Inventory Site Record

Barnardo's Village Green (Redbridge)

Brief Description

Dr Barnardo's Village Home for Girls was founded here in 1875, built on part of the estate of Mossford Lodge where Dr Barnardo and his wife Syrie set up home in 1875. Barnardo had the entirely new idea of providing individual 'cottages' for destitute girls of different ages, each supervised by a house mother. The planned community was built around a series of village greens and at one time was home to over 1,000 girls on a site of 60 acres, with schools, a children's church and other facilities; boys were admitted in the 1930s. Some of the first cottages were named after flowers and plants, and the children undertook gardening duties. Dr Barnardo was buried here in 1905, his large memorial located in the grounds. In 1991 the village officially closed as a children's home, and the site is much reduced today although part of the original greens survive. Among fine trees are Scots pines and oak, garden areas include roses and ornamental shrub, and there are 3 Victorian fountains.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Dr Barnardo's Village Home for Girls
Site location:
Tanners Lane, Barkingside, Ilford
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Institutional Grounds
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Has opened for London Open House
Public transport:
Tube: Barkingside (Central). Rail: Ilford then bus. Bus: 128, 150, 167, 169, 462
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.barnardos.org.uk

Full Site Description

Barnardo's Village in Barkingside is the remains of the larger site where Dr Thomas John Barnardo (1845-1905) had founded one of his largest Village Homes for children. It was at one time home to over 1,000 girls on a site of 60 acres between Cranbrook Road and Horn Road. It was built on part of the estate of Mossford Lodge where Dr Barnardo and his wife Syrie Louise Elmslie set up home in 1875 after they were married, a wealthy stockbroker having given them as a wedding present the 21-year lease of Mossford Lodge in 1873. Having previously worked with destitute boys, and apparently prompted by the plea of a small girl called Martha, who knocked on their door asking whether they "took in little girls too", Barnardo started the first home for destitute girls at Barkingside. His father-in-law bought them 13 acres of land near Mossford Lodge upon which his Village Homes were built, designed by the architect C Pite. Barnardo had the entirely new idea of providing individual 'cottages' for girls of different ages, each supervised by a house mother, which were essentially 6-bedroom houses for 15-20 children. The planned community was built around a village green to a design of architect Ebenezer Gregg; by 1880 c.26 cottages had been built with the costs borne by different organisations and individual donors. The detached gabled houses were built of stock brick in simple mid-Victorian style on three sides of a large open green. Some of the first cottages were named after flowers and plants, including Myrtle, Woodbine, Jessamine, Lily, Daisy, Rose, Bluebell, Primrose, Forget-Me-Not, Honeysuckle, and Hawthorn, all completed by 1876.

As part of their life in the village, the children undertook some of the tasks of maintaining their surroundings, including planting and digging in the greens, which were laid out with paths, flower beds, shrubs and trees. More houses surrounding two other village greens were added in Dr Barnardo’s lifetime, together with other buildings such as the 'Children's Church', built in 1892/3 designed by Ebenezer Gregg, which has lower pews than usual to accommodate the children and stained glass designed with children in mind. Cairns Memorial Cottage with a clock tower was built in 1887; two schools were provided, in 1896 and in 1901; and the Edmund Hannay Watts sanatorium opened in 1904. Other educational facilities were added at Barkingside after Barnardo's death in 1905, including the Australasian Quarantine Hospital in 1911, but by that time his charity ran 96 homes and looked after over 8,500 children in many parts of the country. In 1910 the charity, then called Dr Barnardo's Homes, purchased an early C19th estate, Gwynne House, in Woodford Bridge for a Village Home for Boys but this no longer exists, having closed in 1977.

Dr Barnardo had died in Surbiton on 19 September 1905 and his body was moved on 22 September to Limehouse near Stepney Causeway where he had set up his first Boys' Home in 1870 and where he had his headquarters. It remained the headquarters of Barnardo's until 1970. Many people came to pay their respects and the funeral procession then took place on 27 September, attended by thousands. It led through the East End streets to Liverpool Street Station where the coffin was taken by train to Barkingside station, which had opened in 1903. His body then lay in the Village Church until 4 October when it was cremated and the ashes buried in the grounds of the Village Home. Dr Barnardo’s substantial memorial of 1908 stands above his grave on one of the greens, a spot near Cairns Cottage that he had chosen himself. It was executed by Sir George Frampton RA, who undertook the work for no fee; he is particularly known as the sculptor of the statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (q.v.). The 6-metre high granite monument incorporates benches in its curved flanking walls. On the central pediment is Dr Barnardo's portrait in a bronze medallion, above which is a bronze statue of a female figure representing Charity sheltering two children. Below Barnardo's portrait are three seated children who were modelled from girls in the Village Home. The monument has the inscription 'I hope to die as I have lived, in the humble but assured faith of Jesus Christ as my Saviour, my Master, and my King'. His wife Syrie's ashes were later interred here in 1944, with a small memorial in the paving in front of the central plinth.

In the 1930s boys were admitted to the village for the first time. In 1964 there were 60 cottages to accommodate around 600 boys and girls but it was then decided to reduce the number of children to 100 and to house them in smaller family groups, consistent with thinking at that time. In 1967 what had been the orchard was cleared to build the new Barnardo's headquarters, which moved here in 1969. In the same year 30 acres of land were sold to LB Redbridge, but later resold for a new supermarket. Other facilities on the site over the next decade included New Mossford, opened in 1975, a residential school for young people with disabilities, although long-term residential care ceased in 1979. By 1986 there were only 44 children living here and in 1991 the village officially closed as a children's home, deemed 'too isolated from the community' and 'outdated' in terms of modern childcare. Many of the cottages were used for offices and staff accommodation, and in 2000 11 cottages were leased to Anchor Housing Association.

The site is much reduced and today less than half of the original greens survive but the remaining features are protected as a Conservation Area. Among the trees are notable Scots pines and oak, and there a number of garden areas, including roses and ornamental shrubs. By 1997 the three Victorian fountains, which include a 3-tiered concrete fountain, had been restored, and in 1999 replica iron gates, railings and lanterns were installed at the main entrance by the Camelia Botnar Foundation. The Cairns Clocktower has also been restored and its chimes reinstated. The centenary of Barnardo's death was celebrated in 2005, when one of the remaining cottages, Cambridge Cottage, was renovated with displays and memorabilia to recreate what they were like in his time. A Masterplan for the whole site has now been prepared, with designs for a new headquarters building. Dr Barnardo's Memorial will be relocated as part of re-landscaping and construction works.

Sources consulted:

EH history files; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Edward Walford, 'Village London, the Story of Greater London, Part 2 - North and East', first published 1883/4 (1985 ed., The Alderman Press); Victoria County History; Arthur Mee, 'The King's England: London North of the Thames except the City and Westminster', (Hodder & Stoughton 1972); Ilford, Old Photographs Series, Ian Dowling and Nick Harris, (Alan Sutton Ltd, 1994); Postcard of the Month no 33 February 2003 on www.eastlondonpostcard.co.uk; series of leaflets produced by Barnardo's.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ445896 (544461,189588)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Site management:
Ebenezer Gregg
Listed structures:
LBII*: Dr Barnardo's Memorial by George Frampton. LBII: Cairns Cottage; 22 cottage homes, two of 1879, 18 of 1887, 2 of 1903; Children's Church; Lodge and boundary walls on Tanners Lane; C19th Fountain
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

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:
Barnardo's Village Homes
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Proposal Site; Strategic Footpath runs through site
A View in the Girls' Village Homes, c.1920s. Courtesy Redbridge Local Studies & Archives.

Click a photo to enlarge.

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