History

In 1694 the Royal Hospital for Seamen – now known as Greenwich Hospital – was established.  We continue to receive funding and support from Greenwich Hospital to this day. 

In 1825 Seamen & Marines’ Children’s School was established in Bath Square in Portsmouth and in 1834 the Portsmouth Seamen and Marines’ Orphan School was founded in St George’s School, Portsea with 27 children.  A new premises was opened at the Queen’s Room, Lion Terrace in 1851.  

In 1855 the Home started taking girls supported by the Royal Patriotic Fund, a national charity established during the Crimean War to assist the widows and orphans of soldiers and sailors. Renamed The Royal Seamen and Marines’ Orphan Schools and Female Orphan Home.  It provided boarding and education for 60 girls and 60 boys. 

In 1875 the Home for Little Boys (also known as the Home for Orphan Boys) was established at Hextable, near Swanley in Kent by the same body that ran the Home for Little Boys in Farningham in Kent. 

In 1902 Deaconess Frances Wooldridge founded the Nore Royal Navy & Royal Marines Children’s Trust in response to finding an orphaned child crying in the street of Chatham in Kent.  The child’s father had been in the Royal Navy. ‘She had a natural love for children and, finding a forlorn little girl needing a home, she took her into her own house and looked after her.  Then came another poor child along who also found a harbour of refuge with the Deaconess, and then a third child who could not be refused because she was so unhappy and in such great need of care and a home’.  Whether the little girls were the daughters of naval fathers is not known but this was the first step which led to the formation of the Nore RN & RM Children’s Trust.  After finding more such orphans in need she built two orphanages, one in Gillingham in Kent and one in Portsmouth.  The original funding came from the King George’s Fund for Sailors founded in 1917 – now Seafarers UK and they continue to support the work of the Children’s Fund to this day. 

A building fund was launched and an appeal made to all Chatham-manned ships and establishments, known in those days as the Nore Command.  It was in memory of those men that the Trust was named the Nore Trust. 

On 18th September 1912 the purpose built orphanage in Gillingham, Kent was opened, known as Pembroke House.  This orphanage was for girls only.  

In 1913 Captain Scott & Southern Party Fund founded with a donation to the RN & RM Children’s Trust.

In 1916 the boy’s home went to the Boy’s Home Swanley.  Greenwich Hospital Fund supported a number of the orphans.   

At the outbreak of the Second World War the children were moved to other children’s homes and Pembroke House was used as offices for the militaryand it used as a Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) hostel.  

The girls returned in 1947, soon afterwards joined by the boys at which point The Royal Seamen and Marines’ Orphan Schools and Female Orphan Home was renamed the RN & RM Children’s Home and moved to South Africa Lodge, 42 Stakes Hill Road, Waterlooville.  The Patron was HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.  

In 1945 Princess Elizabeth became Patron of the RN & RM Children’s Trust.  In 1952 the Patron became HM The Queen. 

After the war the Trustees decided that it was best and more cost effective to help the children to remain with their families or guardians and so started to support them in this way.  

Following the introduction of the National Insurance Scheme in 1948 the remit of the orphanage changed in 1951 to become the Nore RN & RM Children’s Trust and the children were supported in schools at which point Pembroke House was taken over by the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust (RNBT) and used as a care home.  We continue to work closely and share offices with the RNBT at Castaway House in Portsmouth. 

In 1979 the Nore RN & RM Children’s Trust became the RN & RM Children’s Trust, HMS Pembroke, Chatham, Kent.  In 1982 the Trust transferred to the Portsmouth home, South Africa Lodge and continued until the early 1990s.  

In 1999 the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Children’s Fund was formed through the merger of the two charities that looked after these homes. HM The Queen became the Patron of the merged charity, HM The Queen Mother stepping down.

In 2017 after 75 years HM The Queen stepped down as Patron and her son, HRH The Duke of York KG became the new Patron of the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Children’s Fund.  

In 2015 the RNRM Children’s Fund became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation CIO and since then has continued to cover all the aspects of care that children should expect to receive if life was straightforward for them.