SIR: What a joy to find the article by David Wheeler on the wonderful garden at Rodmarton Manor in The Oldie (February issue).
My convent boarding school in Finchley was evacuated to the manor in the early stages of WWII and then again in 1944 because of the flying bombs in London, when I was part of this second evacuation, aged four and a half. We returned between 1946 and 1949.
Claud and Margaret Biddulph (who built the house) were generous hosts. The nuns and girls were given more or less complete freedom of the estate; we slept in dormitories on the top floor, called Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma. No en suite in those days – a bath once a week (the old bath was on view until recently, tucked behind the stables in the garden).
We had access to wonderful dressingup clothes, Beatrix Potter books (probably first editions) and a delightful doll’s house and rocking horse, both made on the estate. In the drawing room/ ballroom, there were two pianos and a pianola on which we were allowed to play and change the rolls. In the Chapel in the Moonlight I remember well.
We would arrive with the convent lock, stock and barrel – several nuns and probably about 50 girls – and were able to join in all the local events, including some kind of fête with Pogo the pantomime horse on the front lawn. Mr Smith’s bus went to Cirencester once a week, an excursion we all went on.
It still is my favourite place. Annabel Foulston, Exeter