1941: Evacuated to Tyntesfield by Philippa Perks

Philippa Perks at Tyntesfield during World War II © National Trust

Philippa Perks at Tyntesfield during World War II

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Philippa Perks remembers what it was like to be a school girl evacuated to Tyntesfield during the Second World War:

'I first came to Tyntesfield because the boarding houses at Clifton had suffered from bombs, broken glass and had no water or electricity or anything…the school took over a wing of Tyntesfield in the spring term of 1941, January 1941. Coming up the drive my first vision was of this huge house with criss-crossed paper all over the windows, stuck on to stop the glass shattering if there was a bomb nearby, and this amazing place that we were going to be living in, which I thought was fantastic, still do.

'We were squashed into these bedrooms at night, two to a four-poster bed and then we had to get up early and wash in very cold water – I think we didn’t do much washing – then we had to strip our beds, then we had to rush downstairs for some sort of breakfast, then we had to rush upstairs again and make the beds. Then we had to get all our stuff and walk all the way down the drive to the lodge, where a bus waited to take us to school. Well, when we came back I suppose we had tea of some sort which – of course, everybody was rationed so everybody had rather plain food, not that it mattered, we all survived. We had the billiard room as our common room cum everything else, which had a big fire in the winter to keep us warm because there wasn’t much heat anywhere else, and the billiard table was all covered over. Of course, one didn’t realise what a fantastic billiard table it was, which we learnt about since. And we did our homework either kneeling on chairs on the billiard table because it was too high for you to sit at or else there were about four other tables also around where you could work. The whole place I didn’t think was terribly conducive to work, although some people did quite well.

'And then we had a nice fire, we used to play games and then someone, matron, would wash our hair and see four or five girls all with dripping hair round the fire drying their hair. And that was our main common room but in the summer we could go out in the grounds and go for walks and, except for the formal gardens, we could more or less go where we liked. So I mean it was a fantastic existence but not very good for work I don’t think – for school work.'

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