Friday, July 30, 2010

Finding Parkfield...







Lately, I've been catching up on many things that I've been working on. Today I'd like to share some information someone else has been working on—and I really appreciate it!

The following is an exchange of information from friend of the website Barry McAleenan and Liz Graydon, the webmaster of the interesting site Cuckfield Compendium. It was Barry who determined that, although George Mills wrote in the dedication to his 1939 book Minor and Major that he had attended a school called Parkfield in Haywards Heath, the school was likely in nearby Cuckfield. You can read the dedication above, left.

Here's the exchange that Barry began back in May…

On 27/05/2010 11:04, Barry McAleenan wrote:


Dear Liz

I'm trying to find out about the above school in the years 1900 to 1914. All I have established is that its address was: Cuckfield Road, Haywards Heath.

It could have been anywhere between Hurstpierpoint and Cuckfield proper. One of the masters retired to Purcells. I hope he was musical! Can you help?

Kind regards

Barry Mc

Liz Graydon wrote:

There was this mention on Friends Reunited:

Wick and Parkfield Preparatory School
Cuckfield Rd, Haywards Heath, Sussex

The school closed in the Summer of 1974. Created from the merger of two preparatory schools, hence the unusual name, it had existed for around 70 years.
Try googling Parkfield Prep School, there are a few mentions. Cuckfield Road is really bewteen Cuckfield and Staplefield, or so Google maps tells me.

Liz

On 03/07/2010 00:30, Barry McAleenan wrote:

Dear Liz

Many thanks for your industry. I only wish that there were more webmasters of your calibre.

For your shoebox: I have since accessed the Historical Directories website and found this entry:

Kelly's 1915 for Haywards Heath, page 444: Commercial section [Private, similar] Bent, Ernest Lionel, boys' preparatory school, Parkfield, Brighton Road.

I suppose it's possible that the name of the original house may have moved with the school.

With kind regards

Barry Mc

Date: Sat, 03 Jul 2010 09:59:38 +0100
From: Liz


That's interesting, thanks.

When I was googling I kept getting references to George Mills who was both a teacher and a writer. He was at Parkfield http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Mills_%28writer%29 http://www.whoisgeorgemills.com/2010/05/haywards-heath-brighton-line-teddy-boys.html

Friends Reunited also show there being a Wick and Parkfield school in Isaacs Lane, Haywards Heath, but does not indicate whether it is a prep school or not.I expect the West Sussex County Records Office (Chichester) will have records of schools in the area too.

I may be repeating what you have already been able to do. The attached is the 1901 census [right] for Earnest [Ernest] Lionel Bent, schoolmaster at Butlers Green, [:] Parkfield. Butlers Green is on the outskirts of Haywards Heath in the Isaacs Lane area. He was born in Essex.

Attached is the 1891 Census for the likely the same person. (aged 10 years younger and born Essex, same occupation - mathematics) The attached 1881 shows him with his parents as does the 1871.

Wishing you well with your searching

Liz

[NOTE: Liz had attached copies of the 1871, 1881, 1891, and 1901 census forms for Ernest L. Bent. The 1901 U. K. Census form is the one that would be closest in proximity to the time George Mills would have attended the school, which he would have sometime between approximately 1903 and 1909. This 1901 form shows the school being at Parkfield and names several schollmasters, some of whom probably taught young George Mills. Click to enlarge and read it.]

Date: Saturday, July 03, 2010 6:40 AM
From: Barry McAleenan [barrymc@dittonsroad.orangehome.co.uk]

Dear Sam

This is what Liz Graydon has just sent me. Butlers Green is now part of Haywards Heath - pretty much to the right of the T into the 2028 on the old map (which I now date to circa 1925 - since reference was found to the partitioning of Ireland). The 2028 is also known as Isaacs Lane, but the actual junction has been moved. I read the census as Ernest Bent. Parkfield would have been in Butlers Green, which included the top end of Isaacs Lane. [This may have been known as 'the Brighton Road' since it would have been a 'route', if nothing else - but that's only a guess.]

Kind regards

Barry

As always, thank you very much, Barry!

Taking a quick "virtual drive" down Isaac's Lane, I didn't find much: Mostly trees. One thing I did know was that, in looking for the addresses of my own relatives near Manchester, the homes have either been there, or they've been paved over in favor of apartments, subdivisions, or office parks. The fact that I didn't see any of those along Isaac's Lane led me to believe that the school hadn't been "developed" [read: demolished] into another structure or structures.

At one point, I stopped, spun around, and peered up a drive into a place called "Downlands Park [pictured, right]," which was marked with a medical red cross on Google Maps. It certainly evidenced the characteristic size, shape, and multiple chimneys that we've seen on Victorian school buildings like Warren Hill School in Meads and The Craig in Winderere.

Some quick research came up with the fact that the building was Downlands Park Nursing Home, run by an international organizaton called Bupa. I flipped through their on-line PDF brochure for the place and it looks beautiful, missing only Tom, Diane, Jane, and Harvey from Waiting for God—in fact, I think I did see Jane! [For a look around the home and its grounds, click HERE.]

Anyway, I contacted Bupa, who put me intouch with Lorraine Lane, the administrator at Downlands Park, who wrote:

Dear Mr Williams,

Thank you for your enquiry into the history of Downlands Park and yes it was indeed a preparatory school in the early 20th century. I will try to find out some more details for you and contact you as soon as I find out.

Kind regards

Lorraine Lane

Administrator Bupa Care Homes

Downlands Park Nursing Home, Isaacs Lane, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 4BQ

It's anyone's guess how long that might take, even if she remembers to do it. Still, it was awfully nice of her to reply so quickly. Thanks, Lorraine!

After letting him know of Ms. Lane's reply above, I received the following message from Barry:

Thursday, July 22, 2010 11:28 AM

Dear Sam

I've finally found Parkfield for you. You will find it just south of the crease [on the attached scan (map, shown)] where the west-going A272 from Haywards Heath junctions with the south-going A273 (Isaacs Lane). In passing, my house is shown on the North East boundary of the large school [Warden Park] in Cuckfield. Purcells is close by, but the mapping resolution of these houses is not good. The school boundaries were straightened out in 1960 or so. This doubled the size of the properties' back gardens. Before this, the land had been a golf course on top of a hill.

Kind regards

Barry


Brilliant! The location of Parkfield on Isaac's Lane near Butler's Green Road is exact location of Downlands Park! [Note: Parkfield is to the far left on the pictured map, showing its proximity to Haywards Heath.]

One more metaphorical piece can be put in my puzzle of the life of George Mills. Parkfield [interior pictured, right] , where Mills had spent time as a boy, has been found.

Well, another mystery solved, and quite satisfactorily I might add. Parkfield School had certainly seemed cloaked so completely in the metaphorical mists of time that I was afraid it had been essentially lost. It's nice to have found it, putting one more piece into the puzzle that is the life of George Mills.

It also heartens me that we may eventually gain information about and insight into the existence of two more schools that figure into the life and professional résumé of Mills: Eaton Gate Preparatory School in London, S.W.1, and the English Preparatory School at Glion, Switzerland, both of which existed at least in the era of the 1920s and/or 1930s.

I can't adequately express my appreciation to Barry Mc for help in gaining leads and insights into research that otherwise would have been beyond me. Thanks once again, Barry—and Liz and Lorraine—very much!


44 comments:

  1. Downlands was indeed the Wick and Parkfield School. I remember climbing over the fence to watch the model railway which is next door and clearly visible on google earth.

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  2. Just been trying to find location of Wick & Parkfield School which I attended from 1961 to 1963. It was indeed the building which is now Downlands Park Nursing Home. It was run by Bill and Pat Halstead. The main cricket pitch was on the sloping field near the miniature railway track - we had to go round there to collect missing cricket balls.
    - Richard Miller

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  3. I can recall playing 2nd XI footie for Brambletye against Parkfield. This must have been c.1959. The specific detail that sticks in the mind was the fact the match was played with a brand new (leather) ball, a rare 'bonus' in those days, I can assure you.

    On a much sadder note, it is disheartening to realise how many other rival prep. schools have now closed; viz.,Brunwick,Temple Grove,The Abbey,etc. (Even Fonthill only takes pupils up to 11years old these days.)

    I am assuming Windlesham,Copthorne and Ashdown House are still thriving... or am I to be further disabused re their survival too? Happily I can confirm that Brambletye,(but for the grace of God,etc.), continues to go from strength to strength.

    I hope past pupils enjoyed their 'sojourn' at merry Parkfield as much as I did at the above. Yes indeed, schooldays are the best days of your life... well, between 7 and 13,anyway. (In my humble opinion.) Best wishes.

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  4. I was there from 1966-1972, leaving just before it closed down. My younger brother was there as it closed. Of course, the real reason it closed was always hidden and it is a wonder the police were not involved. In hindsight it was a hideous, sadistic and monsterous Dickensian nightmare of a school (at least in its latter years)....the sort of place that an investigative TV program would have had a field day with!

    I've been back and in/around the school and grounds in recent years and it's all pretty much still there 'as was'. It was rather like the feeling I imagine someone would get on returning to a prison camp....

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  5. Thank you, 'Anonymous', for your refreshing frankness. I was at Parkfield from 1957 to 1961 and it was every bit as awful as you say. The headmaster was a brutal drunk who terrorised his charges. Here is not the place to detail what went on but I agree that today it would be a police matter. As for 'Giles', I can only say that I am glad that Brambletye was different. For a long time I imagined that most prep schools were as terrible as mine.

    If 'Anonymous' or anyone else from Parkfield wants to continue this thread, I invite to say so in this forum and we'll work out how to get in touch.

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  6. I was at Parkfield from around
    1948 to 1954 - I was extremely happy there - it was owned and run by Mr and Mrs Richard Lowe, who were very kind to me and everyone in their charge - it was then a very happy school. Their daughter taught me to read - she spent extra time with me and I will always be grateful - I think she married one of the teachers, A Mr Sharpe if I remember correctly. Mr and Mrs Lowe, I seem to remember (it is well over half a century ago!) sold the school to a Mr Halstead in my last term - I then went to Eastbourne College which I hated - However I will always have fond memories of Parkfield.

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  7. Hullo there

    After Wick & Parkfield School closed, the site became Downlands College, a school for children with dyslexia and other learning-difficulty conditions, which had moved from Saltdean to expand. It in turn closed when numbers fell due to the 1978 Warnock Report and subsequent special education reforms, which reduced local authority support for such education.

    This was presumably the origin of the present name Downlands Park. The Downlands name also lives on as Downlands Educational Trust, a grant making charity. There is a bit more history on our site www.downlandsedtrust.org.

    Good luck

    Joe Kirk, Secretary, Downlands Educational Trust

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  8. Hi
    I was there 1965 - 1970 before going to Malvern
    Perhaps 'Giles' is 'Farmer Giles' that I remember
    I prefer to forget Bill Halstead and his interesting teaching methods and the colour of his velvet jacket to indicate his mood
    Went back recently - a kaleidoscope of memories
    BUPA were not happy that I wanted to photograph where we all got whipped - Data Protection or some such!
    Would be interested in meeting any of my era - managed to remember 50+ names
    The four 'sets' were named after past Headmasters - hence Ernest Bent.
    They were Bents, Alums, Evans and Thrings
    David Watson - Bents - 1965-70
    dlwatson@bcrm.co.uk

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  9. I was at Parkfield from 1935 to 1941. I hated it - a brutal place where the head master caned boys for trivial offences and the prefect of my dorm had a designated 'booting tree' in the grounds. Offenders were put up against the tree and the other members of the dorm took turns to give them a running kick. Boys who held back (me!) were put up against the tree for a booting for being 'yellow'. Happiest days of our lives?

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  10. I can tell you why it closed. I still have quite a lot of the documents from my time at the school, which my parents kept. These include a transcript of a meeting held in late 1973, when the future of the school was discussed. It is, in retrospect, hilarious. It could even be made into a play. the meeting kicked off with a local Tory MP, whose son attended the school, riffing upon an extended metaphor about the headmaster (who may or may not have been suffering from one of his "nervous breakdowns" at the time), who was the captain of the ship, and everyone had to get behind him during these stormy times. It was all hands on deck. You couldn't write cliches that good.

    I was at the school from 1970 to 1974, and was one of the few children remaining there when it closed. There can't have been more than 60 of us by that time. They had had to start admitting girls to make up the numbers. But not enough were enrolled to keep the school going.

    Anyway, why did the school close? The headmaster (Bill Halstead, as mentioned above, an extraordinary character with a penchant for Tom and Jerry and the liberal use of the cane) was a chronic alcholic. The elder members of staff were all ex-Indian Army. Very old fashioned in their ways (who can forget Major Fisher referring to his class as "wallahs"). But they'd had to take in new blood - young men university educated in the late 60s and early 70s .... radicalised ... side-burns ... overlong hair and an educational mission. There was a severe clash of cultures and generations in the staff room.

    But none of this would've mattered--or at least it wouldnt' have mattered QUITE so much--if one of the younger teachers hadn't been fond of a spot of "you show me yours, and I'll show you mine". He invited select 1st form boys (the eldest boys at the school -- Parkfield reversed the usual system at that time where 6th form boys were the eldest) up to his pad for a beer or two and some untoward show-and-tell. It was undoubtedly the undoing of the school.

    It was one of the saddest days of my young life when I found out that it was to be closed, and that I would have to go to a new school. By that time, it was far removed the sadistic place described by the Anons above. But, then, because of the breakdown, we were practically unsupervised out of the class-room, and we were living a relatively feral life with minimal interference. The grounds were lovely, the summer was gorgeous, and I recall a day when I wished the world would not change. Given the system I was shoved into as a 7 yo, at least the school's demise allowed me to experience a freedom otherwise untasted. I have no doubt, however, that the tales of brutality recounted above were true. Certainly, as a younger day boy it was a scarey and intimidating place, where violence was the norm. I was lucky as well to be untouched by sexual abuse. Given the recent revelations about Ashdown House, Parkfield in its final 6 months appears relatively benign. One has to suspect that the behaviour of the young teacher was a mild form of what was going on in many prep schools throughout the country.

    I was in Bents. My number was 61! I would, if given the choice, abolish private education. James Bradley - jbradley@unimelb.edu.au

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  11. Hi all
    I am working in the grounds behind downlands nursing home. Bupa are just about to build two new homes there, I'm guessing the grounds in which the buildings are going on was once part of the wick & parkfield school grounds. Behind the home on the right hand side ( as if I'm looking out a back window) is a narrow woods on top of a bank which runs beside the mini railway. As I was putting some fence up round the edge of the woods, getting closer to the home I notice some sort of concrete structure filled in with soil. Was there ever a swimming pool or some sort of water holding tank in the ground. Maybe this came a little later but then I can't imagine someone putting a pool in the woods, which makes me think it was there before the woods. Any info would be great. Also, does anyone know when downlands was built, I think I've read somewhere that's it's elizabethian. Was this someone home?
    Reading the comments above there was obviously some great childhood memories, it's a shame the later years went down hill.

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    1. It wasn’t just Parkfield that was an unpleasant place to be educated in.

      With the recent press flurry on the abuses by Jimmy Savile (a good Catholic boy who loved his Mum), Rolf Harris and the Irish Catholic convents – despite Private Eye’s exposés over the last 20 years or so – brings back many long-suppressed memories. I would now refer to my time as a boarder (1954-1960) at Ladycross in Seaford as being, ‘very severe, very Catholic,’ where the headmaster’s application of corporal punishment was excessive and frequent.
      I was told in the late 1990’s that the chaplain had been laicised (de-frocked). He was a very subtle paedophile, whereas the PT master was merely a brutal one. With hindsight, it’s galling to realise how many boys were quietly removed from the school – always at the end of term, including my best friend who was forever being beaten for spelling mistakes due to his then-undiagnosed dyslexia.
      The webmaster may have a more elegant site link than:
      http://www.whoisgeorgemills.com/2010/04/ladycross-catholic-boys-preparatory.html where you can see my circumspect comments which were quoted from an email (with permission).

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    2. I was at Parkfield from 1957 to 1961. At that time there was a swimming pool about 5m by 10m located at approximately 50 deg 59' 53.30" N / 0 deg 7' 6.92" W. It wasn't 'in the woods' then, but I can imagine that trees grew up around it since. At least, that's the impression I get from GE.

      On another matter, I believe Bill Halstead was mates with the Head of Ashdown House; in fact he sent his own son there. As for sexual abuse at Parkfield, I can only say I saw none, but there was plenty of physical and emotional abuse.

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    3. I was sent to Parkfield from about 1966 to 1970. Sadly, the tales of abuse are all true, violently and sexually true. Without a doubt these experiences seriously impacted on my life.
      However, in all fairness, at the time it did not see unusual. As is so often the case, I accepted the sodomy and beatings as 'normal'.
      Bill Halstead was, quite simply, a monster. Drunk, he would punish the slightest transgression with 'six of the best' with a split bamboo cane. Being drunk, the six would become eight or ten or twelve. A bloody and bruised backside was the result, as we wore only thin nylon summer pyjamas as protection.
      I don't know if the teachers, Major Fisher, Major Stibbard et al knew what was going on, but with adult eyes looking back, I cannot see how the goings on were hidden completely.
      As to education, Parkfield gave me a lot, it was excellent and my own children don't receive the level of education I received. In the '60's we were shown brownian motioin, fractonal distillation and brought to fluency in French and Latin.
      I am amazed nobody has brought this to light.

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  12. For some reason I decided to google 'Wick and Parkfield Halstead headmaster' and I came across this site.

    Wick and Parkfield was a truly hideous school, and it has been illuminating reading other former pupils' comments which (thankfully and temporarily) take me back to the very early 1970s, when I was 7 to 9, and this monstrous charade of a school.

    I put this place and its staff behind me long ago, but in dark moments, I clearly remember the ignorant brutes that were Mr Halstead, Colonel Searle, Major Stibbard, Major Fisher, etc.

    My own memories? A place run by bullies that aimed to 'break boys in' and create new bullies or destroy those that were different. I am a musician, and a successful one at that, but I was bullied by staff and the worst students for having a love for music and art. Music was for 'girls' and sport was for 'men'! When I reminded that hideous excuse of a headmaster, Bill Halstead, that "Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi were men" it didn't go down well.

    Yes, I was aware it was closed down in 1974, and quite right so!

    Emotional and physical bullying was the norm. I remember a boy vomiting over his lunch in the school dining room and being forced by the senior staff to eat what was left on the plate around that vomit! We students were aghast. I remember seeing a class swimming 'au naturale' in the winter with Mr L (one of the only have decent teachers, or so I thought). Mr L left amid all sorts of ghastly rumours of 'photos of boys', and a lot more. Caning was standard practice. I will never forget the deeply wicked Major Stibbard ordering boys to chase me round a rugby pitch and the drag me to the floor like a pack of hounds and stuff mud down my throat. A dreadful man indeed!

    This school was the stuff of nightmares, and it taught me to stand up against corrupt authority, bullies and pure evil. Which I have always done, sometimes to my cost - because wicked people, wicked organisations and the like don't like being stood up to! It also taught me that places themselves are not the problem, it's those that run them.

    As has been pointed out, Halstead was a drunk and Colonel Searle often stood in as acting head when Halstead was apparently 'drying out'. Halstead's wife was as hideous as her husband. Grossly overweight, she was like the wife of Mr Bumble the Beadle. She and he ate at the top table with the (conditioned) prefects and were served decent food while the rest of us were offered pigs' swill. Thursday was either liver or kidney. Like others, I used to stuff the offal in a plastic bag in my pocket and flush it down the loo. Perish the thought of us getting caught!

    When my mother endured a very serious and violent robbery (those robbers got 10 years each!), the teachers laughed and mocked pointing out that my mum was on TV. Disgraceful people.

    I have not one happy memory save a few nice fellow students who were very decent people and have probably gone on to do well in spite of this lamentable education system.

    I went on to a Rudolf Steiner school which was as lovely as Wick and Parkfield was terrible. So I learned early about the good and the bad.

    I suspect all the staff had miserable ends. They deserved to!

    I cannot remember which house I was in (I put as much as I can out of my mind), but think I was no 43.

    Cuckfield is a very pretty village and I like going back there. I don't think it wise of the village community to reflect on this school at this time.

    Well, that got that off my chest! I'll now put Wick and Parkfield back away where it belongs - in a distant part of my memory never to impact on my own life, moral values and artistic interests.

    But we must wonder why this horrid school has slipped from local memories. I think there may be two reasons. 1. People usually wisely get on with their lives, not dwelling on the past, just learning from it. 2. The Authorities prefer to bury such wickedness, not confront it.

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  13. I was there between 1957-1960 ish. It was , as many have said, a truly ghastly place where Halstead drank and had a foul temper. I never witnessed or was aware of any sexual abuse of any of us but my parents removed me abruptly when I sent photos of his collection of empty bottles to a psychologist I had seen as a result of my unhappiness there. Fortunately it has not affected me , but I know it has blighted the lives of others.
    I later learnt that apparently Halstead had hung himself in his later years as a result of realising what he had done to a whole generation of us boys.

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    1. To add flesh to this story, I received a phone call out of the blue in 1993 when we had just moved to our new house. How my number was obtained I don't know, but the caller said that he had been a pupil there under WH and was seeking to start up an old boys association. I told him that I wasn't interested but we went on to have a bit of a chat. During this conversation the chap said that he had visited Mrs H, who at that time was living in a home near Winchester I think and was in her 90s. It was she apparently who told the caller that her husband has committed suicide in his 80s when it had dawned on him (so she said) the damage he had inflicted on some of the students and was so remorseful. a bit late was my first thought. I remember Col Searle who taught me Latin and Fisher who taught geography. My memories of them are not nearly so awful as my memories of WH!

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    3. I can corroborate what you say, as I was an exact contemporary: 1957-1961. I saw the very photo you refer to (or one like it): bottles filled the entire shed, which was located outside the kitchen to the left of the school's main entrance. From memory, it was late summer term 1961 or thereabouts. However, I was unaware that Halley hanged himself. If true, it is sad, for him and all those he damaged. He was not, I believe, 100% evil; but he was weak.

      As for staff, I'd like to mention Col Sanders ('Skinner'), who taught maths -- an admirable man in all respects. I gather he moved on soon after we left. My guess is he couldn't stomach Halstead's reign of terror. Col Sanders was after all an honourable man, as his war record shows.

      (If you respond -- and I hope you do -- your response will be automatically forwarded to me. I'd like to get in touch.)

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  15. I was there '57-'62 Alums. Wasn't H-bomb his nick-name? I think that he smoked Passing Cloud.
    I remember after one beating (Mrs H had heard me whispering something to a neighbour in the dormitory - Tudor I think - and had sent me off to be beaten by her husband as school rules dictated that we had to undress in silence) she took delight in inspecting my bum to make sure that the beating had been properly executed!

    And who remebers Miss Ripley and Matron?

    I pass the place quite often - the cricket field is being developed.

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    1. Well, this is interesting! H-bomb was indeed Halstead's nickname -- he of the bilious whisky breath, nicotined fingers, and screaming rages that would leave your desk spattered with spittle. If you arrived as I did in 1957, we would have sat within metres of each other in Form 6 under the ever-suspicious eye of the rotund Ripley. If you wish to get in touch, I'll give you clues that will enable you (and not web-crawlers) to find me. Since we clearly know each other, it would not be hard.

      Lastly, I must extend a qualified apology to the hapless originators of this website, who cannot have known they would host a platform for the exposure of moral degradation. At the same time I thank them for it, as otherwise it would have remained forever hidden.

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  16. There is not a lot more I can add as I have forgotten all the various names of the teachers etc! I do remember a very pleasant lady who taught Art and she was our refuge.
    Five years ago my wife and I went to see the outside as we were in the area and it gave me some satisfaction that it was now being used constructively as a nursing home.
    After I left W & P I went to Hazelwood prep school in Oxted, Surrey which I loved and which is continuing, I gather, to do very well as an institution. I still very occasionally have dreams about Parkfield but it has never affected me a much as some others, clearly. As someone has said in this thread earlier, nowadays WH would have served a very considerable time in prison, if he had been prosecuted whilst he was still alive.
    I do recall that on several occasions pupils tried to run away because of him, but they were always caught by the police and returned (to an inevitable beating)

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    1. I remember you. How do we get in touch? I live in Oz, which is a bit of a logistical hurdle I admit, but I do get over to Blighty occasionally. Webcrawlers notwithstanding, here's my email: nigel@rockliffes.net.

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    2. My email address is rogerhearne48@gmail.com. Do please get in touch if you are ever in the UK. I have retired now (4 weeks ago!!!!!). Best paid job I have ever had!!
      We live in Shropshire.

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  17. Rickard, Phillip W (School No 6, Thrings)

    I was at W and P from 1962 to 1968. I was bullied mercilessly by the boys because I was so small (2ft 10ins when I first arrived at age 7, I really only found this out when I happened
    upon the old school records and Hally used to keep a graph of everyones hight and weight and there was an arrow at the bottom of both graphs pointing downwards with my name)
    Firstly I am astonished that people have commented on everything that happened under the name
    of ANON, you should be proud to have the guts to tell all that occurred in this horrendous
    establishment of a school.
    I too suffered at the hands of Hally and Mrs H, having been thrashed on more than one occasion
    for the slightest infringement of the school rules, for those of you who were also beaten, I'm
    sure you remember Hally's run up and the swishing of the split cane, if that was the one that
    he used from his collection in the umbrella stand in his small office and afterwards comparing
    welts with the other boys. I hope this is not too graphic a description but accurate I think.
    As for them eating different food, I never saw this, certainly when they actually bothered to
    appear rather than eat in their private dining room which they did more than often. I was made
    a prefect but only after I had passed my common entrance exam and passed (much to their surprise I seem to remember), also I was given my merit tie at the same time. I refute the idea that all the prefects were "conditioned".
    In regard to the teachers I have nothing but contempt for all of them except for the lady art
    teacher (who used to give us a book on the art of Origami, some thin paper and left to our own
    devices) and Mr Swazeland (sp) the carpentry teacher who was kind but not too good at teaching. Think I just about managed to make a letter rack. That being said he was a tremendously talented sculptor. I dont know if anyone remembers his carving of an eagle ??
    Anyway, I have had my say, unfortunately I dont remember the names of any of the boys who were
    with me at that time except for Chris Barton, a good friend and Furze who later joined me at
    Lancing College also a good friend. My house master at Lancing was John Bell he of yellow citroen fame (only those of you who were at W and P at the same time will understand !!)
    Lastly I do hope that no-one has suffered too greatly from the times that should have been
    the best days.

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  18. Rickard, Phillip W (School No 6, Thrings)

    I was at W and P from 1962 to 1968. I was bullied mercilessly by the boys because I was so small (2ft 10ins when I first arrived at age 7, I really only found this out when I happened
    upon the old school records and Hally used to keep a graph of everyones hight and weight and there was an arrow at the bottom of both graphs pointing downwards with my name)
    Firstly I am astonished that people have commented on everything that happened under the name
    of ANON, you should be proud to have the guts to tell all that occurred in this horrendous
    establishment of a school.
    I too suffered at the hands of Hally and Mrs H, having been thrashed on more than one occasion
    for the slightest infringement of the school rules, for those of you who were also beaten, I'm
    sure you remember Hally's run up and the swishing of the split cane, if that was the one that
    he used from his collection in the umbrella stand in his small office and afterwards comparing
    welts with the other boys. I hope this is not too graphic a description but accurate I think.
    As for them eating different food, I never saw this, certainly when they actually bothered to
    appear rather than eat in their private dining room which they did more than often. I was made
    a prefect but only after I had passed my common entrance exam and passed (much to their surprise I seem to remember), also I was given my merit tie at the same time. I refute the idea that all the prefects were "conditioned".
    In regard to the teachers I have nothing but contempt for all of them except for the lady art
    teacher (who used to give us a book on the art of Origami, some thin paper and left to our own
    devices) and Mr Swazeland (sp) the carpentry teacher who was kind but not too good at teaching. Think I just about managed to make a letter rack. That being said he was a tremendously talented sculptor. I dont know if anyone remembers his carving of an eagle ??
    Anyway, I have had my say, unfortunately I dont remember the names of any of the boys who were
    with me at that time except for Chris Barton, a good friend and Furze who later joined me at
    Lancing College also a good friend. My house master at Lancing was John Bell he of yellow citroen fame (only those of you who were at W and P at the same time will understand !!)
    Lastly I do hope that no-one has suffered too greatly from the times that should have been
    the best days.

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    1. I was at Parkfield from 1958 to 1963 and have vivid memories of my time there too. I laughed out loud when reminded of Hally’s nickname: H-bomb, so perfectly apt! His explosive temper was quite something to behold, especially if you were the object of it, as I was one sunlit morning in Form III in 1961. The evening before I’d neglected to do my latin prep, a passage in Fabulae Faciles about the labours of Hercules. Hally would usually arrive (rather late) for our latin class, and then select one member of the form to construe and translate the whole set piece. He never chose me, or so I thought; that morning my luck ran out. On realising I was ill-prepared, for a full half hour he treated me to a bellowing of such volume and ferocity as could be heard throughout the entire school - and the fields beyond no doubt – leaving me, I’m ashamed to admit, shaken to the core. Spittle everywhere, the rest of the class sitting in stunned silence, heads down, lest his attention should turn to them. A truly virtuoso performance of H-bomb at his incendiary best! How I escaped the flogging that he threatened throughout his tirade I shall never know.

      In sharp contrast was Hally’s ‘good mood’. This was generally characterized by an extreme joviality, which us little charges sought to perpetuate of course, by laughing (pace Oliver Goldsmith) ‘with counterfeited glee at all his jokes, for many a joke had he’.

      Some of the incidents that I remember seem almost unbelievable nowadays. There was the time when the entire school was made to sit in the big schoolroom in total silence for several days – no classes, no chapel, nothing - because nobody had owned up to the ‘theft’ of seven poppies that had been found behind the piano in Form II. Anyone who broke the silence was summarily beaten. This strange episode was eventually ended by the intervention of the school chaplin who I seem to remember extracted a confession of sorts from Tattersall 1. Looking back, I’d say it was all too weird to be believable but there you go. And does anyone remember the public thrashing of Esplen, Ogden and the said Tattersall, held down by Colonel Gaussen in front of the whole school, after they’d removed a few pennies from the Dr Barnardo’s collection box in the library to spend on sweets?

      One could go on and on but it wouldn’t be of much interest to anyone, I suspect, except those that attended Parkfield themselves. A few years ago, thanks to Robins, Philipson and one or two others, there was a grand reunion ex-pupils one evening at The City of London Club. It must have been in the late 1990’s. Mrs Halstead and her two sons, Robin and Christopher, were there, as was Mrs Ripley, and a large gathering of old boys. It was one of the most memorable evenings of my life. We had all shared the same experience; some had found it more harrowing than others.

      I have to say it wasn’t all bad. We adapted to the circumstances as all young boys will do, and accepted the abuse as normal form. And I dare say it gave us an unusually large reserve of fortitude for life’s unpleasant shocks.

      I would be love to hear from any of my contemporaries that might wish to share their experiences at this bizarre establishment.

      Christopher Richardson (Evans 1958 to 1963)
      c.t.richardson@btinternet.com

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  19. Christopher, was the chaplin's name Charlie?
    As far as I remember H conducted the services.
    But yes I do remember the public beating in the BSR. (Big school room...remember?)
    Hadn't they taken some money from a Barnado's box to buy train tickets to escape? I can still picture the scene... totally incredible by today's standards; pretty horrific even then.

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  20. I cant say that I was ever buggerd or bullied at Parkfield. Beaten certainly but that was just how things were. You were caught breaking the rules, you were beaten, you admired your bruises with your friends and received their general admiration and got on with it. You knew what the penalty was and the trick was not to be caught.

    The standard of education was good, despite somewhat unorthodox incentives and retired army officers for teachers. When I went to Malvern I was a year ahead of my peer group. Major Fisher was an excellent maths teacher and I owed him a lot.

    Matron, Mrs Barton and the art teacher Mrs King were a genuinely kind and very supportive.

    Mrs Halstead was terrifying when on duty and could reduce you to a quivering jelly with one operatic assault but again that was part of the 'fun'. The greater the potential punishment the greater the joy when you got away with it.

    At 9 years old I had no expectations, no yardstick. I presumed this was how the world was, hard, and to a considerable extent it is. No one owes you a living. You learnt to survive and even enjoy adversity. I made good supportive friends and created survival strategies that have served me well in life.

    I dont pretend that Halsteads' regime would have remained extant for more than five minutes in this modern molly-coddled world and much in retrospect was bad, especially the Lenton affair. That destroyed the school and I expect a few unfortunate boys as well. I have the greatest sympathy for those who found the school a Dickensian hell and Halstead a close second to Mr Squeers. It was a challenging world to grow up in and by modern standards brutal but we must not judge it by todays standards.

    I cant say I enjoyed Parkfield but I was not damaged by it. It prepared me to be positive and strive to succeed in an unforgiving world. Perhaps I was lucky.

    Bruce Dunlop 1966-1971

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  21. William Shearer

    I came across this site serendipitously, having looked up Rab Butler's Wikipedia page and finding a reference to his having been a pupil at the Wick School, Hove. I then googled Wick and Parkfield and found this site. The wonders of the Internet!

    As a pupil there for four years from January 1964-December 1967, it has been interesting to read the comments by my contemporaries. I wasn't buggered there or even the object of any sexual attention from the masters, but I do remember being beaten by Hally and bullied by fellow pupils. No such institution could survive today, but I suspect it was a fairly representative boarding prep school in its day, with a big focus on sports and passing the Common Entrance exam, but little thought for the emotional needs or development of its pupils.

    I wasn't aware Mr Halstead was an alcoholic, although I did know he had serious mental health problems. His wife, with her wide but short body teetering on a tiny pair of feet, was more frightening than him, although he was the one who beat me on several occasions for minor infractions and once for running away from school in my last term.

    The food was disgusting and I still have a photo with a very visible oil stain from pilchards I had secreted in my blazer pocket to transfer to the loos. The worst food was the mutton stew we had weekly, Dead Man's Body. The thought of it still makes me queasy. And the tea, “dishwater’, produced by the Spanish kitchen staff has put me off tea with milk for life.

    However, the teaching was generally good and stretched those who wanted to learn and allowed us to progress through the forms at our own pace. There can’t be many places where 10 year olds could study Ancient Greek. The female staff, especially Miss Batten, the assistant matron, and Mrs King were kind, although Mrs Stoner, the piano teacher who was ancient even then, did tell me that my piano lessons were a waste of my father’s money. When I moved to the US as an 11 year old and went to a private day school there, I was ahead in many areas, although some things were new to me.

    The sports I hated - rugby I mostly avoided by having bouts of tonsillectomy or serious colds every winter, not helped by the practice of turning off the central heating and opening the dorm windows at night. Cricket was spent in the outfield observing the cars on the road or picking daisies, fervently hoping the ball would never come close to me. I can't recall my strategy for dealing with football, although I suspect everyone else realised I was hopeless and avoided passing the ball to me.

    I have been back twice since it became a BUPA home, reflecting the changing demographics of the British population, once when I was in the area on business and once to show my partner where I spent four formative years of my life.

    William.shearer at me.com

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    1. williamshearer at me.com

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  22. I find this website very moving. There is so much that I recognise. But may I present the memories of one who fared better than many?

    I was at Parkfield 1958-1963 (Thrings, 41). My own memories of WH are coloured by the fact that he and his wife Pat treated me with much kindness. I once got two, perhaps four, strokes of the slipper for bopping the boy in the next bed with a pillow after lights out in Plan Near, just as a prefect was passing outside. But that was all.

    The school was strong academically with an excellent record of success in the Common Entrance Examination and a reasonable one for public school scholarships. When it became apparent that I was myself scholarship material I benefited from five star treatment by the teaching staff, as did others similarly placed. For academically weaker pupils, attempts were made to help them shine elsewhere, such as in the choir: singing was another Parkfield strength. I recall choir outings to hear the Vienna Boys’ Choir in the Albert Hall, and to the seaside. The school enjoyed occasional film shows and external lecturers, one on the theramin (weird musical instrument which now plays the theme on Midsomer Murders) and others on natural history. The First XI sometimes went to see the test match at Lords’. At sports I was beyond hopeless, but nobody seemed to mind.

    I can confirm all that has been said about WH’s extraordinary fierce, unpredictable, volatile and terrifying temper; also that he drank a very great deal. But I cannot confirm that he was an alcoholic as I never saw any signs of addiction. As to the large collection of bottles one could see in the shed below Hanover dormitory window, I have no knowledge of how long it took for this to accumulate, nor of how much of it he had consumed himself rather than the parents he entertained. But that he smoked Passing Clouds, frequently, is correct.

    He also had a considerable if bizarre sense of humour and was well able to laugh at himself. Form 3 maintained a diary on the notice board in the BSR recording his mood during the daily Latin lesson which WH found hilarious to read out after evening chapel: “Hally in medioca mood”, “Hally in foul bait” and so forth.

    He certainly did beat often and habitually used fear of the cane to induce terror. But this was in an age, so remote from our own, when corporal punishment was routine even in state schools. For us then it was a fact of life. You lived with it. I assumed that this is just how headmasters were. Most of the staff – army officers who had survived and won the war – presented a disciplinarian exterior to a degree that would raise eyebrows today. I believe that this generally marked a greater kindness within. Matron – Miss Goodwin – could terrify us all at times but actually had a heart of gold. Kind Mrs Stoner who taught the piano was a dear, even if in my case she had very little success. I doubt if Col Sanders, an RM war hero, ever terrified any boy, though quite accurate with the blackboard chalk. I am deeply grateful to him for having awakened in me a love of mathematics that has shaped the course of my life. He later fell out with WH for reasons I don’t know and left.

    Drama was another positive feature of the school, especially Shakespeare. In my time we tackled Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar and Henry V, in which I recall Christopher Richardson, himself a contributor to this blog, playing the title role to perfection. Hansel and Gretel by the choir was another great success.

    I owe an enormous debt to The Wick and Parkfield School for the superb education I received there which encouraged me to aim high and develop to the full whatever gifts I had. For all the manifest faults of its complex headmaster, it gave me a tremendous start in life and for that I shall be eternally grateful. I am deeply saddened that the experience of many others was so very different.

    martin@brainwaves.org.uk

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    1. Christopher RichardsonSeptember 20, 2016 at 1:57 PM

      Christopher Richardson (Evans 1958 to 1963)



      As Martin Mosse has written, the contributions to this blog can stir the emotions to a surprising degree and bring forth the vividest of memories. As he so ably illustrates, there were happy aspects to life at Parkfield during the late 50’s and early 60’s, as well as the many grim ones described in this blog. WH tried to provide a broad and imaginative education and Martin is right in saying he and Mrs H did, from time to time, display a real sense of fun. There was the tradition of stirring the Christmas pudding, in which we all tried to come away with as much mixture on our fingers as possible, and the celebrations at the end of the Christmas term, which included a wonderful conjuring show followed by a tremendous feast. Sports day was another great event, accompanied by a splendid tea, with an abundance of cherries!

      Although there were certainly some jolly moments and episodes, by the standards of today, it was a stern and rigorous regime, where discipline was paramount and severely enforced. You had to do your best in all things: whether it was the way you made your bed, folded your clothes, did your prep, played games, or sang at choir practice, if you didn’t try, to the best of your ability, you could get bellowed at, or worse. It helped to be clever like Martin; at least you avoided the ignominy of the likes of the unfortunate Hamp - he of milk bottle top fame - or Hampton, when the fortnightly reports were read out by Hally in the BSR, for whom too many ’NS’s’ could result in a summons to his study afterwards. The fact is you never quite knew what Hally was going to say or do next. He could show humour and forbearance, or he could explode dramatically - you were never sure.

      I should like to correct a mistake in my last contribution. It was of course Miss, not Mrs, Ripley who attended the function The City of London Club in the 1990’s. Amazingly, she looked pretty much the same as she had some 35 years earlier. A great ‘no nonsense’ character, like a good many of the staff in fact.

      Incidentally, Martin, I thought your offence in Plan Near was swinging on the bars - an automatically beatable offence. I seem to remember your being encouraged to grab the end of the bar above your bed and getting caught, which was really bad luck as you’d never touched the bars before. But I’m sure you’re right, as you usually were, and I’m confused - I never could beat you at draughts!

      Christopher Richardson
      c.t.richardson@btinternet.com


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    2. Christopher RichardsonSeptember 21, 2016 at 4:48 AM

      Martin, I have a feeling that I may have confused you with your younger brother. Am I right? If so, please forgive me!

      Christopher

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    3. Christopher, Many thanks for the above kind words which also help to provide a balance by recalling more of the jovial side of the place. I can confirm every word of this. As to the sports day and its cherries, I remember the prizegiving being frequently punctuated with the latest score in the test match!

      As to your memories of me, a slight correction is needed. I am indeed the Mosse you remember, your contemporary and the younger of two. My brother Peter is three years older. I don’t recall ever “swinging on the bars”, being a considerable goody-goody and far too afraid of retribution. But If I ever did, I definitely never got caught. The offence for which I got the slipper was most certainly assault by pillow upon my neighbour, and I never got the stick. Anyway, no forgiveness required!

      I did encounter Bill and Pat both after leaving. They came to dinner at home with my parents some years later. This I think was before the collapse of Parkfield, about which I know very little, nor about WH’s breakdown that led to it. I strongly suspect that today he would be diagnosed with some kind of mood disorder psychosis and treated accordingly. So having myself suffered from a similar ailment for 30 years – but most happily no longer (and definitely NOT a consequence of Parkfield) – I would offer on his behalf a plea of diminished responsibility to all those who have recorded above their sufferings at his hand. Mood disorder can itself be a considerable tyrant and monster in its own right, which I would not wish on my worst enemy.

      After Parkfield they retired to Winchester where WH offered local private tuition. I saw them there two or three times. Pat was doing the cooking for the first time in her life. Once they invited a number of old friends, including Parkfield parents and a pupil or two, to a musical soiree to which we were all encouraged to contribute. I offered on the guitar a funny song, ‘The Ballad of Sally the Sole’ who fell in love with as halibut known as Hally, which went down quite well. We also gave a scratch ensemble rendering of the Hallelujah chorus. Clearly Pat had done a considerable job in picking him up and putting him back together again.

      Nevertheless it is true that WH did commit suicide, although I was never sure how or why. I had thought he had shot himself but this could be wrong. I saw Pat at least once after that. She sang in a local amateur choir, and became a supporter – a guide perhaps – of Winchester Cathedral. I learned of her death a few years ago when she stopped returning my Christmas cards. They had three children. Bill and Pat Halstead, RIP.

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  23. Perhaps after all these years (and before we all pass on to higher things!!), now might be a good time to arrange another reunion. I wasn't at the one in the 1990s as we had just moved and had very small children. What do others think?

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  24. If so, with partners I suggest.

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  25. Christopher RichardsonOctober 3, 2016 at 12:56 PM

    Thank you, Martin, for your further contribution which I’ve read with much interest; particularly your thoughts on mood disorder psychosis, about which you would appear to know a good deal and probably wish you didn’t. I’m glad that I wasn’t confusing you with your elder brother, even though I was muddled as to the nature of the misdemeanour that led your getting the slipper. But I do remember, quite clearly, feeling rather sorry for you at breakfast the following morning, in the knowledge that you had an appointment with WH immediately after the meal!

    I think that Hally liked you and admired your work. When we were both in Form 1, where Hally took us for English, you and I both wrote an essay on ‘Snobbery’ - the rest of the class chose a less challenging title. Mine was a woeful effort that waffled on about gentlemanly manners and was pretty much off the subject altogether, as Hally made clear when handing back the essays; yours, however, he rated so highly that he read it out to the class for us all to appreciate your brilliance!

    I’m sorry I didn’t bump into at Oxford which I think you may attended at the same time as me - I was Trinity ’68 to ’71.

    Christopher

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    1. I'm grateful to Roger and Christopher for providing a salutary counterpoint to the many posts in this blog by those whose experience of Parkfield and Bill Halstead was painful, even traumatic. I am relieved to know that Halstead was not all bad, and the bad side of his character was not all his doing. His tragic demise, which only recently have I become aware of, has altered my perception of him radically.

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    2. I agree. I think , if I met him now, and I realised all that he appeared to have suffered from, I would like to think that I could embrace him and forgive him for all those torrid times we had there. Although I was only aware of his drinking, it is clear that he had serious mental health problems which were probably not recognised at the time and still less treated. If he was in the Second world War, maybe it was as a result of that: a form of PTSD.
      Having read Chris'comments I now rather wish I had kept up with them afterwards, but the time just wasn't right.
      I do recall though before the school closed , receiving some bumph on starting up an old boys association. Presumably that never got off the ground?
      Roger

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    3. and Martin's comments too! Is there any interest in a get together at some point?

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  26. Through his life-affirming posts, Martin Mosse has brought healing to this blog.

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  27. J.rushton@smallbackroom.co.ukOctober 14, 2016 at 6:13 AM

    Rushton 54 Thrings 58-63 (I think!)

    Well, this has certainly brought back a few memories. But it seems that things got bad after Richardson, Mosse and myself all left. Obviously we kept the powers that be under control ! I don't think.

    Sailing boats on the swimming pool after chapel (I still have mine though the keel haps fallen off and needs mending).

    Colonel Gaussen's wife teaching me "I want doesn't get, Please may I have."

    Colonel Searle telling my parents who had driven 300 miles for their first Parents Evening "he has as much chance of passing his o level French as an picicle has of surviving in hell"

    Swaziland or "swassy" taught carpentry excellently nand also gym where the only thing I mastered was ropes. The vaulting horse always filled me with dread.

    On my first night at age 8 Sharpe reported me for flicking him with my snake belt.
    I was summoned to see WH. No beating ensued, possibly because I had said in my then broad Midlands accent "well it wan't buckle-end sir", or so Halley told my parents.

    Hamp and Ady 'escaping' but being captured on the Burgess Hill road.

    Steve the Polish Gardner cutting the lawns on a sunny afternoon when we were all in class - the sound of the mower and the smell of cut grass . . .

    Singing in chapel when Mrs H would prowl the aisle listening to who was out of tune, we all got very good at lip-syncing I remember. Not Richardson though he was in the choir.

    Mosse used to collect Flook cartoons and became head boy.

    The only time I got near a football was at linesman for a match, forgotten who against but it was a home match. We all got punished because we ate all the cream cakes before the visitors got a look in !

    Tattersall I (he of the multiple beatings by WH - in a bait or not it didn't seem to matter) and indeed all of us scraping the gristle and fat off our lunch plates into our handkerchiefs which we then deposited under the floorboards of our dorms when we had a 'lie-down' after lunch.

    Miss Ripley had a relation who was in one of the Titanic's lifeboats.
    Miss King the fluffy blond haired art mistress, so encouraging to me.
    Miss Goodwin 'Maggot' the head Matron who was a brilliant nurse when we were in the San.
    Hart-Dyke teaching history.
    Col Sanders being a good teacher.

    Pat or Bill reading to junior or senior school after Sunday lunch.
    Bill's amazing ability to play anything on the piano, you hum it lad and I'll play it.
    Stiff corduroy grey shorts for a new boy.
    New boy's parade threatened but never carried out.

    And I managed never to get beaten, somehow I never know.
    No regrets and it set me up for the future . . .
    . . . And so on . . .

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