed your email address for safety. If both you and Maureen have trouble linking up, let me know and I’ll pass the message over for you.

      Best wishes,


    • REPLY
      Eleanor Mitchell says

      Hi Maureen , do you know where I can get a copy of the book from? My grandmother and her 3 sisters were in whinwell from 1917 for 13 years and I am trying to find out what it may have been like for them in those days ?

      • REPLY
        grace burke says

        hi were the sisters penmans as my gran was their aswell with sister mary jean margaret and grace

  2. REPLY
    Billie Graves says

    My mom and her siblings were in Whinwell around early 40’s. I would really like to find out more. Mother is still alive but misses Scotland. We currently live in Nevada, USA.

  3. REPLY
    Sheila Mackenzie says

    Hi Eleanor, this is a long shot but were the sisters daughters of William Penman died 1915 in WW1, mother died in 1917? I am doing family research and if this is correct is there any way you can get in touch. Thanks

    • REPLY
      Eleanor Mitchell says

      Hi Shiela , yes you are correct . I think you are related to my Auntie May McKenzie?? Her sister Grace was my grandmother ? I would love to search the records at the home as I think we could find out so much of what it must have been like for them in those days ! I believe you can see the records in Stirling . I have done quite a bit of the family tree and it is fascinating . Lovely to hear from you

    • REPLY
      Eleanor Mitchell says

      Hi Shiela , did you get my post ? Yes this is the correct family

  4. REPLY
    Eleanor says

    Hi Sheila , yes you have the right family ! I think you might be living in Ireland now ? Your relatives are my great Aunt Mary (May)
    Can this site share my email with you ? Eleanor

  5. REPLY
    Eleanor says

    Yes Sheila it is the right family . We are related through my great Aunt Mary (May) who spent time as a child with my grandmother and their 2 other sisters.

  6. REPLY
    Diana says

    Hi Eleanor
    I have made contact with Shiela through Ancestry and she has helped me so much so can I jump in too, my grandmother was Margaret and my mother is Elizabeth and she has fond memories of being on the farm at Drip end with her Auntie Grace. It would be great to keep in touch and share family memories. I was just looking for a bit more information on the home and knew who you were talking about then saw that Sheila had replied.

    • REPLY
      Eleanor Mitchell says

      Hi Diana, so lovely to hear from you . If I can be put in touch with you that would be great . Isn’t it amazing those sisters survived all thanks to Annie Croall . I have found out some more very interesting information too as to why they ended up in there and the events afterwards. I am on my heritage . Do you use this ? I will look out for your contact details . My mother Margaret is still alive and was named after your grandmother! She has many memories still to share

  7. REPLY
    Pam McNicol says

    Records of the Whinwell HGome are held at Stirling Council Archives. Anyone with an enquiry about the records is welcome to drop us an email at

  8. REPLY
    Edna Mason says

    My cousin John Curry was in Whinwell Home.

  9. REPLY
    Ken Auld says

    Hi my name is Ken, I was at the Whinwell home I think from about 1968 to 1971, along with my sister Jackie. I have fond memories of the place. Mrs Richie was the matron. I remember getting a penny from her at the front door to put in my sporran, us all then getting march up to the Holy Rude church for Sunday service in our Kilts and Sunday best. The penny went into the collection tray. The Sunday school was also great because you could play with lego. Also I believe they used to hold back Christmas presents and then drip feed them during the year for being good. If you got the belt at the territorial primary school close to the home, as I often did, then you got whacked with a table tennis bat at the home as well, I make it sound worst then it was. The kindness of the staff is what I remember most. I made several attempts to run away initially but didn’t get far. I lived on the Cornton estate before the home, my Dad was not around and my mum had to work so I was a naughty kid. The home gave me a different way to think and made me determined to better myself, have not looked back since.

Post a comment

nineteen − 4 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.