Memories, 26 Saint Hill, Guest Post

Very happy to share the following addition to our informal Saint Hill history. It comes from a person of distinguished record at Saint Hill who was intimately connected with the Manor for some years after the Hubbards left. I am grateful for the contribution and welcome more. Many thanks to “Dr. Buzzard” for these fascinating recollections.

 

More Tales from the Manor House 

Over the years, Ken and I occupied some of the same posts, and I later worked under him (he was a great boss!!!). Not too long after Ron and the family left to sea, I took over a post whose duties included management of the Manor house and Ron’s personal staff.

 

Ken’s Mrs. and Mr. “Smith” were named Gladys and Denny. Denny only showed up a few hours a week and did odd jobs around the place. His accent was indecipherable. Gradually he came in less and less and then eventually not at all. Sometime later, Gladys also faded into the mist and they both retired. Gladys was extremely grateful to Ron for keeping Denny on at full pay even for the few hours he worked. When they retired, they continued to be paid at full pay.

Ken remarked to me that Gladys must have been lonely after the Hubbard family had gone. There was in fact quite a bit of activity in the Manor over the years. Every year, a troop of gypsies used to arrive and clean the windows inside and out. Gladys would keep everything under lock and key except the room they were working in, keeping an eagle eye out for light fingers.

We had a love-hate relationship with the local district fire department. They knew that portions of the Manor house were being used for “business” but turned a bit of a blind eye. However, once a year they wanted to “exercise” in the building. Gladys would lay out runners on the stair carpets to protect it from the firemen’s boots as they charged up the stairs to the roof.

On the roof, the Manor had a large water tank (the object of the firemen’s interest) and there was another one in the kitchen ceiling. The water pressure was so low in that part of the country that the tanks filled as they could at any hours they could and then the house supply was fed from them. The supply pressure was really bad in the summertime and must have been terrible during the later English droughts.

For congresses and open days, I used to conduct guided tours of the entrance hall, Ron’s office, the Winter Garden and a couple of upstairs rooms. Gladys always watching from the wings.

 

There were also visitors to the Manor for the house staff to manage. Mary Sue made at least two visits that I knew of. Sea Org missions, starting from the very first one that treated Reg Sharpe (one of most prominent figures in Scientology at the time) in such an abominable manner and alienated possibly Ron’s only real, personal friend. Story aside: At the time I first arrived in Saint Hill, there was only one telex machine, and it was situated in, of all places, the reception area. Telexes were left lying around on a desk on the presumption that people couldn’t read upside down. I thought for years everyone could do that…and there was a telex from Mary Sue begging Reg to come back to the fold.

 

Gladys and Irene, Ron’s personal secretary, provided a kindness to my wife (of 50 years next year!) when she was pregnant. Due to complications, she couldn’t be left alone at home and ended up spending the last 8 weeks of her term flat on her back in bed in the hospital. Prior to that, she had to come in to work with me. She was not on staff but worked in the solarium sorting out the mess with the mimeo files that Pubs Org had left when they fled England for Scotland. (The laws of England do not automatically apply in Scotland and there was a real threat that we would be banned. Same reason for the first AO being located in Scotland.) The staff ladies took my wife under their wing and arranged for her to have her afternoon nap up in one of the empty bedrooms.

 

When the OT Liaison (OTL) office to interface Saint Hill with the Sea Org operations was established, they were housed in the Manor as well. This required a cook and some additional staff. Ron’s cook John Henry (who has been mentioned by Ken) came back to the Manor for a while after he left the ship. But he became famous for getting drunk on the cooking brandy and chasing someone out of the kitchen waving a meat cleaver. There were a couple of other cooks that I recall, an elderly lady whose name escapes me and a wonderful New Zealand girl, Margaret.

 

Stories from Ron’s secretary Irene:

 

The chair in Ron’s office was tied by rope to the desk so that no one could sit in it. Ron didn’t like anyone sitting at his desk and could tell instantly if this had occurred. He also complained that he could never get a hot bath because the pipes in the house were so rusty. In the bathroom off the main stairs (the ‘secret door’), there were bottles of Vichy water. The high iron content in the local tap water made Ron nauseous.

 

When Ron first moved to East Grinstead, he bought the big petrol station/garage that was in the centre of town. It was supposed to pay for the running of Saint Hill. Irene says she doesn’t know what the problem was but he sold it because it was not making a profit. He also bought another manor house in the area that had had a fire and was derelict. That was eventually sold off as well.

 

Other stories from around the Manor:

 

There was a horse and stable on the grounds (not to be confused with The Stables, which was housing for some of the Saint Hill staff). Diana had a pony that got left behind when the Hubbards went on board the first Sea Org ship at Southampton. A local girl looked after it for years at no pay, just for the pleasure of it. Diana eventually gave her the horse.

 

Fishermen used to come and ask to fish in the lake. They thought there must be some pretty big fish in there because it hadn’t been fished for years. The Org used to refuse them until I had the idea to charge them a pound and issue them with a Saint Hill fishing certificate.

 

There was a sewage plant on the estate, and the final destination for the effluent after-treatment was the lake. It then flowed into a local stream. The stream would sometimes fail sanitation tests until additional work on the outlet had been done. Ron used to receive nasty letters from the surrounding farmers about the fact that he didn’t participate in the regional drainage plan committee. Regarding Ken’s story of the next-door farmer’s access through a gate by the lake, I saw all the correspondence. LRH’s strategy (of a type often repeated elsewhere) was to deny that any access agreement existed (it obviously did).

 

One time, a horse was witnessed running into the lake, putting its head underwater, and drowning. The vet’s thought was that it got a wasp up its nose. One of the OTL ‘seamen’ had access to some scuba gear and pulled it out.

 

The electrical wiring in the place was a mess. If a fuse ever blew, it could take weeks to find it. A staff member with electrical experience was employed to sort it out. As I recall it took him nine months to trace and label all the wiring and fuses. He got a commendation from Ron.

 

Up in the back corner of the estate was a small house hidden behind hedges that the local council didn’t know about. The OTL took over the building without asking anyone (as was generally the case with the SO) and used it for training. The Saint Hill Choir then also took to using it. Between them, they decided it was too dark inside, so they cut down all the rhododendrons that hid the building. Big fight with me! Luckily, the local council didn’t notice.

 

The Manor staff and LRH’s personal secretary and librarian (Anne) were notionally part of and paid by the Worldwide Org. That was fine until students were blocked from entering the UK and gross income fell out the bottom. Then staff wages dropped via the conditions policies. All the Manor staff were about to depart due to lack of pay. I sent an urgent request and Ron hived them off as being his personal staff (Herbie was not amused!)

 

In the basement were two large safes that were under my care. They mainly held the corporate seals for all the orgs. However, one locked drawer always intrigued me. With the help of a large screwdriver I got it open. Inside were 16 hallmarked, sterling-silver ear bracelets. I wrote and asked about them, and Ron said to sell them (???). From what I was able to find out, the best I could determine was that they had been intended for the first Clearing Course (which wasn’t successful).

 

Then there was the time the Intelligence Office at Worldwide got told there were hidden passages in the Manor house. I had to take Mo Budlong over every inch of the place, including donning overalls and crawling under the house. In the rear courtyard, there was a set of steps leading down into a small room that would have been used as the “cool room” for meat, milk, etc. In the back of the room was an access hole to the area under the house floorboards. We had a great time – “boys own.”

 

There are some other stories worth recording, about other subjects from those times, but for now I hope these bits may add to Ken’s memories of his very much more personal relationships.

© Dr. Buzzard, 2018

 

[A little more information about “The Stables”: This was a collection of farm buildings including the farmhouse. It must have been the ‘home farm’ of the original Saint Hill estate, as well as providing stabling for the Maharaja’s polo ponies. It’s the farm that LRH was prevented from buying. Some time after LRH left Saint Hill, Reg Sharpe, whom Dr. Buzzard refers to, who still lived near the Manor (and just across the road from the farm) and whom LRH had treated badly, as Dr. B. recounts, shrewdly bought the farm. Knowing Reg, I’m sure he bought it partly because it put him one up on LRH and the SO (not that Reg was bitter, he just liked to be smart in taking opportunities he fancied). At any rate, later on again, the SO desperately needed property close to SH and of course Reg was happy to sell the farm to them for a good return on his investment. The farm was used for staff accommodation and, I believe, for staff catering. – ku]