Tadworth Court and the Children’s Trust

The Children’s Trust, which provides services and support for children with brain injuries, is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and Tadworth Court, a 24-acre estate and mansion house, in Surrey is celebrating its place at the heart of the the charitable trust’s work.

Historical links

The historical link between Tadworth Court and the Children’s Trust can be traced back to 1927, when the building and its grounds were purchased by Great Ormond Street Hospital. The first children it admitted suffered respiratory problems, and there were just 22 beds in two wards, but this number quickly grew, particularly during the second world war, when Great Ormond Street Hospital sent a lot of children from London to Tadworth to escape the dangers of the Blitz.

By the 1960s, there were 106 beds and an operating theatre, meaning the hospital could cater for a wider range of children. Tadworth had also become a training centre for nurses who specialised in the care of children.

Difficult times

The next 20 years were difficult ones as the NHS came under financial pressure and the numbers of children being sent to Tadworth dropped drastically. It took a major campaign, endorsed by locals, parents, the medical profession and celebrities, and the support of Fleet Street, for the future of the Children’s Trust to be secured. In 1983 the campaign achieved the outcome it desired and Tadworth Court Trust was registered with the Charity Commission. A year later, the the Department of Health transferred management to the newly created charity and Tadworth became the centre of treatment for children with brain injuries. A new school, St Margaret’s School, now known as the School for Profound Education, opened for children with multiple learning difficulties as an extra support for the young children at Tadworth.

A thriving trust

In 1990 the charity was renamed The Children’s Trust and just a few years later a purpose-built therapy centre – the New Cheyne Centre – was opened on site. The Children’s Trust has continued to thrive at Tadworth and, in 2009, the New Archie Norman House, a residential rehabilitation centre, was opened. Dr Archie Norman was the paediatrician who played a key role in setting up the rehabilitation service and sat on the Trust as its Honorary Medical Adviser.

A little-known national treasure

The mansion house at Tadworth itself dates back to 1694, when it was built at the behest of MP and county Sheriff, Leonard Wessel. The impressive manor house, which was described by the architect Nikolaus Pevsner as “splendid, one of the most elegant in the whole country” remains relatively unknown for a country house so close to London. However, visitors to Epsom and the surrounding countryside can join tours of the house and grounds as part of the National Heritage Open Days programme, which runs every September.

To visit Tadworth Court or to find out more about the charity and its work, email enquiries@thechildrenstrust.org.uk

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