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One thing was certain: children were rarely bored at the Village! Between the required contribution of physical effort and the opportunities for adventure on a large rural estate, time was readily consumed. This is just a snapshot of some of the things that took up our time in the early days:
Kitchen help was a daily responsibility; food preparation under the watchful eye of our cook, Irmgard; setting tables and washing up afterwards were rostered duties, spread amongst all the children. A technological marvel we recall was the automatic potato peeler. This container rotated the potatoes at high speed, scouring them against the sandpaper-like internal surface. It was not uncommon to see the enthusiastic operation of this appliance result in the total disappearance of its contents!
Gardening was a weekly chore and was shared between helping the groundsman, Ken Harmer, tend the rose garden, pathways and general grounds and assisting the gardener in the walled garden.
The hardest physical work involved the demolition of old sties and sheds to make room for the prefabricated Cedarwood House. These Saturday morning activities also included the laborious transfer of rubble as well as the more exciting feeding bonfires with the old timber.
There was plenty to keep a young person entertained around the estate. The plentiful woods offered opportunities for tree-houses and the farmer’s corn field, when in full growth, was an excellent location for hide-and-seek. The lawns behind the Manor House seemed custom-made for football. By the same token, the grounds also lent themselves to quiet reading or simply relaxing.
One valuable resource was “George” – an old banger (a Morris or an Austin?) of unknown provenance which did not work but was capable of being pushed up to the top of a hill and, with children clambering over its decrepit structure, be steered, freewheeling back down the hill. This simple activity could keep children amused regularly and for extended periods.
Two boys sang in the choir for a time at the Sedlescombe church, St John’s. There was also an involvement with the local scout troop as well as the Air Training Corps in Battle.
As the children grew, interests changed and social activities expanded with friendships developed at school. Local children who were friends visited the Village and joined in recreational pursuits. Inevitably, sport played a central role and football was played against local teams as well as sides from further afield.
More to come . . . .keep an eye on this page!
Do you have a story from these times? Please let us know!
To discover other aspects of life for the early Pestalozzi children, click here.