Hitchin care home in ‘history hunt’ for building’s storied past

Foxholes Care Home is asking for your stories, photos and information as part of its 'history hunt'.

Foxholes Care Home is asking for your stories, photos and information as part of its 'history hunt'. Picture: Aaron Wise - Credit: Archant

A care home in Hitchin has launched a ‘history hunt’ to discover and share the stories of its historic building, which was formerly a boarding school and maternity hospital.

Foxholes Care Home, based in Pirton Road on the outskirts of Hitchin, is on the lookout for any stories, photos or information that will shed light on its 1857 building that has served as a manor house, boarding school and maternity hospital.

The information gathered will be used to create a book on the history of Foxholes and a special ‘wall of memory’ in the entrance of the home that tells everyone’s story.

From birth to education, to care, the imposing building, which was initially built in 1857, started life as a Manor House for Quaker William John Lucas and his family – there is a road named Lucas Lane after the family, just north of the care home.

The building was then converted into a maternity ward from 1939 to 1951, before being used as a Catholic boarding school for boys in the 1960s. Having also been a home for retired priests, the building became a nursing home in 1987 before being demolished in 2010, after receiving a £6.75m cash injection to transform it into a luxury residential care home that opened its doors in 2012.

Since then the home,has received many letters and emails from people in the area who have a connection to the building and want to share their stories and memories with those who are currently using it.

Neil Gandecha, estate manager at Foxholes, said: “We regularly get emails sent in from people in the community who are curious to know how the building has changed since they last were here, whether when it was a boarding school or maternity hospital.

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“People have actually asked to come and visit the home so they can re-imagine their past. It was the sentiment behind this that gave us the idea to start a history hunt.”

Neil continued: “It can be an image of you, a relative or a friend in the building, or a story on your connection with it. Regardless, we’d love to hear them all! We have heard everything from ghost stories to rumours of a bomb being dropped on the estate during the war that never exploded!

“When lockdown is lifted and things settle down, we’d also love to invite everyone who has a connection to the building to come down and enjoy a tour and barbecue in the gardens. We think it’s important for people to stay connected to their past and our residents would certainly love to hear their stories.”

Anyone interested in taking part in The History of Foxholes can email their stories to info@foxholescarehome.com, or post them online via Facebook (@foxholescarehome), or Instagram (foxholescarehome).