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Paddock Wood Finishing School

Free French Recuperation Hospital she set up in the Second World War, which then became a Girls’ Finishing School with pupils attending from all over the world.

In 1941, Mrs Savill, her husband and her two sons moved to Paddock Wood, in Lightwater, which was later to become the Finishing School. The place was chosen because there was a French Military Hospital and large French Camp in Camberley. She also set up at her new home, under massive security, a secret reception centre for the French Resistance Movement, where agents could rest between spells of duty in occupied France. At the same time she and her husband converted the coach-house and stable-block of their property into a convalescent home where armless or legless French soldiers were trained to use artificial limbs supplied by Roehampton.

Three years ago French Government officials began inquiries into Mrs. Savill’s wartime activities. They spoke to refugees and fighting men who fled to this country after the fall of France in 1940.

Secret agents who trained for resistance in a secluded house in Chobham Road, Camberley, were interviewed. So were blind and limbless heroes who recuperated at Paddock Wood. They questioned survivors from Nazi concentration camps who were brought to Paddock Wood the after the end of the war.

For Mrs Savill helped them all. She started by organising a committee to raise money for refugees pouring into Britain. She threw open her own elegant home at Paddock Wood as a country retreat for resistance fighters before they returned to France.

For three years after the war Mrs Savill and her husband ran a Summer school at Paddock Wood, at first for the children of French Officers, who, having returned to France with a great affection for England, wished their children to learn English, then later, for students from all over Europe.

In 1949 Mrs Savill decided to open a full scale Finishing School. In this project she was greatly helped and encouraged by the four patrons of Paddock Wood. Among these personalities, with whom she had worked very closely during the war, were Lady Cynthia Colville, Lady-in-Waiting to the then Queen, and much concerned with young women’s education; and Lord Bessborough, a former Governor General of Canada. With the support of her patrons, and with her highly original system of mixing the academic, the practical, and the gracious in her syllabus, the Finishing School was an instant success.”

by kind permission of Pippa Anderson, former Paddock Wood student and holder of the Paddock Wood Finishing School alumni.

For further information and contact details, please click here:

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