- First Morning Home - A digital story by Natasha Fairbanks
- Christmas at Caldecott - A Digital Story by Linda Macdonald
- First Memories - A Digital Story by Gill Cook
- Leila Rendel - A digital story by Barry Northam
- Hana Fried's Memories of The Caldecott Community
- Memories of Music - Gill Cook
- The Kitchen
The Caldecott Community
"These were people who really cared. You cannot fool a child, and one could feel they cared."
- Noele Arden, "Child of a System" (Quarter Books, 1977)
Miss Leila’s Bell
Reunion at Lambeth Palace on Friday 6 September 2011
Apart from it being a very emotional day meeting up with people I had not seen for nearly 45 years, another wonderful thing happened to me today, something that I will remember for as long as I live, and makes me think I must be the luckiest woman alive!
We were all preparing to sit down and watch a short film about the Caldecott Foundation which was to be followed by an ‘Auction’ of a few items from Caldecott. There were two pictures of Mersham-le-Hatch and one of The Mote. Along with the pictures there were two hand bells that had been used during Miss Leila’s time.
To understand, our lives were ‘governed’ by bells! The big bell that hung outside the back door by the kitchen, summoned us to meals, in from play, to attend Chapel, and to go to Prep. Miss Leila had a bell on her table and would ring it to silence us to say Grace and ring it again to allow us to chatter. The bell was rung again at the end of the meal so that we could be dismissed, table by table.
Anyway, I was crouching on the floor so that the people behind me could see the screen and was asked by a very elegant looking Lady if I would like to share her seat, which I did. The auction was announced and I said very quietly under by breath “I want that bell” I’m sure she didn’t hear me. The first bell was really old with a leather strap by which to hold it, and that was the one I really wanted. The one that Miss Leila had rung all those years ago, so many many times. I was standing away from my husband but gesticulated that I wanted to bid for it. I didn’t bid as I was not sure how far I could go and anyway it went for £100! Way out of my budget to the elegant Lady whose chair I had shared. I did bid on the second bell and went up to £65.00 but lost that as well. I was very disappointed but it wasn’t going to spoil my day.
About 15 minutes after the auction had ended, ‘the elegant Lady’ came up to me with the bell and said “I saw the look of disappointment on your face when you weren’t successful in your bid, and I want you to have the bell” I was dumbstruck and tears sprang to my eyes. She went on to say; “my Great Aunt was an amazing woman and I could see that the bell was very important to you and would mean so much more to you than me, so you must have it. I wanted to make a donation to the Foundation, and this was a good way to do it”. This lady was Penny Glaister, great niece of Leila Randal. I put up quite a good show of protest but she was insistent so I gratefully and humbly accepted ‘the Bell’. Needless to say I was on ‘cloud nine’ for the rest of the day, and in fact am still ‘floating’ up there somewhere!
I have promised that I will leave the Bell in my Will to the PETT Archive, and I fully intend to do just that. My lovely husband has had strict instructions, and I have also informed members of the Caldecott Association Committee of my intentions (just in case I lose my marbles later in life!
Written: 12 September 2011