Visiting Moreton Hall was always going to be special as Abbotsleigh has an exchange program for our Year 9 boarders and three of the girls are here now. I was really looking forward to seeing Ella, Claire and Sophie and find out how they were getting on.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.
We were taken on a tour of the school by one of the former students, Kate who now works in the Marketing team. I loved the Moreton Enterprises which is an area run by the senior girls, essentially a café and shop stocked with all sorts of items from clothing to accessories and other gift wares. There is also a branch of Barclay’s bank inside the building. What a wonderful thing for the boarders to have – and considering most of the girls in the Upper School (ages 11-18) are boarders, what a fantastic way to teach them how to run a business too.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 older girls are separated into rooms for either one or two students with their own bathroom, while the younger girls live very much in dormitory style accommodation.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!
A stone amphitheatre near to the main building provides a focal point for summer gatherings.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!).
We had some photos taken and then headed off to the dining room for lunch. The food was fantastic – roast pork with gravy and vegetables. The girls told us about the places they had visited since arriving and plans for more travels during the upcoming half term holiday and Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. They had been to Paris and Belgium and were looking forward to London and Manchester.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.
My first session was with the Year 3 and 4 students; a small but very enthusiastic group. They asked lots of good questions and were keen to participate in the drama activity. The older students in Years 5 and 6 were fantastic too. And the drama was extremely funny.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.
In the evening we met at the Headmaster’s residence on campus to have drinks with a group of the staff before heading into town for dinner. What a night – the entertainment was superb (mostly supplied by Jonathan and his lovely wife Paula who frequently had the group in stitches), the food was delicious and the company fantastic.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.