Tony Inwood recollects life at The Paddocks
Tony must have been one of a few people who's life at Caldecott had four different phases. Starting at the main building of Mersham-le-Hatch, then moving on to life at The Paddocks, followed by two years in Lacton Hall, before returning to the Colt House Annex in the Brewery Yard attached to the West Wing of 'Hatch'. A much travelled boy!
Here he offers some of his memories of Paddock life.
The Caldecott Community at Smeeth, Nr Ashford Kent.
Life in 'The Paddocks' 1963-1965.
(A personal reflection by Tony Inwood.)
I first went to the Paddocks (later called Caldecott House) in about 1963, having been in the Senior Study at Hatch for a while. It was considered that I would benefit from a more family style atmosphere and I was very glad to move over there. The Paddocks at that stage was run by James and Tessa King, who had two children of their own, Andrew and Vanessa, who were very much a part of the Paddocks family.
Mike Clover, who had previously run the Paddocks, still lived in a flat on the premises for a while with his wife, Rosemary, and their large Golden Labrador dog called Sinbad. Mike had built a small swimming pool at the far end of the garden, called the “Duck Pond”. It was only just big enough to swim a few strokes in, but its main value was simply to splash around in it and cool off after a day at school. It was very refreshing, and great fun too, to chase around the garden afterwards, except when “Sinbad” decided to clamp himself onto a child’s leg in what he considered to be an amorous advance!! It was not at all a comfortable experience, especially as his dew claws would scratch one’s wet legs rather horribly!
We had a “Dirt Track” at the Paddocks which was for riding bikes and went through trees and up and down small inclines and so on. We had a super time riding round it and it was good exercise too! We couldn’t afford to buy bikes, of course, so we had to make up our own from odd frames, handlebars and wheels etc., that were kept in the old workshop. Some of these parts were kindly given to us by a man called Skip Hudson who ran a bicycle shop in Ashford. Simon Rodway had befriended him some years earlier when Simon ran the Colt House and used to go on cycle rides with the older boys.
We had a big playroom at the back of the house, which overlooked the lawns with the Rhododendrons on either side. We had a small snooker table in there which was well used and we had a “Snooker Ladder”, which was a kind of league table for challenge matches. We also played billiards on this as well as a great game called “Slosh” which was very easy to play and meant one could rack up really high scores. Very satisfying! Card games also featured a lot and there was a very raucous one called “Pit”. This was a market trading game with farmers selling wheat, oats and barley, as well as farm animals too. I don’t recall exactly how it worked, but it was a fabulous game.
On the lawn outside, we would often play a game called “Tin Can Tommy”, which was a group game and consisted of one person in the middle of the lawn by an old tin can and he or she was the supposed to find people hiding in the bushes. If they managed to find them all they had won. However during the course of searching they had to watch out that somebody didn’t run out un-noticed and kick the tin over. In that event the game was then lost to the searcher! We also had a Tennis Court and enjoyed this summer activity a great deal especially during all the excitement of Wimbledon.
Other memories of the gardens were James King mowing the lawns and the wonderfully evocative smell of grass cuttings mixed with petrol where the lawn mower was stored. Also the amazing tree camp built by Ricky Butler with several of us as helpers and the ingenious aerial runway that ran from it down to the ground.
On Sunday afternoons we would have “Skippy” chocolate bars for tea and then listen to “Pick of the Pops” with Alan Freeman on the big old “Wireless” (Radio) in the play room. Later on we took it in turns to do “Cooking”, which was supervised by Tessa king. This was open to boys and girls and we used to cook delicious fudge in large quantities on the old Aga. This was then ceremoniously shared out on Sunday evenings at the traditional “Reading”, where a member of staff would read to us for half an hour or so before we took off to bed. It was all a very cosy affair and I remember a Miss Anne reading to us on occasions and James King too.
All in all we had a very happy time at the Paddocks and it really did have the atmosphere of a family – albeit a rather large one!