Thornham / Henniker Memorial Home for Boys, Gislingham, Eye, Suffolk

In 1870-1, a cottage hospital was erected at at Mellis Road, Gislingham, near Eye. The cost of the establishment was funded by Lord Henniker (John Henniker-Major) — local land-owner, MP, first chairman of East Suffolk County Council and Lord-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria. Thornham Memorial Cottage Hospital, as it was known, commemorated Lord Henniker's late father and the family home, Thornham Hall.

The hospital appears not to have received sufficient use to justify its continuation and in 1891 the premises were donated to the Waifs and Strays Society, and became known as the Thornham Memorial Home for Boys. In around 1900, however, the establishment was renamed the Henniker Memorial Home, commemorating its benefactor. The home could accommodate up to nine boys aged from 6 to 12 years.

The home closed in 1901, at which date the matron was Miss Annie Cooke, assisted by her sister Elizabeth.


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.


  • Bowder, Bill Children First: a photo-history of England's children in need (1980, Mowbray)
  • Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society [Rudolfe, Edward de Montjoie] The First Forty Years: a chronicle of the Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society 1881-1920 (1922, Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society / S.P.C.K.)
  • Rudolf, Mildred de Montjoie Everybody's Children: the story of the Church of England Children's Society 1921-1948 (1950, OUP)
  • Stroud, John Thirteen Penny Stamps: the story of the Church of England Children's Society (Waifs and Strays) from 1881 to the 1970s (1971, Hodder and Stoughton)
  • Morris, Lester The Violets Are Mine: Tales of an Unwanted Orphan (2011, Xlibris Corporation) — memoir of a boy growing up in several of the Society's homes (Princes Risborough, Ashdon, Hunstanton, Leicester) in the 1940s and 50s.