Cattsdells Children's Home

Victor 'Norman' Dolling

I have many memories of staying in this home 1946.

I think the Matron’s name was Miss Higham and there were several care staff.  I was about 9/10yrs old then and the oldest boy in a mixed home. Matron was lovely and she used to sing late at night after we kids were sent to bed.  She sang light opera and would be rehearsing for next concert at Hemel Bapstist Church.  I would threaten boys in my dormitory to keep quiet so that I could hear her.

I was invited to the church and she had beautiful dark auburn hair, wore a long dress which was a dark green velvet with a low square neck-line and a diamante necklace, I think , my first. love.  I remember the gardener, Mr Goodall. He lived in Union St, and he used to let us go scrumping and always threatened to catch us if we dare.  Nobody ever mentions this place its as if it never existed.

More stories to come…

This page was added on 24/05/2021.

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  • My Mother worked in Catsdells Childrens Home and when it closed in 1954, I think, my parents fostered the last Boy who no one else wanted. I remember staying there and joining in with the kids going to the pictures and playing in the fields. Making daisy chains. There was a hand pump for water just outside the kitchen. And I remember the dried egg powder and dried milk powder in big tins. Rationing was still in place. I was only 2 to 4 years old but very capable. The kitchen staff made me tea with too much sugar with the great big black kettle hung over the fire. I remember eating orange slices sprinkled with sugar. Miss Higham rings a bell! The Matron always offered me a glass of Ribena hence why I have a sweet tooth to this day. The kids were well treated and generally well behaved comparatively. It was not long after the war but supplies of sugar and fruits were becoming easier to get by then.
    I still have a music box the Matron gave my Mother. Those were happy times. And the boy my parents fostered, my ‘Bruv’ eventually ran his own bespoke jewellery company.

    By Gareth (10/11/2023)
  • I was placed in Cattsdells Children’s Home in 1941 after my mother’s nightdress caught fire while she was bending over my cot in their tiny bedroom.
    She sustained severe burns all over her body from her neck down to her knees and wrists.
    My father refused to pay the cost of my upkeep to close friends who offered to keep me in their home, and I was dumped into Cattsdells for all whole of the time she was in hospital, about 4 to 5 years.
    I have no recollection of anyone visiting me in the home and have very few memories of my stay or my childhood and would love any information about the home around this time.

    By Raymond Stratfull (22/06/2023)
  • Dear Mr Dolling
    I have passed your query on to the team at Herts Archives & Local Studies in case they can advise you whether there are more records and info in their collections.
    Marion (editorial team)

    By Marion Hill (24/05/2021)