Our History

Our History

Victorian and Edwardian Era

Cardfields was built around the turn of the 20th century, and whilst we don’t know the exact date of building, the house is listed in the 1901 census. The first family to live here was the Whitehead family, who moved here from Sydney, Australia. They lived here with their servants, who included a cook, butler, parlour maid, housemaid, lady’s maid, gardener, governess and coachman. By 1911 the house was occupied by the Jones family and their servants with Mr Jones, the head of the house being a barrister.

World War II

During the Second World War Cardfields was used by the American Air Force as a convalescent home for wounded airmen. Men would be able to spend time at Cardfields recovering from their injuries, enjoying the peaceful countryside and beautiful scenery, before returning to their squadron and active service.


After the war

Cardfields was once again a family home, this time owned by the Norman-Butler family who lived and worked in London, but liked to travel to the countryside for weekends and holiday times. As life in Britain was on a fast recovery following the War, life at Cardfields continued at a peaceful and gentle pace. There were five children in the family and Mrs Eileen Hockley, who still lives in Hatfield Peverel today, was their nanny. She remembers the walled garden outside which produced vegetables all year round for the family – and in the autumn beautiful chrysanthemums, a vase of which was always placed on the grand piano in the drawing room. Once a week, the carpet was rolled back and a dancing class took place for the children and their friends.

The household had a cook, a gardener and a daily help. The cook lived in the flat above the stables, the gardener in the village and the daily help lived nearby.

Mrs Norman-Butler was a keen horse rider. She had two horses and various ponies – donkeys too came and went.


In the 1950s the fields which now surround Cardfields were woodland, so the views from the windows of the house would have been very different. William Henry Bolt, miller, brick maker and farmer of Cardfields Farm next door manufactured bricks; his ponies would bring their loads of clay up the drive of Cardfields and through a side gate into the farm.

Present day

Since the 1980s Cardfields has been a residential outdoor centre for learning welcoming schools and groups from Islington and other London boroughs. We offer bespoke programmes to suit the varying needs of young people and provide an opportunity for inner London children to experience the outdoors in a safe and stimulating environment.

We hold the Learning Outside the Classroom Badge, demonstrating our commitment to providing an excellent learning experience for all schools and visitors.

We offer schools the opportunity to bring parents on a pre-visit prior to their children attending Cardfields so they feel secure in the knowledge that their children will be in a safe, warm and stimulating environment.

We look forward to welcoming you to Cardfields to make and grow new memories!