"I answered an advertisement for a temporary vacancy for someone to look after a group of children out of school hours in addition to housework and a small amount of teaching."

She found that "housework" was the one activity in which the whole Community shared regardless of age or status. It was organised on a system by which not only were the basic principles taught both to adults and children, but also a setting for attractive living was maintained in spite of makeshift furniture and the minimum of material comforts.

To each adult was assigned a part of the house which usually included one large living room or two or more Staff bedrooms, dormitories and bathrooms; (no one ever cleaned their own bedroom so that the danger of that becoming a slum was averted). The gardener and the farm manager were the only people whose work was restricted to their own departments.

The summer of 1930 was one of great perfection so that my recollections of that first term are of life lived strenuously under what seemed to me, almost idyllic conditions.

At that time there were four children over the age of twelve and none over fourteen, opportunities for adult companionship and adult conversation were therefore greater than at any subsequent time in the history of the Community.

The children's last meal was "High Tea", but at eight o'clock when they were all in bed the Staff assembled for supper. My recollection of those meals is of long trestle tables set up under the trees, large quantities of peas, beans and fruit from the garden and stimulating conversation which continued until the last light had faded. The two Directors sat opposite each other and as they had widely divergent opinions and both enjoyed arguments, it was never dull, nor did the cloak impose an artificial closure. An opinion expressed by Miss Rendel followed by Miss Potter's, "I don't agree with you at all, Leila. I think you are absolutely wrong.' sparked off further discussions which ranged from Infant Baptism to politics.

Owing to the fact that all the children were taught in the Caldecott school and that there was no domestic help or outdoor labour, the ratio of grown-ups to children was relatively high and it was this which helped to create a real sense cf community. Those were the days of great financial insecurity and there was no state help. The Community was entirely dependent on voluntary contributions, augmented by the fees which were paid by parents or friends for some, though by no means for all, of the children.

The Directors and many of the Staff were "voluntary" and the others, including the teachers, worked for little more than a pittance. Salaries were determined, not by qualifications or experience, but by the minimum amount which would enable each individual to remain. This sense of total commitment remained a Characteristic of Caldecott for many years.

Commitment was expressed not only in terms of remuneration (or lack of it) but also in the willingness with which, in addition to their own specific work, everyone was prepared to help in any department where they were needed.

Another feature of Caldecott which made considerable impact on me was the Chapel - a converted farm building of stark simplicity and great beauty."


Quoted in Elizabeth Lloyd, "Story of a Community"