Memories: Personal experiences of the Community

Kathleen Syer: "I first joined the Community in 1923"

"My first impressions of Charlton were that life was just a haphazard hubbub: how anything got done I just could not see...."
Read more Charlton Court (1917-1924)

Dennis Wainwright: "I was at Caldecott for under 6 years..."

"One feature of Caldecott at Goffs Oak which I have not yet mentioned is the conservatory on the S.W. corner of the house, in which the school erected a small stage with rear access from just by the main front door of the house. The main entrance to the conservatory was from the garden and the rest of its interior provided space for seating an audience. There were also 2 or 3 work benches and it was there that I learned the basics of carpentry from Miss Syer...."
Read more Goffs Oak (1924-1932)

Hanna Fried: "The Caldecott Community"

"The Caldecott as I remember was for me like a huge gate to safety and security. My sister and I had travelled from Czechoslovakia on our own. It was the year 1939, May, a few months before the outbreak of the Second World War...."
Read more The Mote (1932-1940)

Elizabeth Lloyd: Daily Life at the Mote

"I must have walked some hundreds of miles in my years at The Mote and the whole countryside became as familiar to me as the faces I saw and the hands I held, for those four years. ....I told stories; endless stories; finishing finally with an enormous saga that went on for terms...."
Read more The Mote (1932-1940)

John Hansen: "The Caldecott Community at The Mote during the late nineteen thirties"

"I believe I was one of the few people who was part of The Community, from this period in its history until we were finally established at Mersham le Hatch..."
Read more The Mote (1932-1940)

Margaret Thorne: Oral histories, recorded by Bob Lawton

"I was actually standing in the kitchen of The Mote that Sunday morning when, on the radio, Neville Chamberlain told the world and in particular, of course, Great Britain that war had been declared between Germany and Great Britain...."
Read more The Mote (1932-1940)

John Hansen: "Caldecott leaving Mote in 1940"

"Life was more difficult at night. We slept in the cellars on camp beds and mattresses supported by wooden boards, to provide insulation from the cold stone floor.... At the beginning of July, two bombs landed close by..."
Read more The Mote (1932-1940)

Elizabeth Lloyd: "Saint Peter's Hall, Oxford; Somerville College, Oxford; and Far End, Kingham, Oxfordshire"

"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..."
Read more Oxfordshire (1940-1941)

Elizabeth Lloyd: The War Years in Dorset - Another Beginning

"Imagine yourself one black January night in 1941 driving a small car packed to the roof with luggage and possessions across what appeared to be a wild desolate heath with the wind screaming and moaning like some terrible lost spirit rocking the car backwards and forwards and the rain lashing the windows. Helen Stocks and I were on our way to Hyde House in the middle of Egdon Heath, in Dorset...."
Read more Hyde House (1941-1947)

Elizabeth Lloyd: "The House and the Country"

"It was a long, stone three-storied house built probably round about the turn of the century; its setting was beautiful, rough grass which had once been well-mown lawns ran down to a river, shallow and peaty-brown with a weir over which salmon leaped in the spawning season; there were trout and deep pools. It was a lovely stretch of water with woods on its further banks and the water-meadows were lush and thick with wild flowers in summer."
Read more Hyde House (1941-1947)

Elizabeth Lloyd: "Life Goes On"

"We had at one time a girl who suffered from the most acute form of Kleptomania I have ever come across. She was twelve when she first came and she stayed until she was fifteen...."
Read more Hyde House (1941-1947)

Michael Barker: "Memories of Hyde, 1947"

"I need to set the record straight on the Hyde House AWOL escapade in 1947....." "Although I was only at the Dorset location for a few months, the bucolic Dorset ambiance of Hyde House has stayed with me for over 70 years. I much preferred Hyde House to Mersham-le-Hatch. Those country walks with the ponies through unpopulated Dorset countryside and lonely trout streams after the bombing of London and its suburbs were a great tonic for the soul. I was dismayed when we moved to Mersham-le-Hatch because at Hyde House we had a weirpool in our back yard and I'd just learned to swim: and that makes all the difference...."
Read more Hyde House (1941-1947)

Cyril Ives: "Requiem for Mersham"

"This was more than a house – a place apart – of great beauty architecturally and environmentally, with space to run, to scream, to laugh, to cry, to be heard. A Community of People, Place and Things. People committed to each other, Children and Adults.No matter affection was not expressed overtly – security mattered – this was love in action, unknown to me in my life before."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

Anne Coningham Naylor: "The Caldecott Community: My personal thoughts and memories"

"In 1947 the Home and all the children moved to a beautiful house in the Kent countryside; this was now my home. There were lots of grown ups who I looked upon as my mothers, a great big house with a big family, and I accepted from an early age, knowing no better, that everyone lived in big houses with lots of mothers...."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

Gill Cook: "Memories of Music at The Caldecott Community in the 1950s"

"Life for me at the Caldecott Community began 3 months before my 4th birthday. I had learned to sing a tune before learning to speak so hearing music and hymns coming from the Chapel in the converted Stable Yard, where the Chapel and Nursery living quarters were established, was a real pleasure to me...."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

Michael Barker: "Mersham-le-Hatch, 1947-1949"

" It took me almost a year's riding instruction from Miss Travers on Puff and Mary before I was allowed to ride Muffin, the "lighter pony" in the picture; however, it would be almost a year before that transpired. This occurred at Mersham-le-Hatch as we entered the deer park on our return from a country walk with the ponies. When the five-bar gate was opened, Muffin took absolute control of the proceedings and, once through the gate, immediately broke into a canter and then to a full gallop all the way back to the stable, leaving the rest of the party behind...."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

Michael Barker: "If Four Walls Told" (1948)

"I need to go back to 1948 or 49 at Mersham le Hatch and the lawn out front of the house where we performed "A Midsummer's Nights Dream." I played Bottom the Weaver, but I don't remember any of the members of the cast. Then a couple of months later, the Ashford theatre held auditions for kids my age to act in a play written by the conservative MP for Ashford, whose name escapes me...."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

Val Flint: "Memories of Mersham-le-Hatch"

"The grand mansion of Mersham-Le-Hatch must surely hold echoes of the hundreds of children and adults who passed along that sweeping driveway, under the beech trees and up the broad stone steps that led into the imposing entrance hall...."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

Ley Melrose: "Reflections of an adult at Caldecott"

"Another thing that happened that I remember clearly was, I lost my temper, and slapped a boy. It certainly wasn't a usual thing, but I didn't really think that much about it. He went straight off to Miss Leila and complained. Miss Leila sent for us and I thought, oh help, but she was just incredible...."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

Barry Northam: "Memories as a child at the Caldecott Community"

"...and, I think the whole point of me being there was to make sure I developed in other ways as well. To give me a broad background as it were and I think, somebody yesterday said something which I realised was – was what I think is most important, or one of the most important things about Miss Leila’s arrangements for Caldecott, and that is that she always chose to live in big houses. And not just big houses but usually a sort of stately home or a very comfortable house, where the children had plenty of room to roam around and it certainly transformed, well I’m pretty sure it transformed my attitude..."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

Bob Lawton: "Incident whilst camping at Birling Gap" (1954)

"Somehow, people's heads started to appear at the cliff top, and although the group tried to indicate that they were quite safe (?), never-the-less the alarm was raised and in due course an in-shore lifeboat arrived to effect a rescue...."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

Bob Lawton: "Community Congregation"

"Some may remember these meetings, usually once a term as I remember, during which we were reminded of the Community principles by the reading of the 'Charter' by Miss Leila, assisted by two chosen children (the Heralds); heard news of Community pupils and staff who had moved on; and finished with a rousing rendering of 'Jerusalem', and occasionally 'Non Nobis Domine'...."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

Gerald Moran
Random Thoughts on the Caldecott Community:
  • 1. The Living Community
  • 2. The Good Life
  • 3. Academy of Human Relations
  • 4. Retrospective and Perspective

" I remember the strange and exciting experience of finding myself living with a large number of other humans. It was if I had acquired dozens of new relatives – brothers, sisters, cousins, great-aunts and so on. There were numerous personalities to study – discovering good and bad points, strengths and weaknesses; characters to encourage, enjoy, tolerate, avoid, confront, laugh with or at, as the case may have required...."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

"Memories: A film by Takumba Ria Lawal"

"Oh no! What have I come to? A toff school!"
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

"First Morning Home - a film by Tash Fairbanks"

"That first morning home after the end of term at Caldecott, we were sat around the table at breakfast, me, Mum and Dad..."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

"The Day I Saw the Queen" a film featuring Cyril Ives & Friends, Directed and Produced by Mark Sevia & Gemma Geldart

"It was 1952 and I was a snuffly little boy of about 10, in sick bay, along with the smell of TCP and Bovril and cream crackers..."
Read more Mesham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)

Tony Inwood
  • A Caldecott Kaleidoscope
  • Life at the Paddocks 1963 -1965
  • Life at Lacton Hall 1965 -1967
  • Life in the Colt House 1967 – 1969
  • Caldecott "Meeting". A personal reflection

"1960. First sight of “Hatch”. Overwhelming, but not intimidating. I am placed in Junior Study, a group of about 20 boys and girls. Memories: Long walks on Saturday afternoons down the hornbeam woods and along the country lanes. Miss Murdin, like a mother hen, leading a straggly band of 6 & 7 year olds behind her. Then our reward at the end, a visit to “Reeders” shop to stock up on sweets. Back to Junior Study playroom for leisure activities before tea. Early bed...."
Read more Mersham-le-Hatch (1947-2002)