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Areya House School and Bronwydd Castle, Wales, in World War II

Aubrey Zaft

Aubrey Zaft recalls how Areya House School, of Hove, was evacuated to rural Wales in World War II and his experiences there. Other Jewish schools were also evacuated to Wales at the time, including Whittinghame College of Brighton. Aubrey would like to hear from anyone else who was at the school at the time.

My brother and I spent some time in Areya House when it was evacuated in WW2 to Bronwydd Castle, Wales. I have memories of many incidents and some of these are as fresh as if they happened yesterday. I would be happy to share this knowledge with any interested party.

I am now 80 years old so I must have been about ten years old at the time. The headmaster was a disciplinarian and imposed strict control of the boys and girls. My Welsh teacher was excellent and the children were all fast learners.
When I left this Jewish School and entered Brighton College, I was, thanks to Areya House, better informed than the other children of my age. I learnt to play chess at Areha House, rounders and cricket and prayers for every important event of the day including washing my hands, grace before and after meals.

I can recall a lot more my experiences at this excellent school, learning French, going for walks in the surrounding beautiful countryside, sharing my life there with some wonderful children. The castle had a farm attached to it and the headmaster gave me various jobs to do before breakfast looking after the cows which I greatly enjoyed.
The architecture of Bronwydd Castle was very impressive and the drive from its entrance to the village was quite fascinating as it appeared to us children to be guarded by two witches, black robed old ladies with black pointed hats.
It was here in Areya House that I fell in love for the first time in my life with a beautiful girl of ten called Silvia Speurgel. Not sure how her surname was spelt at the time and I have no idea what happened to her. My love was not reciprocated but we remained friends till I left the school.

I had a great friend called Norman from I think Liverpool who had a brilliant mind. He used to do the most complicated multiplication sums in his head at night before he went to sleep. His elder brother had just matriculated and got a place to study at London University. He was visiting Areya House where he had clearly been a very good student University. I cannot remember his first name but he looked very smart dressed in a tweed jacket and grey flannel trousers with his reddish brown hair combed neatly back over his broad forehead. He was a role model. Well, as I said I have many memories and all pretty good ones, which I would like to share with any interested party connected with this Jewish boarding school or interested in its wartime history.

© Aubrey Zaft (2012)

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