Thomas Coram School and after

The Foundling Hospital at Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, was built in the 1930s after the original building in London was sold in 1926.

Floor plan of Thomas Coram school at BerkhamsteadOver the centuries, the city had expanded in the area around the hospital, so it was no longer a healthy environment for growing children. The London site was sold for £2 million in the 1920s, sufficient to build a new school in the healthier air and location of Berkhamsted.

Children moved into the new building in 1935. Its design was almost identical to that of its predecessor; a central chapel flanked by two wings – the boys’ school and the girls’ school.

New approaches to childcare and education

The school was home to hundreds of children looked after by the charity. The Second World War provided ample evidence of the impact of separation and loss on children. Learning from this and responding to research from leading practitioners, Coram began to develop new approaches to childcare and education which emphasised children’s emotional wellbeing and the importance of life in a family. The last children to live permanently as boarders left the school in 1954, and the building was sold to Hertfordshire County Council.

Today, the building is known as Ashlyn’s, a grant-maintained co-ed state school. The dormitories have been converted into classrooms and there is no strict segregation of girls and boys. Shown here are a few of the many features from the school’s early days.

Thanks to Lydia Carmichael, chairman of the Old Coram Association.

Continuing our pioneering work

Coram’s pioneering work in adoption, early years and parenting continues from our original London site.  Find out more in our section How we do it



Back to top of page