By Gillian Murray (née Anderson)
I used to go to Normansfield every week at least a couple of times in the middle of the day to eat my packed lunch in the lovely grounds of the place. My mother, Mrs Anderson, worked as a book keeper in the main administrative office for many years, from the 1940s to the late 1950s. As my school canteen could not accommodate everyone every day, each year took it in turns to have packed lunch, hence my regular visits there, often with my friends. We would regularly see the residents around the place, and became quite accustomed to chatting to them. Dr Norman Langdon Down was the grandson of Dr John Langdon Down, and he became a good friend. In fact he was a guest at my wedding in 1959.
I remember the whole place as having a very happy atmosphere and not at all intimidating. At the time Brian Rix’s daughter became a permanent resident there and he and his wife Elspeth were so happy at how their daughter was cared for that I think that was the reason he became a benefactor of the home, and subsequently the head of Mencap.
I used to visit one other place in the grounds, Trematon, which was a lovely large house at the Broom Road end, where a small number of the more able residents lived, under the care of Miss Ceaser, another guest at my wedding and a good friend of my mother.
Post originally published on the Normansfield Hospital Blog 4 December 2013