Another trip down memory lane!
After I left school, I lived and worked as a volunteer at the Pestalozzi Childrens’ Village in Sedlescombe, near Hastings. The Village had been established for about seven years at that time. These old sketchbooks record a uniquely international community of children (and their teachers and house-parents) from Tibet, Europe, India, Thailand and Jordan, together with a gaggle of school teachers, East Sussex worthies and gap-year students like myself.
I wonder whether anyone browsing the 1960s in the Village might tumble on themselves here? I remember these people and children so vividly, but I forget some of their names.
Here are over 300 sketches, character studies and caricatures.
From today’s Pestalozzi website:
“In the aftermath of World War II, hundreds of European children were orphaned and living in refugee camps. The first Pestalozzi Village was founded in Switzerland to offer these children a home and an education. The founders named their community after the eighteenth century Swiss educationalist, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, who devoted his life to closing divisions in society through education of the whole person – their Head, Heart and Hands.
“British supporters later established Pestalozzi in the UK, buying the property in East Sussex where we remain today. Pestalozzi was formally opened in 1959, welcoming 40 children from war-torn countries in Europe.”
Many of the above drawings record a camping holiday for the Indian and Tibetan children on Dartmoor, near Ashburton.
The sketchbooks are filled also with drawings off the TV, in town and on Hastings beach. I have added a few of these.
In those days, the Pestalozzi Childrens’ village included:
“European House” – the remaining displaced children from World War Two, now teenagers:
Indian, Thai and Jordan Houses with house-parents – for selected third world children to receive an English secondary education:
International House – library, offices, and volunteer helpers’ accomodation: we were a group of student helpers from England, Europe, Rhodesia and Japan, freewheeling between academic institutions. We helped the house-parents or worked on the land. We caroused at night and rearranged the world, and received each week our pocket money – a pound note in a small brown envelope (for me this was wealth):
And – a refugee Tibetan House: twenty-odd children with their house-parents Mr and Mrs Ngwang, and their smiling Lama, Geishi-La. At their huge welcoming altar, strong tea was always on the brew, and each morning was sonorous with their prayers.
There were also sports and education centres being built. Some of the staff and teachers lived in the Village: others came from Sedlescombe and the surrounding countryside. Most of the children were bussed to school locally.
The focus at Pestalozzi Village remains educational – the project nowadays thrives, by providing opportunities for disadvantaged children in the third world and from Eastern Europe
Towards the end of my stay at Pestalozzi, I took my meals and helped out in the Tibetan House – a village within a village. I sketched these gentle people at play like fox cubs, or doing the housework – to the amazed delight of young and old. The Tibetans – children and adults alike – loved going through my sketchbooks. Their faces lit up with laughter when they saw themselves. I gave many drawings away, and became deeply aware of their situation.
I lived at Pestalozzi for about six months. It was like a ‘forcing house’, rich in friendships and in human interest. Everyone got along quite well, and complained bitterly and Britishly about the vague management. The diversity was a hot-bed – people around me were in crisis most of the time, and so was I. Elation and despond see-sawed violently, leavened by exciting hitch hiking trips to Hastings and London and by the daily global politics around the lunch table in the main house: “When I was teaching in the Bahamas …”
My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.
This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.
All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2015. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/
Absolutely brilliant Jane . You always capture the very essence of the people and the fascinating story that goes with the drawings ! I am fascinated by the sketches !
Jane a wonderful work
I remember a lot of these faces
I was a member of the Palestinian Arab 1 group , I will share your web page with all Palestinian Arabs that attended Pestalozzi
You are putting our memories into sketches and reviving them
Michael, how wonderful to hear from you. Which year were you at Pestalozzi? My warmest wishes to you and to your friends. What was it like there for you?
Jane thanks for the reply
was in Village since 1966 can I get your email to get in contact direct
I have emailed you.
These are really good lively time capsules with a message. The juxtaposition of these closely butted images animates them out of the secret pages of their sketchbook booknest where they are wonderfully preserved sensitive historic drawing. As one scrolls down, one wonders how they would transform in laser copy format with supportive text on a small gallery wall butted together in much the same way?… Lets talk:)…ttfn
Well well! I always love putting sketches to talk together like this, a bit like your long long silk scarves, they talk together. We will discuss this over another fish and chips – my round.
Jane, it is absolutely remarkable. I was flabbergasted from all these drawings. I remebered a few and very thankful for the work that you have done. My name is Jacoub and I was – along with Michael in Arab I in 1966. Thank you once again.
Very good to hear from you, Jacoub. It is good we share these memories.
These are very evocative Jane. I was a volunteer at more or less the same time as you, you may recall. I remember particularly all the Palestine boys, many of the Indians, the European house,some of the Tibetans and many of the staff, too (Michael Elphick…”when I was teaching in the Bahamas” and Mrs Thomas I recognised instantly! Have you been in touch with Pestalozzi at Sedlescombe? I see they are asking for early history.
Hello again Brian – hope you are keeping well. I will get in touch with them soon. Thanks! Jane
Jane love your sketch books. My name in Ngawang Dichen and I was in Tibetan House during this period, I was the youngest, infact you have a sketch of me with my name against it. These sketches are wonderful and brings back so many memories. I have been racking my brain and must confess that I cannot remember you at all which is really annoying. Were you at Pestalozzi at the same time as a couple of other volunteers Anne and Linda? Regardless thanks for sharing these sketches they are wonderful.
Hello Ngawang, I am very happy to hear from you. I came to the Tibetan house for just a couple of months I think – this was in the spring/summer 1967, when we all went to camp on Dartmoor. Do you remember that? I think Ann and Linda must have been just before my time – perhaps the previous year – as their names sound familiar, but I do not recall them.
Hei I’m Anne who was in tibetan house. Cant remember the dates, left in april or may 1967. Think I might have started in 1966. Many good memories and hope there will be reunion in 2019
Are you on FB? There is a group Pestalozzi UK 1963 Tibetan House. Len Clarke is collecting info and pictures to try for a reunion late august 2019.
Yes I am on fb. Would you like to put the information on my page?
Hi Jane – I’m the Len Clarke that Anne Gjems mentioned, above. I did get to meet Anne at the reunion last year. A wonderful gathering but also very sad because the Pestalozzi charity has sold off the estate, moved out and massively reduced its operation. We miss our home! I went to Pestalozzi in 1959 when it opened and left in mid 1966. I really enjoy your Pestalozzi drawings – some significant people recorded there that I remember pretty well. I’m involved in recovering our early Pestalozzi history (which has all but disappeared). Would I be able to discuss this with you? You were at the Village at a pivotal moment and input from former volunteers is something we have precious little of. Best wishes.
Hallo Len, I have emailed you. Best wises, Jane
Thanks, i will visit and revisit this site to understand my brother and others from India, who grew up there from age of 12. These sketches do convey a lot …
Thank you Suneel
I was one of the Indians. And I do recall you. These sketches – so many friends. Such pleasure. Thank you for sharing these.
Hallo Nandu, what a pleasure it is to hear from you! I wonder what you are doing nowadays
After Pestalozzi i was at the LSE for my undergrad. Post that I was in India for a few years aND then moving around various countries. Presently in Southern California.
I think I recognize myself in one sketch at least. I will DM you.