Heritage Centre

All about the heritage centre and what to expect

About the Heritage Centre

A Brief History

Suttons House was originally two staff cottages for Suttons Institute, which was opened in September 1938. The two houses were then used by RAF Hornchurch from September 1939 until 1946, although at present it is unclear what role the houses played during the war. After the RAF departed, the houses became part of the St Georges Hospital site from 1948 and were finally used by the NHS as a mental health building until its closure in around 2013.

These beautiful 1930’s building have been given a new lease of life as from 2019 it opened its doors as The RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre.
This has been a thirty-year struggle to secure a permanent home to house our collection of artefacts, photographs and personal stories relating to this famous aerodrome’s history and without the support and generosity of Bellway Homes who have kindly gifted them to the Hornchurch Aerodrome Historical Trust this opportunity would not have been possible.

Please help support this local community venture in whatever way you can, it might be by loaning or donating artefacts or photographs, or maybe by giving some of your spare time to volunteer with helping to renovate the building or even volunteer in helping to run the centre when it opens next year.

We have already had various working parties in Suttons House over the last few weekends and in the following images you can see some of our board of trustees and volunteers who have given up some of there valuable time in helping to get everything ready for its grand opening. There of course is still a lot of work to be done so if anyone out there can give some free time to this worthwhile venture, we would be very pleased to hear from them, individuals, Tradesmen or local companies all are very welcome.

A few images from when work started transforming what is now the heritage centre.

At the Heritage Centre

We want you to enjoy your experience when visiting the heritage centre, so we have put together a brief outline on what you can expect to see during your visit. 

Themed Rooms

We have put together themed rooms to walk you though the past of RAF Hornchurch.

Our latest edition USAAF Room:

Hornchurch Spitfires escorted both Martin B26 Marauder’s as well as B-17 Flying Fortresses on daylight bombing raids as far as the Belgium coast. Learn about the tragic loss of twenty brave men when two B-17’s collided in mid-air over West Horndon in September 1943, and see how RAF Hornchurch played its role in ‘Operation Starkey’.

  1. Battle of Britain
  2. Bomber Command
  3. Home Front
  4. Officers Mess
  5. World War 1
  6. World War 2
  7. USAAF


If you feel in need of some light refreshments during your visit to the Heritage Centre, you will need to head for our Tea Room, which is open every weekend from 11.00 – 16.00.

We look forward to welcoming you along to serve a warm or cold beverage and a tasty snack!

The Tea Room is a popular watering hole for the many visitors who pass our door.

Our friendly staff will be happy to serve tea, coffee, and soft drinks, along with a range of cakes and pastries, sandwiches plain or toasted all at very reasonable prices. If the weather is fine, you are able to take advantage of our courtyard garden.

Education Suite

The RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre now forms a very large part of Ted Exall’ s long lasting legacy, along with the Ted Exall Education suite, which was officially opened in his honour on 19th September 2021.

It was officially opened by his grown-up children Stephen, Maxine, and Grant, who all attended with their families. This really was a momentous day for all involved, because one of the biggest things Ted always made clear was that everyone no matter what age should be given the opportunity to learn about the history of Hornchurch airfield and the people that had once served there.

This is something that the Trust still Continues to do in our education programme, which is run for all schools, uniformed groups, and adults.