Common Roots

May 13th, 2015

10.30 to 4.30

[come early, stay late]



Wennington Old Scholars and the Planned Environment Therapy Trust

invite you to bring your inner map of community and connection and share it


The 20th and 21st centuries have been filled with schools, communities, clubs, organisations, institutions, societies and just plain people who belong to a family of other schools, communities, clubs, institutions, societies and just plain people who are familiar when you meet them; who speak the same language when you get past the different accents and dialects; and who can tell you things about your own roots and associations, increasing your own understanding of them and yourself, without you or they ever having known they were there to be known. "Common Roots" is like a family reunion for people, many of whom will think they are strangers, but when they get together discover they have cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents -  people, ideas, perspectives, and ways of going about things - in common.


2014 saw the Wennington Old Scholars' first Common Roots Event, which came in the midst of their annual Archive Week.

22 people took part, from varied backgrounds: free/democratic/progressive schools, children's therapeutic schools and communities, adult therapeutic communities, related organisations - Forest School Camps, Brazier's Park.... There was much meeting and talking and the traditional very nice lunch (with beautiful strawberries at the end).

Before lunch Len Clarke and Will Eiduks of the Early Pestalozzi Children Project presented their project on the home they were given in the long aftermath of the Second World War, between 1959-1965 at Sedlescombe in Surrey (an offer later rescinded, and the experiment itself largely lost except to those who took part in it. Until now, of course). After lunch PhD student Emily Charkin focused on children's participation in building and shaping their environment, using her own experience, and building on a presentation she gave at  the Child Care History Network conference in 2013 which celebrated the centennial of the Little Commonwealth in Dorset.

Comments after the event included:

"a brilliant opportunity", "Good day, interesting discussions and nice lunch", "exciting to experience the generosity of the whole group", and "I feel less tolerant of the status quo than I did a week ago".

Coming a week after the General Election, will similar comments be made in 2015?


It's a fascinating day based around talk and meeting: Some more formal presentations from people sharing their community or organisation; but with plenty of time for following up and discussing. People wanting to stay the night and carry the conversation on almost certainly can, especially if they bring tents; but with enough advance notice the Wenningtonians may have some rooms in the accommodation building available (at PETT's usual b&b cost).

Who is coming? Wenningtonians, of course (see their website, and, at this early stage, people with a range of experience that includes therapeutic communities for children, Forest School Camps, Summerhill and democratic education generally, Henderson Hospital, Pestalozzi Children's Village, and more...members of an interesting diverse family. Get in touch and add to it.



Venue: P.E.T.T., Barns Centre, Church Lane, Toddington, Gloucestershire GL54 5DQ

Cost: Time, and £15.00 to help with cost of prepared lunch and refreshments during the day

RSVP (capacity is limited, unless there is very good weather!)



Dates for your diary:


June 9th and 10th, 2015

Executive Director Richard Rollinson is a keynote speaker at the SIRCC 2015 Conference, "Steps to Success: Supporting transitions through and beyond residential child care", June 9th and 10th, 2015, at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow. For more information, CLICK HERE.


November 20th-22nd, 2015

Executive Director Richard Rollinson is speaking on "Disturbed/delinquent children" at the London conference of the Winnicott Trust, organised to mark and celebrate the launch of the long-awaited newly-edited Collected Works of psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott. The conference is entitled "A CELEBRATION OF THE COLLECTED WORKS OF D.W. WINNICOTT: DONALD WINNICOTT AND THE HISTORY OF THE PRESENT", and is being held at the Brunei Gallery of the School of Oriental and African Studies. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Two years ago, with P.E.T.T.'s semi-centennial in 2016 in sight, the Trust embarked on an ambitious programme of renewal and restoration of its buildings and grounds. This is reaching a crescendo as we go to publication (February, 2015), with the complete re-decoration of the inside of the accommodation building,  Barns House, including all new carpets, mattresses, curtains, linens...

Next up comes the Old Building, with make-over for the bedrooms there, and a new kitchen and bathroom for the use of the people who are fortunate enough to use these rooms.

Here, we have a sneak look at the freshly appointed Barns House...


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The White Lady of Toddington, aka 'The White Cathedral of the Cotswolds', aka 'The White Cathedral of the Vale' (of Evesham) (see its fuller history in the Guest article here), is one of artist Damien Hirst's most audacious and conceptually accomplished works. Toddington's early Victorian manor is wrapped in white shrouding which is visible for miles across the flat Evesham plain, and from the surrounding hills.

As a monumental environmental piece, the White Lady is designed to interact with the changing of the seasons and the cycle of night and day to spring new surprises each time it's seen. If you can only see it once, choose a bright summer's day, when it is laid out against the splendid green lawns and manicured trees of the Toddington Estate; or come upon it by surprise at clear dawn when it catches and plays with the colours of a new day being born.

But if you can come more than once, make one visit in high summer, when the trees are in bloom and the white towers are hidden; come again in late autumn or deep winter, when the trees have been stripped back to their skeletal frames and the White Lady is revealed gloriously triumphant through the lace of their branchings; and visit  again in full Spring, when the flowers and buds unfold and Nature hides the Lady in another veil for another year; like an immense sundial of the seasons, marking the passage of time.

Best of course, as with all works of great art, is to encounter it afresh each day, at different times of the day, in different weathers: to be startled, and soothed, and drawn deeper into the underlying conversation of the Lady with Time, with Nature, and the fundamentals of human being.



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Trust Chairman Rosemary Lilley writes:

Regular visitors and readers of the PETT eNewsletter will have watched with interest the growing strength of our Kaki tree - our living symbol of remembrance, peace and hope. See the article on the kaki tree, and the Revive Time Kaki Tree Project HERE.

On 11 November 2014, and despite heavy rain, those present at PETT took time out to commemorate Remembrance Day, laying some flowers and having a few minutes for personal reflection.

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The grounds are filled with fruiting plants

(All photographs taken on October 7th, 2014)













and the hum of fruitful labour


The New Building with scaffolding and ladders, to replace the facing timbers