Foxcroft Children's Home Remembered

Betty Raines looked after children for 20 years

By Sylvia Kent

 

Many people remember coming to live in Billericay at Foxcroft, a beautiful building at 100 High Street.

"The moment I came to Foxcroft and met the children, I knew I would be happy in Billericay," recalled Betty Raines.  Betty answered an advertisement to work at the Children’s Home at 100 High Street, known as Foxcroft.  In 1955, the building looked a little different from that of today – no Virginia Creeper – just neat box hedges and a couple of rose bushes.

Foxcroft is still a beautiful house, built around 1740.  It was first used as a private home and then from 1860 it was the Billericay Grammar School for about three years.  Prior to this the Reverend Darby lived here, bringing up his large family and ministering at St Mary Magdalen on Sundays.

In 1932 Essex County Council purchased the building for use as a children’s home and it was here that Betty Raines looked after the children who came to live there. 

Photo:The early days of the home

The early days of the home

She said: “It was the custom then to call us Auntie and we tried to create a warm family atmosphere.  The children came to us not because they were orphans, but because of family problems.  They often settled down remarkably quickly and we tried to give them a steady family background.  We took the little ones to school and met them at the gates at home time.  They were all encouraged to join Cubs, Brownies and Guides and to other young people clubs that were going on in Billericay.  We also took them to St Mary’s Church further along the High Street.”

Photo:The home's later years

The home's later years

During the early 1970s, another children’s home was built at Patricia Gardens at South Green near Billericay.  Betty moved from Foxcroft after 20 years’ service.  She eventually retired from working with children to working with older people at the Billericay Day Centre and certainly made a lot of friends there, too.

Numerous people from around the world remember their time at Foxcroft (and Betty)with warm affection.

 

Editors Note: Do you recognize anyone in the photos and do you have any recollections of Foxcroft or the home in Patricia Gardens? We would love to hear from you.

This page was added by Sylvia Kent on 09/01/2013.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

What a great idea. I have just posted a reply/comment to the shopping trip article. I was in the Foxcroft Children's home in the mid to late 1950's. So pleased to be able to read some ones memories.

By Sue Thomas (nee Hayward)
On 10/05/2011

Sue! My father and 5 brothers where in Foxcroft too! This was in the 1960s, Joseph Smith? John Smith? Peter Paul Andrew. I have been trying for years to find info on anyone who went there or the home itself with no joy! I wonder if you can help me?

By Jodie smith
On 08/07/2011

As a writer researching Billericay history, I have been interested in the children's home and its move to South Green. Last week I interviewed Betty Raines for her memories of the time she helped to run the home all those years ago. Will try to post the article I wrote about it for the Billericay Weekly News a couple of years ago. Have some nice photos, which I will also post on the site soon.

By Sylvia Kent
On 20/07/2011

I was also in the Foxcroft children's home round about 1960, I spent Xmas there and it was wonderful. Another child called Danny and I were takn out for Xmas day to an American family who were staying in Billericay and we had a most marvelous day. It has stayed with me all these years. Where is Danny now I wonder. I am 60 he was around 9-10 same as myself. Anyone with info on the home and when it ceased to be children's home be very interested. Thank you Teresa

By Teresa Tubridy
On 03/12/2012

I attended Great Burstead primary school and a boy from Foxcroft was in my class and we were quite good friends his name was Paul Millard, I wonder what happened to him, he would be about 70yrs now.

By Robin Lockhart
On 24/01/2013

2 of my brothers were in Foxcroft when Auntie Betty was there and Auntie Shan Alan and James Naylor. Would have been 1950s early 60s.

By maureen
On 29/05/2013

Hi 2 of my brothers were in Foxcroft in the 50s early 60s James and Alan Naylor James is 66 now Alan is 60 many visits I made to see them at Foxcroft I was in a home in Tendring anyone know my brothers? or the Tendring home? iam now 64

By MAUREEN
On 29/05/2013

2 of my brothers were in Foxcroft in the 50s. I will always remember my trips to see them from my childrens home in Tendring Limes and Firs. James and Alan Naylor, Alan was 2 when he arrived there he is now 60 James is now 66. Even as a visitor I have fond memories of Auntie Betty I think there was Auntie Shan she seemed a bit stricter

By Maureen Mcduell nee naylor
On 29/05/2013

Hi 2 of my brothers James and Alan Naylor were at Foxcroft for some years in the 50s I had many visits to see them from home I was also in care at the Limes and Firs in Tendring James is now 66 Alan is 60 both doing well im 64 now I shall always have fond memories of Auntie Betty on my visits to Foxcroft there was an Auntie Shan too seemed a bit stricter anyone remember James and Alan??

By Maureen Mcduell NEE NAYLOR
On 29/05/2013

I was at foxcroft in the 1950's.

By susan smith
On 11/10/2013

I lived at foxcroft in 1953/4. I was the only coloured girl there at the time. My name then was susan smith. Ii eventually got fostered by an english family who ended up being very cruel to me. Then i was moved to another childrens home in Chelmsford, Essex. Life has carried on since then and now at 67 I am very happy. 

By susan shaw
On 21/11/2013

love my time there just got back from a day out

By Anthony wall
On 14/12/2013

I lived at foxcroft in 1959-1960? I was with my brothers there at the time fred i am 61 now

By Anthony Wall
On 14/12/2013
By Anthony Wall
On 14/12/2013

I've search for information on the children's home but with no luck until now I'm hoping you can help me I was in the home when I was about 2 years and 6 months old I want to know everything about me while I was there and I do mean everything as I remembering being at the top of the outside stairs and the door opening and I was knocked down the stairs BUT I don't remember anything until they brought me back to the home with 1 of my legs in plaster cast and they put me in the sickroom looking outside and a robin was sitting on the wall in the snow Please if anyone can tell me about my time in the home please let me know as I suffer with a really bad back and that fall could have been the start of my problems many thanks for having this site about Foxcroft may you Have Very Happy New Yearxx oh and if Betty Raines is still with us please tell her Thankyou for being there for all the children and me and my siblings.

By Lesley Hayward
On 11/01/2014

In response to Maureen: I knew Alan Naylor. We both went to Billericay Primary School in the early sixties. He invited me to tea once at Foxcroft. That's about all I remember except that I owe Alan an apology for something. He has probably forgotten all about it and maybe me too but it is something that has bugged me for some years now.  

By Steven Copper
On 10/02/2014

I could be the Danny Teresa Tubudy mentioned, if you read this Teressa please get in touch it would be great to chat about our time there.

By Danny Barker
On 20/04/2014

Have surched for years and now hope this is the site

I was at Foxcroft Billericay, leaving there in 1944. I knew a Miss Jones, a senior/or head and a Miss Kellick a cleaner etc.

However, I have been trying to trace two people. Nora Banks and Eileen Barton.  I went to live with an aunt but was not allowed to write to my two main friends.  Like me they will be in their seventies. I would love to meet with them if at all possible 

By Patricia Booth Jewel Crimes in 1944
On 26/04/2014

I'm still hoping that Nora Banks and Eileen Barton will be in touch from 1940-1944

By Patricia Booth/Jewel Crimes
On 02/08/2014

I was at Foxcroft with my three sisters (the Cunningham Girls) for many years from 1960. I was one of the children that moved down to Patricia Gardens, does anyone remember the Cunningham family, please get in touch

By madeline cunningham
On 30/09/2014

I'm keen to know when they closed Foxcroft. I did return to see the building a couple of years ago, and was saddened to see what had been done to the interior. But that's progress. I was even more surprised to see the lovely big garden that was, is now a huge car park for a super market.  As children we had lots of fun in the garden. There was also an underground shelter we used when the siren went.  Incidentally, we were all girls during my time there. I loved being there and I just wish that I could contact the two friends I've already mentioned.

By patricia booth
On 21/10/2014

You write about Aunty Betty (Raines) but what about Jan Storm, she worked at Foxcroft too. I seem to remember she was from Holland, and drove a Morris 1000, and it was green. She had a funny thing about changing her shoes in the car for a pair of slippers. She also moved down to South Green, I was the only one, out of the four sisters, that went to 12 Patricia Gardens . My sister's were Elaine, Frances, Hilary and me Madeline, I am in the photo at the top of the page second row up, two from the right, the one with the fringe.

By Madeline Cunningham
On 21/10/2014

I took my sister to Foxcroft today and told her about it as she can not remember her time there. I loved Foxcroft with Auntie Shan, Betty and all the aunties there. We were a family split up hear there and every where, but I love my memories of Foxcroft and the garden. We were four from our family of six that stayed at Foxcroft, Fenwick, Joseph, Chris and me, Gillian.

By Gillian gradley
On 04/11/2014

Reading about Alan Naylor, I do remember that name. I am sure one of them pinched a lot when he was excited and screwed up his face. I loved my time at Foxcroft, I was 5 years old, but was fostered out to live in South Green for 6yrs. I only have happy memories of them years.! 1958 till 1964. Auntie Betty, and Auntie Shan, I saw her last at my foster aunts funeral. She was pleased to see me, married with a daughter. Auntie Betty knew my two brothers, they lived in South Green home, Fenick and Joseph Hunnam. Me and my sister Christine were fostered out and Robert and Diane were in a nursery in Chelmsford. I loved my time at Foxcroft.

By Gillian gradley
On 04/11/2014

I was at Foxcroft circa 1952/3, the matron was a Miss Noisome but I also remember Auntie Betty. Paul Millard is a name I remember as a boy who had to stay elsewhere as he became too old for the home. We had to move to Moulsham near Chelmsford for about a year while I assume Foxcroft was modernised. I remember with great fondness the holidays in Clacton and a lame gardner who played with us in the gardens at the rear.

By Peter tagg
On 29/11/2014

Fond memorys of Foxcroft. I was there in the mid 70s and was treated well. Seem to recall using the term "aunty" but not sure if it was Betty. I went out to work there so must have been around 17yrs old. It was mixed girls and boys while I was there.

By Shaun Doyle
On 16/12/2014

Fond memories, I remember you Sue Hayward, would be good to get in touch. 

By Betty Wollard
On 10/03/2015

Yes fond memories indeed.  See my sister Lesley has left a message a while back as well. Betty I'm sorry I don't remember you but I have been sent your email address and will drop you a line. I remember Mary don't know her last name but we were good friends. I remember two brothers one being Alan and I thought the other was Walter. Alan was forever crossing the road when he shouldn't have and did end up getting knocked down. Whether this was the Naylor brothers I'm not sure. I was there from Jan/Feb 1956-June 1959. I did say I would write about my experience of being in Foxcroft but it brought back a lot of memories that I haven't been able to do it yet. However I have been thinking about it lately and will try and do it. I think I am one of those people whose minds shut down to prevent bad things being remembered.

By Sue Thomas
On 12/03/2015

Hello, Can anyone please let me know if they were in Foxcroft with my father and uncle in 1958-59.  Their names are Albert and Peter Piper and they would have been aged about 11 years and 8 years old. please let me know if you know them.

By Elaine Piper
On 29/03/2015

I'm very sorry for no replies till now. I did laugh when I read Gillians write up re my brother Alan Naylor; yes he was the pincher!!  And yes Alan did get knocked down, I remember he always tore around, he was badly hurt too. James would have been there till 1959/60, Alan was 6 years younger than James so he stayed for few more years. He was split by all the Aunties, Miss Nissan was in charge. If anyone wants to contact please do.

By Maureen naylor
On 29/05/2015

Jim thank you for your email saying Betty Wollard wanted to get in touch.      We have recently met up and spent a lovely couple of hours remenising about our time in Foxcroft. I was there from Jan/Feb 1956-June 1957. We have agreed to meet again probably in the new year.     

By Sue Thomas nee Hayward
On 08/08/2015

Maureen, I was at Tendring children's home in the 50s. I think there was two pairs of homes there and I seem to have been in the other one next door, I think called Oaks and Chestnuts.

This home closed mid 50s I am now 67.

http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Tendring/#Homes

By Colin Hughes
On 04/09/2015

Hi Colin yes I remember Oaks 'n' Chestnuts. James, one of my brothers, remembers being in there, think I was too. Johnny was in the other one, older boys. Do you remember 2 black children same age as us, Stuart Tippett and Wendy Lowe. I can't remember you Colin, you're the same age as me, 67 nearly, lovely to hear from you tho'. Do you remember James? He was only year older than me. I hope life turned out good for you and all the kids that were in there.  

By Maureen naylor
On 11/09/2015

Sorry Colin I was in Firs 'n' Limes.

By Maureen Naylor
On 11/09/2015

I was in Foxcroft with my two sisters in 1968 for three to four years I believe. Would like to hear from anyone there at the time. It was mainly boys.

By Deborah Hicks
On 11/09/2015

Had a mate from Foxcroft called Alan Gunn. Often wondered what happened to him!

By Paul Atkinson
On 16/09/2015

Hi Maureen, you are the first person I have found from Tendring homes, I am not very good with names but I remember a Bobby Chitup & Mrs Buckles a local white haired lady that helped out in the girls house.

One of the aunties was called Doris Howard, could have been later. There was me, my twin sister Gillian and my elder brother called John who got fostered not long after, then my sister got fostered. There was chicken near the girls home and I got burnt from a bomb fire on my neck when another child stuck a burning stick on my neck.

The head master at the school was Mr Barns and his wife. There was a swing in the back garden a three wheel bike and a scooter, I only remember a black girl with small black curly hair which we seemed to think was funny.

I was there until it closed in about 1955 and was sent to Coopersale near Epping, fostered for a year in Clacton then went to Hillcrest lodge in Walton on the Naze where I met Aunty Doris again. Funny thing was the dinning tables, toy lockers and beds came from Tending, perhaps the piano as well.

We could have been in the same house as I started off in the girls house as I was to under school age. The only boy a think. Remember the thick cream on the milk in those days.

If you slept in a room (Oaks) with a small boy it could have been me.

Oaks/Chestnuts was the home with the biggest garden. I remember a picnic in the garden on Coronation Day. 

Nice to hear from you. I don't remember James as a name but I do rember things that we might have done together like climbing up the drain pipes. 

Just seen that you were in the next door home, perhaps we met at school.

By Colin Hughes
On 29/09/2015

Hiya Colin, wow you remember more than me. James and I will have a drive down to the area soon, I’m in Rayleigh now. There were only 2 black children in the home; I had some contact with the boy now a successful man with 2 lovely daughters.  I went there in 1953 aged 5, James was already there with my other older brother. I got fostered out at 7ish in Chelmsford but I didn’t settle as I missed my brothers. At nearly 9 I went home to my Mum and Dad and gradually my brothers came home too for weekends as James went to Foxcroft after I was fostered. I wish there were photos from those days. James knew a Carol Chitock at Foxcroft, maybe her brother was Bobby? I remember the back garden, the swing and running around trying to chase James and his friends and he remembers some things. He is a year older so he would have been 6. Anyway we all survived and had a good life. I have a beautiful family plus have been married for 49 years to the same man!!!  Ha ha lucky man... anytime just mail me Colin.

By Maureen Naylor
On 12/10/2015

Having lived in Billericay from 1932  on and off until 1973 I am always interested in stories of the place.

By Alfred Barnett
On 20/11/2015

Hi Maureen

Sorry for late reply but I checked site before and missed your reply.

I cannot e-mail you as I don't have address (hidden).

I was 5 years old in summer 1953 so I think we would have been in the same class at school. People remember different things but some time a reminder brings this out. Lady teacher, school milk warmed up by the heater in the winter. She would tell stories using a home made box scrolling pictures across with a light behind.

The shop near the church had a penny wriggles chewing gum machine outside and if the arrow was pointing towards you then you got two for a penny. There was a black smith forge opposite the church.  

I think I went to Tendring in 1953 and remember American airmen coming one Xmas with bags of toys. Also an Xmas Party on an American ship in Hawich harbour.

I also remember a huge Easer egg in a waste paper basket, I think was sent by Woolworths, as I saw one on display in the shop. Remember Gumption cleaning cream and Gibbs tooth cleaning  blocks in a tin, blocks of white soap for washing and red (carbolic) for floors. It was against the Children's Act to split up children but no one cared about that. Moth balls.

Sorry again with late answer.

By Colin Hughes
On 21/11/2015

Hiya Colin anytime email me naylor_26948@Hotmail.co.uk  James n myself still haven't had that trip to Tendring, will do soon though.

By Maureen Naylor
On 29/04/2016

My mum Shirley Reeves was in Foxcroft in 1944, she still as a letter from Miss Nisome. I have taken mum back there and have been trying to get her in there to look at her room. I ain't giving up hope they find it in their heart to let her as she is 78 now and has cancer. She always talks about her time spent in there.

By sarah sutton
On 17/07/2016

Me and my twin sister was at 12 Patricia Gardens between the mid to late 70's and remember Aunt Betty very well, she was a lovely lady. Our surname was Taylor at the time.

By Sharon Ambrose
On 07/08/2016

I was in Foxcroft with my two brothers, Kenny & Jeffrey Berner, from about 1960 to 1966. If anyone remembers us please get in touch.

By Stephen Berner
On 27/11/2016

I was in Foxcroft in the 1970s and I remember the Smith Brothers very well. Paul was about my age and Andrew and Joseph were younger. Auntie Rose and Uncle Bert Wood were there when I went and were wonderful people. There were also three sisters, Debbie, Donna and Denise - I remember Donna being off school one day and we had a delivery of meat from the butchers. The sausages came in a long string and auntie Rose and Uncle Bert used them as a skipping rope for Donna to skip!!  Would not be allowed now but it was fun in those days. I now live in Milton Keynes.

By Lynne Riches
On 17/12/2016

Does anyone remember my nan Valerie Wallis and Edgar (Eddie) Wallis who attended Hillcrest Lodge, Walton on Naze 1970s onwards.

By Kelly
On 21/06/2017

Hi Jodie Smith, I remember all the smith children at Foxcroft, I stayed there often. My best friend lived there and I was allowed to stay there sometimes and I spent a lot of my teenage years there. I remember John was tall and slim, his brother small and dark haired, their sister was about my age and had long hair. I often think about my friends there. There was a large shed in the garden that we all used to go in to listen to music and some had a crafty puff. This was between 1966 and 1970

By Helen Constantinou
On 02/10/2017

No way Helen! 

I will let them all know! 

By Jodie smith
On 30/10/2017