FORMER Chorleywood College students staged an emotional reunion at their old school, now transformed into a retirement village.
For 60 years, ‘Chorleywood College for Girls with Little or No Sight’ was renowned as a centre of learning. It closed in 1987 when the college was amalgamated with the boys school in Worcester. The site is now Cedars Retirement Village.
Former pupils stage regular reunions but never actually at their old school. When Jane Owen Hutchinson, a pupil from 1962-1969, suggested the idea, a group of ‘old girls’ jumped at the chance. And so the visit was arranged.
“It was with mixed emotions that we came back to what is now Cedars Retirement village,” said Jane. “It was run as a boarding grammar school with very small numbers of pupils – there were just 12 girls in my year. Of course the site has lots of memories for all of us.”
The eight visitors were delighted to recognise many familiar areas. Their dining room is now the village restaurant, their library is still the library and the school assembly hall is virtually unchanged as the village’s ballroom.
“The winter garden as we called the Conservatory was a very popular place. I have many happy memories of taking pottery classes there and of apple bobbing during Halloween celebrations,” said Jane.
The main staircase also sparked vivid memories. “We had to be in the dining room by the time the gong that was at the bottom of the staircase had finished chiming,” said Jane. “I can still hear the clatter of feet in the race to get down and avoid punishment.”
The pony field is now home to a number of properties and the gym and swimming pool are no longer in evidence. Jane and her companions were delighted to hear one of their favourite features, the lily pond, is being reinstated at the village.
During the visit the former pupils spent some time with Margaret Mortimer, a Cedars Village resident who taught home economics at the school during the 1970s.
“She didn’t teach any of us but she was able to let us know what happened to some of the staff, and of course, to discuss many of our traditions were shared,” said Jane.
Jane travelled from Devon for the reunion and others came from as far afield as Derbyshire, Dorset and also from nearby in Tring and St Albans.
“It was a great opportunity to share memories and to spend time at a place that was so important to us,” said Jane.
Colin Foulger is the Village Manager at Cedars Village. He said: “We were delighted to welcome the Chorleywood College former pupils to Cedars Village. They spent some time walking round the site and the buildings and reminiscing. It was interesting to be able to put into perspective the changes that have been made to the site – and to fill in some of the gaps in Retirement Villages’ knowledge of its history.”