May 23, 2012
A wonderful day at Moreton Hall, Oswestry
Our greeting at Moreton Hall in Oswestry couldn’t have been any warmer. We had driven up the long driveway, taking in the emerald coloured fields and stunning specimen trees and were debating where we should park, when the Headmaster, Jonathan Forster appeared at the front of the main building beckoning us towards him. We had been a little reluctant to head that way as there was a sign Headmaster’s Guests Only. Then again, of course we were guests of the Headmaster. We met Ruth Brown, Jonathan’s PA with whom I had liaised about the visit and were immediately taken through the magnificent entrance hall into Jonathan’s study for tea. The building dates back to the 1600’s while the school is nearing its centenary year.
Meeting Jonathan was great too – and there were lots of people we knew in common. Later in the day we realized that a number of his relatives who live in Australia grew up very close to where I did. The world is a small place for sure.
Some of the buildings are showing their age – and there are plans afoot to develop some new classrooms; but despite this, there was a great warmth in the school and it was clear that the staff and students are proud of their heritage. The boarding facilities were homely and inviting and I can imagine the girls have a great time here.
The sports facilities are excellent with beautiful grounds, an indoor heated pool (definitely necessary given the climate) and a huge gymnasium. There is also a golf course!
We headed back to meet our Abbotsleigh girls in the main building. It was so lovely to see them looking very relaxed and happy. The uniform regulations at MH are a little, (okay a lot) less strict than at home so I teased the girls about their free flowing hair, lack of ribbons, abundant jewellery and nail polish (apparently that’s not allowed!).
After lunch we met Cath Ford, the Head of Moreton Firsts who was outside in the sunshine soaking up the beautiful weather with her young charges during their play time. Everyone seemed particularly happy – perhaps that had something to do with the summer sun! Jenny Milner the Head of English, then took us to set up in the hall. There are girls and boys at Moreton Firsts, although the girls outnumber the boys by quite a lot. It reminded me of Gib Gate where I used to work in Australia, where there were always many more girls than boys.
In these groups there are children who are boarders and the youngest girls are seven, the same age as Alice-Miranda. They are exceptionally brave and accepting of the situation but I suspect that has a lot to do with how well they are cared for and nurtured by the staff.
Moreton Hall and the surrounding area has made such an impression that we are planning to head back here after the school visits finish next Monday. It seems like the perfect place to write a book, with a view of the Llangollen canal, rolling meadows and stunning scenery – and we know there are lots of new friends just across the road too.