The Oaks, then The Adelphi Centre, The Homestead, and now Langham Oaks School

 

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The Oaks has a more varied history than most houses. It was built at the end of the 19th century and, although there is no evidence for it, there is a strong local tradition that it was built by the future Edward VII for one of his mistresses. 

 

The Saga of the Oaks

 

By 1900 it was in private hands and was then sold to to Major Mullens, who, by the end of the First World War, had risen to Major General. By that stage The Oaks estate controlled most of the land in the centre of Langham but the estate was split up from about 1930 when General Mullens started selling off parts.

   

In May 1936 the Peace Pledge Union was formed by the Revd. "Dick' Sheppard, formerly Vicar of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. Max Plowman was at one time its General Secretary and one of the Sponsors. The Peace Pledge Union bought The Oaks and Max Plowman together with John Middleton Murry established a pacifist community centre they called The Adelphi Centre. Max Plowman is buried in Langham churchyard. His aims were to establish "a meeting place for pacifists of all ages who believe there is a need for co-ordinated effort to realise pacifiism as a way of life". The Adelphi Centre at Langham was essentially an attempt at putting into practice the ideal of community living, "a possible society of peace" and "a community for the study and practice of the new socialism" as John Middleton Murry, put it. In 1937, because of the distress caused by the Spanish Civil War, a group of Basque children, who had been evacuated from Bilbao by the Peace Pledge Union, came to live at the Adelphi Centre. The children stayed until after the end of the Spanish Civil War and in 1939 either went home or were sent to various foster homes throughout the country.

   

In the spring of 1941 elderly evacuees from Bermondsey, Bow and Bethnal Green came to stay at The Adelphi Centre where there was already a party of young conscientious objectors who cultivated 70 acres of a nearby field.

   

The Adelphi Centre closed in 1942 because the house was to be commandeered by the Air Ministry for the airfield, but it wasn't needed and was bought by the Home Office and opened as the Langham Oaks school in 1943. Later in the year it was reopened by Essex County Council as Homestead School