1. Vanbrugh Castle.
Vanbrugh Castle, overlooking Greenwich Park, was built by Sir John Vanbrugh, the architect and dramatist, in 1717. The property was presented to the Fund in 1920 by the late Mr. Alexander Duckham, to provide sons of deceased airmen with a home, education, and a start in life.
With the addition of the "Wakefield Wing" presented by the late Viscount Wakefield in May, 1939, when he was Chairman of Council, there is accommodation for 51 boys. There are Recreation Rooms, a large Dining Room, a Library, and an Art and Hobbies Room. In the dormitories each boy has his own bed, wardrobe and bedside locker. The classrooms are congenial and spacious.
3. Age of Admission and Leaving.
Boys are admitted between the ages of 7 and 9 years and remain until school leaving age, when they are placed in employment for which they have shown an aptitude. Those desirous of entering the Royal Air Force are specially coached for the examinations for entry into the Service as cadets or apprentices.
4. Education and Religious Instruction.
Boys between the ages of 7 and 11 are educated in small classes at Vanbrugh Castle Primary School, which is recognised as efficient by the Ministry of Education. It is anticipated that the individual attention they receive should make them better prepared to take the Common Entrance Examination, and enhance their chances of attaining positions at local Secondary Schools to which they will pass on reaching normally eleven years of age. The majority go to the Roan Grammar School but as they all continue to live at Vanbrugh Castle, every encouragement can still be given to them to obtain a General Certificate of Education.
School prayers are said daily. The older boys attend divine service on Sundays at the church of their religious denomination. Members of the Church of England form the choir at the Chapel of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, where they are prepared for confirmation if their parents wish.
The combined gardens of Vanbrugh Castle and Wakefield Wing provide ample playing space for the various age groups, as well as a useful area which is cultivated by the boys. Organised games (cricket, soccer, athletics and swimming), are played on pitches on Blackheath Common, and on the grounds of the Royal Naval College; matches are arranged against other schools.
6. Rooks Hill House.
Rooks Hill House, is situated 800 feet above sea level in healthy surroundings with extensive views over the Weald of Kent. The property, which consists of some 200 acres of land, was a further gift to the Fund in 1940 by the late Mr. Alexander Duckham.
7. Admission and Ages.
In accordance with the wishes of the donor, Rooks Hill House is used primarily as a nursery for children (boys and girls), between, the ages of 2 and 7 years, of deceased or disabled members of aircrew of all ranks. There is accommodation for 22 children,
Once a month the local Vicar takes the Sunday School, and on other Sundays Matron usually supervises. During the week those children over 5 years of age are taken by car to St. Lawrence School, Seal Chart. On reaching the age of 7 years, advice is given, if desired, regarding further education; sons of deceased aircrew N.C.Os. are normally transferred to Vanbrugh Castle School,
In front of the House, a terrace, with a paddling pool at one end, gives on to a spacious lawn. Inside the House the children have a large play room.
10. Parents Visiting.
Parents wishing to visit their children should do so if possible on the first and third Sundays of the month, but if these days are inconvenient they may visit at any time. Parents are requested to notify Matron in advance of their intention to visit Rooks Hill House.
Vanbrugh Castle School and Rooks Hill House are administered locally by House Committees and centrally by the Alexander Duckham Memorial Schools Committee. Vanbrugh Castle School has a resident staff consisting of a Headmaster, who is a university graduate, and 2 assistant Masters. A Matron and 2 assistants supervise the health and domestic side. Rooks Hill House is conducted as a residential nursery with a Matron in charge, assisted by a Deputy Matron and 3 Certificated Nursery Nurses.
Parents are expected, whenever possible, to contribute towards the maintenance of their children whilst at either School. Contributions, which are assessed by the Committee, never exceed the amount of the Statutory allowances received by the parents in respect of the child; the full allowance is retained by parents :during holiday periods when children are at home.
Mothers should provide some items of the initial outfit, a list of which will be sent on a child being selected for admission. Where necessary, a grant will be considered for these initial requirements. The Fund will provide replacements.
All children selected for admission must have been passed fit by a medical practitioner. Vanbrugh Castle and Rooks Hill House each has a sick Ward, and an appointed Medical Officer who visits regularly, and whenever required. Dental treatment is also arranged.
15. Holidays and Travelling.
Parents and guardians are expected to have their children home during holiday periods at Mid-Summer, Christmas and Easter — the dates and duration of which are notified. Travelling expenses on admission, and to and from home at holiday time, are paid by the Fund.
16. Children Leaving.
If a child is withdrawn, one term's notice in writing is required under normal circumstances. The retention of children is subject to satisfactory conduct.
17. Homely Atmosphere.
The Schools Committee have exercised great care and thought to ensure comfort and homeliness for the children in residence.
18. Enquiries and Applications for Admission.
These should be addressed to the Schools Secretary, Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, 67, Portland Place, London,W.I. As vacancies occur they are filled by careful selection from the waiting list of candidates.