Tewin Water

A haunted school for the deaf

By Roger Filler

Tewin Water House, Unknown date
Andy Tye
Tewin Water House

There has been a house on this site since 1689, although the original home was pulled down and replaced by Lord Cowper, although I have been unable to find a date for that. The gardens and grounds were originally designed by Sir Humprey Repton.


It is said that the place in haunted by own time owner Lady Cathcart. Her ghost is seen gliding among the trees and in one particular room of the house. Alfred Beit, the financier, took over the tenancy in 1888 and later bought the property. He was succeeded by his son Otto John Beit, who was given the Baronecy of Tewin Water in 1924.

School for the Deaf

Tewin Water was purchased by Hertfordshire County Council in 1950 and became a school for deaf children in 1953.  It continued until fairly recently when the school moved to Knightsfield and the building was converted into luxury apartments.

Were you a pupil at the school or maybe you worked there. Perhaps you know live in the converted school. Why not share your memories. Just log on and follow the prompts

This page was added on 01/07/2009.

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  • I have seen the 1911 census and my Grandfather was employed at the age of 27 as one of three Grooms in service.
    It must have been very grand to have 3 grooms and a coachman, not to mention the Gardeners and in-house staff.

    By Rosemary kirsopp nee Bonfield (23/07/2021)
  • I was a pupil at Tewin Water School from 1980-1984 and they were the best years of my social life and everyone at the school were like big family and we all get on well with each other. I must admit that I was so gutted when I left. Life was never the same again after I left. Everyone has their own lives and went their separate ways. One thing is for sure Tewin Water School will always remain in my thoughts. When someone asks me about the schools I attended I always say TWS was the best I went to.

    By Jose Rio-Rios (09/04/2021)
  • I arrived at Tewin Water School as one of the first arrivals when it opened in May 1953, purchased by Hertfordshire County Council in 1950; which was classed as partly hard of hearing school. I was 8 years old and I boarded there for 8 years till I left at 16 years. It was a very happy school and we really had the privilege of been taught there. We were not allowed to use sign language. We had to learn to speak and listen. If they caught us using sign language, we were fined a penny a time and it went into a box for charity. It eventually got bigger and took on more profoundly deaf pupils after I left Tewin Water, from other deaf schools and of course, they all use sign languages after that. Sadly, the school got too expensive to run and it had to close down. I was pleased to have had the chance of visiting the building when it was converted into exclusive flats. We were shown around the flats, it was amazing how they’d changed it from school to luxury flats. I can say they have the best of both world living there with a river called River Mimram flowing by along the building.

    By Helena Cinnamond was Feeney (02/01/2021)
  • Hi

    I was at Tewin Water School (1960-1966), while there I saw so many photos on the wall of what has been happening, where are they now? It be great to see any.

    For me it was great being there, as my mother all ways, need to learn to be independent.

    By the way, does anyone know Brian Connel, cannot see him, just how is he doing?

    Take care

    By Daniel Ogle (06/11/2020)
  • I was a pupil at Welwyn St. Mary’s Primary School in the 1960s and remember having swimming lessons there until Hatfield swimming pool opened. [When I was a child] (Ed.), the deaf children frightened me.

    By Yasmin Stark (26/11/2019)
  • My mum attended this school in the 1950s and was sent there from her family in Norfolk. Although she missed her siblings and parents she has fond memories of her schooling but was disappointed that she was never taught sign language and has to rely on lip reading still now. I’d love to learn more about the school and maybe find some of the classmates that she had.

    By Trudy Smith - Linda cox (17/11/2018)
  • I think it was before 1953 that it became a school for the deaf. My brother Terry Barton was born in 1942 and would have been 11 in 1953, but I know he went earlier than that, because they were encouraging him to transfer to Mary Hare School at 11. I was still in infant school when he left the juniors to go to Tewin. I would say he went there in September 1951. I would have been 6.

    By Marie Cadavieco was Barton (04/04/2018)
  • I lived in the house next door with my father and step mother in the early 1950’s. The house was originally the gardeners bothey and had been part of the Beit
    The school let us use the pool which was great.
    I do remember that the children used to use sign language when they were out playing but it was discouraged as they wanted them to lip read

    By Maggie Fink (02/02/2017)
  • Please can you advise if sign language was used at Tewin Water School 1953-1957, if so was it SEE, SSE or BSL. Thank you

    By Melody Blackwell (24/02/2016)
  • I used to live at Tewin Water in the big house when I was around 7 – 9 years old. The house had been converted to flats, we were on the top floor and my dad managed to drop a full sized piano down the main staircase!!!

    The long drive was used for race car time trials and was very exciting.

    By eddie quince (21/08/2015)
  • I used to go for swimming lessons at Tewin Water School too from Rosedale School – also now long gone!  I can remember the freezing cold water but it was a day out and I got my certificate for swimming 25 yards!  Discovered later taking part in the Howard School swimming gala at Lea Valley swimming pool that 25 yards was all I could swim and I sunk beyond that!!  Oh happy days!

    By Jane Trinder (22/06/2015)
  • Went to Tewin Water School from 1980 til 1990. Stayed extra year as I went to St Albans all campus college. Had a lot of great memories in this school. Such a shame it’s no longer there. My foster father would be really disappointed to see it had gone as he was part of the govor of the school.

    By Laura Leslie (13/04/2014)
  • I learned to swim here too with Homerswood School – I remember the water was always freezing and as for the changing rooms brrrrrr. We then went to Lea Valley as it was known then (Stanborough Lakes swimming pool) and then finally on to Hatfield – finally finally indoor swimming!!!! After leaving Homerswood and heading off to Monks Walk School – it was back to a cold (indoor) swimming pool but with disgusting changing room …. oh happy days

    By Susan Woodhouse (nee Davey) (03/02/2014)
  • Hi i learned to swim at tws and was at homerswood school it was freezing cold and the changing rooms had cold drafts blowing in. At a later date we started going to hatfield swim pool.

    By david brown (19/01/2014)
  • I remember going to Tewin Water from school for swimming lessons. Our bathing costumes were navy blue and wool and as soon as they got wet they stretched, and stretched some more!! I never learnt to swim there.

    By Pat Thomas (26/07/2013)
  • I remember walking from Harwood Hill School to go swimming in their freezing cold outdoor pool. It wasn’t tiled as they are now and it didn’t look very clean. And we used to go for family walks through the daffodil fields, a real sight, there was hardly any space not covered in yellow.

    By Alison Brown (25/03/2013)
  • Was at Tewin Water School from 1983 to 1986 for three years till my parents moved me to school with better educations (and follow my brother!). I have always missed Tewin Water as they were part of family and funs we used to have after school! the Housemothers we always love and get told off if we gets naughty. It is a shame that the house is no longer running as school and it had loads of characters. Have always wondered if the picture up on the high ceiling by the main stairs still up there? Wish we could see the photos what the house like now since the flats/apartments took over, is the hallway, mainstairs, games rooms still the same?. I was glad to be part of Tewin Water even for 3 years.

    By Michelle Doggett (15/03/2013)
  • This must be where I went swimming with Templewood School in the summer of 1963: I’d just arrived in WGC and was due to start at the Grammar School in September, Templewood took me on in the interim with the caveat that they probably wouldn’t teach me much! I knew it had been somewhere around the viaduct but was otherwise disorientated: found it on a map in the 1954 Handbook via this website.

    By Andrew John (13/01/2013)
  • I was at Tewin Water school from 1980-1985 then stayed on for extra 2 years to go to college in Letchworth. I loved my time there and also a class mate of Kelvin Scott

    By nadia perrin (10/10/2012)
  • I went to the TWS in1953 when it was first opened had great years there and we still keep in touch with one another. as we have reunions every year. but Kelvin Scott if you went there you are not on our books.??Why??

    By dave wainwright (21/02/2012)
  • I was a pupil at Tewin Water from 1980 to 1985.Oh my what a great years i had,staying at this ‘white house’ school.Lots of fun and pleasure.Shame it all ended and now into new flats.I hope these flat owners looked after these building.

    By kelvin scott (14/10/2011)
  • When I was a pupil at St.John’s C of E school at Digswell, we used to walk to Tewin Deaf School to go to see their pantomine. The shows were brilliant. We also use to walk to Tewin to go swimming in an outdoor pool. I still dislike swimming 40 years later.

    By Matthew Hodder (17/01/2011)
  • There is a small amount of film footage of Tewin Water house shot by its late occupant Sir Alfred Lane Beit. He lived there as a young man. The footage was shot in the late 1910s/ early 20’s and pictures him and his friends at play in the gardens – punting on the river/ flying a model aeroplane. It’s such a pity the house was turned into flats. It has such a rich history.

    By Jonathan Woods (16/10/2010)