The majority of the Oaklands estate was either woodland or potential farmland. To exploit this latter value, parts of the property were leased to a local farmer, Geoff Harmer (brother of the Village’s groundsman, Ken) who grazed sheep around the estate and grew crops on the flat field adjacent to the River Brede (now used as a sports field for the local Sedlescombe community).
In the earliest days of the Village, it was not uncommon for the children to go around the estate with Geoff Harmer, helping with minor chores and observing his more dangerous activities – such as removing tree trunks, roots and all, with the aid of explosives!
The Pestalozzi Children’s Village also acquired two ponies: Topper and Gay Lady. These two mounts were generally to be found in the field behind the Manor House.
Throughout our time at the Village the children had virtually free access to the entire property. We do not recollect having much in the way of restrictions – nor too many cautionary warnings about the dangers of a rural environment. And, the fact is, we survived with few injuries and some marvellous experiences.
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To find out more about other parts of the estate grounds, click here.