Index  (i)  (ii)  (iii)  (iv)  (v)  Preface.  (1)  (2)  (3)  (4)  (5)  (6)  (7)  (8)  (9)  (10)  (11)  (12)  (13)  (14)  (15)  (16)  (17)  (18)  (19)  (20)  (21) 


All Was Going Well.

The Red House seemed to be going through a particularly good period with many new buildings, a devoted staff and local friends who helped. One of these was Mr Birkbeck of Stratton Strawless Hall who presented a new pony when old Kitty had to be put down. An earlier pony had come from Anna Sewell and the original pony and trap from the founder's wife, Anne Wright. Another good friend was Mr Wathen, the new rector of Marsham; he started cricket and football at the school. The Governor was not a games man; his favourite recreation was fishing but he usually mentioned school matches in his diary.

"October 21st; The Red House football team played against some Aylsham players headed by the Rev Wathen in Bolwick Park this afternoon. The boys got two goals and their opponents six, Mr Wathen himself being responsible for several goals."

Babington did not see the match but went to Norwich as he often did on a Saturday; he recalls that on his way back he called to see Mr Sewell at Clare House. The old man, who was far from well, had intended to give the boys a Trafalgar Day address on Sunday; but instead he gave his notes to the Governor to use. The covering instruction reads: "The main idea I want to get before the school is not one of Nelson sinking French ships but of Englishmen doing their duty for England." The last Sunday evening service that old Philip had taken at the Red House had been in summer. On that occasion he told the Boys that Christ's teaching had been like salt; salt had to be rubbed into meat to stop it going bad. The boys will have understood this for the school was often killing pigs and salting down the sides of bacon.

The Inspectors were frequently reporting that the food was good and health excellent, so it was interesting to find this note in the log about Sunday dinners: The boys had hot boiled bacon and potatoes for dinner today in lieu of cold boiled beef and bread, a change that was highly appreciated by them." Another wintry entry in the log records that "Mr Coe from Norwich entertained with his Cinematograph of Living Pictures - a series of beautiful scenes and pictures were thrown on the sheet - the boys were delighted." Yet another event was the visit of Mr Eustace Gurney in his motor car.

About this time the Red House achieved some successes which pleased them all. The Navy was accepting boys for the training ship H.M.S.Ganges which was moored at Harwich; there was a stiff medical followed by a written examination and interview. The Red House boys were successful. Less able boys went to Portsmouth for training. For some years the Red House had excelled at carpentry and cabinet making, winning first prizes in school competitions. The Inspector reported that "The manual instruction of this school may be classed among the best." The Home Office seemed to be pleased with everything. They noted that cricket and football and other games were to the fore, also that the boys were now well catered for during the winter evenings and a school magazine had been started. A report of December 1905 concludes with the words: "Mr and Mrs Babington deserve the highest credit for the excellent work they are doing here." This was the last official report that old Philip Sewell was to receive about the school which had been his "first care" for over forty years.

In Sunday 4th February 1906 Ted Sewell wired Babington to say that his father was very ill. The old man died two days later in his 84th year. The funeral service was at Catton where he was senior churchwarden and had long been accustomed to worship. The cortege with the chief mourners then went to Buxton where they were joined by a large body of mourners who had travelled by special train to Buxton for the burial. It was frosty and the ground had a light covering of snow, The boys of the Red House joined the procession at Dudwick lodge and the children of the Buxton school lined the path leading from Th. gate of the church up to the grave.

Very many tributes were paid during the following weeks; one or two are worth reporting here because they add something to this Red House story and possibly to local history.. The first is by the Chairman of the Norfolk County Council:

"Perhaps you will allow me to express to you my sense of treasure that the county possesses, if only the younger generation will see it, in the example and memory of Philip Sewell. He has been on the County Council and Education Committee ever since their first start. He was an ideal Christian with a quiet disregard rather than distrust of symbolism and he never lost the manly optimism which is the foundation of perfection in the Christian man. He was modest in offering advice, but when he was asked to give it he gave it with lucidity which native shrewdness and the experience of business rendered doubly valuable."

"Those of us who like myself, may be beginning to feel that our local parliaments cannot keep up their high standards without recruiting young blood and brains from our great commercial houses, as well as from our farm houses and halls, will carry to the grave a feeling of gratitude to the traditions of the house of Gurney for having helped to send to our Council such a combination of level-headedness and philanthropy as we have had among us in Philip Sewell."

The old building in Bank Plain, where Philip had worked for so long, was still known as Gurney's Bank, although it has long since become Barclay's; it was replaced by a fine new building in the 1930's.

There were tributes from the very many organisations which Philip had actively assisted; it is natural to wonder how he did all this before the days of the motor car. The Home office recorded that "for thirty years Mr Sewell drove from his house at Catton to the school and did this twice each week and sometimes also on a Sunday, eighteen miles there and back." Their tribute concludes by saying: " In some ways this is the most remarkable farm school under inspection by the Department