Old Elmfield School member

Fond memories of being a 'boarder' there!

Sam, aged 4 or 5
Sam Chapman

I was born in 1949 and attended the Elmfield School from (I think!) when I was about 6 or 7, and maybe for about 2-3 years, whilst I lived in Oxfordshire. I certainly remember the classrooms which were opened up whenever the weather was good, and the ‘Dorms’ which were upstairs.

There was also a boy called Roy Thompson, who was quite a good artist, using brushes held in his mouth and used to send his work into a BBC TV programme, run by an artist called Adrian, who wore one of those artist’s smock coats and Tony Hart, who died in 2009 and also presented a number of other children’s art-related programmes including ‘Vision On’ which was probably the first TV programme that provided signing for the deaf. I think, certainly on one occasion, Roy’s work appeared on a BBC programme. I’m not too sure but I think I encountered some of his work, decades later, but never got to meet him, which was a shame.

Although born with spina bifida (also contracting Meningitis six weeks later!) I was fully mobile and it was the side-effects of incontinence, which led me to being there. I have a vague feeling I didn’t always feel I ‘belonged ‘ there and might have been jealous of the attention the other more severely disabled children got and maybe, came across as introverted or a bit of a loner.

I DO know, that I was quote “A little horror’ as when I was about 23, I went back up to St Barts in London, (I’d got a serious foot infection, whilst on holiday in France – riding a motorcycle!) and the Ward Sister running Mr Ellison Nash’s orthopaedic ward, immediately recognised me from when I was on a children’s ward there. This would have been during the time I was at Elmfield, or earlier.

Some of us used to be taken to a nearby circular green, surrounded by houses (Highfield Oval), where there was a bakery with all of the tempting smells that wafted out of it! I also remember a nurse or care assistant, called Maria or Muriel who I suppose now would be in her 80’s. I think I might have been a bit of a mischief, (maybe even a horror!) as I remember getting into an argument over a book, resulting in me getting a black eye!

I’d love to get in contact with anyone else who was involved in the school and maybe that will result in a fair few more memories being dug up and recorded.

Ed: This is the first time anyone who was at Elmfield School has added their memories to this website – though we have had numerous contacts from people who were in the neighbouring National Children’s Home.

Comments about this page

  • My father Raymond Jones was the headmaster there from 1956. I spent a lot of time at Elmfield. I remember Roy very clearly, he used to scoot himself along on a handlebar-less trike . And the Christmas concerts were always great fun! 

    By Cindy Jones (24/10/2020)
  • My first job was as an assistant house-mother in 1968/69 at Elmfield School. Mr and Mrs Owens were in charge, exact role not sure and they lived in a bungalow I think along the drive. I worked with Sister Elsie and  Sister Ann. There were so many children with various disabilities and I remember many names and I have very fond memories…. And a few photos. I was there Xmas 1968 when Cliff Richard came to a party and entertained everyone.The building was amazing and I can still remember the dining room with its piano, which I played occasionally… I would so love to see the school again. It’s all now very nicely hidden by trees and shrubs quite naturally.

    By Jacqueline Fowler (29/09/2018)
  • My first job at 16. I worked at Elmfield school for physically handicapped children from 1963 to 1966. I remember Roy ?Thompson the mouth artist as one of the children in my ‘family’ of 12 children.  The ‘head’ of the ‘family’ was called Jean I think. I remember several other children and it would be very interesting to hear of any others if that is possible.

    By Chiarina Dewis (21/03/2018)
  • Hi Sam I was also born in 1949, I was called Nicky. I was at Harpenden at the age of about 4 until 6.

    By Nicholas E Redfern (19/02/2018)

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