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News > Alumni News > My Claremont Memories - Michele Ligon (1963-1966, Esher)

My Claremont Memories - Michele Ligon (1963-1966, Esher)

Orlena Lackenbauer, nee Michele Ligon (1963-1966, Esher) returned to visit the school in October 2019. Here she recalls her memories of her time at Claremont from her home in California.
English Classroom - 'Beatrice'
English Classroom - 'Beatrice'
Orlena Lackenbauer, nee Michele Ligon (1963-1966, Esher) returned to visit the school in October 2019. Here she recalls her memories of her time at Claremont from her home in California.
 
After regaling my husband about the amazing school that I attended in England, I was able to bring him there and have a tour to show off the “Downton Abby” beauty. I got my first flood of memory and emotion when driving up the regal drive, where at the end of term many Rolls and Bentleys used to pick up their girls and then there would be my American family of seven heaving up the drive in a VW bus! Mortified!
 
The entry hall looked exactly as it did between 1963-66, aside from the pupils’ artwork and reception desk. The large room to the side of the entryway was lavishly furnished with plush carpet and couches where the headmistress, Miss Doran, used to read stories to us on Sunday afternoons in front of the cosy fireplace. Where the library is now was the dining room. We practiced our etiquette in there and enjoyed typical English high tea as well as all other meals. Upstairs the yellow classroom used to be my dorm with about 6 beds. I remember our lovely Irish Matron, Miss Patton, used to come in to say goodnight. She was a dear and I loved her accent.
 
I also remember the clunky elevator that was strictly verboten. We absolutely had to explore the mysterious basement where Clive’s bath is. Back then there was nothing down there but dingy, cold stone floor and walls, dim lighting and the possibility of something scary in the dark corners. It was a delight to see that space used for art classrooms. Seeing the school change from a girl’s boarding school to a busy co-educational day school was a big change but the basic beauty of the architecture remains awesome. Although I was a bit of a rebel there, I have always been proud of Claremont and grateful I had the opportunity to attend a proper English girls’ boarding school - one with such history!


Orlena's Dorm Room; circa 1930 before the mansion became school,1940's as a drom room and today as an English classroom
           

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