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A Daughter's recollection:- Mote House
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A Daughter's recollection:- Mote House

Charlotte Cawte (and her brother Walter - 'Wally') were members of the Community from 1933 until 1939 at Mote House. Here are some memories kindly donated to the Archives by Charlotte's daughter. Charlotte kept in touch with Miss Leila and Miss Dave for some time after she left.


Charlotte Nellie Cawte, Mote House 1933 – 1939.

A Daughter's recollection of links to Caldecott Community.


This information has been kindly donated to the Caldecott Association archives to record the happy life of the donor's Mother at Caldecott, and to demonstrate how the Caldecott influence, under Miss Leila, could and did affect the direction of some people's lives.

We pick up the story with the birth of Charlotte's mother, Elizabeth Amelia E. Ling, registered in 1893 in West Ham. At the age of 20, Elizabeth married William G. Cawte in Poplar, in the East side of London.

This union delivered five children into this world, Lilian A.F. Cawte b.1913; John A. Cawte b. 1918; Amelia A. Cawte b. 1919; Walter Frederick Cawte b. 1922; and Charlotte Nellie Cawte b. 1923.


The Daughter's words:-

I am not sure how to begin with a story from so long ago. But I will tell you it as it was revealed to me as a young child. As a little one I must have asked my mummy about her parents ...she said her parents died when she was very young... I found this idea rather frightening...


At some stage later, we spoke again and I expressed sorrow for her, not having a mummy and daddy, but she said it was OK ...she had such a happy childhood...and she went on to tell me all about The Caldecott and Miss Leila.

This is what she knew........she was born in Bow in the East End of London . She had two brothers, the oldest was John (not at Caldecott) and another Walter Frederick ( Wally) and two older sisters, Amelia and Lillian......Her mum died of consumption (T.B ?) when she was 4 years old and her dad, who worked on East India Docks was killed in an accident on the docks ( I think a container or some such thing fell on him) when she was 5 years old. She said she remembered a baby coming into the house and it's bed was made from a drawer from a chest of drawers but she never knew if it had been a sibling or the baby of a friend or neighbour. She remembered that her dad had auburn brown hair and that her mother used to put ribbons in her hair.


My mother said she had a wonderfully happy childhood at The Caldecott. She told me about school life ...it was very "old school" in ways ...strict (but kind) discipline, very ordered, a strong sense of moral values ( her mantra was 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'). She said she enjoyed the animals and as she got older she looked after the "babies" which led on to her career as a Nanny when she left school (which she didn't want to leave ... it was her home!).

However, it was not all bliss. Charlotte remembered the dip in a cold bath every morning, a routine she didn't appreciate.


One thing I recall was her telling me about the tradition of giving new children in the dormitory an "apple pie bed"....to me I always thought it sounded a bit unkind to the newbie ...but mum seemed to see it as a jolly prank and everyone then did it to everyone else... an initiation I imagine ... after that.. you belonged.


Her slightly older brother Wally also went to the school...she said "He didn't settle as well as I did". I suspect he was more troublesome.

Charlotte had a very successful Nanny career and became Nanny to the acting classes /theatre critics etc. (with some Royal connections)... She was Nanny to Jack Hawkins children when he was a big box-office star and would often see Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh strolling along Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, London. When Glen Miller, the famous band leader was in UK during WW2, Charlotte dated the band's drummer – how cool was that!


During the war, she joined the W.R.A.F and trained as a driver (in one week!)... and would drive heavy lorries and also deliver Officers to where they needed to be. This was where she met my father who had come from Ireland to join the R.A.F.
In later years , she did Meals On Wheels deliveries of lunches to the elderly. And was voted as shop steward to the T.G.W.U by her fellow workers.

She was a very kind and gentle and intelligent lady who carried herself in a very lady-like and refined way...people thought she was "posh" because of her speaking voice...

I would say "No , my mum was an East End orphan"...
They would say "How come?"......

Reply...”It was her education at The Caldecott Community”.


Walter married Joan W. Tennant in 1943, and later information recalls that Walter and family went to live in New Zealand (probably in the early 1960's). Sadly, some years later his youngest daughter Linda (born circa 1958) died of a heart defect. Walter never really got over the loss, and he died of a heart attack a few years later.