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1939-1945 second world war

Felden Croft: taken by Joyce Percy: 1980s


At the start of the Second World War Noreen, Victor and Marjorie needed to find a less vulnerable location for their school. Paul believes his parents had become acquainted with 'The Sherbrookes' at charitable events which the school often entertained. Mr and Mrs Sherbrooke were obviously very sympathetic to their needs; they magnanimously allowed the extended families of Kimm and Davies to use their spacious home, 'Felden Croft' in Boxmoor, Hertfordshire for the duration of the war. Parents and students were consulted: did they want to see the schoolFelden Croft rear disbanded, with the possibility of having the younger children evacuated around the country, or continue with their dance training and a piecemeal education in comparative safety? Here began a fifty year period during which Bush Davies was to become pre-eminent in its field in the United Kingdom and much respected throughout the world. One wonders what influenced Noreen and her mother Pauline to take such momentous decisions at the outbreak of each world war!

In the influential report, 'Dance Education and Training in Britain', prepared by Peter Brinson* in 1980 for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, we read, "The immediate post-war period saw the development of the idea of independent schools combining general education with classical ballet and stage training...The pioneer was the Bush School which had begun in Nottingham in 1914." If the recommendations of the report had been fully implemented Bush Davies, with two other regional locations across the country, would have been recognised as a 'Centre of Excellence' by Government and Local Authorities. The recommendations were far too slow in being realised. However, from the 1970s on, Bush Davies was already developing to become that centre of excellence simply through the vision and sheer determination of the schools' founders and their later cohorts (Read more in Charters Part Two).

*Peter was a good friend of the Kimms. He was a copious writer on dance and admired for his intellect. He was founder-director of the Royal Ballet's 'Ballet for All' which regularly appeared at the Genée Theatre and, briefly, director of the Royal Academy of Dance. He was director of the British and Commonwealth Branch of the Gulbenkian Foundation from 1971-82 for which he prepared the report mentioned.


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