Norwood archives and documents


Norwood has a history that goes back over 220 years, and has built up an impressive archive of documents over the centuries.

We have recently undertaken a project, which is ongoing, to record our archives in a standardised manner, in order to make them available to researchers and family members.

Below are the main archive details, and links to the sub-folders.

If you wish to access the archive boxes, please contact Martin Rayment.

TITLE: Norwood Archives

NAME OF CREATOR: The Jews’ Hospital and Orphan Asylum, Norwood Homes for Jewish Children, Norwood Childcare, the Ravenswood Foundation and Norwood Ravenswood.

DATE: c.1867 – 2012


EXTENT/MEDIUM: 82 boxes, 10 portfolios, 1 bronze plaque, 6 bound volumes

ARCHIVAL HISTORY: No system of appraisal has been implemented since the beginning of the previous archivist’s tenure which means the collection is very large and houses duplicate material where some records are not relevant to the history of Norwood. There is no existing catalogue and no obvious system in place that separates the records into a logical order. There has been an attempt at a box list which details the contents of 50 boxes but the list does not always correspond with the content and no further attempt has been made to continue the list. Due to the ongoing accrual of records there was no obvious original order so it was difficult to trace the provenance of some of the records. In order to reestablish provenance the records have been arranged according to the assumed original functions of each institution.

The collection has been divided into five sub-fonds, based on the creators of the records and based on the functions that the records serve. The following sub-fonds are:

ADMINISTRATIVE/BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY: Norwood developed from three different institutions: the Jews’ Hospital, the Jew’s Orphan Asylum and The Ravenswood Foundation.

The Jews’ Hospital was established by two Jewish brothers, Abraham and Benjamin Goldsmid. The hospital was a charitable institution that cared for the sick, the elderly, the destitute and the young. It was established in 1807 at Mile End in London where it taught children Jewish religious studies and how to read and write. The hospital was patronised by the Duke of Sussex from 1815 and the Duke of Cambridge after 1843.

The Jew’s Orphan Asylum originated in 1831 and its purpose was to care for the general wellbeing and education of Jewish children who were deprived of both parents or (for a limited number) those with only one parent. It was originally located in Leman Street, London but due to increasing numbers moved to Tenter Ground at Goodman’s Fields in 1841. Like the Hospital, the Asylum received Royal Patronage from, the Queen Dowager, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duchess of Kent.

The Jews’ Hospital and the Jew’s Orphan Asylum amalgamated in 1876 to become the ‘Jews’ Hospital and Orphan Asylum’. The children from the Asylum moved to Norwood, a large purpose built Victorian building situated in West Norwood. Dr. Henry Behrend was the first President of the institution and tirelessly oversaw the extensions of the building so that more children could be accommodated. The Centenary Hall where the children ate was inaugurated by the Duke of Cambridge and by 1911 Norwood was able to care for at least 400 children. Between 1908 and 1911 the Arnold and Jane Gabriel Home was built on the grounds of Norwood to cater for children between the ages of five and eight. After the Second World War two further residential homes, Samuel and Stephany House were built within the grounds in 1957. By 1961 Norwood had acquired nine houses in the neighbouring streets. Each home had a small group of boys and girls residing in them and they lived as a family group with their houseparents. The Family Houses were tied to the main institution but became more independent as time progressed.

The main Victorian building belonging to Norwood was demolished in 1965 and a new synagogue and assembly hall built in its place. By this period Norwood had shifted its policy to more community-based services considering that it no longer had the financial outlay of maintaining a large-scale institution, it became known as ‘Norwood Homes for Jewish Children.’ In 1967 it incorporated the child welfare services previously provided by the Jewish Welfare Board assuming responsibility for the Highbury House Babies’ Home and a hostel for unmarried mothers. Yet, as more help was made available to struggling families generally fewer children took advantage of the service provided by the Norwood family homes and the last home closed in 1992. However, in the 1970’s Norwood Homes extended its activities into the field of disability and worked both independently and in partnership with a number of specialist organisations namely the Ravenswood Foundation. It was in 1982 that Norwood Homes for Jewish Children changed its name to ‘Norwood Child Care.’

The Ravenswood Foundation was initially founded by the Jewish Association to Aid Backward Children in 1951. The association was set up by four sets of parents with children who had disabilities and their aim was to give these children education and residential care.

Initially the school only accommodated boys and girls under the age of 15 so in 1958 the association opened Avenue House in Wokingham for the housing and training of boys over the age of 15. In 1959 they also bought 112 acres of farmland at Ravenswood which opened in 1964 and is known today as Ravenswood Village. Ravenswood provides residential and life long learning services where it helps to develop independence through life skills courses and employment services. It was the first institution to introduce charity bike rides as a fundraising method and it set the precedent in 1992 with the first Biblical Cycle Ride from Dan to Beersheba, Israel. After having worked with Ravenswood on a number of projects the two charities, Norwood Child Care and the Ravenswood Foundation, eventually merged in 1996 and developed into the charity that it is recognised as today, Norwood.


SCOPE & CONTENT: The records in this collection span a long timeframe from the mid eighteenth century up until the present. The earliest records that relate to the inception of the Jews Hospital and the Jews Orphan Asylum and the early days of its amalgamation have been deposited at the University of Southampton Special Collections archive and range from 1678-1951. The records currently housed at Norwood range from the mid nineteenth century up until circa 2012. They include paper records, digital records, photographs that are in colour and in black and white and other textual records such as memorial plaques, t-shirts, badges and medals.

So far the only records that have been catalogued are the paper records which reflect the core functions of the institutions that make up Norwood.

LANGUAGE/SCRIPTS OF MATERIAL: Predominantly English but some records contain Hebrew in this instance, however, a translation has usually been provided except for a small minority of earlier records from the nineteenth century.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS & TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS: The majority of the collection is in good condition with the later documents having no preservation requirements. However, a large quantity of material from the Jews’ Hospital and Orphan Asylum is damaged. The Legacy book and other minute books are suffering from red rot, the election sheets are badly damaged and very fragile. The Orphan Aid Society committee minute book is badly damaged and fragile. Access to these records may be restricted due to their fragility but it is hoped that in the near future they will be sent to a conservator for a physical assessment.

APPRAISAL/DESTRUCTION/ SCHEDULING INFORMATION: There has been an ongoing appraisal of records from the collection. Due to the size of the collection and the time frame that was allotted for the project, it was more efficient to appraise the records as they were being organised whereas in other instances a specific schedule of appraisal would have been implemented. No formal record was made of the material that was disposed of but strenuous effort was made to ensure that no worthwhile documents were disposed of.

ACTIONS: To have all damaged material assessed and repaired by a professional conservator. To have a professional conservator remove the black and white photographs mounted on paper in order for them to put in melinex photo wallets. To establish a photo and reference library and to make the catalogue more detailed.

ACCRUALS: Further accruals are expected.

SYSTEM ARRANGEMENT: The constant accrual of records over a long period of time without any formal assessment on their entry into the archive has meant that the original order of much of the material has been lost. The collection has been re-arranged to current archival standards. Arrangement of the records has been carried out taking a number of considerations into account:

  • the basic archival principal of provenance and original order, where this is Identifiable (Who created these records? What order were they kept in?)
  • the function of the records (What purpose were the records created for? Has responsibility for this function changed between different departments at different dates?)
  • ease of use by potential researchers

The collection has been divided into five sub-fonds, based on the creators of the records and based on the functions that the records serve. The following sub-fonds are:

The conscious decision to only catalogue paper records in the collection was made due to the short time frame of the project. This has meant all photographs and multimedia material has not been touched. It is hoped that when more funding is acquired for the archive, more aspects of the collection can be catalogued.

CONDITIONS GOVERNING ACCESS: Most of the collection is open, but access to some items will be restricted by the Data Protection Act 1988.

CONDITIONS GOVERNING REPRODUCTION: Needs to be agreed before publication


  • The London Museum of Jewish Life and Norwood Child Care ‘What about the children? 200 Years of Norwood Child Care 1795-1995’ 1995: PUBLISHER?
  • Harris, D M, ‘Max Sebba and Ravenswood’ 2012: PUBLISHER?

LOCATION: Broadway House, Stanmore


  • External Unit: See the ‘Norwood Archives’ collection 1811-1941 for earlier material relating to the Jews’ Hospital, the Jew’s Orphan Asylum and the beginning of Norwood. Reference no. GB 738 GB 738 MS 127 held at University of Southampton Libraries Special Collections.
  • External unit: See British Pathé website for footage of the Taxi Driver’s Outings 1955, 1960, 1961, 1962 and 1965. Enter ‘Taxi Driver’s Outings’ in the search engine or search via film id: 541.26 (1955), 1690.01 (1960), 1734.27 (1961), 1723.40 (1962), 1814.26 (1965).

Note: British Pathé films are protected by copyright and any films purchased from their website are for personal viewing only. British Pathé state that: ‘Under UK copyright law, which is respected by international agreements, British Pathé’s films and still images are not yet in the public domain. That means you will need to pay a licence fee in order to make use of our material in any commercial or non-commercial projects. If you want to display footage publicly, broadcast it, distribute it, sell it, place it online, use it in lessons or presentations, or anything else, you will require a licence.’

  • External unit: See the ‘Jewish Orphanage, Norwood: Correspondence’ papers 1956-1962 for correspondence between the Orphanage and the Board of Directors of British Jews. Reference no. ACC/3121/E2/98 held at the London Metropolitan Archives: City of London.
  • External Unit: See the ‘Trades Advisory Council: reports on Norwood Jewish Orphanage’ 1952. Reference no. ACC/3508/137 held at the London Metropolitan Archives: City of London.
  • External Unit: See the ‘Jews Orphan Asylum’ papers for minutes of the Ladies Society and the Education Committee relating to the Orphan Asylum before it merged with the Hospital 1852-1872. Reference no. ACC/2712/JOA held at the London Metropolitan Archives: City of London.
  • Note: The records are only available for consultation by written permission of the United Synagogue’s Chief Executive.
  • External Unit: See the ‘Jews’ Hospital’ papers for records relating to the Jews’ Hospital before it merged with the Orphan Asylum 1812-1821 (Consists of minutes). Reference no. ACC/2712/JSH held at the London Metropolitan Archives: City of London.

Note: Records can only be accessed with the written permission of the depositor.

Contact the Chief Executive, United Synagogue.

  • External Unit: See the ‘Stepney Children’s Homes: Admission and discharge register’ collection for papers relating to the vaccination of children and transfer of children to Jewish Orphanage, West Norwood’ 1933-1934. Reference no. LCC/EO/SS/07/053/001 for the collection and LCC/EO/SS/7/53/2-22 for papers of the vaccination register.

Note: These records are not available for general access.

  • External Unit: See the ‘Archives for Jewish Care’ papers 1757-1989 for records relating to the administrative merger of the Jewish Board of Guardians and Norwood in 1963. Reference no. GB 738 GB 738 MS 173 held at University of Southampton Libraries Special Collections.
  • External Unit: See the Jewish Museum’s Photographic Archive for material relating to Norwood from c.1819-1994. Held at the Jewish Museum, London.
  • External Unit: See the ‘Norwood Home for Jewish Children (Jewish Orphanage), Knight’s Hill, West Norwood, London: establishment and registration of various family group homes’ 1962-1967. Reference no. BN62/3090 held at The National Archives.
  • External Unit: See ‘Norwood Joint Committee for the Welfare of Jewish Children (Jewish Board of Guardians and Norwood Homes): bulk reports’ for papers relating to the Jewish Board of Guardians and Norwood 1966-1974. Reference no. BN 62/1421 held at The National Archives.
  • Note: These records are closed for 75 years because they contain sensitive content.

External Unit: See ‘Norwood Home for Jewish Children West Norwood, London SE27: bulk reports’ 1949-1960. Reference no. BN 62/1420 held at The National Archives.

Note: These records are closed for 75 years because they contain sensitive content.


ARCHIVIST’S NOTES: Cataloguing of the records was funded by the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe awarded in 2016.

The collection was catalogued from 2016-2017. In an attempt to impose an order on the collection the records have been arranged according to the assumed original functions of the institutions in an attempt to establish original order and create context which has been lost because of the accumulation of records over a long period time. The risk of upsetting the original order was outweighed by the need for a comprehensive system that more accurately reflected the functions of the institutions and provided some context for the records that were created by it.

There are some cases where the previous archivist has made personal notes on some of the documents (particularly noticeable with the older material) which may cause some users to think that they were written when the document was created. The notes are only relevant to the research that the previous archivist was undertaking at the time and are not related to the original content or the structure of the record. Where there are records that have personal notes written, that do no relate to original content, it will be indicated in the catalogue.