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"Fifty little front gardens in full bloom, and in the middle of the quadrangle, an ancient chapel... I couldn't wait to come and live here.”

 


Comments

The following are comments and quotes from residents:

"I value living independently in my own home, with my own front door, feeling protected and secure. And knowing that I only need to step outside that front door and I am surrounded by friends." (MW)

"Although I have been living here for four years now, I still breathe in the serenity of The College. It is a haven to which I return each time I leave... It is such a pleasure to watch visitors come and visibly relax, letting go of the stresses of the outside world for a while. Here, and locally, there are as many activities and hobbies available as one wishes to become involved in. Best of all for me is the countryside setting; watching the fruitfulness of the seasons go by. Talking with friendly neighbours. All these contribute 
to a general feeling of pleasantness and ease." (JGD).

"It was late May 2001 and the sun was shining. I parked my car by the lavender hedge and walked through an archway into almost unreal beauty. Fifty little old cottages with identical blue front doors surrounded by white trellis. Latticed windows. Tall chimneys. Fifty little front gardens in full bloom. And in the middle of the quadrangle, an ancient chapel. I couldn’t wait to come and live here. Now I am surrounded by friends, women of similar age and interests - all happy to be living in such a unique, healing place." (JH)

“There is a friendly atmosphere here at The College. I find a warm welcome each morning I enter the quad. This is a calming, serene and tranquil place in which to work, but with plenty of lively residents and a lot going on for those who wish to join in. For those who are not 'joiners' The College simply provides a safe and secure home amongst beautiful surroundings.” (Warden)

The short biographies of a few current residents which follow were gathered for October 2012 Bulletin—given over entirely this issue to The Founder’s Day Special booklet ( see also under the News section). They are listed by cottage number and also feature, where known, a brief note on past occupants.

Cottage No. 5

Pat Sullivan, the current occupant, says: ‘I moved to The College in 2011 because my Sister, Sally, had lived here for nine years and so I knew it quite well. No. 5 was vacant when I decided the time was right – and that was fine by me. My cottage backs on to the A4, but I have no problems with the traffic noise because I am deaf and I love my little house. I work twice a week, dog walking and I house–sit, to supplement my very meagre pension. But I enjoy joining in social activities at The College whenever possible. I feel I am so lucky to beable to live in such a beautiful, well looked–after residence.’

Cottage No. 9

Barbara Lester–George, who lives there now, says: I came to The College because my daughters wanted me tolive near one of them, after having suffered a severe illness. Deborah, who lives at Great Bedwyn, visited here and thought it would be perfect for me.
I first came to view one summer. Walking down the steps, through that arch,I thought ‘WOW’! The gardens, the flowers, the quad, the chapel, all beautiful – but decided the time wasn’t right – didn’t feel old enough to livehere yet. I finally moved in 10 years ago, on the day the Queen Mother died. I chose Cottage 9 because it had a little extra gallery room and I loved the view into the back garden. I was immediately welcomed by an old lady named Heather Haw who lived in a flat nearby, which was very nice. What is so good about The College is that although people are friendly, no–one intrudes. If we wish to socialize that’s fine and if we wish to be solitary – that is fine too. Things have changed here a lot over the past 10 years and I think we can call ourselves an international community now.

Cottage No. 11

Logan Lewis–Proudlock, the occupant in 2012, writes:
It was through a friend of Dolly Saunders, Cottage 23, that I heard of The College in 2009. I entered the quad by the middle archway on a raw January day and had my breath taken away by the ‘spirit of place’.
The years have flown by but the breathlessness still catches me unawares – especially returning at sunset when peace and serenity envelop the quad. Friendships have been forged that bring much laughter and
happiness and a sense of belonging to a special community. I feel very blessed to have found this haven – for that is truly what it has been, and continues to be, for so many women who have found themselves alone and in straitened circumstances. Not only do I give thanks to The Duchess, but also to all those who have supported her vision, adapting and modernising it down through the changing centuries.

Cottage No. 15

Hilary Richardson resides at No. 15. Hilary writes:
I was born in Wales in 1927. We moved to Oxford when I was five years old and lived there until, in my late teens, I went up to Yorkshire to work as a housekeeper/cook. This is where I met my husband, Sam. Together, we returned to the South and during our marriage lived in some lovely places –peaceful, quiet and secluded. So it was quite a culture shock on my husband’sretirement, to be housed by Wycombe District Council on a busy road in a built up area. Fortunately for Sam, we had a large garden which kept him busy. He soon had it planted with flowers and vegetables and, indeed, won the local Cup for best kept garden several times. I joined the Methodist Church and quickly gained a wide circle of friends. After Sam’s death in 2005, I visited my eldest daughter who’d moved to The College in February 2006. I was immediately impressed by the peacefulness of the place and it wasn’t long before my other three daughters persuaded me to apply for a cottage. I was lucky to move here six months later.

Cottage No. 29

Pearl Dopson, who now lives in that cottage, writes: I came to view the College after reading an advertisement in The Lady magazine.
At first sight, from the outside, thebuilding looked very forbidding to me. This first impression accompanied me
into the College itself and I couldn’t make up my mind to apply for a cottage. However, more than a year later, in August 2010, I returned to find just one cottage available. With my sister, Lynda, already living here and the fact that public transport was so difficult in my pretty Hertfordshire village, I decided to accept that cottage.
I have to admit it took me quite a while to settle down, but now with my
friends around me in these beautiful surroundings, I couldn’t be happier.

Cottage No. 35

Lorna Penfound, who lives at No. 35 now, writes:
Just two years ago, in 2010, I came for an interview at The College and remember how much I wanted to become a resident. I have now been at The College for 18 months and each day that passes underlines my great good fortune in living here. My roots are firmly established. The friendship, kindness and concern from
everyone restores my soul.

Cottage No. 43

Lindy Elliott, the present occupier, writes: When Jennifer, the Steward, let me know that I was going to be offered a cottage at the College I felt a huge sense of relief. By 2011 the recession had really caught up with me. The property market bubble had burst and even while I was renovating my house its value was plummeting.
As a social care worker I had to work unsustainably long hours to cover rising bills and mortgagepayments, and I was anxious that if my health or my car gave out I’d have no income. My cottage at the College embraced my downsized furniture and me and felt like home immediately. The beautiful old buildings and gardens have a sense of timeless continuity, as if all the women who have lived here over three centuries share a common bond of community. Meanwhile, with my pension age postponed for another two years, at 60 I still have to try to make a living. But I’m not complaining.
As a Baby Boomer, born in 1952, I’ve enjoyed advantages women of previous generations could not have dreamed of: free health care from cradle to grave, a free university education and, eventually, a state
pension. And now a home at the College. I feel privileged indeed, and glad to be able to say a grateful ‘thank you’ to the memory of Sarah, Duchess of Somerset, this Founder’s Day, 2012.

The Warden
Mrs Emma Holborow

The Steward
Ms Laurie Caterer

The Board of Trustees
The Duke of Somerset, Chairman of the Trustees
Mrs Anne Oliver, Chairman Executive
Mrs Ginny Ayers
The Hon Spencer Canning
Mr Christopher Cooke
Mrs Mary Du Croz
Mrs Henrietta Geary
Mr Martin Gibson
Mrs Judith Hiller MBE
Mrs Alexandra Jackson-Kay
Mr Richard Nocton
Mrs Anna Pearson-Gregory

The Chaplains
The Reverends John and Sandy Railton

 

 

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