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Margaret (Burrage) Thorne - Caldecott 1939-1949 - The Start

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 MT: Well, I was a pupil at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls which, in retrospect, I realize what a good school it was and I was very happy there, but when I was 16, 16 plus, in 1939 at the end of that term we saw the likelihood of there being war and I saw no point, and neither did my parents see much point, in my going back to school because once war happened, a girls school from South London was billeted in Maidstone. They went to the grammar school and so each group, this group that had come for safety reasons to Maidstone then the pupils already in the school only had half a days schooling each. So I saw little point in going back but before I left school, I had talked with Miss Barkles (?) the Head Teacher and I told her that I was interested in doing something community-wise with people and also I was interested in catering and she then told me about the Caldecott Community which was and still is, (and I don't think I like calling it a 'home' though that's what it was I suppose) a school home for children who were themselves quite bright children but who had disturbed backgrounds and it had children of all ages from babies to young people of sixteen to seventeen.

It was situated in a house called The Mote, a large mansion house in Mote Park which is a very integral sort of leisure area of Maidstone where they still have Kent cricket played. The Mote was at the further end of the great area of park not very far from the lake. I remember it having a model railway going round it.

Anyway I went to The Mote under the title of Student for, I think, something like nine shillings a week, and I went as an assistant to Betty Hillyer who was in charge of the catering and therefore the cooking though, like all of us, you weren't confined to any one job at the Community because it was a community where you were prepared to fill in gaps where help was needed, wherever that was meant to be and also you worked with the children and the children worked with you.