Village Archive

14th Jun 2016 Last updated at 15:41

247 Years of Education in Chipstead Part 2

The Mary Stephens Foundation 1980- 2015

 Based upon an interview with Simon Kolesar, the chairman in 2015.

 In 1993, the school buildings were sold to a developer by Surrey County Council, and the school finally closed.  The majority of the money from this sale reverted to the Foundation, as dictated by the original conditions of the Trust, thus increasing the annual spending power of the Trustees from about £1000 to about £7000.

 There are 7 trustees meeting 3 times a year, and they are drawn from Chipstead and Hooley residents, who have connections with St. Margaret’s Church, or had children at the school, or went themselves, or have the appropriate skills, such as finance, or teaching. All are expected to be involved with community activities, thus being well placed to identify potential beneficiaries.

These beneficiaries are expected to live in the Parish and be under 25 and may be means tested. The main use now is to help them pay for undergraduate charges and expenses, and if necessary up to 6 or 7 awards of about £1000 per year can be made. Other uses may be for school uniforms, outings, books and equipment, etc. Also exceptions can be made for people who live very near the old parish boundaries, such as Netherne village or the Rickman Hill area.

 Local head teachers have been alerted to watch for any of their pupils who live in the Parish and may appear to be in need. Adverts for applicants are put in the Church Magazine each month and the Trustees try to hear about people who may be in need, but reluctant to apply for the these benefits. By and large, very few applications are turned down.

 The Interviews

 The following articles are based upon interviews with people associated with Chipstead school, for their recollections of having been a member of staff, a pupil, or having worked there.

 Miss Marjorie Harvey

 Interviewed 7th April 1994 - Attended Chipstead Village School from 1911 to 1919 from the age of 5.

 “When I went it was a Church School; when we first arrived to live in Longshaw we walked from the station. When I was in the infants (standard 1) one teacher was Miss Gregory. In standard 2 we had Miss Fill. She was the sister of Frank Adams’s wife who kept the White Hart, and so she herself lodged at the same Inn.

 Miss Fill was very strict. She played the harmonium for the morning hymn and again at the end of school each afternoon. There was a playground at the back for the little ones but the bigger ones played on the tarmac in front. Miss Fill had them all firmly under her control; when addressing them she would say in a loud voice: ‘Now boys and girls - FOLD ARMS’.

School Staff 1901

Staff at Chipstead School in 1901

Front sitting – The head Mr. Underwood and his wife

Rear standing from left – Miss Lilian Fill, Mr. Ashworth, Miss Ann Fill

When I was about 8 years old my father, who was Head Huntsman at Longshaw for the Draghounds, and an assistant to a vetinary surgeon in Epsom, used to fetch me and my younger sister Lillian in a pony trap. We often skated on the pond by moonlight during a hard winter but the water was clearer then than it is now — no weeds or rushes. I remember it being frozen solid. I remember many hot summers when we played in the Long Plantation and in the woods around Longshaw among the cows and horses.

 In the playground we played rounders, hopscotch and skipping when we sang as we jumped into the rope: ‘Salt-Pepper-Mustard-Vinegar’. There used to be someone - a sort of health visitor of the time — who came about once a month to examine our hair for nits. She would lift the strands piece by piece with the aid of a knitting needle. Poetic! Mr Underwood was our Headmaster. We used to take sandwiches for lunch and there was only water provided to drink. When I was a little older I used to walk home to lunch at Longshaw Cottages.

 I often was ill with bronchitis and had to stay home from school. They used to send an inspector round to the homes of long term absentees to check up. One day he arrived and my mother was so incensed at the insult she leaned out of an upstairs window and poured a jug of cold water over him. He never came again.

 Us girls in standards 6 and 7 used to walk to MersthamSchool once a week for cookery lessons. The boys did gardening in Markedge Lane. On Empire Day (St.George’s Day) we would assemble and march round the playground each waving a small Union Jack under the command of Miss Fill. Our Headmaster, Mr Underwood, used to select the best schoolwork - writings, paintings etc., to show one of the School Governors - Mrs Goad - when she paid one of her routine monthly visits. He would write the daily attendance for all to see on a slate. Attendance was very good except in winter. The heating was by a coal fire in each of the main rooms.

 Our desks were small and made in pairs, each designed for 2 children. Charlie Harman and I used to hold hands under the desk in our teens. His family was very poor and sometimes they had to come to school without boots.

 At 15 I went on for one year at Whyteleafe School and then to a Secretarial course at Clarks Business College Croydon on a Mary Stephens Scholarship.

 Mr Charles Gasson

 Interviewed 8th May 1994 - Attended Chipstead Village School from 1911 to 1921 from the age of 4.

 “I attended school at 4 years, after Easter break in 1911. I had to walk to school from 13 Star Cottages (on the Brighton Road in Hooley, now demolished) where I was born, with a satchel on my back. I left when I was 14 in 1921 and went to work in London.

 Classes were mixed boys and girls and they were called standards 1 to 7. Outstanding pupils up to about half a dozen were called X7. There were some 150 children. Many walked from Gatton, Mugswell, Netherne, Hooley and Chipstead village down as far as How Green all being within the 2 mile limit and so did not qualify for transport.

 There was no canteen so we took packs of sandwiches and stayed the whole day. One boy, I remember always brought celery. Our only drink was cold water from an outside tap and we drank from iron cups which dangled from the wall on an iron chain.

 For years the school owned a large plot adjoining Markedge Lane which was used for gardening and in it were fruit trees. Each Wednesday some 16-20 boys were taken there. 14 of them had a plot of their own which was no doubt an honour. They grew a variety of vegetables and competed at the annual flower show. Mr Underwood the Headmaster asked boys to get a wire to catch intruding rabbits. ‘Nobby’Garrett was one boy who volunteered to do this. Once he succeeded in catching one but did not admit it, he kept quiet and took it home, so Mr Underwood was deprived of his dinner. We learnt how to prune apple, pear and plum trees, raspberries, black and red currants. We also learnt to sow seeds and grew cabbages, parsnips and lettice and were allowed to take the results home.

 During Word War II I was released from my office in London to man Buffer depots for the Ministry of Food to supply homegrown food in the event of an invasion. My Sister, one year older than I, also went to the school until she was 14. My son Peter attended from 1938. Around 1944 he moved to Smitham School aged about 12 which was the time of the bombing of Croydon. We were invited to evacuate him to Flintstone but opted to keep him at home.

 Whilst I was at school Mr Underwood became ill with pneumonia and Mr White came to take over. Mr White, unlike Mr Underwood, never omitted to use one of the canes laid out on top of the cupboard if it were necessary and enter the culprits name in the log book. Mr Kelsey and Mr Rose were the two Inspectors. They checked on any absentees. Mr Dunaway was the maintenance man and would oblige the Headmaster on wet and muddy days by cleaning the boys boots after adding black lead as polish. We used to play football in the Paddock of South Lodge the home of Mr Sweet who removed his horse for the purpose.

Fred  Little

Fred Little attended the school between 1906 and 1914

“We walked up from Mugswell over the fields. The girls from the farms all wore horse ribbons in their hair, while the boys had a clean shoe competition judged by Mr Underwood, the head, which the lads from next door always won! The village nurse lived very near and used to use the school as a short cut to the quarry in Mark Edge lane, where the Gypsies came for their confinements.”

Vera Watts

Vera Watts lived at  the school from  the age of 3

  Her father was the school caretaker and she attended the school until she was 14 . She was a keen dancer and during the 2nd World War she met George Watt, a Canadian soldier at one of these dances and married him in 1940. They had 4 children. Sadly, after the war he was repatriated but Vera did not go with him and she was left to bring up the kids single handed which she did successfully with the help of the school.  When they left home, several of the children went abroad, including Cyprus and Australia., where she enjoyed her holidays. She moved into Hooley and was active in the social life there and lived to be over 100.

Frank Stepney

Frank Stepney attended the school from 1929 to 1940

He  used to walk to school through the woods with lots of other Hooley kids; he always says they remember seeing the chimney of a sunken house in the pond off Hogscross Lane, said to have been the site of the old Saxon manor of  Pirbright - some memory as chimneys were not invented until Elizabethan times!  He also remembers "Shepherd's Lawn", the house in the cowfield opposite the school where the local bike repair man lived  and  had a double bucket toilet or "two-holer" in the garden which all the boys wanted to try out!

 Mrs Linda England

 Interviewed April 12 1994 - Wife of Joe England, ex Village PC, living at Shabden Cottages when they had children at the school

  “I had 5 children at the school as from l956 – Leslie (girl), Stephanie, Roger, Peter and Nigel. Leslie and Stephanie went on to Woodcote when they left at 11; Leslie at 16 going on to Purley Grammar, Stephanie became a Medical Secretary and then did her nursing training at Guys. Roger and Peter went on to De Burtgh at 11 and Nigel to Woodmansterne and then to Reigate Grammar.

 The extension classroom in the playground was already there in 1956. The games they played were rounders and cricket in summer in the field at the back and football in the winter. On a Saturday they sometimes had matches against other schools. A coach used to come to take them to the Reigate Baths for swimming.

Schoolchildren 1954

Chipstead schoolchildren in 1954 - our former cobbler, David Barnett, who ran his business at Chipstead station, is 2nd row 3rd from right

 I was a dinner lady for many years, at least until 1966. All food was freshly cooked - no choice. The children ate everything - there was nothing left, not even cabbage! A sample menu in 1960 would be: a pint of milk free mid-morning, Lunch: Fresh roast meat, fresh veg, roast potatoes

By 1970 fresh roast meat gradually gave way to turkey roast (frozen), frozen vegetables and fresh cabbage, spaghetti bolognese, shepherds pie. Favourite by this time were all the pastas. There was no choice and everything went - nothing left. Children never had chipped potatoes. Puddings were semolina, custard, fruit tarts. Every child had to have a school meal — no sandwiches!

 Miss Embley insisted that the meal should be served up as a ‘family service’, whereby the dishes were put along the middle of each table, with children helping themselves and whatever they took they had to finish up.”

 Mrs Lilian Winslade

 Interviewed 8th April 1994 – mother of 4 children who attended Chipstead Village School in the 1970s

 I had 4 children there, including Martin who went on to Chipstead Valley school when he left. My husband Ronald went to the school in the early 1920’s. When my children were there in the 1970’s they had dinner at school but later they were allowed to bring sandwiches. Free school milk was discontinued abut the time they were there.

During Miss Embley’s time (about 1972 or 3 onwards) the annual Carol Concert was moved from the Peter Aubertin Hall to St.Margaret’s Church, Two hymns were learnt specially by the Chipstead School children and they knew them by heart, taking no hymn sheets with them. Some years the children performed the Maypole Dance at the annual Rectory Garden Party held at the Rectory in Elmore Road, but when it became a First School and the children left at 8 years old they could not take part in such village events.

 In approximately 1985 the School entered an inter-school event which took place in the Horseshoe Banstead. Our school did ‘the Willow Pattern’ with my granddaughter Helen Mitchell as narrator. The costumes and the music were lovely, the children word perfect.

In approximately 1987 Miss Embley asked me to present the prizes, which were ribbons on pins, at School Sports Day. Two cups were also presented, one to the boys and one to the girls winning teams.

 Mr Ronald Winslade

 Interviewed 8th April 1994 - Attended Chipstead Village School from 1922 to 1928 from the age of 4.

 I was at the school from 1922 until 1928. My Headmaster was Mr Heal. He was always immaculately dressed in a suit, with a clean folded handkerchief in his breast pocket. He kept the cane much in evidence but I don’t recall it ever having been used.


 Chipstead School in 1923 with the headmaster, Mr. Heal, standing at right.

From the left:

Back Row - Brian Taylor, Dorcas Creighton, Doris Taylor, Jean Bodsworth, Elsie Denning, Mary Hardy, Eunice Ellis, Barbara Lawson, Gladys Beadle, Sid Bruchard,

 Third Row - Douglas Lawson, Jessie Morris,..?, Edie Everitt (m-Tidey), Phyllis Edwards, Dora Coombes, ..?, Elsie Stepney, Chrissie Sheerah ,..?,

 Second Row - ..?, ..?, Dulcie Lawson,..?, ..?, ..? Esther Trish, Myrtle Maddox, Anne Farley, Irene Creasy, Jean Hockley, Bob Clarke

 Front Row Sqatting -  Fred Northover, Basil Rogers, Norman Taylor, George Moore, Stan Hepburn, ..?  Sid Merritt, John Sparkes

When I first went there were no outbuildings - the additional classroom in the playground was not there. We had one big hall, and the headmaster and his wife lived in the school house, part of the main building. Miss Fill, who lodged at the White Hart, was looked upon as a martinet. She was there a long time - she had been there before 1900.

 Every morning we had an opening hymn and another at the end of each day. On Empire Day (St.George’s Day) we had a day off and in the morning we assembled in the playground and sang ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.

 We took sandwiches each day which we ate outside unless it was raining. Mrs Heal made us lemonade in the summer and Bovril in the winter which us children could buy for 1d cup. I remember that about 1926 Ralph Richers chalked some words then considered rude along the road from Shabden Cross roads to the school. Unbeknown to him Miss Fill was following and observed everything. She reported the boy to Mr Heal, the Head, whose neatly fitting punishment was to provide the young Ralph with a bucket and scrubbing brush to work his way along the length of the middle of the road — all of which was no doubt duly inspected upon completion. There was no question of defying the teacher in those days.

 Our Sports Day was held in the grounds of Shabden, Lord Marshall’s estate, because the school did not at that time own the field at the back, only the tarmac area in front. In the photograph taken 1926 or 1927 Mr Heal is there, and the children aged between 8 and 14 years - it does not include the infants. Several boys, namely Philip Porter  and his brother Kenneth, both died in the forthcoming 2nd World War - Philip of diphtheria in the Middle East and Kenneth in an RAF bombing raid over Germany. There was a third son also in the forces who was removed from the dangerous ‘front lines’ on compassionate grounds for the Porter family by the War Office.”

 Mr Brian Taylor

 Interviewed 9th April 1994 - Attended Chipstead Village School from 1918 to 1929 from the age of 5.

 It was a hot day in 1921 - a hot year - they were tarmacing the road. There is a footpath that goes from the White Hart down Castle Hill to  Rumbow Castle. There was a barrel of tar and I undid the inpiug and the tar squirted straight in my face. It also went over all my new clothes my mother had given me.


Chipstead school children in 1931, with one of their teachers, Miss Sanders

We were living at Vincent's Cottage (opposite Vincent’s Green in Strarrock Lane) where I was born. I was 5 years old in 1918 when I first went to Chipstead School. My older half brother Cecil Wells, was the first person to get a Mary Stephens Scholarship and he went to Purley County school and from there matriculated - the first boy to do this from Chipstead School.

 Those that passed what we call the Eleven Plus left at eleven years old but I stayed on until I was fourteen. Mr Heal was our Headmaster and he and his wife lived on the premises, their two children being at the school. Miss Fill taught classes 1 and 2.

 My father was born in the Old School House in Outwood Lane. I was born with only one kidney but did not know it at the time, so I went into the Army and did 4 years with the Chindits.

 Mrs Grace Kennet

 Interviewed 8th April 1994 – in charge of school catering 1961 to 1974

 I started as Dinner Lady in 1954. After 5 years I became Assistant Cook, I took the Surrey County Council Catering exams about 2 years later, then became in charge of the catering for approximately 200 children with 4 assistants. We did the cooking on gas stoves in a small kitchen, separate from the main building but alongside the canteen where the children ate. The staff ate separately across the yard in the main school house.

 As a result of war we were very vitamin conscious and the school diet was carefully balanced. All meat was fresh, even if we minced the beef for a shepherd’s pie. Usually we served it roast with fresh vegetables. Nothing was kept over for the next day, anything left went into the pigs swill and a man came twice weekly to collect it.

 Everything was homemade , made by the dinner ladies, and the favourite pudding was butterscotch tart. Mr Morgan was the Headmaster at that time and prior to that it was Mr Johns.

I was there when the school celebrated their centenary — that would be 1974. A large party was held on the Saturday to which present and past pupils, staff, parents and friends were invited. Mr & Mrs Morgan lived on the premises and although Mrs Morgan was not a teacher she would often take the little ones for walks in the nearby woods and Long Plantation.

 I suppose by now children were becoming more fussy about their food; the school rule was ‘you don’t have to like it but you do have to eat it’. All did! Food had to be carried across the playground from the canteen to the main school house where the staff ate.

 One day one of the masters, Mr Cook, sent a boy named Richard, aged about 8, a precocious little character, with a message to the cooks to keep his dinner hot for half an hour as he was taking football and would be delayed. Acceding to this request I placed Mr Cook’s dinner in the hot cupboard. When Richard reappeared later to collect it the canteen staff were worried about him struggling to carry the full up hot plates and said so to each other, telling him they would take it and he could go out to play. Instead of that, our Richard ran back to Mr Cook, seated among the other staff and said (no doubt betraying what he had overheard in the kitchen) ‘You should have had more sense than to have sent such a small boy over with heavy hot food’. For posterity, this fortunately seems to have been greeted with hilarity all round, no offence taken.”

 Mrs Madeleine MacCallum

Interviewed 9th September 2015 – a teacher at Chipstead Village School from 1989 to 1992

 I taught part time in Chipstead  County First School from 1989 to1992---after our daughter Sonia had moved on to Primary School. Sonia has very happy memories of her time there.

I taught Year 1 children in the afternoon , mostly science projects from the Nuffield science curriculum which the children loved, creative writing, history and geography topic work, gymnastics  and art and crafts. The classes were of about 16 pupils and so lots of individual attention was possible.

Miss Embley was headmistress and she expected children to behave responsibly so there was great emphasis on being kind and considerate to each other. “Reading ladies” came in daily to hear each child read and so the standard was high. Those who struggled were given extra lessons by Miss Embley. “No child will leave my school unable to read.”  A delightful music teacher came twice a week to take the children for singing and percussion which was very popular. The children were also encouraged to listen to child friendly classical pieces like “Peter and the Wolf” by Prokofiev, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and SwanLake.

Schoolchildren 1990

Chipstead School in 1990, shortly before closure. The headmistress, the formidable but fair Miss Embley (in the pale blue jacket), held the post for 20 years from 1973 to closure in 1993. On her left (in black) is Mrs Vidler, the long-serving school secretary, a kind and much loved lady. One of the teachers, Madeleine McCullum, is on the right. At centre front is Peter Morley's son Gary.

There was a large tarmac playing area in front of the school, divided from the car parking area by large tyres. Woe be tide any child who went over the tyres to fetch a ball without permission. The black school cat was always a great favourite and enjoyed attention from the children. In summer, if dry, lunch play was on the big field at the back. Here too Sports Day was held – this was carried out with military precision and the school governors, Canon and Mrs Blair- Fish and parents were invited to encourage the children.

School lunches were cooked in the school kitchens and, seated at tables, the children passed the serving dishes round taking their share which had to be eaten otherwise no pudding! Children were encouraged to try a small amount of foods that were new to them. Our daughter Sonia loved school cabbage but would not eat cabbage at home! There is no accounting for taste! Christmas lunch with all the trimmings and crackers was a great treat to which all “reading ladies” and helpers were invited.  The older children were designated a guest to look after and converse with over lunch.

Sadly numbers declined as the birth rate dropped, Netherne Hospital closed and some parents were attracted to larger schools with greater resources like computers in each classroom and this wonderful little school was closed when Miss Embley retired.

Adapted for the Chipstead Archive by Rupert Courtenay-Evans and Barry Pepper

June 2016