A First Day at Kendall House

Female Resident No.62 – Aged 15 – Resident in the Early 1970s

Kendall House, Pelham Road, Gravesend, Kent.

The small 15-year-old girl stood on the doorstep of the formidable Kendall House with her child care officer. Her stepfather and mother had no desire to continue being her legal guardians, and there were little other options open to a homeless teenager in the early 1970s. They had made the poor little lady homeless at a crucial and complicated time in her mental and physical development. Her child care officer had spent the time in the car on the way to her future accommodation telling the anxious young lady of how great Kendall house was. By the time the girl was stood on the front step of the care home she would have had a chest full of excitement and trepidation. The front door opened to the sight of a strict-looking lady, who engaged in a brief conversation with the girl’s official state chaperone. Once he was out of sight the lady looked down upon the teenage girl, “I’m Miss Law” she said, “I’m in charge of this place.” The girl must have felt a chill down her spine as Miss Law grabbed her by her hair and pulled her in through the door. She realised at that moment that this was not the fairytale palace which had been sold to her during the short journey there.

Inside the small porch area Miss Doris Law slammed the front door shut and she pulled out a large bunch of keys and began to lock the girls only route to the outside world. Once secured, Miss Law began unlocking the second door which led into the main house. On opening the door Miss Law grabbed the girl and pushed her through into the main building, throwing her small suitcase into the corner of the hallway. The pair were joined by two other ladies who were staff members. Miss Law and her two helpers started to strip the girl there and then. The now terrified girl stood there, shaking and naked in the main corridor of the home.

On the right of her was an office door and in one of the next rooms along was a bathtub full of water which had been made brown by the introduction of some unknown and vile smelling additive. This bathing procedure would not be a gentle experience for the shy 15-year-old who suddenly found herself a prisoner. The girl was grabbed by the top of her arms and thrown into the bathtub by the two staff members who accompanied the domineering Miss Law. She began to struggle as the brown water that stunk of chemicals entered her mouth, nose and eyes. The two staff members would take it in turns to pull the girls hair back until she was fully submerged in the foul water—they would both hold her under. She was permitted to come up and gasp for a breath of air before she would be dunked under the water again. One of the two staff members began repeating a line to the girl every time she was brought up to catch a breath. “Nits, crabs, you dirty bitch!” The young female assistant said this to the girl who had gone from excitement to torture in less than five minutes. “Nits, crabs, you dirty bitch!”

This may sound like a Dickensian tale of fictional drama set a 150 years ago, but sadly for the children involved, this was instead a normal example of the induction process into Kendall House Care Home in the early 1970s. Most of the girls who were being held at Kendall house between the 1960s until around 1984 had similar horror stories of their first moments at the small Church of England run care facility which claimed to house seriously disturbed girls. In reality, those girls were often completely neurotypical children, who had experienced the bad luck to be born into what was, or would become, a broken home. They weren’t all serene angelic young ladies, but many were left more disturbed by their experience inside Kendall House than they were when they initially moved to the Kent care home, which was located in Gravesend.

None of the criminal actors in any of the stories which have been uncovered at Kendall House have ever been brought to justice. Most have dodged any possible investigations by dying of natural causes. Whereas others have used their influence within the police, politics, and the church to avoid taking any responsibility for these serious criminal acts of abuse and neglect.

Mental stimulation seemed to be something which the staff of Kendall House actively avoided. The care home was practicing what is often referred to as sleep therapy. Rather than assessing each girls care needs individually, the care home staff would simply medicate the girls to increase their average sleeping time to about 18 hours a day. This archaic and irresponsible use of medications such as barbiturates, hypnotics, and various other downers—which would assure that the girls remained heavily sedated—were not the only drugs which these vulnerable girls would be given. The girls in Kendall house were not given any activities, toys, games, or equipment to keep them occupied. But instead they would be publicly advertised as guinea pigs for unlicensed medications in the British Medical Journal.

After the bath, the girl had been left frightened by what she had experienced so far. She was soon handed a drink which tasted disgusting. The young girl thought she would throw it back up after her first gulp, but Miss Law pointed at her and said, “don’t you dare.” The girl heaved as though she was going to be sick, and Miss Law said, “Don’t you dare, or else I will give you another lot.” So she drank the horrible drink and then they opened the door of the dayroom which was located behind her on the right-hand side, and they pushed her into the room where many of the other residents were already located.

Remembering what happened when one is full of a combination of extreme sedatives is grueling. But the girl would never forget her first day at Kendall House. After her brief induction to the home, she was taken to the day room. No staff were present, there were just girls slumped over the sides of their seats and drooling profusely. Most were unable to communicate as they were on such a heavy dose of drugs. The girl sat patiently but would soon need to go to the toilet, a simple thing for most people in care, but in Kendall House even the simplest routines were fraught with danger. No one wanted to walk across the corridor to knock on the office door and ask the staff to use the toilet.

The girl watched one of the other residents walk to the corner of the dayroom and piss herself. Within no time she needed the toilet immediately, and didn’t want to have to wet herself. She staggered up to walk to the office but was soon stopped by another one of the more coherent residents. “You can’t do that! You know what they’ll do? You’ll get injected if you bother them.” One of the other girls was not afraid, she barged through and knocked on the door. The staff members who responded held her down on the floor as they sedated her. The girl watched on with her legs crossed as the injection pierced the skin. Once the staff members had returned to their office, the girl walked into the corner of the room and started to urinate. She realised very quickly that all of the girls who were kept captive here were probably like her. They could all tell what was happening, some may even understand it as evil, but they couldn’t do anything about it.

She can’t remember many other days after her first one. She would be heavily sedated for nearly the entire time she remained at Kendall House. These children who were being tortured were not silent at the time. They would tell many people their stories of cruel abuse and were often not believed by their parents, the police, or any of the social workers. Their complaints would be discarded as childhood fantasy or sometimes, when believed, actively hushed up by senior members of various official bodies.

The girl told her mother on the first opportunity she got,“It’s nasty in there. They gave me this horrible thing to drink. They dunked me in a bath.” Her mother looked at her in disbelief and shook her head slowly as she said, “No, they didn’t do that.” The girl continued, “That Miss Law’s really nasty. She put injections in some girls. I saw her do it. She pulls me by the hair.” Her mother was not a fan of what she perceived to be tall tales, “No. She is such a lovely lady…..”

The girl stood still for a moment before simply saying, “Okay”, as she got in the cars passenger side. She had told her own birth mother that Miss Law was abusing her, that she had hit her, she had had her dunked in a bath, and her mother simply called her a liar. Her own mother wouldn’t believe her.

It’s always hard for a child to explain sinister abuse, that they don’t completely understand themselves, to an adult and to be believed. We’ve all experienced not being trusted as a child. But not being believed about something so important by your own family is nearly impossible to come to terms with. When they tried to speak out, nearly every girl who ended up in Kendall House was met with skepticism and incredulity by those who should have been responsible for protecting them.

This article is the second article which I have written on the subject of Kendall House, the first being “Men Who Are Attracted to 13-Year-Old Boys Make the Best Teachers”—Director of Kent Social Services ’74-’85.”

I will be breaking up the subject as I investigate the full scope of the crimes committed by the people who ran the Kent care facility. Some will be about the residents and what they experienced, as in this piece. But others will prove how the vulnerable girls at Kendall House were used by pharmaceutical companies to test unregistered compounds, how the girls were sexually abused, and the Church of Englands’ practice of forced adoptions. Some of the articles will explain how they would break these young girls, both physically and mentally, to make them completely compliant. And I will expose the people who have never faced justice, but who have instead been rewarded for their crimes and hidden from the official narrative told to the public. I will then be looking at the real reasons why the Kendall House review was set up and I will be examining the people behind the review, and its limited scope.

This is a story which needs to be told in full.