Sunday, 6 March 2011

St. Hill in the 60s.

I was about 6 years old when I first encountered East. Grinstead. We moved there specifically to be near St. Hill. I hadn't got a clue what Scientology was then. I went to a normal church of England school, played with my friends on a quarry not far from where we lived. There were lots of fields near by and on Sundays the local farmer had a pen with pigs in, us children had never seen real live pigs before and it was funny to watch them grunting and snuffling about in the straw.

In May and June the fields were covered in wild flowers and the butterflies were amazing. I have never seen butterflies in such vast quantities ever since. We had nets and used to run after them trying to catch them. Once caught we gently had a look and then set them free again to flutter and feed on the necter of the wild flowers. That was the start of my lifelong love of both butterflies and wild flowers.

I went back there a few years ago and much to my amazement the house is still there, but the beautiful fields of wild flowers have now become a housing estate.

My Father was the regstrar at St. Hill Manor, by the time I was about 7 years old we moved from the little house into a large old house set in sprawling grounds with a large garden complete with terrace, sun dial, circular steps leading down to the enormous gardens, full of hydrangeas, trees and shrubs. We even had a long driveway, bordered on the left side of the house with a small wood which ran right down to the entrance. There was a plaque at the end of the drive which read Little Baldwins. From our tiny little house to this sprawling mansion, it seemed like we were royalty.

The reason for the move was so we could be a host for all the scientologists that were arriving from around the world to take up courses and learn the study tech as prescibed by L. Ron Hubbard. Father spent more and more time at St. Hill, whilst my step Mother had three children to look after and a lot of scientologists that needed to be fed and watered.There were 5 bedrooms upstairs and a bathroom. Most of the rooms were really large and depending on who stayed at what time, we had to move rooms quite often. Sometimes if we were overloaded with scientology students, there would be all 5 of us in one bedroom. Mum, Dad myself and two little brothers. There was one room that I loved and it belonged to my Auntie. It was probably what was once the servants quarters. It was a dear little room at the end of a long passageway, with the old fashioned string pulls to open the door.

Downstairs there was another large room, which was also used to house some of the boarders.At one point we were so overcrowded, my Uncle came to stay and slept outside in a workshop room, complete with tools.

People came and went, depending on how long their course was or on when thier time was up in England. This was my first introduction to the world of Scientology. Strange words were bandied about and everything was so wonderful for these students of the smiling face.For that is what I remember the most about that time, smiley, smiley faces and constant talk and excitement about this amazing new thing Dianetics, that was going to turn the world upside down, and be like nothing that had ever gone on before, Mr Hubbard, or the 'old man' as my Father affectionately called him was going to change the course of history.

My first encounter with the 'old man' was on a trip to St. Hill with my Dad. We were walking down to the manor, along the drive when Ron came along in a car. He stopped, got out of the car and came to chat, he was big man, smiled a lot and when he finished talking to my Dad, my Dad told me he was the most important man in the world, life was going to be incredible from now on.

Going to St. Hill I often found myself at a loose end, so used to act as messenger between the scientologists, delivering little notes or feching and carrying things.Through the glass doors you could see people sitting at tables hooked up to e-meters. It was a strange sight and one that I noticed  I never saw anywhere else.I didn't really know what to make of it and put it down to being weird. My Dad told me that it helped people, I couldn't see how,but the scientologists always seemed to have smiley faces.

There was a sort of chappel type building, called The Chappel as I recall ,as you entered from the porch to the right was a large room which had a small podium, from there LRH used to give lectures. The room was often packed with people that had come to listen to him. One of my Dads' jobs was get that ready for lectures.I remember putting pamphlets on the seats, I don't know what they said, but it was a form of introduction.

Weird Shit We Found in the Archives: Scientology.


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