CHURCH authorities have apologised to the family of a woman who took her own life years after alleged abuse at a Kendal maternity home.

Stephen Hindley said he believed his wife Judith took her own life in 2006 as a result of trauma she faced at the St Monica's Maternity Home.

She was 17 in 1963 when she was sent to the home for unmarried mothers to have their children.

The Diocese of Carlisle, which ran the home in Dalton Drive, said it was shocked after Mr Hindley claimed his wife was mistreated and suffered the loss of her baby - also called Stephen - after bosses allegedly refused to allow hospital care.

The child was reportedly buried in an unmarked grave at Kendal's cemetery, with tens of other babies from the home now also feared to have been buried in that way. 

Diocese leaders have urged others who may have been affected to come forward.

Meanwhile, calls have been made for a police investigation into baby deaths at the home.

Speaking to the BBC, which first reported the claims, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron, said:  "It's appalling, I'm utterly heartbroken for Stephen and for Judith, who passed away, and for all their family.

"It's utterly horrific and what this has revealed is that, it looks like, in a cemetery that I know well, there are perhaps tens of babies, unnamed in an unmarked grave, who died due to poor care at St Monica's in the 1960s in Kendal.

"It's tragic and horrific to think what those women went through and what they may still be going through.

"There needs to be a police investigation and every one of those babies needs to be named and remembered and justice needs to be done."

Cumbria Police said it had not received any reports in relation to the issue but has urged anyone with information to come forward.

In a statement, the Diocese of Carlisle said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr Hindley and his family after he came forward with accounts of historical abuse suffered by his wife, Judith, and which centre on the Diocese of Carlisle’s former St Monica’s Maternity Home.

"It is shocking to learn of such mistreatment, and we offer our sincere apologies and deepest sympathy to Mr Hindley and his family.

"Huge trust will have been placed on those who supported the young women and girls at St Monica’s, and we are truly sorry if that trust was breached in the care of Mrs Hindley and her baby, Stephen, leading to her long-term mental health issues."

The diocese said its safeguarding adviser had made contact with Mr Hindley, adding: "We are grateful for him coming forward and fully appreciate how difficult and upsetting a process this continues to be for him and his family.

"We are committed to continue to work alongside Mr Hindley as he seeks answers and furthermore, we are fully prepared to co-operate with other statutory agencies as necessary."

The home opened in 1918 before moving to Dalton Drive in 1933. It closed in 1970, with the building becoming retirement home Silver Howe.

Carlisle Diocese said people affected can contact the diocesan safeguarding adviser, Joanna Van Lachterop, on 07458 016884 or at