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 Red House School

The more I saw of the boys of the Red house School the more I admired the achievements of the staff. Our contacts were mostly on the sports field, or in a camp, where the lads showed a terrific spirit and did really well in competition with others. Yet these boys were aged thirteen and upwards who had been in much trouble with the law and, at that time, most of them were classified as " disturbed" or of retarded ability and achievement.

The invitation to write about the school was gladly accepted because it provided an opportunity to find out more. I wanted to know how it was that the boys had such an admirable regard for the staff and why the staff were so effective in dealing with difficult children. It turns out that the foundation of the school was the work of Norfolk men and women of long ago; they were warm-hearted people with strong characters and sound sense. Somehow their qualities have been preserved by the staff of the school; this might not have happened if the headmasters had not given such long service. At the time of writing there have only been seven heads since the year 1852, and the first one or two did not last long!

This is not a full history but rather an offering to new members of the school staff and others who are interested. To be of value this account must stand on documentary evidence, not on opinions; fortunately documents are available, also account books and registers from the beginning. The school was founded by John Wright who owned farms round about and lived at the nearby Dudwick House which later provided the setting for the children's classic history "Black Beauty", written by his niece Anna Sewell. Her brother Philip was heir to John Wright and thus became owner and manager of Red House School. These were the men who planned and developed the school from its turbulent beginning about 1850; later it achieved success in a manner which was totally unexpected in those days, with after-care work which was far ahead of the times.

Wright and Sewell directed the school and found jobs for the leavers for over fifty years; this account therefore starts by exploring the background of these two generous and far-sighted men. In the early days Wright had financial assistance from five of his friends, and their families continued to assist from one generation to another; only on Philip Sewell's death did the extent of their generosity become known. Fortunately it was to continue and in quite recent times masters' houses have been built by members of the founding families as a gift to this school