International House (renamed years later as “Sainsbury House”) was the first building, and centrepiece, in an ambitious project intended to accommodate some 300 children from the war-torn world. The plan was that children would live in their own national houses on the estate, cared for by staff of their own nationality. As they became older, towards completing their secondary education, it was planned that the children would then move into International House and live amongst other nationalities – hopefully contributing to their becoming better “world citizens”. Sadly, this broader vision was never realised. During the early years of the Pestalozzi Children’s Village, the building accommodated a mixed group of European children.
The building was designed by the architectural partners Sir Hugh Casson (of Festival of Britain 1951 fame) and Neville Conder. They had been commissioned to design the entire project – which could be seen on a marvellous balsa-wood relief model displayed in the entrance to the Manor House.
It is uncertain how the building was originally intended to be organised but, in any event, it was split into two houses: North House and South House, each with its own staff.
The entrance was a distinctive oval rotunda attached to the body of the building and contained changing rooms for the children (essential, given the rural nature of the estate!).
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