New Biography Launches – ‘Grace Kimmins And Her Chailey Heritage’

“Grace Kimmins has been described as one of the greatest English women of the twentieth century” explains local Sussex author Ros Black, “but today most people are unaware of the contribution she made to the education and welfare of disabled children.”

Grace KimminsRos’s biography of Dame Grace tells the story of this remarkable woman, from her early years as a Sister of the People, working out of the West London Mission and then the Bermondsey Settlement. There she attracted some influential supporters who enabled her to deliver on her dream of a craft school in the country for disabled children. That small residential school grew and grew, providing facilities for disabled children to learn a range of crafts and skills to prepare them for life after Chailey.

Always they were taught to ‘be happy in their lot’, focusing on what they could achieve rather than on what they couldn’t do. It was a philosophy shared, to great effect, with wounded soldiers convalescing there in the First World War. Basic health facilities developed into specialist orthopaedic hospitals, with consultants coming down from London to perform operations. The ‘sunshine cure’ and artificial light therapy were integral to Chailey life; children slept outside whatever the weather.

With the advent of the NHS in 1948, Chailey was taken over and Grace, by then in her late 70’s, reluctantly retired.

Today, Chailey Heritage still stands proud in the Sussex countryside, providing a wide range of services for children and young people with complex disabilities.

Grace Kimmins and her Chailey Heritage is being launched at Chailey Heritage Foundation on Thursday 12th October at 6pm. Grace’s granddaughter, Verena Hanbury, will be on hand to share her memories of ‘Granny’.

To obtain your free ticket go to

The book will be available to buy via or at Reception at Chailey Heritage Foundation. All proceeds from the sale of the book (price £10) are being donated to Chailey Heritage Foundation.

The author, Ros Black, also gives illustrated talks about Grace Kimmins. She can be contacted on 01444 416006 or at

Chailey Heritage Foundation is a Sussex based charity that educates and cares for children and young adults with complex physical disabilities and health needs. 

For further information about the charity please visit