Hidden Lives Revealed. A virtual archive - children in care 1881-1981 * Image of handwritten text

Kitchener Memorial Home For Boys, Hornsey

Photograph of Kitchener Memorial Home For Boys, Hornsey

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Kitchener Memorial Home For Boys, Hornsey

122 Hillfield Avenue, Hornsey, London

(1918 - 1939)

Lord Kitchener, the face of Alfred Leete's 'You Country Needs You' posters from Punch Magazine and the Secretary of War during the First World War, died aboard HMS Hampshire after it struck a mine on the way to Russia in June 1916. In his honour the Society decided a memorial home should be built. This became the Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys and was 'primarily for those lads whose fathers had in 'the Great War' freely laid down their lives for king and country'. Suitable premises were found in 1907, at 122 Hillfield Avenue.

The building, which we believe was called Carleton House, could accommodate 50 boys, and looked out over an acre of land. The ground floor included a dining-room, play-room, reading-room, the master's sitting-room, kitchen, larder and pantry. The first floor boasted two large dormitories, the master's bedroom, an assistant's bedroom, and a prayer room. On the second floor were three more smaller dormitories, another assistant's bedroom, a guestroom and a bathroom. The third floor was used mainly for storage but also included a sewing room. The basement was used as a small workshop, and also as storage for the boys' boots and coats. The architect of the house also added some out-buildings, including some offices and a gym. In keeping with the military theme, the interior of the house was furnished with pictures of war heroes and representations of battle scenes. The Union Jack flew outside the Home at all times in honour of Kitchener's Memory.

The Home's opening was delayed when the Ministry of Munitions stopped construction work because of the war - the building materials were too valuable and costly. Officially the Home opened on 11 July 1918 with 20 boys already resident. HRH the Duke of Connaught and the Bishop of London opened and dedicated the Home, and everybody and everyone turned up, including Mrs Parker, Lord Kitchener's sister. So many people attended the ceremony, that the band had to play in the bathroom with WT Curtis, the Honorary Secretary, trying to keep everything organised!

Even though it stood as a memorial to a great war hero, the Home ironically closed at the onset of the Second World War. In 1939 the boys were evacuated to Midhurst, in Sussex, which closed in 1941 for reasons of economy.

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