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St Leonard's Cottage Homes Havering


St Leonard's Cottage Homes was established on former farmland of Harrow Lodge by the Poor Law Guardians of the Parish of St Leonard in Shoreditch, desirous of re-locating the destitute children of their parish to healthier, rural surroundings. The pioneering scheme had 11 2-storey 'cottages', each housing 30 children, built facing each other across a wide gravelled roadway that ran south from the entrance and Warden's lodge on Hornchurch Road. It was provided with a school, swimming bath, workshops and infirmary, and landscaping was an important component. A communal green space, front and back gardens as well as vegetable gardens and orchard, tennis courts and cricket were provided. The homes closed in 1984, becoming largely derelict, but from 1990 has been converted for private residence. Although the unity and much of the detail of the original layout are lost, it preserves a sense of its former character.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
St Leonard's Children's Home; Hornchurch Cottage Homes

Site location:
St Leonard's Way, Landseer Close, Wallis Close, The Mall, Hornchurch

RM11 1FN ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Housing/Estate Landscaping


F J Smith

Listed structures:
LBII: Former School Hall and Chapel


Site ownership:
Public realm: LB Havering

Site management:

Open to public?

Opening times:
public open space is accessible

Special conditions:



Public transport:
Rail: Emerson Park then bus. Tube: Upminster Bridge (District) then bus

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/10/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Further Information

Grid ref:

Size in hectares:
original site: c.32

Green Flag:

On EH National Register :

EH grade:

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:

In Conservation Area:

Conservation Area name:
St Leonard's

Tree Preservation Order:

Nature Conservation Area:

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:
Yes - Archaeological Priority Zone

Other LA designation:

Fuller information

St Leonard's Cottage Homes, variously called St Leonard's Children's Home or Hornchurch Cottage Home, now private housing, is of interest for its place in social history, demonstrating enlightened attitudes towards the care of orphans and children of destitute families. It was built as a planned self-sufficient 'village' in rural surroundings by the Poor Law Guardians of the Parish of St Leonard in Shoreditch who wanted to re-locate the destitute children of their East End parish to healthier surroundings. This had been an objective as early as 1855, following a critical review of their workhouse in Shoreditch in 1847, and they may have been influenced by Dr Barnardo's Village (q.v.) established in Barkingside in 1870, where 'cottages' were arranged around village 'greens', with church, school and other amenities provided for the children's welfare. The Guardians purchased farmland within then rural Harrow Lodge and the 'village' was designed by F J Smith. It comprised 11 2-story 'cottages' each housing 30 children, with a school, swimming bath, workshops and infirmary, and a lodge for the warden at the north by the main entrance. The 'cottages' were given names that either evoked nature - Hawthorn, Laurel, Woodbine, Rose, Myrtle and Ivy - or commemorated famous people - Nelson, Wellington, Napier, Milton and Landseer. A wide gravelled internal road, named The Mall, ran from north to south though the village, and had a number of purposes, used as a roadway, for marshalling the children and for events. The houses that faced each other across this expanse had front and back gardens, and later grass verges became part of the landscaping. There were vegetable gardens and greenhouses on the west side and an orchard, fruit bushes, flower border and bees in the north east of the site. Tennis courts and a cricket pavilion were also provided.

However, in 1930 the site was closed following changes to the Poor Law, and it was taken over first by the LCC and then by LB Tower Hamlets and survived until 1984. From that time the overall unity of the village began to be diminished, with loss of surrounding land to development and in 1990, with part of the site already re-developed, the original buildings were becoming derelict. Following an appeal lodged by, among others, the Victorian Society and English Heritage, consent was given for a scheme to convert the houses as private residences. A number of the now derelict ancillary buildings such the swimming pool, workshops and infirmary were demolished and a new road, St Leonard's Way, was constructed as the point of access. The original layout was such that the main entrance was by the lodge on Hornchurch Road, leading to The Mall and a central green; the workshops and swimming pool were formerly to the west. The southern end was originally open, now closed by new housing, but mature trees remain. In the process of conversion to smaller units, the buildings lost some of their distinctive features such as their timber windows, doors and decorative bargeboards, although their bays, porches and chimneys were largely retained. The School Hall and Chapel remain although a statue of a woman with a boy and a girl formerly in the porch niche has since been removed and is now in the V&A Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green (q.v.). An early C19th sculpture, which has the inscription of its pottery manufacturer, 'Van Spangen and Powell, Mile End', was originally in the parish school in Kingsland Road, Shoreditch. The elaborate lodge and Warden's House also remains. The central green space remains, with a new open space where the former swimming pool and other amenities once stood; while there are some mature trees, the landscape is relatively bland. Garages and parking areas intrude, as does municipal-style street lighting and furniture, tarmaced road surfaces and pathways.

Sources consulted:

Paul Drury Partnership, 'St Leonard’s Hornchurch Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Proposals', revised 2007; Bridget Cherry, Charles O'Brien, Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 5: East', Yale University Press, 2005.

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