In this issue:
  1. Visitor's Comments
  2. Thankyou!
  3. New and Updated on the Website
  4. And - They're not on our website, but they were crafted in the hallows of the Archive and Study Centre
  5. Life in the Achive
  6. On hearing the news of the passing of Countess Mountbatten [or, continuity of care]
  7. Upcoming
PETT eNewsletter 28 / June 21, 2017


Thankyou to the Chandler family, who left us not One but Two comments after their recent family reunion: One in the Visitor's Book in Barns House (the accommodation building); and one in the Visitor's Book in the main building. Here is what they said:

from the Barns House visitor's book: "It has been a great pleasure to have our family reunion at the Barns Centre. It has provided everything we needed - comfort, space, and nature! And it has been so very successful - with 45 (on one day) very happy participants. Many thanks to everyone working to maintain this special place - - - we may very well return!"

from Main Building visitor's book: "What an amazing place for our reunion, the facilities and location perfect for us. Families from England, Scotland, Denmark and Australia. We have had a very enjoyable week together, we hope that we may be back one day. Many thanks for making it so easy for us."
And may we thank you in return: We love hearing so much laughter, and we loved being made to feel part of your family.


And while we're thanking people:

Thank you to Jane Springham and Debra Lyons, who continue to come in as volunteers to help with some of the immense task of changing the environment of knowledge and understanding within which we live together in society.

Jane is paying particular attention to the National Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital oral history recordings. Debra joined us for the Wennington Archive Week, and as a qualified archivist has helped with the ongoing project of transferring our very many pre-database listings and catalogues into the Database.

And our Trustees, of course: Rosemary Lilley, who is the Chair; Cate Davidson; Alan Fox; Bob Hinshelwood; Linnet McMahon; John Moorhouse; and John Whitwell.

And Helen Moore continues to help with the National Child Care Library cataloguing!


What?! How can there be so much? Well...when you love what you're doing...

Common Roots 2017: The Evening Interview. Hylda Sims CLICK HERE

Join in the songs. Enjoy the poetry. Say hello to a remarkable person. The first in a new series of Audiences with people who have been touched by alternative/democratic/progressive education. Meet Hylda Sims, love child of market traders, a teacher, tutor and single parent, member of the City Ramblers skiffle band which performed in Moscow in 1957 - and more.


Archival Not-So Pleasures: Not before lunch, please CLICK HERE

Over the last couple of years, the emphasis in this series has been to share the delights and pleasures of being an archivist, especially when blessed with such a beautiful part of the country to ply one's trade in. In this post, we head off in a darker direction.


Picturing "The Future and Progressive Education": the Common Roots conference 2017 CLICK HERE

"a remarkable line-up... an uplifting, much needed conference..." (Michael Fielding, Emeritus Professor of Education, University College London). Get a glimpse of what he was referring to, here.


Archival Pleasures: Opening the morning post, and a life flows out CLICK HERE

As an archivist, how can it get better?
Most of the people who have given themselves to therapeutic child care are unknown beyond a small circle, and unless you have had a special experience, or are an Art Therapist or academic with an interest in Art and Occupational Therapy, you are unlikely to have heard of Elizabeth Wills. Meet her now: Photographs, Texts, Recordings. Give yourself a treat.


Artist Jonathan Adamson and the new Kaki Tree Sculpture CLICK HERE

It began with the planting of the Kaki Tree, the child of a Japanese persimmon tree which survived the atomic bomb explosion over Nagasaki in 1945. It grew during this year's Wennington Archive Weekend with a new sculpture. It will continue to grow, as Jonathan continues to develop and realise his vision for this "superb site".
In this post, Assistant Archivist Jen Galloway interviews Jonathan about the background to the new sculpture, about its conceptualisation and fabrication, about the responses people have had to it so far, and about his own second thoughts. Fascinating.


Carolyn Mears, "Experiences of Columbine Parents: Finding a Way to Tomorrow", PhD 2005 CLICK HERE

PETT Fellow Carolyn Mears' ground-breaking and award-winning PhD, developing an approach to oral history to help work through the experience of being a parent of a child caught up in the high school shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 - and by extension, the traumatic experiences in natural disasters and man-made devastations that are everywhere in the news around us as we go to press. Worth absorbing.


Archive Weekend: Wennington: 2017 CLICK HERE

Six days long this time, and always an adventure, the Wennington Archive Weekend is several weeks in the preparation, and a week or two in the decompression. With a 24 hour conference built into the middle, it was an even more lively long weekend than usual. Check it out.


Most popular downloads of 2017 (so far) CLICK HERE

Of the 15,000 downloads of digital publications, recordings, and archive documents from the PETT servers from January to May - which were the most popular? Any surprises?


Archival Pleasures: Sharing a moment of the walk (take time to listen) CLICK HERE

An archivist walks to work. Stops on a bridge above a stream. Looks into the next field. 11 seconds of video and recorded sound.


Archival Pleasures: Walking to work at the end of May CLICK HERE

Back on the footpaths after a hiatus.


Bumper day in the Archive: The secret delights of a quiet profession CLICK HERE

Biscuits and pound notes: what's not to like?


The Library of the late Otto Leslie Shaw CLICK HERE

Christie’s of South Kensington sale BK/776/5, Friday, June 10th, 1977 at 11.00 am and 2.00 pm. A former student of Red Hill School looks at the sales catalogue of the school's founder's book collection, and asks some questions. You are invited to ask with him, and to respond.


Team Conference: Getting video link ready for Common Roots 2017 CLICK HERE

It's all about community. What is involved in setting up a video link between the San Francisco Bay Area and rural England, so that two pioneers in therapeutic community and education can join the Common Roots 2017 conference at PETT and share their life times of insights and experiences. And does it work?


Two essential videos from the Community of Communities Annual Forum 2017: CLICK HERE
  • Sarah Paget, Programme Manager for Community of Communities: Update and overview, 2016-2017. An important annual stocktake of the field, and reflection.
  • John Diamond, "Back to the Future: A personal journey", Keynote Address. John Diamond, CEO at the Mulberry Bush Organisation, talks about the past, present and future of Therapeutic Communities. Features live performancse by Liverpool-based band, [The} Espedairs.

For the Archivist's blog on this year's Community of Communities Annual Forum, see: 'Archival Pleasures: Community of Communities Annual Forum 2017 - full immersion in a culture of positive enthusiasm', from April 14th CLICK HERE


It has been very busy, as you can see by everything above. But among it all we were able to put together a pop-up exhibition for a group from the Mulberry Bush School, a kind of one-day whiz-bang Archive Weekend. We first began taking in the archives of the Mulberry Bush School in 2010, and we are currently involved in a British Academy-funded project to dive into the Hawkspur Camp (1936-1940) and Mulberry Bush School (1948 and still going strong - celebrates its 70th next year) records - CLICK HERE for more details on that project [our partnership has now moved to the Open University]. We thought it would be fun to show them something of the background to this remarkable field, as represented in the Archive. Assistant Archivist Jen Galloway pulled together a micro-exhibition on the Little Commonwealth, with multiple books and editions from the Research Library, and the original Little Commonwealth Visitors Book itself, carefully laid out on the Robert ('Mouseman') Thompson/ Peper Harow refectory table in the Users' Room, to give a sense of the foundations and the way that different elements of the collections come together to tell the story. Mulberry Bush founder Barbara Dockar-Drysdale's very own desk had upon it her portrait, a school bell, and a portrait by Evelyn Dunbar, the well-known artist who fostered children from the Caldecott Community. There was an entrance display, videos from a memory event at the Mulberry Bush School recorded by the Archive in 2005, audio (including a 1955 Californian therapeutic community staff meeting from the Dennie Briggs Collection), and more. Among the more was the grouping pictured here: a virtual community of communities: blue table hand-made by an ex-Wenningtonian; arboreal diagram by an ex-Shotton Hallian; a 'bumper' given by a Caldecottian in celebration of many years of waxing and buffering floors at the Caldecott Community, and a Caldecott poster behind; in a setting created in the early days of New Barns School by adult and child members of the community and volunteers. The arboreal diagram is nesting on an oak wooden book-rest, lovingly used for many years at the Public Record Office as was (now The National Archives), and sold to a researcher over thirty years ago.

A friend of PETT and former Caldecott Community child writes




I heard the news of the passing of Lady Patricia with some sadness for several reasons of personal significance.


As a child of seven years old I was removed in a traumatized state from my foster home in South London. I had no idea of the destination but found myself in the calm and safe haven of New House, Mersham. From there I was moved to the beauty and security of Mersham -le-Hatch where I lived for the next 8 years.

Miss Leila referred to us as "Children of Misfortune" but there was a sense in which we were very fortunate indeed which was due to the generosity and beneficence of Lord and Lady Brabourne. To be able to share what was their ancestral home taught us values of respect, dignity and safety and to understand how important the beauty of the built environment and nature were to our mental health. Miss Leila ensured that we treated this valuable inheritance in a proper and respectful way, despite our sometimes turbulent lives. From time to time we would encounter members of the family who never patronized us but treated us always as equals.

When The Paddocks was acquired ( another former Knatchbull home) it was great fun to be part of a working group picnicking at the house and painting the walls (and ourselves). Later this became an essential part of the re- structured Community after the sad goodbye to Mersham-Le Hatch.


Much later in my life I was close to the grief of the Mountbatten family as I lived and worked in Northern Ireland at the time of the terrible tragedy. This was a challenge for me as some colleagues and staff for which I was responsible were supporters of the heinous crime which impacted very much on my own sense of grief and loss, and made it impossible to share my feelings with anyone.


In more recent times I have encountered difficulties due to my inherited and acquired inability to manage my mental health and keep stable at all times. Again I was the beneficiary of support with a direct link to the family.


I am so very grateful for all the care, inspiration and support I have received for a long lifetime, and with the passing of Lady Patricia it is very important for me to acknowledge this.



June 2017


June 29th: "Preventing Breakdown: The dynamics of residential care for abused young children"

Date: Thursday 29th June 2017 (6pm - 8pm)
Venue: Lecture Theatre, The Tavistock Centre, 120 Belsize Lane, London NW3 5BA
Fee: Free
Speakers: Dr Heather Price and Caryn Onions

For 70 years the Mulberry Bush School has provided therapeutic care for some our most troubled young children who have suffered extreme neglect, trauma and abuse. Today, most of the residents are from foster families who have reached the point of breakdown while caring for children who are themselves vulnerable to breakdown. The research based presentations in this seminar take us inside the work of this exemplary therapeutic community, exploring the dynamics of love and shame, aggression and fragility and how they are processed day to day by the staff group.

The Foundation Degree in Therapeutic Child Care programme which Glyndwr University (Wrexham) runs in partnership with TCTC is now taking expressions of interest for joining the September 2017 intake. Direct enquiries can be made to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Call for Papers: "Dangerous Oral Histories: risks, responsibilities and rewards". 2018 Annual Conference of the Oral History Society and the Oral History Network of Ireland with QUOTE Hub, Queen’s University Belfast
The deadline for submission of proposals is 22 December 2017.