Currently undergoing a major and sympathetic refurbishment programme, Care UK’s Milner House has been the home of innovative new care programmes for 90 years.
Built in 1891, and originally known as the Long House, the beautiful red brick building in Ermyn Way, Leatherhead, was designed as a family home for Daniel Pidgeon, whose initials can be seen on several of the ornate drain pipes.
Sadly, Daniel died on a family holiday to Egypt in 1900 and the Long House was let to Herman Klinker, a gentleman farmer and piano importer.
Klinker had many talented friends who would visit and it is easy to imagine Czech composer and violinist Jan Kubelik, and Klinker’s other friends, performing in the Ball Room. Life during these times has been captured for us by Herman’s daughter Nanetta, who was a talented photographer.
In 1926, the house was bought by the Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society. The Society, which was established in 1919 by Sir Frederick Milner, ‘the Soldiers and Sailors Friend’, campaigned for shell-shocked veterans and Sir Frederick was one of a group of forward-thinkers who felt that those with mental health problems should not be treated in asylums.
Instead, he believed, they should be actively engaged in a positive environment and he built a factory and market garden in the grounds which not only provided a wage and skills for the workers, but also helped the Society to raise funds to provide help for those who could not work and to campaign for the rights of ex-servicemen.
The home’s beautiful grounds were used to hold fundraising garden parties and, in 1932, Queen Elizabeth II’s parents, the then Duke and Duchess of York, visited the home during a holiday at Polesden Lacey.
During the Second World War, Milner House again came into its own, providing accommodation for bombed-out families as well as continuing its work with servicemen.
The house was eventually sold to Ashbourne Homes and the factory at Milner House was taken over by Remploy – a not-for-profit organisation that provides work for disabled people.
In 2011, Care UK took over Milner House. Following an impressive investment and redevelopment programme, Milner House is once again offering a new style of ground-breaking care, with residents encouraged to pursue their ambitions and interests. Once again, the grounds are being used by residents to plant flowers in adapted containers and beds and the activities coordinators ensure that the house is used to its full potential and that residents’ life skills and individual personalities are nurtured and celebrated.
Currently work is going on to create rooms that have wet-room style bathrooms to maximise residents’ independence, state-of-the-art baths are being installed to ensure carers can help less mobile residents enjoy a bath with dignity and elsewhere rooms are being painted and outside restoration work is taking place.
Manager Tosh Latchman said: “It is a beautiful home. I’m very lucky to manage such a fine team of caring professionals in a building that has, for generations, inspired and provided active care and helped its residents to live fulfilled lives.”