Ancestry UK

Fairfield, Harrogate, West Riding of Yorkshire

A children's home was founded in around 1907 at 132 Pannal Ash Road, Harrogate. It was the result of a gift by Sir W.P. and Lady Hartley to the Primitive Methodist Church. The establishment adopted the "cottage homes" principle, with groups of children (six boys and six girls) living in family groups in domestic-scale houses. Each home was under the charge of two house-mothers — members of the Methodist Sisterhood of single women trained for the role. Four pairs of houses were eventually erected, together with a chapel, assembly hall, and residences for the principal and the warden.

The location and later layout of the home is shown on the 1967 map below.

Fairfield home site, Pannal Ash, Harrogate, c.1967.

Children's cottages at Fairfield, Pannal Ash, Harrogate, date unknown. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1932, the Primitive and the Wesleyan Methodists united to form the Methodist Church and the home, now known as Fairfield, was then taken over by the National Children's Home (NCH), previously a Wesleyan organisation. The same happened to the home's sister establishment at Old Alresford in Hampshire which took children from the south of England.

Assembly hall and chapel at Fairfield home, Pannal Ash, Harrogate, date unknown. © Peter Higginbotham

Inmates and staff of Fairfield home, Pannal Ash, Harrogate, date unknown. © Peter Higginbotham

The Harrogate home closed in 1984 and the buildings were demolished a couple of years later. Modern housing now covers the site.

Just to the south of Fairfield was the NCH's Wellfield home.


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.

  • Action For Children (formerly the National Children's Home). Can provide access to their own records for individuals who were adopted through the charity or who resided in one of its homes. Help also for those searching for family history information.


  • Bradfield, William The Life of the Reverend Thomas Bowman Stephenson (1913, Kelly)
  • Curnock, Nehemiah The Story of the Children's Home (C.H. Kelly, 1901)
  • Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain's Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
  • Horner, Francis Shadow and Sun (Epworth Press, 1920)
  • Howard, Philip J Philip: a Strange Child (Dalkeith Publishing, 2007)
  • Philpot, Terry Action For Children (Lion, 1994)
  • Walpole, Cecil F. Golden Links (Epworth Press, 1941)