Children's Cottage Homes


Cottage Homes were developed in the late 19th century to accommodate in orphan and destitute children who would previously have been placed in the workhouse.  


Typically, the homes would have been a number - perhaps 10 or more - large houses in which 10 - 30 children lived with a live-in foster mother. On site would have been the other facilities a large group of children needed including perhaps a school, sports facility such as a playing field or swimming pool, medical unit, porter's lodge, chapel and cottage garden.


Within the homes, children could be cared for, given a basic education and training to enable them to find work after they left care.


When the workhouses closed however, the cottage homes associated with them did not. Instead, the homes continued to provide residential childcare right into the twentieth century. In some cases, these Victorian children's 'villages' remained in use as children's homes until the 1980s.


While thousands and thousands of children spent all or part of their childhoods in cottage homes during their 100+ years' history, little is actually known about what life was like in these institutions.


Gudrun Limbrick of WordWorks has set up the children's cottage homes website as the first dedicated directory of cottage homes in England and Wales. The initiative is a unique experiment in wide-scale online oral history gathering. People who lived or worked in the homes are asked to contribute their memories so that we can all learn what life was in the homes over ther years.