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Pupils from Somers Park School Take a Step Back in Time at Friends of the Elderly Malvern

Charles Dyson Perrins History Walk At Charity’s Care Home

At charity, Friends of the Elderly’s Davenham residential care home – which together with Perrins House and Bradbury Court, the nursing and dementia care homes – are  collectively known as Friends of the Elderly Malvern – pupils from Somers Park School have gone back in time, learning about the building’s famous owner, Charles Dyson Perrins, its history and links to the well-known Lea & Perrins Sauce.

The History Walk Day took place on Wednesday 20th March, with 90 pupils and their teachers visiting the historic building and its beautiful grounds. “I was contacted by Anita Marsh, the Year 2 Class Teacher from Somers Park School asking if her class could visit us for a History Walk as they were learning about Charles Perrins as part of their curriculum,” said Maricel Biringquez, the Unit Manager at Davenham.

“The pupils were keen to see the Davenham building and the English Heritage Blue Plaque dedicated to Charles Dyson Perrins which celebrates the link between this historical, notable figure of the past and the building where he lived which is located on Davenham’s gate,” added Maricel.

The pupils arrived in two groups, with 60 children beginning their History Walk at 10 a.m. and another 30 starting their time travelling tour at 10:30 a.m. “We thought it would be a lovely idea to put some useful and informative packs together for the children to take away with them,” added Jo Bennett, the General Manager at Friends of the Elderly Malvern. “Each child was given a pack which contained our History of Davenham booklet, a handy pen so they could take notes as they went on their walks – and a few tasty treats to keep their energy levels up.”

“The children were so well organised and behaved,” continued Maricel. “They were holding in hands in pairs and attentively listening to what their teachers were saying about the history of the building and the Perrins family. They were very curious as to what the inside of Davenham looked like, as it was bringing history to life for them. Some children were able to see through one of our windows and view the painting of Frances Sarah Perrins and Charles Dyson Perrins as a young boy which hang on our Dining Room wall.

“One of our residents, Josephine Hill, was looking out of the Dining Room window as the pupils were walking by. She had a big smile on her face and was waving to the children. She told me that she’d never seen so many children in one place and that it was fantastic that they had visited,” added Maricel. “One pupil told me that she thought it looked like royalty lived here and that she was having so much fun, which was wonderful to hear.”

Davenham – once known as Davenham Mansion – is, like many older buildings, full history and intriguing stories. Built around 1860 by a local builder named George McCann, the imposing house then became known as Davenham Bank in 1871. James and Sarah Dyson Perrins lived at Davenham with their three daughters and son, Charles William Dyson Perrins, who inherited the house when his Father died in 1887.

The link between Davenham and the well-known Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce comes from Charles William Dyson Perrins’ Grandson, William Perrins. William, who was the co-founder of the tangy condiment empire, owned The Gate House at Davenham.

“When Charles died in 1958, his second wife Florence, bequeathed Davenham to the Friends of the Elderly, in memory of her late Husband. The Dairy, Laundry and Stables were converted into our nursing home, Perrins House, which was opened in 1972 by Princess Margaret. Our dementia care home, Bradbury Court, then opened in 2012,” continued Jo.                             

“All the pupils were very happy to have the opportunity to see and explore our beautiful grounds – and to get a good look at the whole of Davenham from the outside. I asked some of the children if they had heard of, or tried, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce? One of them responded saying: “That’s what Mummy keeps in the Kitchen cupboard.

“It was fun to see the children’s faces when I told them that there is a secret passage somewhere down in the Garden which runs under Cockshot Road and goes all the way to the Little Davenham House. It was lovely to impart something new to them – and I’m sure that’s one true story they won’t forget,” added Maricel.

However, it wasn’t just the children who learnt something new on their History Walk. “I found out that Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce was first sold back in 1837,” said Jo. “I also heard two varying stories about the special ingredients. One story says that the ingredients and recipe have never been revealed and are still a closely guarded secret. The other states that the ingredients were found in a skip back in 2009 – who knows which one is true?

“The Somers Park School History Walk was a lively and informative way for the pupils to explore Davenham and it was a wonderful intergenerational and community-focused event to be involved with. I hope we will be able to do more historical walks in the future,” concluded Jo.

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