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Margaret (Burrage) Thorne - Caldecott 1939-1949 - Back to Maidstone

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So, after the week at Somerville, we had no choice but to go back to Maidstone and then it was, sort of, looking after the children that we had there. Some, one or two, had gone back to families, some had gone to relations, and some had gone to foster people, some had gone to other schools, but we still had quite a number of children left with us.

Betty Hillyer was sent off by Miss Leila to look for accommodation for the school and it wasn't then until the following January, this would be January 1941wouldn't it? Yes; that we were told we were going to deepest Dorset to a house called Hyde House which had been empty for absolutely ages, was not suitable for the number of people we were. It had a generator for electricity, it had a generator for water, and it had a very hostile, sort of, enormous range which was called 'Bonnybridge'.(Ed: Manufacturer's Name?)

Our latter days at the Mote were spent going to the cellar at night which Miss Leila had cleared and all white-washed, and she herself, of course, being the lady that she was, she had her divan bed down there with a table lamp and her books; and we had, sort of, camp beds so we used to troop down there each night and come back in the morning and I had, sharing my room, a girl who was about my age actually called Edith Kachevsky (?) and Edith had been one of the young people who had come from Berlin on this train which left with children escaping....

(Ed: Recording interrupted by arrival of 'Care staff' to get Margaret's lunch-New recording started after lunch).

MT: I shared a room at the Mote with this girl I've just mentioned called Edith Kachevsky (?) and she was one of the young people who came on this train that we've now heard so much about that bought young people out of Berlin and a whole group of them came to The Mote and I remember still when two of the girls, who came from Czechoslovakia, the day they were eighteen the police arrived to take them to the Isle of Man; and I remember Miss Leila standing on the steps of The Mote seeing them off and saying to them “My Dears, life is a great adventure and this will be one of them”. Actually they were not there for very long, they came back to us at The Mote after a few months and... I don't know, I don't remember what happened to the boys, I think that some of them went to the Isle of Man for a short spell. Isle of Man, of course, being used as an internment (camp) for them to be in because these girls, their parents were there, and they were there for much longer than the girls; but Edith stayed with the Community; she had some relations in London and I have kept in touch with her. She is probably my sort of age now. I've kept in touch with her all these years and I have a letter occasionally from her, she now lives in North London, she's widowed but she had married a Polish lawyer but he wasn't allowed, of course, to do his law in Great Britain so he taught languages in a Technical College. I remember, in the war again, going to their wedding in Gower Street in London, a Jewish wedding with the sort of rituals that went on like throwing the glasses into the hearth, into the fireplace and the canopy and the hats and and afterwards the refreshments being quite different, I don't now how they managed it, but quite different from the sort of food that I'd been used to after any sort of wedding. Edith has always known me as 'Maggie' and she writes always very lovingly. I don't know her state of health, I think she is probably frail now. She has two children. I've no idea whether she keeps in touch or not but what I do know is that I've kept in touch with her and she has kept in touch with me all these many years. I haven't seen her since the first reunion we had at Lambeth Palace (Ed:2005?) and I saw her then. She looked exactly the same actually, I mean much older of course, but she just looked the same and I always know when it's her letter because the writing and the way it's done always has a sort of germanic look about it.

Also, I have kept in touch with Sonia and John...Brown who, of course I knew as pupils at the Community and I remember Miss Leila and Miss Dave telling them “For goodness sake, to get their act together and if they really wanted to be married for goodness sake get on and be married”. I was also very close to Barbara Brown who was one of the 'Brown' family and she went to the College of Art at Canterbury, so I used to get up early to get her some breakfast and see that she went offwith her sandwiches, but I lost touch with Barbara. I have no idea what happened to her since. And I also had as a friend, and that continued after I left, with Marjorie Dee who was the wife of John Dee who was one of the first people that Miss Leila has, sort of, taken on way back, many many years before. John was in the Army and Marjorie, and Diana, and Christopher, lived in Hull and Hull was badly bombed and so Marjorie came to the Community. She then worked in the Pantry which, Miss Leila used to say, was the most important place in the whole school to work, because it mattered very much if people went to supper and found they hadn't got a knife and fork, and it started them being irritable for the rest of the day.

RL: Was that The Mote or Hyde House?

MT: That was everywhere and urm... it was at Hyde, it was at, certainly at Mersham, very much so there...