Field House

A short history

Field House in February 2013
John Marlow

Field House in Townsend Road was built towards the end of the nineteenth century – and it has recently come to light that the architect was Mr E J Dodgshun FRIBA, whose design was published in The Builder of 9 September 1898.

It was a private house until July 1948 when Mr Roland Walker (see Comment below) sold it to the National Children’s Home for £8,500. The NCH used it to supplement their existing accommodation at the Oval, but closed it in about mid 1950.

In October extensive alterations were started, and on 7th December 1951 the Herts Advertiser reported “Field House, still in the throes of alterations and decorations, has become a home [run by the County Council] for 17 boys and 8 girls, most of whom have been transferred from “The Grange” at Stevenage, which is being closed. They have come from all over Hertfordshire into the kindly care of Mr and Mrs B J Ward, the young couple who are in charge. The children go to local schools.

An old billiard room with a small platform has made an excellent games room, while outbuildings include lofts which will be made into “dens” where the children can make as much noise as they like.

Mr Ward, an ex 14th Army man, who served with the Gloucestershire Regiment in Burma, was acting Superintendent at the Grange.”

Early in the 1980s Field House no longer met the required standards, and it was closed by December 1983 . Children and staff were transferred to other homes, and Field House was bought by a consortium of local people for conversion to a Nursing Home.

Part of the grounds was sold for housing development and Field House Close was built there. In 1986 this was renamed Hardenwick Close.

The House itself was completely renovated. At about the same time the Maternity Unit at the Red House closed. Sister Mary Achermann, who was Head of the Unit, became Matron of Field House Nursing Home, and some of the staff transferred with her. It opened in April 1985 and has continued as a Nursing Home run  by BUPA.

Comments about this page

  • I was at field house with my twin brother 1973-1976 our names were Debbie and David Purkiss, I remember a few people Ken Somerfield, Jim,
    Jackie Williams, Chris wacey,
    Shirley and ivory King, Theresa?
    Paul Giles, Dorothy and her brother Paul,

    By Debbie Wallace née purkiss (21/01/2023)
  • I was in Fieldhouse children’s home from 1982 to 1983, I recognise lots of names. I remember Mrs Cooper, Fred who lived in the house next door and Mrs Bland who taught me to cook. Lots of good memories.

    By Sandra Drury (23/08/2022)
  • I was placed at Field House together with my brother circa 1960-1966. Attended Manland Secondary School

    By Avril Keech (01/02/2022)
  • My name is Angus Desprez I was at Field House around 1970 – 76 and went to Round Wood Junior School; does anyone remember me?

    By Angus (04/12/2021)
  • I went to Roundwood JMI School in the early 1970’s, and there were a number of children from Field House at the school. There was a Dawn Richardson in my class for a couple of years, and then there was a Sharon Keenan who came new to the school after summer half term in 1973, but by the following September she’d left. I was always pally with Dawn, & we found each other on Friends Reunited, and we interact on Facebook. She has 3 adult daughters and several grandchildren. Obviously it would be totally inappropriate to find out why she was in Field House. Sharon always seemed a bit of a sad little girl, and I often wonder what happened to her

    By Gillian (25/10/2021)
  • I was working at FH from 1971-4 . I arrived just before the Coopers and worked with Pat, Linda, Roberta, Brenda, Alison, Bob and Tony (Toenails as the children called him). Great times, remember all the children. Paul remember you and Dorothy (it was Eleanor Cooper btw). I’ve just retired after 40 plus years as a social worker but it was my first job at FH where I learnt the most!

    By Liz France France (27/10/2020)
  • My mother lived in this home for a while. I’d love to know if anyone remembers her? Her name was Josephina T Jackson.

    Thanking you.

    By ashanti (02/06/2020)
  • Roland Walker was my grandfather – he lived at Field House with his wife Irene and four daughters (one of them my mother Susan) in the 1940s. We still have some photos of the house at that time. My grandmother often told me stories about the house and their sadness at leaving. It’s great to read the stories here, especially from Rita Cobb. Thank you for posting. 

    Ed. Would you be willing to send us scans of your photos of the house when your grandparents were living there – perhaps to be added to this page?

    By Marcus Field (20/05/2020)
  • I was at this home around 1980/2. I remember a boy named Mark and one called Jason and two brothers Ian and  Lee, very young about 3 and 6. There were also a couple of other girls and a worker there called Fred. Would love to know all are okay. I remember Mrs Cooper, definitely firm. 

    By Rowena (15/01/2018)
  • My Dad Bert Cobb was the gardener for the Walkers. I went there a couple of times to be shown what he had been doing in the garden. Beautiful place. I met Mrs Walker. She was a very pleasant lady. We had tea and cake with her and the housekeeper Agnes in the kitchen.

    By Rita Cobb (26/06/2017)
  • I worked here for a time preceeding the Coopers.

    Very many fond memories of the staff and the children.

    By Bob Hammond (01/08/2015)
  • Rakhi, I remember you; me and you were good friends. I have a pic of us on a merry go round, Lol!!! My name was Paul Curragh! As soon as I saw your name on here, I swallowed my heart! In a dark time in my life there were some happy times!?? Bloody hated that dog though!!! 

    By Paul Dunn (10/01/2015)
  • I was at Field House from 1980 until 83 with my brother Alan when we was moved to St Margarets. I remember Field House very well and remember Cooper and many of the kids that were there, like Ian and Paul the two brothers. I remember Hindi (Heidi?) – she went out with my mum and dad for the day – and Dotty the disabled girl. I could go on, I had good times and bad.

    Ed: We think St Margaret’s closed some time between the mid 1950s and mid 1960s, according to comments left on the St Margaret’s page. The other main home was the National Children’s Home, before that closed in 1985.

    By Jane Callaghan (12/10/2014)
  • I and my sister Deborah were in St. Margaret’s Nursery 1960 – 1964, I remember Miss Cook. We were in  Field House 1964 – 1966,and remember Mr & Mrs Harding also their daughter Judy. Then Peter Mellows? & his wife. We went to Church Green School (St Nicholas). I would like to hear from past residents of these homes. I have a weak left arm & leg which might help people remember me.

    Bridget Tait-Murphy (nee Tait)

    By Bridget Tait-Murphy (11/08/2014)
  • I have good memories of Field House. Mr Cooper left his wife as he met a lady in Hong Kong. As for the other staff I don’t know.

    By Fiona Mclean (Mansfield) (26/08/2013)
  • I was in Field House Children’s home in Harpenden in 1982 and my name back then was Roland Green. I was in there with my 2 sisters Zena and Heidi.

    By Roland (22/07/2013)
  • Does anyone know if Mr and/or Mrs Cooper who ran Field House, Townsend Road, are still alive, or what they did after leaving the Home? Also Lynda Wyatt, the deputy (she had a dog). She was very popular. Secondly, is it possible to write directly to anyone who leaves a message here. Thanks!

    ed. We’ll make contact with everyone who has left a comment to see if they are willing to share email addresses.

    By David Mitchell (04/05/2013)
  • Hello Fiona, I’m Rakhi Lol. I have some very good memories of Field House. I think I remember you, slightly?

    By Diana Johnson (rakhi) (01/04/2013)
  • I was there as well from 1976-81. Mr Cooper was known as ‘sprog’ the 3 Indian children were there as well, but I only remember Raki and Onjon.

    By Fiona Mansfield (25/03/2013)
  • The above article says: ‘Early in the 1980s Field House no longer met the required standards’. Does anyone know what is meant by this?

    Ed: There was greater emphasis on fostering children in care, and changes in regulations about facilities in children’s home were part of the answer.

    By David Mitchell (13/03/2013)
  • My Name is Patrick Boyle. I lived at Field House after St. Margarets at Crossway in Harpenden was closed down. I lived there from 1956 to 1958. The couple running the Home were called Mr and Mrs Harding. They were a very nice couple with their own children. They looked after us like a Family. I still come back to Harpenden & have a look when I can get up there.

    By Patrick Boyle (14/02/2013)
  • I remember Mrs Cooper now you just mentioned it, Paul. You were there when I was there!

    By paul dunn (02/02/2013)
  • These comments were originally added to the page on St Margaret’s Children’s Home:

    •  I was at Field House when it opened in 1951. We were moved from Stevenage to Harpenden because the facility there was unsuitable for purpose. It was supervised by Bernard and Paula Ward for the first three years. It was a wonderful place to grow up.
      By Eric Smith (03/07/2012)

    •  I lived at Field House on Townsend Road in Harpenden in the mid 1960’s. I appreciated the wonderful, caring experience. The home was managed by Peter and Celia Mellor and a great staff. I remember all the children (I was one of the older kids there). Sweet memories. Feel free to contact me with your thoughts/experiences.
      By Anne Conklin (01/02/2013)
    •  My name is Paul Gilkes I stayed at Field House Children’s home in Harpenden from 1971-1979. It was run by a nice couple called the Coopers. Arthur Cooper who looking back was another Arthur Daley and Mrs Cooper whose name I believe was Dorothy she was quite firm but fair.
      By Paul Gilkes (01/02/2013)
    By Rosemary Ross (01/02/2013)

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