Plumstead Hall

When I was 19 years old I went to England to live there for a few years. Ever since I returned the people I lived with there have a special place in my heart and I will never forget them.

Judi Arnold, now Judi Dale, Annette Francis, now Annette Thorpe, Liz May (where are you now Liz?), Anzio Cabrini, Simon Parsons, Nick Bowman, Elliot Stevens, Ruth Wilkinson, Anne-Louise James, Darrin Fox, Stuart Ingram, Rod and Sue Townend, Gordon and Nancy managing the Social Club, Sue May, Lawrence Swerlinck (now deceased, bless his heart), Sarah Blake (Blakey), Mark Blazeby, Joe Toehill, Tim Bryant, Norman Allen, Sue Harris, Margaret Jackson (Maggie, my ‘surrogate mother’), Stephen Eyers, Jean Ringwood, Susan May (Liz’ mother) and so many others were an important part of my life. And in case if I have forgotten your name, you too.


My rooms were in the Old Hall, an old but beautiful mansion, built in red stone with a large lawn in front of it. Here is a picture of it from around 1930 when Major Ashley lived there.

And this is how I like to remember it:

Ever since I was twelve and had English as a subject at school I was magically drawn to England, you can call it an obsession (which it wasn’t) or strange (but it was neither that), but I could not resist thinking about going there and live there. And I did. It was the most beautiful experience in my life and even now, 23 years later it still has great influence on my present life. It has made me what I am today: a peculiar and slightly eccentric person, but also intelligent and broad minded and always an eye for other people’s interest. I have adopted their feeling for class and decorum and made it my own. It gave me creativity and imagination, love for people around me and most of all: it made me proud of myself.

There was Anzio, who taught me how to cook properly and up to today I still use his techniques to feed my family. And Rod, Allen, Sue, Jean and others taught me many wise life lessons. And there were friends, dear friends. They made me feel special, loved and wanted. Where I grew up lonely and left aside by most of my peer, here it was entirely different. This was the place where I experienced love, I found God again and got saved. I remember going on my pushbike to the railway station in Norwich and spent Sundays in Cambridge in a lovely church community.

In 1991 I went back to Swampyland. Why I didn’t really know myself at the time. I remember I was sad for a really long time and it took me years to be happy again. And I found new love again and got married. We spent our honeymoon in Norwich and Cambridge so I could show her places that were so important to me. Only after fifteen years I was strong enough to go back and see England again.

Call it obsession, fixation, weird or eccentric, but in my opinion you do not throw away what is good just because you found something new. Past is part of all of us and has made us to what we are now. I am Leendert, some call me Leon, and I am proud of myself for what I am today. And you had a part in it. Thank you.

Related: The Grey Lady

2 thoughts on “Plumstead Hall

  1. Hello I used to work here at the hospital around that time, I left in 1993 to have my daughter. It was a magical place the hall, I never got to go inside it, wish I had as it is now no more. It caught fire last year as it was due for demolition, maybe due to the fungus growing inside it they did not know what it was.

    I returned there 4 years ago when I had to section my daughter, she went to poplar ward oh my, I was disgusted with the place, it was nothing like I remembered, very way out of the times and not very clean either. I was so glad she was only there for 3 weeks. Most of the old buildings had gone and I tried so hard to find my bearings but I could not, new houses have been built there now, it is just not what it used to be.

    Very sad that kids had to set fire to it on their quests to find a haunting, ha ha I doubt they will find any. A building that will remain in my memory.

  2. Hello Jeanette,

    There are pictures on my website of inside Old Hall if you use the search form in your browser on a pc. I also wrote a blog about The Grey Lady that you might like. Just browse my website and you will come across lots of Little Plumstead related blogs and other things. Enjoy!

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