Last Updated on February 19, 2023
Contributed on 10th October 2008
It was a cold and foggy November night in 1997 when I arrived at Shrubland Hall for my very first treatment. I went in through the back entrance; everything was quiet, no-one there but me. There was a smell and warmth when you entered – it was lovely after the cold outside. This I came to realise later was the fragrance of the Shrubland products used in all the treatment rooms, and the massive boilers that kept the place so warm even in the winter.
My patient, as they were referred to then, duly appeared and I did the treatment in the cosy little ‘Aroma Room’ with its wallpaper of roses all over the walls and ceiling. There were drapes at the far end and a pretty ruched curtain at the tiny window. This was to become my favourite room to work in.
After the treatment I left, again by the back door, it was still very foggy and it felt like a scene from ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ but fortunately, there were no hounds – just the sheep!
A few months later, having moved into a cottage in the grounds, I took over Kay Oxford’s two days a week when she left to start her own business. The girls I worked with were all friendly and helpful. At first there was Georgina, Gail and Kelly – it was Georgina who kindly showed me all around the house and made me feel very welcome. Then as they left, along came Natasha, Andrea and Lucy, and latterly it was Laura, Sharon and Leanne.
I loved working there. During the day it was manic – a hive of activity – especially during the mornings when all the water treatments took place with people screaming as they were blitzed with cold water after their underwater massage and everyone rushing around
from room to room doing various treatments. In the afternoons, it was quieter with lots of facials, manicures and pedicures taking place. Other treatments were given by talented people like Michael Hardy who did shiatsu, Peter Stevens with his Tai Chi, Michael Mann, Pilates and the masseurs, Norman, Olaf, Chris and Tony Simpson who was always leaving and coming back.
I met Lady de Saumarez several times and gave her underwater massage and she had a Caci treatment before a TV crew arrived the following day – she was amazing and the whole inspiration behind Shrubland.
Christine Harris was Treatment Secretary during the early years – she was a dragon! – but I liked her and she had a wicked sense of humour. Lyn Mann eventually took over from Christine and did a brilliant job of organising chaos. Always calm and diplomatic
with staff and guests, she was perfect in that position – it would have driven me balmy!
Chef, Robert was the hero in the kitchen, producing wonderful fruit and vegetable dishes but it was Val who kept us going with cakes for our birthdays and mince pies at Christmas.
I worked with so many lovely people and met some amazing guests, so I was stunned along with everyone else when it was announced that Shrubland was to close. It was quite unbelievable for such a thing to happen. It meant so much to so many people and is irreplaceable.
However, when it did finally close, I purchased the Caci machine and the Phytomer stock and although I still work part time at Hintlesham Hall, where I’ve been for the past 10 years, I now also work from my home in Bramford giving Caci Face & Body treatments, Phytomer treatments, manicures & pedicures.
Finally, thank you to Andrew for maintaining this website; it is a fitting tribute to such a wonderful place.