Our history

The Children’s Trust has come a long way from its formation in 1984. Set in the historic Tadworth Court Mansion in Surrey, just inside the M25, the building also comes with an intriguing history.

1927: Tadworth Court was purchased by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) with a legacy of £20,000 left by a Mr Peter Reid. Tadworth Court became the country branch of GOSH.

1929: The first children arrived from London in the Easter, as Tadworth Court began providing a retreat for children with respiratory difficulties. There were 22 beds in two wards within the mansion house.

1939-1945: Throughout the war many staff and children were moved to Tadworth from Great Ormond Street for their own safety.

Late 1960s: Tadworth Court had rapidly developed. It had 106 beds and an operating theatre. It was also an important training facility for nurses. In 2013 we held a special reunion for some of the nurses who trained here.

1970s: This was a period of advances in medicine and surgery but it came at a price and National Health Service hospitals, including GOSH were starting to feel the pinch. By the end of the 1970s the number of children sent to Tadworth Court started to fall. Only 80 of the 106 beds were needed.

1982: Tadworth Court was under threat of closure. Only 40 beds remained. It was a shadow of its former self, but not quite ready to throw in the towel just yet! The local community, nurses, children, parents and even celebrities joined together in a high-profile national campaign to stop closure. Nurses adopted out-of-hours roles as campaigners and their efforts included lobbying Fleet Street in the worst winter for decades and travelling to London in protest.

National newspapers including The Sun, The Guardian, Daily Mail, The Independent and The Times showed their support and even ITN News took up the cause.

By November, The Sun newspaper began its own 'Save Tadworth' campaign. Within five months individuals and organisations had donated £80,000.

March 1983: It was announced that the 'Save Tadworth' campaign was successful! A charity consortium led by Tim Yeo, Chief Executive of The Spastics Society (now Scope), supported by several other charities would establish a trust for Tadworth - independent of the National Health Service - which would be financed temporarily by a government grant.

18 October 1983: Tadworth Court Trust was registered with the Charity Commission.

31 March 1984: The Department of Health transferred management control to the newly created charity, Tadworth Court Trust.

1985: The charity established a new rehabilitation service for children with acquired brain injury. St Margaret's School, now The Children's Trust School, for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties was opened in the September.

1990: A new specialist unit for children with acquired brain injury was opened.

March 1994: A new milestone in the Trust's history, with its new name, The Children's Trust.

2002: A purpose-built therapy centre was opened, the New Cheyne Centre funded through legacy donations totalling £137,995.

March 2004: To mark the charity's 20th anniversary, Her Majesty The Queen visited.

July 2009: The new residential rehabilitation centre for children with acquired brain injury, New Archie Norman House, was opened. The centre was named after Dr Archie Norman who played a key role in setting up our rehabilitation service.

2012: A new parents' accommodation facility was opened to support more families.

Looking to the future, we will continue to expand the reach of our services to make a difference to children with brain injury and their families across the UK. Find out how you can help us achieve this by getting involved.

The History of Tadworth Court mansion

Most visitors to Tadworth Court are familiar with the unique and inspirational work The Children’s Trust undertakes to enable children with brain injury to live the best life possible. Yet few are probably aware of the intriguing history of the mansion itself and the people who have lived here since 1700 through to the present day. 

We are proud to say that Tadworth Court has been designated as a Grade 1 listed mansion in recognition of its age and architectural interest. Built sometime between 1694 and 1704 for Leonard Wessel, a wealthy merchant of Dutch origins, it is a good surviving example of a country house from the late Queen Anne period and a hidden gem in Surrey.

Currently home to The Children’s Trust, the mansion is also a house with an intriguing ancestry in terms of the people who have made it their home or investment. This is a story which includes merchant traders, High Sheriffs, MPs and a Lord Chief Justice, as well as prominent absentee owners with substantial estates elsewhere. It also presents a mystery tenant with an eminent pedigree who has slipped under the radar for over 200 hundred years!

The mansion is a working building and not usually open to the public. However, for those of you who are keen to visit Tadworth Court a number of events the public can attend are held at The Children’s Trust throughout the year.