My next experience of deprived children was in the summer of 1929, working with the Caldecott Community while waiting to take up a teaching post in Birmingham. I do not intend to add to what has already been written about Caldecott but only to say that, apart from confirming my belief that a Childrens Home could provide an essentially happy life, it also taught me my trade and something of the human material with which I would work.1

The children of Stockman Lodge (and, to a lesser extent, Hurst Lea) had been so suppressed that they had not developed physically, intellectually or emotionally. They were a race apart. At Caldecott I learned that children who have been the victims of terrible and distressing circumstances can nevertheless learn to accept their situation, become integrated personalities and develop their full potential.

At that time the policy of the Community was to take children of superior intelligence on the assumption that such children have a greater capacity for suffering and also that they were best equipped to make full use of the stimulating cultural opportunities provided. That policy certainly produced a very high-powered community and crushed any tendency to patronage on the part of the adults. I returned to work at Caldecott on several future occasions and remained with them throughout the Second World War. I can never be sufficiently grateful for the experience and, I hope, wisdom which I gained from them, and also for their existence as a touchstone or standard for all residential work with children.

 

1 In all, Marjorie Seaver worked in the Caldecott Community for 10 or 11 years including 1937-47. To enlarge on her rather sparse account, personal memories of Miss Seaver from two of her former charges are included as an appendix. See also www.caldecottfoundation.co.uk website.