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) 


The Year 1937.

Philip Edward Sewell, who was always known as Ted in the family, was now an old man of 78. When young he had suffered a severe riding accident which made him an invalid for several years. Doctors advised him to live in a warmer climate so he went to Ceylon to become a tea planter; those were the hard days when jungle had to be cleared from every acre of land before it could be planted for tea. Ted was successful and eventually created the Rahatangoda group of tea estates. It was his father's death in 1906 that brought him home to live at Dudwick and look after the estates and the management of the Red House Farm school. From then on, for nearly thirty years, the minutes of the managers meetings are in his handwriting, except when he was away visiting his estates in Ceylon.

Margaret, who was now an old lady of 85, was still totally alert. She had known the Red House almost from its beginning having been born in the year of its foundation. As a child she spent holidays with great Uncle Wright at Dudwick; when she was twelve years of age her father retired from building railways on the continent and brought his large family to live at Catton. From there he managed the estates which he later inherited, and the Red House reformatory as it was named in those days.

On her father's death Margaret had given up her appointment as Warden of the Women's University Settlement in South London and come to live at Dudwick Cottage. This was near enough to the school, and to Ted who was now the owner, for Margaret to do all the work of the official "correspondent" of those days. This involved her in a huge amount of letter writing to the Local Authorities from which the boys came, also the correspondence with the Home Office. In her clear handwriting she always made it equally clear what she wanted. The author will always remember coming across her letter to Whitehall which started with the words "You will wish Red House was at the bottom of the sea". However, the letter was effective and she got the money to pay for the fire which she was reporting.

In January 1937, Ted became seriously ill. He resigned as Chairman of the Aylsham branch of magistrates and died a few days later. His going was a loss to many public, philanthropic and artistic organisations and to music in Norwich in particular. Ted had combined a sincere and informed love of music with the will to patronise that art in a practical way. His death was quite serious for the Red House because he had always given financial support, and a great deal of help with the farm. It was clear that the Home Office would have to do more if all the Red House activities were to continue on the 1937 scale. Dr Norris visited Buxton to look into these matters for the Home office; he found that his old friend Miss Sewell was getting very frail and he met the Reverend Arthur Marsham who was taking over as corresponding manager.

May 12th, 1937 was the Coronation Day of King George VI and his Queen Elizabeth. There were celebrations in Buxton and Miss Sewell attended to see the to the Red House country dancers. Her last public act was to plant ceremonially one of the lovely Japanese Cherry trees, Prunus Kanzan, along the Red House drive. In November some of the boys were at her house on her birthday; her death came quite suddenly a few days later. Her wonderful memory had remained unimpaired until the end.

The Times newspaper recorded that Miss Sewell was a pioneer in many branches of social work and suggested that she should be chiefly remembered for the part she had played in training students in social services. She had realised from the first the importance of combining theoretical knowledge of social administration with practical experience of existing conditions. She had organised courses of lectures for social workers which were the foundation of the University Schools of Social Science, wrote "The Times".

For many years Miss Sewell was on the executive committee of a movement called New Ideals in Education; her hope was to gain public support for nursery schools or infant sections of elementary schools. Her experience had led her to believe that many of the Red House boys would have had a better chance if they had been seen by skilled teachers who could spot handicaps and do something to compensate for them at an early age. She stressed that these teachers would have to be specially trained to carry out this work. This was only one of the many interests of this remarkable woman who lived long enough to see the fruitful outcome of some of the reforms which she had worked to achieve. The Red House had remained constant to the faith of its founders; the objective was much the same but the methods of Mr and Mrs Clement were relevant to the times.