Chailey Heritage School Old Scholars Association
CHILBLAINS AT CHAILEY When you were on the wards at Chailey you spent most of your time either in or on a bed. Your only escape was if it rained and then one by one the beds were pushed inside to the comparative warmth. At night you were covered by a heavy green canvas sheet, a BURBERRY. It gave your body some protection from the cold and frost. At times you could lie in bed and see the stars and fall asleep counting them. At other times the wind would wake you as it hunted for a gap in the bedding, the soughing of the branches of the trees would keep you awake for hours. Heating on the wards was at a minimum, even in winter and that was when chilblains would strike. As soon as your legs would start to warm up so would the chilblains. A prickling, burning damnable itching that was often impossible to reach. If you managed to reach them and rub them you could hurry the process up, if you accidentally scratched one you would rapidly find that you could get ulcers. I carried the fear of chilblains with me until my mid twenties. I often used to joke it was my best gift from Chailey. Chilblains were ugly and painful, if you had plaster on your legs there was no chance of rubbing your legs to get them warm. There was no cure if you had poor circulation, just a dread of your legs getting very cold and then warming up to begin the itching. (Jack Hayward’s article on the same subject.)
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