From Elizabeth Lloyd, "The Story of a Community":


[The Caldecott Community evacuated the Mote in Kent in December 1940, and moved to Oxford. The main body of children and staff lived and worked at St. Peter's Hall, now St. Peter's College; an overflow of seniors found themselves first in Somerville College, and then at Far End, Kingham, the Arts and Crafts home designed by author Basil de Selincourt. In this peripatetic way the Community was in Oxford until January 1941, when it went to Hyde House in Dorset.]


This refuge had been found at such incredibly short notice, through the good offices of Mary Stocks, who was a cousin of Miss Leila, and of course knew her very well. Mary Stock's daughter, Helen, was at the time too, on the staff of the Community. It was fortunately still the vacation, so St. Peter's Hall was empty.

Life at Oxford seemed idyllic, at least it did to me, although at St. Peter's Hall there were not enough beds to go round and some slept in chairs, but there were bathrooms. The sirens seldom went and there were no bombs and no cellars.

We became used to seeing our current baby in the nursery parked in a pram on the college lawn; this latter was a square piece of grass, very old, very worn and quite unlike the popular conception of a college lawn. It was never, except for the hours of darkness, without the heel of man; the small children played on it and it held a huge hungry mob before each meal and there was generally an old man or old woman wandering about at all hours of the day: we never discovered who these Ancients of Oxford were.

Here we stayed for three weeks; various schools took in the seniors and the younger children were taught by their own teachers in the rooms of St. Peter's. We must have presumably evolved some kind of reasonably suitable life for the seniors in the evenings and at week-ends and of course, outside the gates of St. Peter's there was all Oxford.


When we went to St. Peter's Hall it was found that there was not room for all the senior boys, so a group of them went with the woman who had charge of them to Somerville; she was an old Somervillian. The undergraduates were still on vacation so there was room for them there. They slept in rows in a lecture hall, while she slept in a porch outside the hall. The cooking was all done on a gas-ring until the college servants said they thought they could feed the boys in the dining-hall and they could cook in the kitchen.

The Principal of Somerville was naturally very anxious to get the boys housed somewhere else before her students returned and happening to meet Mr. Basil de Selincourt, she mentioned her predicament to him. "Oh," he said, "I could have some of them." Eight boys went to his country house outside Oxford, with Helen Stocks. They ate in the kitchen except on Sundays, when they were invited to lunch in the dining-room, all except Helen, who remained in the kitchen to eat, and eventually wash-up. They were all finally dispersed and did not meet up again with the rest of the Community till we were in Dorset.


st peters college oxford Besse staircase at St Peter's College, Oxford.

Photograph by Mike Knell -, CC BY-SA 2.0,


 For the story of Basil de Selincourt's "Far End" house, see author Patrick Miles' 2018 blog, "Far End draws closer".