Craig: "Unless you object, I am likely to do a blog-entry for the website in the "Archival Pleasures" series about your query and where it has led and is leading: we are very much in the territory of why it is exciting being an archivist."

Martin: "Yes, by all means..."


As a lone archivist with a heavy workload I almost never get to do anything like primary research, either for myself or for members of the public. There just isn't time.

But!...several things came together at the end of November 2016 which quickly snowballed into a flurry of new cataloguing and discovery: The query itself, and the generosity of information and challenges which cascaded into my inbox after it; the fact that it referred (at the outset!) only to a relatively small collection, which had been catalogued to folder level, thus making a quickish search practicable and fostering the illusion that a quick answer was also possible (a similar query related to the massive Cassel Hospital Collection continues to defeat me because there is no comparable catalogue or illusion); the ongoing use of this collection by others, so that anything I found could potentially be of use to others, and more immediately the ongoing British Academy-funded Mulberry Bush School/Hawkspur Camp research project; the opportunity for some opportunistic and purposeful cataloguing, which is always a pleasure; a delusional moment of 'holiday' (the month long Archive housekeeping "closure" was about to kick in); and the simple love of historical mysteries, using archives and oral history to solve human puzzles, the Q Camp Experiment to which the query referred, and a slightly obsessive compulsion to complete a task once it has begun.


It started with a fairly mundane and relatively anonymous email to the PETT website:


Martin Leonard to PETT website, 22.11.2016, 10:11

Subject: Planned Environment Therapy Trust: Hawkspur Camp, 1936-1940

This is an enquiry email via http://www.pettrust.org.uk/ from: Martin Leonard 

The entry for Walter Goulton Leonard, my uncle, in the national pre-war Register of 1939, makes clear that he was then at Hawkspur. I would be interested to know more about why he was there, about what he did there, and where he went afterwards. Many thanks.


[Okay, easy. I'll check the catalogue. What was the national pre-war Register?]

Craig Fees to Martin Leonard, 23.11.2016,11:02

Subject: Re: Fwd: Planned Environment Therapy Trust: Hawkspur Camp, 1936-1940

Dear Martin,

I'm the archivist for the Planned Environment Therapy Trust, and your email has been forwarded to me. You may have seen from the website what Hawkspur Camp was about generally - If you explore the various branches off from 


there are the original Memoranda outlining the purpose and nature of Q Camps and other materials - a constitution, some correspondence, photographs, publications.

I will check to see what we might have relating to your uncle as such. Assuming he was at the camp,  it would be good to find out more about his life before and afterward.


[Curious. Leonard's not in the Q Camps catalogue]

CF to ML 23.11.2016, 17:00

Subject: Walter Goulton Leonard

Dear Martin Leonard,

I've been through all of the case files for Hawkspur Camp, and associated follow-up files, without finding your uncle Walter Goulton Leonard.

Is it possible to send me the actual date and wording of the pre-war Register entry to see if it offers any further clues? I would be very grateful.

Best wishes,



ML to CF, 25.11.2016, 16:28

Subject: Re: Fwd: Planned Environment Therapy Trust: Hawkspur Camp, 1936-1940

There is a lot here on which to follow up, starting with the implied question in the phrase 'assuming that he was at the camp'. I am attaching a summary, created for my own use and not set out with full references, of various clips I have gleaned from the internet, and I have included a copy of the 1939 Register entry in that. My uncle is shown as Walter G Leonard, d.o.b. 12 May 1909, which leaves no doubt....The 'private means' bit also ties in with a comment I noted about Hawkspur accepting members because they were able to pay their own fees: his parents headed a fairly dysfunctional family, but there was money there, mainly derived from my paternal grandmother's Owbridge family (Owbridge of Lung Tonic fame, if you can recall that tasty but ineffective medicine, from before 1971 when its production ceased). There is a clear reference to WGL in a Hawkspur document (Jonathan Toms' quote from the autobiography) in this context. There are some names mentioned here and there, but none which can be linked to the 1939 names.

We know little of Walter's life before he emigrated first to Australia, then later to New Zealand, where he died. He visited the homes of all of us during his rare visits to the UK, but I don't even know which year he died although we knew of his death soon after the event. I don't think he was called up for 1939-45 military service, a matter which I have never given much thought to, but, now that I know about his time at Hawkspur, I can now see the likely reason. But just why he was 'disturbed' I have no idea. In 1911, the two-year-old lived with his parents in a fairly grand house in Hedon, near Hull, but between then and 1935 there is a big gap in family knowledge.


[That was heavily excerpted. Here is a researcher who has done a lot of research! Craig goes deeper into the Q Camps files, cataloguing now almost to item level...]

CF to ML 29.11.2016, 11:20

Subject: Re: Fwd: Planned Environment Therapy Trust: Hawkspur Camp, 1936-1940

I haven't yet found a reference to your uncle. There is another, named camper who fits the homosexual/conman description, so I would be reluctant to use the quote from David Wills' Autobiography [quoted in Jonathan Toms's book, Mental Hygiene and Psychiatry in Modern Britain]  as a definite reference to Walter G. Given the legal status of homosexuality at the time, and the social opprobrium, it is not too surprising to find more than one homosexual among the young men at Hawkspur (or elsewhere).

A number of Hawkspur campers did join or were called up for the military, so his presence there in itself would not explain a lack of a military record.

Do you know when he emigrated?

Whatever else it might have been, Hawkspur was not a chaotic community. It was a community structured to manage and contain the chaos within various of its individual members, and direct that inner chaos towards order, which is a very different thing. Given the various external chaoses and uncertainties it was surrounded with, it seems to have done a remarkably good job, and has had a significant influence on subsequent therapeutic work in groups and communities.

With that significance in mind, there is a very real and clear value to learning everything one can about the campers, and about their lives before and after Hawkspur. Generally speaking, as a lone and part-time archivist in a hard-pressed charity I am not in a position to carry out research or chase up queries in this depth, certainly without charging for it. Because of the significance, and the generosity of your return information, I can justify this use of my time...But I may not respond as quickly as either of us would wish, and I would be grateful for your patience. The lack of a clear trace of Walter G. in the Q Camps documents so far is an interesting and probably important mystery.


ML to CF 30.11.2016, 16:34

Subject: Re: Fwd: Planned Environment Therapy Trust: Hawkspur Camp, 1936-1940

...Sadly, we know little of WGL's life between 1911 and about 1960, including the war years and even the year he went to Australia. So the release of the 1939 Register information was both a surprise and a revelation. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the one referred to: our surname is not a rare one, but neither is it common, and no other 'Walter G Leonard' was registered as born in the UK in the first and second quarters of 1909, quite apart from the other points of circumstantial evidence. I am sad, therefore, that the records now extant and known to PETT do not seem to mention him.

In this context, I looked carefully through the Q Camps material you gave me the reference for. Of the 56 anonymous descriptions listed in Appendix A, only number 5 (including three other brief mentions) offers a reasonable fit, and I attach a copy with some comments. The major apparent discrepancy is that number 5's mother is described as a widow, which the former Mabel Owbridge was certainly not until her husband's death in 1962 - but the couple lived apart during their closing years, starting from a date unknown to me now but most probably around 1935, the year of my father's marriage, and almost certainly before 1939, making the term 'widow' a convenient fiction at that time....


 [What other sources do we have? Ah, the remains of David Wills' personal library, in Special Collections, next to the books from George Lyward's library...And the separate David Wills archives...]

CF to ML 1.12.2016, 13:03

Subject: Bad News / Less Bad News

Dear Martin,

David Wills kept a copy of the Q Camps publication, in which he noted the real names of the "Cases". Case 5 is definitely not your uncle.

On the less-bad side, your uncle was known to David Wills as Len Leonard, and among David Wills' correspondence there are two letters from your uncle to David in 1940, catalogued under "Leonard, Len". Len has initialled a postscript note "W.G.L." I still have a file of letters concerning applications to join Hawkspur to look through, which covers 1938 to 1940 and includes potential students, volunteers and campers as such; but the fact that he doesn't turn up in any of the case or follow-up materials is a strong indication that your uncle was not a 'case' but a kind of volunteer.

I will send the letters by large-file transfer - I scanned at a highish resolution, which makes the files too big for email. He mentions various interesting things, including having been treated by "Dr. Dodds". This is almost certainly the Dr. Dodds who features in Maurice Bridgeland's magisterial book "Pioneer Work With Maladjusted Children", giving your uncle an even more interesting place in a fascinating puzzle. Given what you've said about him, I think this is more likely to be the uncle you could have expected to find in the archives.


CF to ML 1.12.2016, 14:45

Subject: Drawing a Blank

The file I mentioned, relating to potential students/helpers/members/visitors - does not contain anything related to your uncle.


ML to CF 1.12.2016, 16:08

Subject: Re: Bad News /Less Bad News

A quick reply, first to say that your heading really ought to say, 'Good news'! I am delighted if we can confirm that 'Len' was a volunteer of some kind, not least because none of us as family members could see him qualifying as an inmate, whether number 5 or another.

At this point in my reply the transfer arrived, so I downloaded and printed the two letters. What treasure! Many thanks indeed.

Now to the letters, which make clear that Walter had a warm relationship with David ("My dear Di") and Ruth ("...please give my love..."), as might be expected from someone who had been more of a staff member than what you refer to as a 'case' - even though, as you point out, there had been some kind of treatment during his stay. The way he refers to Tom Bodsworth is a further pointer.

There's so much in the content! What I propose to do now is to transcribe the letters. They tell us a great deal about Walter in factual terms, particularly that he was called up for Army service and that it was with the RAMC. With that and his Army number at hand, I will explore the possibility of finding out more about his war service. There's also a lot about him as a person, and I'll leave that for now.


CF to ML 1.12.2016, 16:33

 Subject: Re: Bad News /Less Bad News

To preserve something of the surprise I thought under-statement was in order.

His "treatment" with Dr. Dodds will have been before the camp some time, potentially as early as 1920, when Dodds set up his first school for boys in Blackheath. Bods [T. Bodsworth] was a staff member. I don't think WGL was there for treatment; I would think his reference to applying to join the police suggests he was actively trying to gain experience at Q; perhaps re-orienting his life; possibly referred to Q by friends or friends of friends.


ML to CF 8.12.2016, 11:45

 Subject: Re: Bad News /Less Bad News

Good morning, Craig.

I have been continuing to search via the internet, with (as expected) very limited results. But one item has emerged, in the 'Q Camp Epitome', which has on page 31 a reference to a 'laundry squad' at Hawkspur, and on page 36 a note that this squad was 'led by Mr Lennard'. Neither the squad nor either Lennard, Leonard, or Len is mentioned elsewhere. But, as far as it goes, this does clarify Walter's role at the Camp.

Can we narrow down the dates when this squad was operating?

All good wishes



 [At this point in the correspondence the angel of occupation turned the hour glass, and the deluge of December housekeeping took over. But we have lifted the corner of a curtain and seen more than we have yet to realise ]


pp wdw 2l 4 leonard001