Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys, Hornsey, London

The Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys was opened by the Waifs and Strays Society in 1918 at 122 Hillfield Avenue, Hornsey. The home was named after Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, Britain's Secretary of State for War during the First World War and the face on the famous 'Your Country Needs You' poster. He was killed in June 1916 when HMS Hampshire, taking him to negotiations in Russia, was sunk by a mine. The Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys was opened 'primarily for those lads whose fathers had in "the Great War" freely laid down their lives for king and country'. The formal opening of the home, on July 11th, 1918, was performed by the Duke of Connaught, with the Bishop of London performing a ceremony of dedication.

Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys, Hornsey, 1917. © Peter Higginbotham

Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys, Hornsey, 1917. © Peter Higginbotham

The four-story building, previously known as Carleton House, stood in nearly an acre of grounds and could accommodate 48 boys aged from 8 to 14. After its conversion by the Society, the ground floor included a play room, reading room, Master's sitting room, dining room, kitchen, larder and pantry. The first floor contained two large dormitories, the Master's bedroom, an assistant's bedroom, and a chapel. The second floor held three further dormitories, another assistant's bedroom, a guest room, and a bathroom. The top floor included a sewing room but was mainly used as storage space. The basement of the building contained a workshop ad a room for coats and boots. The only completely new portion of building was the gymnasium. The walls of the house were decorated with pictures of battles and war heroes, while a Union flag was permanently flown outside the home. Fund-raising by the Society's Hereford branch raised the sum of £250 for an 'Old Boys' Bed' to provided in perpetuity at the home, with preference to be given to a Herefordshire boy.

First inmate of Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys, Hornsey, 1917. © Peter Higginbotham

Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys, Hornsey, c.1918. © Peter Higginbotham

Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys, Hornsey, c.1920. © Peter Higginbotham

Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys, Hornsey, c.1925. © Peter Higginbotham

The home was closed at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 and the residents evacuated to Cowdray House at Midhurst in Sussex. The home was wound up in 1941.

The property later housed the Kitchener Memorial Training College. It has now been converted to flats.

Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys, Hornsey, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys, Hornsey, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Records

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.

Bibliography

  • 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.