London Orphan Asylum



General View of the London Orphan Asylum, Watford. (The Quiver. 1899)

For a detailed history with more illustrations see the London Orphans page of the Children's Homes web site.

The following account comes from History of Watford - Trade Directory, 1884

This excellent institution was founded in the year 1813, and previous to the year 1872 the Asylum was at Clapton; but the health of the children was not good while it was there, which, with the inconvenience of the buildings, led the directors to determine on erecting a new asylum in a more favoured locality. After mature deliberation, Watford was fixed upon as being a healthy town in a proverbially healthy county, and a site on a hill near the railway station was purchased, and the foundation-stone of the new Asylum laid by his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in 1869. When the works were completed, the Asylum was opened by her Royal Highness Princess Mary of Cambridge, Duchess of Teck, and the children were at once established there. A wing, called the Hertfordshire Wing, was erected by subscriptions raised in the county, and the beautiful chapel standing so prominently in the grounds was the gift of a lady, formerly one of the orphans who had received the benefits of the institution.

The design of the charity is to maintain, clothe, and educate respectable fatherless children of either sex, who are without means adequate to their support, wherever resident. The orphans of professional or mercantile men, farmers, master traders, and clerks, or children whose parents have lost their lives in the army, navy, or marine services, are always esteemed the first claimants on this charity. Children are eligible between the ages of seven and eleven, and are usually retained in the Asylum until they have completed their fifteenth year. Since the formation, 4,640 orphans have been received into the institution. There are now in the establishment 546 orphans. The elections take place invariably on the fourth Mondays in January and June of each year, and votes of unsuccessful candidates are carried forward during the whole period of eligibility. Children eligible by the rules can be admitted irrespective of election (provided there are vacancies) on the payment of one sum of 150 for a child between the ages of eight and nine years, 135 between the ages of nine and ten years, and 120 between the ages of ten and eleven years. An annual subscription of 10s. 6d. gives one vote at each of two elections, 1 is. two votes; a life subscription of 5 5s. giyes one vote at each election so long as the donor lives, 10 10s. two votes, the votes increasing in proportion to the subscription. Of the 4640 orphans admitted to the benefits of this charity the county of Herts has sent 145 children, of whom fifteen were Watford orphans.

A table is published showing the classes assisted since the formation of the society, from which I quote a few figures :- Master tradesmen, 1,566; clerks, bankers, commercial, civil service, and law, 570; shopmen, skilled mechanics, and others, 540; farmers, agriculturists, land stewards, and coal masters, 347. In the year 1872 the total amount for maintenance, clothing, and education was, per child,  29 18s. 1d., and in 1882, 30 0s. 5d. The highest sum was in the year 1875, when it was 31 15s. 6d. The total expenditure for the year 1882 was 18,030 7s. 9d.

The report for 1882 shows a favourable state of things as regards finance; the managers were enabled in that year to payoff the sum of 1,150 owing to their bankers at the beginning of the year, and also nearly to defray the current expenses, the balance-sheet showing only a small deficiency. The report says:­ "The health of the children during the year has been most satisfactory, amply repaying the care and attention bestowed. The freedom from serious illness since the removal of the orphan family to Watford has been a source of continual thankfulness." The report alludes to the death of Mr. John Sedgwick as follows:- "Mr. Sedgwick rendered most valuable help during the formation of the present Asylum at Watford. His kindly and genial disposition endeared him to his colleagues, who, with the assistance of some of his fellow-townsmen, are placing a window to his memory in the dining-hall at Watford" This means the dining-hall at the Asylum.

 Amongst the presidents are the Earl of Essex, the Earl of Clarendon, the Earl of Verulam, and Lord Ebury; Mr. W. Jones Loyd's name is among the Vice-presidents; and the lady visitors are the Countess of Essex, Lady Harriet Grimston, Honourable Mrs. Reginald Capel, Mrs. A. J. Copeland, Mrs. R. L. James, Mrs. 'V. Jones Loyd, Mrs. Robert Pryor, Mrs. Rivaz, Mrs. Alfred O. Sedgwick, and Mrs. Thompson. The Board of Managers consists of forty gentlemen, those belonging to Watford being Messrs. A. J. Copeland, A. H. Hibbert, Rev. E. C. Ince, Henry Marnham, Geo. Wales, and John Weall. The surgeon is Dr. A. T. Brett, M.D., of Watford House; the chaplain and head master, Rev. H. W. Russell, B.A.; warden, Lieutenant-Colonel H. W. Coyne; bankers, Messrs. Glyn, Mills, Currie, & Co., 67, Lombard-street, London; and the secretary, Mr. E. S. Wallbridge.

The following interesting item appeared in the report of the managers of the London Orphan Asylum for the year 1881;- "Last year the managers reported the gift of a perpetual presentation of 1,000 from Mr. Richard Gibbs, principally to commemorate the lengthened interest taken by his uncle, the late Mr. Richard Gibbs, in the welfare of the institution. This year it is their pleasing duty to place on record a yet more signal instance of his generosity. Impressed with the fact that the original design to accommodate 600 orphans in the Asylum at Watford would not be complete until the eighth house for fifty boys had been erected, Mr. Richard Gibbs kindly offered to build at his sole expense the said eighth house, and to present it to the society. In order to bear testimony to his regard for Mr. James Rogers, the Hon. Sec., and to commemorate his work and devotion to the interests of the London Orphan Asylum, he has caused his name to be engraved on the foundation-stone."


London Orphan Asylum, Watford

Publisher: Blum & Degan #2685

Posted in St Albans Dec 13 1906


To Miss B. Robinson

74 Winsor Terrace, Beckton.

Nr North Woolwich, London E.


Thought you would like to see a little corner of the old place close to the Station. It is so very pretty in the Summer Months. A.K.

London Orphan Asylum, Watford

Publisher: The Wyndham Series #5637

Posted in Jersey March 25 1913

Back circa 1905



School re-opens Tues. March 24th. Hope the children are better from the measles & that your mother is well again.



London Orphan School, Watford
Blum & Degan Kromo Series 21895


From The Quiver, 1899

London Orphan School and Royal British Orphan School, Watford
A series of cards published by
The Commercial & General Photographic & Reproduction Co
61 Marloes Road, Kensington, W.8.

They were probably published shortly after the amalgamation of the London Orphan Asylum and the Royal British Orphan School (previously at Slough) in 1921.

Entrance Gates and Chapel

Central Buildings
Dining Hall
Swimming Pool
The boys
Do you know of any other cards in this series - or any postal dates.

Infirmary Boys Ward

Boys Laboratory

A few of the Girls

Watford Home Page

August 2007


Page created

July 2010


Infirmary pc

September 2010


B & D pc

May 2011


Many extra pictures