...Of Wennington


A long, dark drive lined with rhododendrons as high as the car. Into the courtyard - full of coke. Next, to meet Mr Barnes in shorts, smiling, his hair standing on end.

That's all until days or weeks later we arrived and found ourselves in the little girls ‘dorm’ - the beds with slightly coarse cotton bedspreads. I can still remember their texture - printed with abstractly flowery patterns in blue-green and orangey brown. In the corner behind a door was a large cupboard with a huge bottom drawer full of mouldy conkers.

A large, bleak iron fireplace, never seen with a fire in it occupied one wall -how we would have loved some warmth those nights when we cried ourselves asleep because of the cold? Hot water bottles not allowed.

The spiral staircase had an exciting feeling about it - you had to walk so carefully. We used it to visit the boys above and they asked us for “midnight feasts”. Did we actually have food to eat? “Tuck” often consisted of Oxo cubes - nibbled slowly they were quite tasty. Some lucky people got jars of peanut butter, others tins of condensed milk (ugh).

The dorm had a large window overlooking the courtyard. We were told that the last owner of the school used to lie confined to bed with a mirror fixed to the ceiling so he could see what happened outside. What curious things capture children's imaginations - the endless search for secret passages was another. Outside the dormitory door was a long, dark pitch pine corridor. Huge splinters lifted themselves up from the wood. One the size of a small chisel stuck in my foot, caught up between the foot and the soul of my open sandal. Phyllis was mother to us all, so lovely and kind and reassuring. And do you remember the nights when Louis came and told stories? I can remember little of the stories, but the feeling of excitement stays with me. There we’d sit in the dark absolutely transfixed.



...Of Ingmanthorpe

       Sept 21st 1945 age 11 when the school moved buildings


The grass on the side of the road was wet and it glistened like diamonds in the little streak of sun there was.

The road was dry in places and it was patchy like the shade under trees when the sun is out. The pony’s hoof marks at the edge of the road was filled up in water that was muddy.

The first time I saw Ingmanthorpe Hall I was in the bus and all the boys were in the way of my view so I didn't see much of it till I was right up to the door, when everybody tumbled out of the bus saying “Ooh isn't it lovely?” Then I was hustled into the house and didn't see any more of the outside of it till after tea, when I had a good look round.

We were met at the station by a new staff called Frank. The station was full of those luggage carriers that hoot like car horns and go by electricity I think. When the 3:20 train came in we went to the bus which was to take us to school. In about 5 minutes we saw a sailors training camp then we came to the drive which had horse chestnut trees or up the sides. The first glimpse I got a school made me feel very disappointed as I had been told that it was white limestone and the photo looked very much more ‘posh’.

Soon we came to the end of the drive which is a mile long. We went into a hall with a big white stone pillar on either side and some stairs with a black shiny bannister.

There are about four oak doors leading off the hall but I didn't go through any of these but up four small flights of stairs to the top floor where I am to sleep. I am sleeping on a bunk with Joyce who I met at Leeds. I went over to the window & looked out onto a lovely swimming bath with a fountain at one end & a diving & spring board & shoot at the other.

There are 28 acres of land. There are a lot of roses & nice flowers about. Also there is a kitchen garden about 1&1/2 acres with 12 vines & 8 peach trees etc. there is a big lawn with a Wellingtonia right in the middle of it.

One of the staff has got a little black pony called Gypsy. There is a marble bathroom with a pink marble sink in the floor fourteen feet long & marble floor & walls, wash basin & shower place. It is called the onyte bathroom.

By the time I got all my things done such as unpacking my case & taking my coat off it was tea time. I went downstairs into a lovely dining room with a bay window & had tea. Then I was taken into the senior common room which is a lovely big room with a polished oak floor & two oak panels on the wall for about 5 feet up.

Then I went to bed & slept all night. When l woke up in the morning I was surprised to hear the sound of a bugle. I puzzled & puzzled over it until I suddenly I realized what it was. It was the bugle to tell the sailors something. I lay waiting for the first bell to go & at last it went. It was different to the bell at Wennington and also that day it went later than it usually did at Wennington.

I was orderly for breakfast & I went downstairs to the kitchen (or at least to try to get to the kitchen). I hunted for about ten minutes & couldn’t find it so at last I gave it up & went back to the dorm & asked if anybody knew where it was. I got there about two minutes before breakfast. There are ten girls in our dorm & all nice ones.