Hornchurch Cottage Homes
Hornchurch, Essex


The Shoreditch Guardians of the Poor opened Hornchurch Cottage Homes in 1889. They continued in use as children's homes until 1984  - a full 95 years of residential childcare.


The homes were on Hornchurch Road, Hornchurch, Romford, Essex. At the time, being moved to Hornchurch from Shoreditch must have been quite a culture shock, leaving behind the crowded, poor environment of London.


Like many cottage homes, it was laid out on a priovate street, with eleven detached two-storey cottages, each one housing 30 children. On site, there were three schools - for boys and girls and infants, a swimming pool, a band room, stores, workshops (in which children used practical skills such as carpentry and shoe-mending) and an infirmary. When the home closed in 1984, a a new housing estate was built in its place.


Early life in the homes was described in the 1900 novel A son of the state by Williams Pett Ridge [2]. 

One of the cottages of Hornchurch Cottage Homes in 1931
Hornchurch Children's Homes, 117 Hornchurch Road, Romford: cottage image © London Metropolitan Archives (City of London).

Donated by Ernie Dunsford, this postcard is captioned 'Presentation to Flight Lt. WL Robinson VC at Cottage Homes, Hornchurch Sept. 1916'.

Do you know what this event was all about?



After puzzling over what this photograph might be about for a long while, we've just received this from Tony B - "Lt William Leefe Robinson (based at Suttons Farm Airfield, Hornchurch) was the first airman to shoot down a German airship on 2/3 Sept 1916. He was awarded a VC a few days later and among the celebrations, nationally and locally, there was a presentation of silver cup to him at the Cottage Homes: there’s a film of this visit on Pathe News I recall."



Thanks Tony!




Do you have memories of living

in the homes at Hornchurch

that you would like to share?


We would love to hear from you.




Extensive records of the Hornchurch Cottage Homes can be found in the London Metropolitan Archives in Clerkenwell. These include registers of children and staff, building plans, photographs.


The website of the London Metropolitan Archives can be found at www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/lma

[2]. I have found an online version of this novel at http://www.onread.com/book/a-son-of-the-state-165171/ viewed 22nd June 2011