Part 1 of my Hawkhurst adventure then. I had forgotten to look up the actual location of this site, and it was only by chance that I found it, as I noticed the security fence as I cycled past and realised that it must be Babies Castle.
Some history from Rookinella's report:
The Babies Castle was officially opened on 9th August 1886 this institution was for the reception of babies. In 1908 Babies Castle became a mixed home for children under eight years of age. It was particularly used for babies and young children who, owing to their physical condition, were not suited for boarding out. On the 21st September 1927 the new extension that had been built was officially opened another outstanding event of that year was the installation of a wireless set which was used for the first time on Christmas Day when the older children listened to the Children's Service.
In 1964 The Babies Castle was listed as a Nursery with 48 places which was a vast reduction from the early days. To let you know a little more information we will use the notes of Thomas John Barnardo written about 1887 "Up till the year 1884 the "baby question" met me at every turn in the course of my work, and no answer to its insistent beseeching was possible. I might rescue a family of little girls from circumstances of direct dis*tress, and the Ilford Homes (Barkingside Village) gladly welcomed them; but how about the baby brother?" So wrote Thomas John Barnardo in about 1887 and the notes give something of the problems he was experiencing in housing destitute children of both sexes. Since The Girls Village Home, Barkingside. (the Ilford Homes, as he describes them), was founded for destitute girls of all ages; the problem of where to house the babies of the male gender, seems to have been really acute, but then he goes on to describe how the problem was eventually solved.
I made my way into the building through an outbuilding and immediately saw that it was in a much worse condition on the inside than out.
Many of the corridors were in nice condition, but the same can't be said for the individual rooms themselves.
Pretty much every floor was missing in the rooms, and was quite the safety hazard.
I ventured up these stairs, but with the floorboards missing at the top, decided not to venture any further that way and find an alternative route to the middle floor.
Towards the end of the ground floor I found the kitchen. As I waved my torch around like a nutter painting the room, I noticed the water container. Then all of the empty coffee and sugar sachets. Then the still-in-date milk.
I weighed my options up as I took another shot, and decided that I didn't really want to get caught alone by either the hobo who was living there, or perhaps a security guard, so bailed.
Being in a rush I took a couple of handhelds of the exterior before I made my way out.
This wasn't the greatest of explores really, the place was wrecked on the inside, and was inhabited. Would be nice to have a look at some of the original features with company for safety reasons in the future though.