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Archive News

Happenings and goings on in the Archive and Study Centre: Events, researchers, discoveries, additions. For latest articles added to the Archive and Study Centre section of the website, click here.

Not everyone knows that since 2010 the Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre has been the formal place of deposit for the Mulberry Bush School archives, which reach all the way back to 1947. On the back of that, Dr. Craig Fees at PETT and Dr. David Jones at the University of East London applied to the British Academy for a Small Research Grant to compare the Mulberry Bush case records with the case records of the immensely influential Q Camps/Hawkspur Camp, 1936-1940. One aim was to complement the University of East London's Mulberry Bush impact and outcomes study then in progress (hint: they do a good job).

David is now at the Open University, and still leading the "Charting the Links" project, with regular research visits to the Archive. Between them, PETT and the British Academy grant made it possible to catalogue and re-catalogue the Mulberry Bush children's files (thankyou Belinda Boyes!), with special attention to children's histories and how their difficulties and progress were described. David recently turned all this into a Word Cloud, which graphically ranks the frequency with which words are used. It is fascinating, and with thanks to David we present it below.

'Charting the links between community therapies, psychiatric diagnosis and Mental Health policy: A Study of the archives of Hawkspur Camp (1936-1940) and Mulberry Bush School (1948-2000)

mb wordcloud

Mulberry Bush word cloud. Dr. David Jones. August 2018.

Craig Fees writes (6 August 2018):

The photographs below were taken on the 29th of August, 2002, and document the archivist's office at the cusp of an interesting time. In September we would take over the Administration for the Association of Therapeutic Communities, shared between the Archive and the Trust office; earlier in the year the new conference and accommodation centre had opened, the new archive storage had become available, and we had lost assistant archivist Teresa Wilmshurst. In my June report for Trustees, I wrote

It has been a busy period, one of the busiest in many respects – looking at the number of oral history recordings, the number of researchers and visitors, the number of new accessions, for example – that we have had for some time. There has been a lot of structural work, such as physically cleaning new spaces, building shelves, moving and sorting materials, and doing the work necessary to enable the long-awaited air conditioning installation to go forward – drilling holes in walls, building a waterproof external cabinet. We have put together one and a half Joint Newsletters, moved the combined web-sites and email services to a new ISP, and responded to the emergency closure of Acacia Hall Therapeutic Community in Lincolnshire. We have also made our first small step into Europe (see 8, below).

And it has felt busier, in part because of problems with the computers, especially in the first part of the period – we’ve lost something over two weeks in aggregate dealing with them – and in part because it has been a period of reduced staffing – Teresa leaving in March, much of Maureen’s time taken up with VAT and end of year accounts, and her virtual loss for much of May and all of June (to date) as the conference and accommodation side has kicked in. Thank goodness for people’s sense of humour, and the invaluable contributions Maureen and Helen continue to make, and the support from John, and, of course, other trustees. The loss of Robert is keenly felt.

We didn't yet realise it, but in 2002 we were in the early stages of the long period of austerity whose consequences we are still living out, and to my eyes the photographs of the archive office show a period of innocent exuberance. There would not be a second archivist again until 2010 and the "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children" project, and from August 2005 the lone archivist became part-time, sans budget.

For what are probably cyber-psychological reasons (computers have a mind of their own) these photographs surfaced today when they got hung up in transmission: Helen Moore is busily transferring the data from hundreds of old CDs and DVDS from our old CD/DVD-based digital storage system to the new, gigantically capacious RAID-configured digital storage system, where the files will become far more accessible (and hopefully safe from CD/DVD deterioration and decay). These photographs - out of many thousands - froze the system, and refused to be recognised or transferred. Computer problems over the years (see that June report!) have taught us many work-arounds, including the value of old and alternative hardware and software, and we ultimately retrieved the files. They clearly wanted to be seen. So here they are, fresh from August 29, 2002:


The West Wall

2002 08 29 01


The North East Corner

2002 08 29 02


The Eastern corner of the South wall

2002 08 29 03


South meets West

2002 08 29 04


And into the User's Room, and the Library Stacks

2002 08 29 05


(with the lights on)

2002 08 29 06


6The description of Ethel Davies in Elizabeth Lloyd's unpublished book about the Caldecott Community begins "Ethel Davies was born in Liverpool in 1897, the youngest of two daughters of a well-to-do Ship's Chandler...."

For many generations of children who grew up at the Caldecott Community she was simply known as "Miss Dave"; and many of those generations will never have fully understood that she herself had been a child, and then a young woman, who shaped the nature and history of therapeutic child care in the 20th century, but whose life is otherwise largely unknown.

From 1931 until her death in 1974 she was a Co-Director of the Caldecott Community, and in his still unsurpassed 1971 book  Pioneer Work With Maladjusted Children, Maurice Bridgeland says of her, through the philtre of the Community's Founder Leila Rendel, "The effect of her personality and her rejection of dogma makes it difficult to analyse the principles and structures of her work. 'No theory is admitted by Miss Rendel, or her partner, Miss Davies, that has not been tried on the touchstone of many years' experience'." Not to mention the touchstone of many children's lives.

In these pictures, from the John Brown Collection, recently digitised by Barry Northam, the girl and the young woman stand out, the young woman surrounded by children. In her arms is an unnamed dog, perhaps the first (or second, or third?) in a line of companions who led to Miss D's golden retriever Silver, who was the mother of Leila Rendel's own Tess, known and celebrated by generations of post-War Caldecott children.

Let's have the research to help us understand this pioneer more fully. What about her growing up? What about her education? What about her family? What about her life before 1928, when she joined the Caldecott Community as a housekeeper. Assuming her year of birth is correct (Elizabeth Lloyd gives it as 1897, but on the back of the childhood photograph below it is given as 1895), she had just recently turned 30. How old is she in the photographs with children? Are they even Caldecott children? Was it she who introduced dogs famously into the Community?



Ethel Davies aged about 16






Elizabeth Lloyd writing about Ethel Davies: See here.

Maurice Bridgeland, Pioneer Work With Maladjusted Children, Staples Press (1971), p. 84. The Section is titled "Twentieth Century Originals".

On Tess and her mother Silver, see Barry Northam, "My Caldecott Memories".

For the most recent Caldecott Archive Weekend, where these photographs were digitised: See here.




1Thankyou to a small team of Caldecott Association members who joined us for another productive Archive Week, arriving on Sunday the 8th and leaving on the evening of Wednesday the 11th, just before the start of the England/Croatia game in Russia. Apparently the roads became fairly clear as match-time approached.

We still haven't counted up the numbers, but at least one oral history recording transcript was completed, and inroads made into three more. Cataloguing issues with photographs were sorted, some snags in past scanning discovered and corrected, at least 200 scans were added to the digital storage system, a query from Dorset Life magazine was responded to (look forward to an article on Hyde House, near Wareham, where the Caldecott Community lived between 1941 and 1947), a major website riddle was solved, and box-listing was begun for the entirety of the SA/CA (Societies and Associations/Caldecott Association) Collection, with some re-boxing thrown in for good measure.

The only sad news for the PETT team was learning of the death last year of Ley Melrose, the Caldecott housemother whose interview Craig recorded in 2010 for the "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children" project:

"I was born in 1930,  and it was just when the unrest, [prior to] the Spanish Civil War was getting to its height. The war didn't break out until about three years later, but it - I do remember hearing gunshots. I mean I was very, very small, but by three years I remember the gunshots and the sort of general atmosphere of something not right. I suppose I picked it up from my parents. My father decided that it wasn't very safe to be staying in Madrid, so we moved from Madrid, went up to Santander, and caught a boat to England, Southampton. I thought we were going to stay in England, but in fact we ended up in Gibraltar..." [HLF/CAL/020].

Ley gave us six 8mm films she made while she was at Caldecott in the 1950s, which were then digitised; between snow, water, sand, trees and home made swords, they show how very differently childhood was regarded, and survived; and perhaps something of why Caldecott children from that era appear to have such a secure sense of place and balance. The interview tells us something about the extraordinary people who were drawn to living and working at the Caldecott Community, and gave their lives to the children.

Among the photographs scanned were three from the John Brown Collection featuring Ethel Davies [for more of those, with unknown children and an unknown dog, see here]. One of our favourite surprises of the week was the fragment of a photograph preserved on the back of one of these: a small group of cows, long passed into history.

And Jean Costello - "Moley" - brought another lovely and light-filled painting;



"All that you have done for us all at PETT has just been so important to us and for me in particular the recordings were a way to talk about childhood experiences which generally have never been spoken about before and I have learnt a lot about Therapeutic Communities which I had never heard of before." Moley (Jean Costello)


Meanwhile, Gill Cook began her morning, before the Archive doors opened, weeding, and feeding the hippo (photographs by Barry Northam):

feeding time


Apparently it has become a Caldecott tradition to have photographs taken with Hippo.

job done


And people worked: Doors open and fans going (photographs not by Barry Northam; he has a genuinely good camera!).


Eileen and Gill, transcribing


Barry problem solving and scanning; Eileen transcribing; archive boxes accumulating

david kennardDavid Kennard


David Kennard is part and parcel of the Archive and Study Centre. Once a Trustee, he is author of the classic "An Introduction to Therapeutic Communities", intimately bound up in the formation and history of the Association of Therapeutic Communities (see, for example, here), and one of the few Clinical Psychologists in the therapeutic community world to have played with the legendary jazz musician Alexis Korner, himself a member of the therapeutic community world. For details on all that, see here and here.

He has bathed in the waters of the late swimming pool (see here), and carried on a long conversation with Bob Hinshelwood on the PETT Bi-Blog/Tri-blog (see here). You can listen to the person himself, because his 2008 Maxwell Jones Lecture, "Therapeutic Communities: - a natural impulse or evolving technology", is live on the RadioTC International/PETT website (see here).

But nothing holds a candle to the man in person, and though he described his visit to PETT this week (June 2018, week 2) as a 'pilgrimage', the reality is that the mountain in this case came to the Archive, bringing depths of wisdom and humour, and cores of crystal and granite. No saxophone this time, and we didn't record any oral history, although there was a lot of talking and the music of shared and divergent experience; but next time.

Thanks for coming.





We love a good segue, and it's a joy to move to our next visitor - from Jazz saxophonist David Kennard, via Jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker.

Bird was a short-term guest who invited itself into the large meeting room, on one of the warmer days when we were moving things, and had doors open for the cross-breeze. But really, this picture is just here for the beauty of the stone, the fall of light and shadow, and the bird's place in the composition. Being in an archive is fun.

It took some guiding. It was not a typical fluster of panic. It allowed itself to be caught and ushered out the open glass door it was standing beside. And standing outside it looked around as if to say "Gosh, that was easy", and then flew away.

Thankyou for being.