Limpsfield Grange 

Oxted, Surrey


"I have been reminded of my time at Limpsfield Grange because of a programme on tv tonight about autistic girls.


"I was at Limpsfield Grange in about 1956 for about a year. In those days it was called an Open Air School. "I was aged 10 and suffered from asthma and I think was quite sickly with frequent colds and flu. I remember another girl had very severe eczema and another had high blood pressure, but to be honest I didn’t really know why I was there. I think it was because I lived in Mitcham Junction and it was offered to London children.


"I remember being quite disappointed that we didn’t sleep outside, not even on a balcony.


The school day was more or less the same as my usual school, one session a week devoted to writing home. The library was limited so they had to send for extra books for me.


"We would walk in crocodile fashion to the nearest, I suppose Limpsfied village to spend our pocket money, and I was taken in on my own once to be fitted with my first pair of glasses, which I loved.


"The meals were taken in a big oak panelled room, with a raised platform where the teachers sat, and after the evening meal our sweet tins were brought in and we could choose 2 sweets each.


"There were only girls there and, I think, only female teachers. There was a matron and a sick bay. I continued to have asthma, but nobody then thought of allergies and I sometimes woke up with the school cat on my bed.


"I am thinking that the teachers were quite strict, but presumably fair because I can’t remember any particular upsets, and I don’t remember being homesick either. My parents used to row a lot, so I wondered if that was why I had been sent away as it was often about me.


"I think there was visiting once a month but I don’t remember parents coming that often, probably because it was a difficult journey and they had no car. There was a summer fete which was great fun, the gardens were lovely. especially the sloping bank which we could only roll down on this day. After a year I went home and back to my school in Hackbridge. I continued to have asthma, but by now my parents had 3 Shetland Sheepdogs and my bed still had feather pillows and quilt, so no wonder.


"Limpsfield Grange is not on the list on your site, so I hope this is all relevant, I’d love to talk to anyone else who was there at the same time".


Regards, Pam Carstairs nee Treneer, aged 67



If you would like to share your own memories of Limspfield Grange, please email us. We can pass messages onto Pam.


NB. This is information about the ITV programme Pam was watching on the school's work today (external site)


 Ann's memories 

I was at Limpsfield grange just after it opened in 1953. I had chronic asthma and it was thought the trees and country environment would help. I was 10 when I went there and 12 when I left. 

"I remember the four dormitories at the time, with about eight beds in each room. The panelled dining room, the tuck box came out after dinner. The sick room where I had to go when I got a bad skin infection from falling on gravel. 


"The grounds were amazing at that time, the slope down to a grassed area where we had a rest on camp beds after lunch when the weather was good. (we also did our school plays there)  Also the amazing Japanese garden complete with an arched bridge over a stream and lots of Acers/ Maples. Also a Chinese garden, I remember seeing badgers in the grounds as well.  The rest was so well landscaped, we used to make camps in the middle of the large Rhododendrons.


"I revisited on the 50th anniversity of the opening in 2003, and was slightly disapointed to see the changes, so much of the beautiful grounds sold off, and mainly day students instead of boarders. Many memories and photos are so important to my time there."



 Anne's memories 


"I was sent to this residential school in 1963 on the recommendation of my family doctor. I had asthma and was missing a lot of schooling so it was thought that being there would allow me to attend classes more regularly.


"It was not a happy experience. On arrival the headmistress told my mum, having seen my clothes, that she wasn’t sure it was the right place for me. There were mostly girls but some younger boys. One of the girls was a bully and really nasty.


"There were five girls in my room. One girl was quiet but wet the bed; one had severe asthma and was like a little old lady; another also had asthma and who I used to stand up for: and the bully. She had a twin who used to cycle from Rose Hill to visit her. 


"All our letters home were vetted so I couldn’t say how unhappy I was being there. My mother had to fight for me and eventually I came home, after about six months. The children there were either very sickly or from dysfunctional families.


"This experience has haunted me for most of my life but having seen this website can now put it all behind me. However, I am glad these homes have mostly been closed or are inspected much more vigorously."





If you have memories of an open air school you'd like to share, we'd love to hear from you.