The Boys' Farm Home, Church Farm, East Barnet

A Home Office Certified Industrial School - 1860-1933

By Gillian Gear

The Boys’ Farm Home was established in 1860 as a branch home of the London Boys’ Home that was initially founded in 1858 in Euston Road, London. Both schools came under the 1857 Industrial Schools Act and were certified as industrial schools under that act. This allowed them to receive government funding.

Boys could be admitted either as voluntary cases or through the courts. Voluntary cases were usually sponsored financially by an individual, cases that were sent through the courts were frequently sent their through the intervention of the London School Board.

They were generally aged around 10 to 12 on admission but some younger and some older boys were admitted. At the age of fifteen they were found jobs by the managers and for two years the school kept in touch with their former boys and were paid a fee by the government to do this.

Whilst at the school boys were kept extremely busy. They learnt trades, had basic education and were encouraged to take up sports. The swimming pool that is now used by local schools was originally built for the boys.




This page was added on 05/09/2009.

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  • Hello there,
    I would be most grateful if you would be so kind as to put me in touch with the commenter below called Brian (01/02/2017), who says he has Ebenezer Rayment’s war medals, as Ebenezer Rayment is my direct ancestor (five generations removed).

    Thank you so much,

    By Johannah Fahey (06/03/2022)
  • Here is another ex-pupil to add to the list:
    William Alfred Harradine
    Born Hitchin District, Hertfordshire Apr 1887
    Eldest son of parents living at Damask Green, Weston, Hertfordshire during WW1.
    Recorded at The Boys’ Farm on the UK 1901 Census
    Private 14848, 1st/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry.
     He fought throughout the war both in France and Egypt and was wounded many times.
    He died in Egypt having contracted malaria & pneumonia on 28th November 1918, just short of two weeks after Armastice.

    By Ally Walker (24/10/2021)
  • Hello Tony,
    We would be happy to add your letter to the site. Please go to ‘Get Involved’ to send it to us.

    By Geoff Cordingley (28/06/2020)
  • My great great grandfather was John Bowden who was a schoolmaster at the school and later headmaster.

    John was married to Ebenezer Rayment’s daughter Martha.

    I have a letter from John and Martha’s daughter Louisa to her sister (my great grandmother Mary Leonora Bowden, later Middlemost). It shows Louisa’s address as Church Farm. In the letter she mentions a Mrs J Staples – they apparently went on a bike ride together.

    I’d be happy to share the letter here if that’s helpful.

    By Tony Murray (28/06/2020)
  • Dear Gilliam,
    I tripped across your posting while researching a promotional brochure for my wife’s employer, The Church Farm School, in Exton, PA.
    We have lived in the former Principal’s home that was is adjacent to the school, for 45 years. Imagine our surprise to discover that the school founded in 1918, appears to be based on the foundations set by your Hertfordshire school.

    Our Church Farm School has a long and glorious tradition. I’ve included a link to the school web site.

    It is good to know that your school’s traditions have evolved and live on in the boys who continue to benefit from your founders concern for those lads in difficult circumstances.

    I would welcome any additional information on the school.

    By William Scudder (08/05/2020)
  • My paternal grandfather, from Highgate, went to school here with one of his brothers when they were orphaned.I found them on the 1911 census. He subsequently emigrated to Toronto, then Los Angeles where he had a happy career as head gardener on a Hollywood producer’s estate.

    By Katherine (06/03/2017)
  • Hi
    I have the medals of Ebenezer Rayment…his Crimea Medal, Long Service & Good Conduct medal and the Turkish Crimea medal

    By Brian (01/02/2017)
  • My great grandfather, William Staples, brother of George, worked as a master at Church Farm and is on the 1891 census together with his wife Sarah. Also listed is Maud Harriet Staples, their daughter, who was my paternal grandmother

    By Marilyn Bell (21/11/2015)
  • Dear Gillian

    I have recently started looking into the family history for my cousin (by marriage) John Gilbert Brooker. His great x 2 grandfather was Ebenezer Rayment and his great uncle was George Staples who married Louisa Jane Rayment. Your pictures and information are brilliant, it brings everything to life. Any suggestions for further research.

    Many thanks

    Debbie Ince

    By Debbie Ince (02/04/2015)
  • Dear Gillian

    I wonder whether the schoolmaster above is my great great uncle, George Staples.  George and his younger brother, John Robert, born in Ewell Surrey, were orphaned in the 1860s. In 1871 census, at 16 and 8, they are at the school.  In 1881 George is there, working as Farm Bailiff, in 1891, there working as Farm Bailiff and Labourers’ Master, by 1901 he’s a farmer living at Underhill Farm, Arkley.  John became a plumber, decorator and ironmonger with his own shop in Barnet.  Is that him standing behind George in the picture?  George died in1902 at 48 yrs, leaving wife and 6 children.  Do you have any idea when this picture was taken?  I hope to come up to Barnet soon.  My mother and grandmother lived at 94 Hadley Road, Harnet.  Thank you.

    Sally Cochrane  

    By Sally Cochrane (02/03/2015)
  • My Father Bert was at Watford Orphanage about 1920 before coming to Church Farm.  Later he with 2 of his mates Sam and Percy all past pupils were involved in Past Pupil reunions, playing sports against the present pupils this would have been in the early 1950’s  I wonder if anyone can give me any further information

    By margaret wyborn (nee caddy) (24/12/2014)
  • Dear Gillian, thank you for this information and the photos. A few years ago I read with interest one of your papers on the Farm School as my Great Grandfather was schooled there. Could you advise me if it is possible to get any further information on the institution? Yours sincerely, Stef Boyle

    By Stefanie Boyle (16/11/2014)
  • Hi Gillian, I believe my father was at Church Farm school, he was originally at an orphanage in Watford. During the 1950’s he was involved in Old Boys! reunions at the school twice a year, I can remember the large school and the farm also the swimming pool. Do you know if there are any records of the old boys reunions. regards Margaret

    By Margaret (27/02/2014)
  • My relation (by marriage) Edith Mary Bottcher worked as a domestic at this school, just before she emigrated to Canada in May 1923 – I was hoping to find out if boys from the school were sent to a new life in Canada, and if it’s possible that Edith accompanied them there? Any thoughts would be helpful.

    By Jan Saunders (23/02/2014)
  • My father was at ‘Boys’ Farm Home.’ His name was Cuthbert Caddey. I can remember the reunions and visiting twice a year. This would have probably been in 1950’s. Cuthbert first went into the orphanage in Watford when he was very young.

    By Margaret (08/12/2013)
  • Dear Gillian I have come across some life saving swimming certs of my late fathers from 1945 from the school I was wondering if I could find any info on when my father was there and why his name was Arthur William Loynes many thanks I look forward to hearing from you.

    By sandra groves (26/03/2013)
  • Can you identify people in this photo?

    By History is a blessing! (12/01/2013)
  • Dear Gillian I wonder if you could tell me how and where I could get any infomation on my grandfather Charles Edward Patrick Who was at the school in 1911. Many thanks.

    By Darren Patrick (20/06/2012)
  • Dear Gillian, My relative, Glen Cunningham, pointed me towards your write up about the Boys Home farm. Herbert William Staples was my grandfather, and was a maths teacher in the school, as well as being a house father as he and my grandmother lived on the school premises. As a result my father and his brother were educated there and I have two photos of the boys at work on the farm. I also went to the school when it had become the Churchhill Road County Primary school. When I was there our Headmaster was a Mr (Jack) Horner, who I believe had been a pupil at the school. I cannot see the pictures clearly enough to recognise my Grandfather. The school had not changed much in the 1940’s when I was there, but we were not aware that there was a swimming pool

    By Pam Wootton-Davies(nee Staples) (19/06/2012)
  • Dear Gillian, This page about The Boys’ Farm Home, with the photos, is fantastic! Herbert William Staples is my 2X Great Grand Uncle! (I believe that’s him as Assistant Schoolmaster, sitting with the children). Herbert and his older brother Edwin Howell Staples were both placed in the school when their parents died in the 1870s. Herbert later returned to the school to teach.

    By Glen Cunningham (17/06/2012)