Can I complement you on the excellent website you run on Goldings. I came across it about a month ago while I was re-reading
Leslie Thomas's 'This Time next week'. and was looking into where he had been evacuated. Personally, I have no connection
with Barnardo’s or any care situation, but I can see through all the pages what Goldings meant to you all and as I left my school
around the time Goldings had to close I can make comparisons and realise what Mr Wheatley was managing to achieve in improving
the accommodation and making the place more homely.
I found some of the apartments on Right Move, which were available to view, and arranged through three different agents to view
them on Friday 4th April. It was a bit of a con, as I would not have enough money to buy one. I arrived in plenty of time to have
a poke around the grounds first. I parked near what was once the gym (I think) and the Carpenters. The house rose up in the
background, and I had a tight, worried feeling in case the con was sussed - a feeling that probably some of the boys may have felt
when they first saw it on arrival. But as I got out of the car I heard a woodpecker drumming in the trees and the sun came out and
a sort of peace came over me. The whole place is such a beauty and so peaceful and tranquil. I realise of course, that when it was
a home and school it would have been far from quiet - with two hundred or so boys, at work periods there would have been noise
from the workshops, and in leisure time noise from the playing fields and of course the bugle calls!!!!
Prior to visiting Goldings I had studied the picture pages, and the map and aerial view, so that I could try and place everything. As
you know the developer has landscaped everything and it was hard for me to work out the sizes of your parade ground, dining room
etc, and the classroom block which has been removed. Not being an old Goldonian I had no real idea of the layout of the house,
and where Cairns, Somerset Aberdeen etc fit together, or where the head's family had their rooms. All I knew was that Somerset's
bathroom was somewhere near the archway because the window has been replaced by the round sign. Perhaps you could work out
from my descriptions which parts of the house I was in. The first apartment I saw (Apt 11) was on the top floor at the chapel end
of the building and two floors beneath there would have been the library and assembly room. You got to it up a small staircase that
led off the main landing at the top of the wooden staircase. Were these stairs original or has the developer put them in? The master
bedroom looked out on the river, the lounge and kitchen looked out on the chapel and the second bedroom looked out towards the
underground car park and where 5 new houses have been built (North Green). Many of the windows opened out on the tops of the
bay windows of lower floors - the tenants had been throwing dog-ends out on these and a couple of beer-cans - in your days the
windows may have been used for this purpose - but no one, I am sure, would have left the visible evidence.
The second apartment (Apt. 5) was the most expensive £850,000. It was situated in the square tower at what was the kitchen end
of the building. It was on three floors, a cellar room and bathroom, a kitchen diner in what is called The Servants Hall on the
Able-smith plan and then stairs up to a lounge, hallway and three bedrooms which are the other side of the arch looking out on North
Green. The third apartment (Apt 10) was all on the front door side of the building. The kitchen diner was over the front doorway,
the Lounge was over the Staff dining room, and the second bedroom and bathroom was over what is called the Billiard Room on the
Able-Smith plan and there were stairs leading up to the main bedroom and en-suite on the top floor.
In between the viewings I managed to take some photos of the outside and in the public areas, but couldn't take any within the
apartments that I saw. I asked one of the agents if the building work was now complete and he gave the impression it was. There
are sixty residences - 17 within the house, the chapel, the sick-bay where Eugene lives, about 19 new houses in the walled gardens,
5 new houses on North Green and whatever has been made out the staff houses, workshops, gymnasium etc. Its good looking at the
aerial view you can get on the estate agents side - especially for you who knows what it all was. Apparently planning allowed them
to replace the floor areas of what was knocked down (dining room, classroom block, that 1960 house block etc) plus an extra
percentage with the new buildings. I read on the Hertford site that you think there are plans to build on the lower football field - that
could be likely because its the one bit that hasn't been landscaped and the wall at the bottom of the garden near your grass tennis
court is falling down and could be rebuilt as a boundary to some road across the bottom to that site - they couldn't come in the top -
I don't think because the Chapel is not part of the Goldings estate any more. Its quite strange seeing the remains of the seats with
only a view of cows now instead of football and other sports. Though there are no photos around the house of its 45 yrs under
Barnardo's, or remains of the Barnardo new build (apart from the chapel) there are little clues - names and initials carved in the
brickwork around a doorway near the arch, and the top of the L cut away from the carved message on the front door - who could
have done that as the boys never used that door did they!
The Goldings web-site is really interesting, full of information and you all seem so proud of your old home and school well-done - a
first class site.
All the best, Jon Parsons. 22-4-2008
Speedy Service - on Tuesday I email Dave about the layout inside the house and on Sunday plans of the first and second floor appear
on the site. Using Rightmove I had looked at some of the apartments on offer - there are good pictures and an aerial view of the
grounds. A month ago I conned my way into 3 viewings - the apartment at £650,000 - Apt 10 is all at the top field side of the house.
Kitchen/ diner in rm 33. Lounge is rms 31 & 32, Bedroom 2 and bathroom in 28. A staircase leads upstairs to master bedroom &
ensuite in 9. All the windows overlook the watertower and five new houses called North Green.
Apartment 11 at £499,000 was on the top floor at the chapel end. A small staircase led off the panelled landing, 19 was the second
bedroom, 20 was the lounge, the kitchen and bathroom was between that and the master bedroom was 18 with a marvellous view of
the river and the bottom field. The best apt, I think as it had views on 3 sides.
The most expensive apartment I saw at £880,000 was in the square tower and part of it I think would have been Somerset - though I
am getting confused with the mezanine floor shown - it consisted of a cellar room beneath the kitchen / diner and stairs leading up to
the lounge - possible 21 & 22, 23 was bedroom 3 and 24 was divided into 2 bedrooms.
I hope lots of you can identify where your houses and rooms were and by the time of the re-union there could be floor plans coloured
in house colours and a load of flags - I slept here !!!
Bob Cox was thinking that the Head's Pantry might be partly below ground. It probably was, as the kitchen end of the building was
lower than the panelled part of the building. There are the steps going down at the start of the stone corridor. The land at the Top Field
side of the building is higher than on the Parade Ground side. So from the inside the windows would be high up in rooms 16, 18, 19,
22 etc. In the photograph on the forecourt side of the arch, the large window is the Staff Billiard Room (15) The smaller window is
the staff pantry (16). In the photograph on the outside of the arch - where the oil tank once was I believe, the small window is, I think,
the one belonging to the Head's Pantry. So it looks as though the head's pantry was directly below Somerset - surprised someone didn't
lift the floorboards !!!. All this talk of ronuking floors, I worked in an Agricultural College Lab when I left school and we had to ronuk
the laboratory benches with a hand held buffer like an old fashioned metal iron, wrapped in a cloth. Once we managed to get hold of
the cleaners floor-polisher, lifted it up onto the bench but the vibrations caused the bottles of acids & alkalies to fall off the little
shelves at the back. A couple of years later when working in Montague Burtons - the tailors as Saturday Sales - the youngest staff had
to ronuk the floors with the ball on the stick. So Ronseal had quite a few buyers of their revolting product other than D.B.H.
I read somewhere that the shoes were large and heavy and had steel tips & heels - surely that would ruin the floors !! But you can see
why the stone passage is so worn. Bob concludes his entry by saying that Somerset may not have been the cleanest, but probably the
happiest - there seem to be more ex-Somerset's supporting the site, perhaps the other old boys are too busy cleaning !!
Had to send this to your email address as I couldn't see how to attach photos to the guest book. It was a surprise to see my first email
turn up as a Story ! Thanks.
Jon - the Outsider. 12-5-2008