Horsham beatings - how some suffered while others did not

Share your memories and stories from your days at school, and find out the truth behind the rumours....Remember the teachers and pupils, tell us who you remember and why...

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Post by DavebytheSea » Mon Nov 27, 2006 3:13 pm

J.R. wrote: ... but I honestly cannot recall ANY teacher that I would term a sadist or a bully.
Going back a bit earlier, I would tend to agree, J.R., although I am prepared to admit that time suffuses all in a glow of fond remembrance. I was shocked, however, to read Norman Longmate's views in the Shaping Season (see an earlier topic - viewtopic.php?p=13477&highlight=longmate#13477) - many of his teachers were those of my years too, and he is in no doubt that a significant minority were sadists and bullies.

One factor common to what can now be identified as the serious sadists on the staff, was that nothing but bare flesh would satisfy them. .....While normal (sic) masters would order a boy to change into his flimsy games shorts before attending for a beating, the real enthusiasts required him to turn up in school uniform, and then to remove his coat, lower his breeches and underpants, and bend forward, usually over a chair, with shirt tail flung up over his back, leaving his bare bottom exposed.

All these preliminaries had the effect of of prolonging the master's anticipatory pleasure ....... It was the practice of one master to circle round his victim at this point, cane in hand, until, unnerved by the scrutiny of his exposed genitals, the boy began to become physically aroused. The beater would thereupon, with evident pleasure, begin the prescribed punishment.


Longmate goes on to describe the various tecniques in detail of different masters in administering corporal punishment, but reserves a specially lurid five pages for the then Head of Classics, who he suggests might well have been the leader of a little group of sadists meeting in the Common Room to discuss their shared interests.

What astonishes me about all this, is that I can only recall one "whacking" incident - by Noel "Sam" Sargent - I know, that on that occasion, I simply refused to "bend over" and walked out of his classroom. I was reported to Arthur Rider - my housemaster - who certainly lectured and then probably caned me. If so, it was one of very, very few times I received corporal punishment while at CH.

Yet Longmate's recall of trivial factual details is fascinating and certainly accurate; it is only when he writes of those things he really detested at Housie that his experience seems totally at odds with mine. Were it not that there are others (such as a former member of this forum who, sadly, posts no more) who have agreed with him, I would have dismissed his lengthy diatribes against institutional bullying as the revenge of one who was clearly a misfit at the school.

The different life experience of people living under the same rules and within the same environment poses interesting questions about responsibility. I know it is unfashionable and even potentially harmful to argue on these lines, but there is at least a part of me deep down that instinctively feels that even today, those (and they are mostly women at least as far as we the public are aware) who suffer really traumatic and often physical bullying may somehow radiate an aura which invites it. I expect an outcry from some forum members for even suggesting this, and I am really sorry if anyone is upset. However, I am trying to seek an answer to this problem of differing life experience, which, if there is one, may be of benefit to us all.
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Post by Katharine » Mon Nov 27, 2006 3:33 pm

A very interesting post DBTS. It is indeed fascinating (hope that is the right word) to read that others who were at school at the same time, or just after me have such different memories. I think we have made it clear in this very long thread that our Housemistresses had great influence on our lives at Hertford. I think we were all aware of this at the time and how each house was different more due to the Housemistress than any other single reason.

I have absolutely NO recollection of corporal punishment, there were other ways of punishing us. (is this a female thing?) DR frequently set learning a psalm by rote as a punishment, you could tell how seriously she took the crime by how long the psalm! I think it may have been apochryphal that she occasionally set 117 (2 verses) when she thought she should not have been bothered.
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Post by J.R. » Mon Nov 27, 2006 4:39 pm

Interesting that you mention Arthure Rider, Dave. He was still there in my day and I always found him rather intimidation. However, when I attended CH after leaving school, to collect a fishing permit for the Farm Lake and Doctors Lake, who should I have to see ? Yup Arthur Rider, who had retired from teaching and was performing some administritative duty for the school. He was a totally different person. Very friendly.

My beatings ?

N.T. (Bogey) Fryer = 2

R.A. (OK ?) Hewitt = 1.

I'm told that if C.M.E. Seaman every administered a beating, the receiver hardly ever felt a thing.

Where can I find a copy of Longmates 'Shaping Season' ? It sounds an interesting read
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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Post by DavebytheSea » Mon Nov 27, 2006 4:52 pm

Last found on Amazon - price £25. Nearly 700 pages hardback with pics - well worth it.
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Post by J.R. » Mon Nov 27, 2006 6:48 pm

At that size and price, I'll see if Surrey County Library Service have a copy available !

Thanks Dave.
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Post by DavebytheSea » Mon Nov 27, 2006 7:07 pm

Mine is a borrowed copy!
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Post by englishangel » Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:08 pm

Blimey girls , we've been hijacked.
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Post by DavebytheSea » Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:59 pm

sorry - shall I ask the moderator to move us elsewhere?
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Post by icomefromalanddownunder » Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:23 am

DavebytheSea wrote:sorry - shall I ask the moderator to move us elsewhere?

Hmmmm. dunno. That might support the theory concerning a Greek Isle .......

I've lost the precise thread of my response, but someone mentioned that the personality of some women may attract bullying, or words to that effect.

I married a psychological bully, who may or may not be manic depressive (depends which psychiatrist you speak to). I was attracted to him, I think, because he was different, highly amusing, and exceptionally intelligent. Life was great - for a while.

A friend who knows me well, and who has counselled abused women, mused one day on how strange it was that Martin had been attracted to me, because bullies usually prey on weak people; that maybe he saw me as a particular challenge :?

My theory would be that we are all equally vulnerable to bullying, but that, possibly, some of us hide the damage more than others - don't seek help, and are able to function, albeit not to our full potential.

Responses, please, in less than 500 words as I should really be in the Lab, rather than infront of my laptop.

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Post by kerrensimmonds » Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:49 am

Actually when reading you DBTS I thought of those theories about which one reads, where it is alleged that the rape of a woman is not 'rape' because in some way or other she is 'asking for it' - even if subliminally. Katharine is right... in our day our lives at Hertford were dominated by the Housemistress.... there were eight of them (and some had deputies as far as I recall?) - and they were all different in just about every respect. Most of them had no specific qualifications for the job - and some (like the one in I's we have been discussing) seems to have been more sadistic and abusive than others. The one in House /Ward 1 was the worst of all - AND got away with it for several years. To come back to your argument, I can't see that some of the girls she harmed the most were 'asking for it' - throughout the school (whether in a 'hard' house or a 'softer' house) we all started off life as 'normal' children. It was down to the fall of the dice as to which House we ended up in, and thus how we were treated. As has also been said elsewhere in this thread, it is scary (with hindsight) to realise that a) we didn't do anything about it ourselves, to challenge 'authority'when some particular abuse was occurring; and b) that the parents of the most afflicted girls did not intervene, either.
Norman Longmate's experiences aside, I don't think that the House life at Horsham was anything like ours.
Now, in contrast, Horsham Old Blues are arguing that they had sadistic TEACHING staff. We didn't.....
Blimey... it's early in the morning on 28 November and the first Christmas Carol is playing on Classic FM. Time for me to hit the hay, I think....
All you who missed Catherine Ennis' organ recital in the QEH tonight missed both a musical and an erudite treat. Munch took some pictures.... hope she gets some of them into the Forum and into the Old Blue.
Whoops.. I have just changed the thread (twice...)
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Post by J.R. » Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:08 am

kerrensimmonds wrote:Actually when reading you DBTS I thought of those theories about which one reads, where it is alleged that the rape of a woman is not 'rape' because in some way or other she is 'asking for it' - even if subliminally. Katharine is right... in our day our lives at Hertford were dominated by the Housemistress.... there were eight of them (and some had deputies as far as I recall?) - and they were all different in just about every respect. Most of them had no specific qualifications for the job - and some (like the one in I's we have been discussing) seems to have been more sadistic and abusive than others. The one in House /Ward 1 was the worst of all - AND got away with it for several years. To come back to your argument, I can't see that some of the girls she harmed the most were 'asking for it' - throughout the school (whether in a 'hard' house or a 'softer' house) we all started off life as 'normal' children. It was down to the fall of the dice as to which House we ended up in, and thus how we were treated. As has also been said elsewhere in this thread, it is scary (with hindsight) to realise that a) we didn't do anything about it ourselves, to challenge 'authority'when some particular abuse was occurring; and b) that the parents of the most afflicted girls did not intervene, either.
Norman Longmate's experiences aside, I don't think that the House life at Horsham was anything like ours.
Now, in contrast, Horsham Old Blues are arguing that they had sadistic TEACHING staff. We didn't.....
Blimey... it's early in the morning on 28 November and the first Christmas Carol is playing on Classic FM. Time for me to hit the hay, I think....
All you who missed Catherine Ennis' organ recital in the QEH tonight missed both a musical and an erudite treat. Munch took some pictures.... hope she gets some of them into the Forum and into the Old Blue.
Whoops.. I have just changed the thread (twice...)
Not me, Kerren. Any teachers who I felt had a dislike for me, I would try and avoid, and if that was impossible, make sure I did nothing to upset them.
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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Post by DavebytheSea » Tue Nov 28, 2006 9:13 am

kerrensimmonds wrote:... in our day our lives at Hertford were dominated by the Housemistress.... there were eight of them (and some had deputies as far as I recall?) - and they were all different in just about every respect. Most of them had no specific qualifications for the job - and some (like the one in I's we have been discussing) seems to have been more sadistic and abusive than others.
Now, in contrast, Horsham Old Blues are arguing that they had sadistic TEACHING staff. We didn't.....
Yes clearly there were huge differences, Kerren, but this topic may clarify things for both of us about the lives of our brothers/sisters in the other place. I think, for example, that there were more similarities than you suppose - if there were sadistic teaching staff at Horsham, you must remember that these very people were the same as ran the houses - a different system to Hertford, I grant, but for those who seem to have suffered, there could be no escape either in the house or the classroom. Moreover, as Longmate points out, by far the greatest severities were meted out in the housemaster's study.

The revered head of Classics at Horsham was none other than the famed DS MacNutt who with the then Headmaster, HLO Flecker ran probably the best Classics department of any school in the country. Macnutt was also the revered Ximines, the Observer crossword compiler. He was also the housemaster of Peele B for many years. One account in the Blue of 1997 describes how

after the customary stripping from the waist down, Macnutt placed the miscreant kneeling in the seat of an elderly armchair, ankles over one arm, midriff over the other, so that there was no way of "riding the blows".

...... Having ensured that his victim could not move and his naked bottom presented a clear target, Macnutt would open the interconnecting door into another room and retreat to its far corner. He would then, cane in hand, literally run across the intervening space, shouting, 'I am coming' which we innocently assumed to be a warning to his victim. The blow which followed was savage, with a brief interval while Macnutt withdrew to his launching point, thenthe procedure would be repeated another three or five or even eleven times - beatings seemed invariably to be in multiples of two - until, exhausted, he ordered the bruised and perhaps weeping child to leave.


I was at CH during the Macnutt era, and never suffered at his hands, but then I was never a Classics specialist nor was I in Peele B.

Even under the comparatively benign governance of Arthur Rider in Middleton A in the late 1940s, I can vouch that blood was frequently seen to form in clotted stripes across the bottom of those boys who had suffered "six of the best". As at Hertford, our daily lives were in the hands of housemasters who exercised unfettered control over their charges deeming themselves in loco parentis. It is only comparatively recently that the headmaster at Horsham has assumed ultimate responsibility for what goes on in the houses.

The House was the be all and end all of our early years at CH and was certainly a far more risky environment than the classroom. Nor was there any escape - even talking to a boy in another house without permission was a punishable offence unless, as in my own case, I was able to spend many hours a week with my fellow choristers and musicians rehearsing in Chapel, Big School or what is now the Band Room in the Music School. Certainly, back in the dayroom of Mid A there was danger all around - usually resulting from the whim of rogue house monitors who ruled under Rider with a rod of iron.

Robin Hull wrote of his first night on entering Prep B (aged 9) in 1943:
A senior boy [about 11] decided to give one of the new boys an enema. The naked victim was bent over the bath where his buttocks were separated while soapy water was poured into an anus in tight spasm ...

Initiation ceremonies such as these were continued in the senior houses as children moved up at the age of eleven and then again when at 13 or 14 they moved down from the junior to the senior dormitories. I can remember also living in fear of one of our house monitors 'Fotcher' F****y' (mentioned in another post - viewtopic.php?p=13797&highlight=fotcher#13797) who still practised radiator grilling and on at least one occasion strapped a junior to the changing room bars before thrashing him with his plaited girdle.

Yes, Kerren, I believe there was horrific bullying in the houses - I would venture to suggest it was at least as terrifying at Horsham as it was for you - but my point remains and is echoed by J.R. The fact is, that some (most?) of us escaped the worst of it even if, as in my case we were thoroughly undistinguished and perhaps unnoticed members of the house. Others were perpetually in difficulties either from staff - in which case they may have acquired popularity through notoriety - or from their fellow schoolboys.
kerrensimmonds wrote:Actually when reading you DBTS I thought of those theories about which one reads, where it is alleged that the rape of a woman is not 'rape' because in some way or other she is 'asking for it' - even if subliminally.
When I wrote about this in my earlier posting above, the thought of women being considered by some to be responsible for their rape also entered my mind. (That was why I was a little sensitive about the reaction I might get from some of you girls!). However, you used the word 'subliminally' which I think is close to the word 'aura' which I had used. Clearly there is one argument about the right of those girls who choose to dress provocatively to be at liberty to do so without molestation, and quite another about those who, by no conscious action or attitude on their part, seem to become the victim of whatever nastiness is about. I suspect that not all in Peele B suffered under MacNutt any more than I would suggest that everyone in Middleton A when I entered it in 1949 was free from bullying and humiliation. My question remains, why is it that some of us for no obvious reason remain more vulnerable than others.

PS BTW in the immediate post war era, there were a significant number in the clkassroom as well as in the house, who had no formal teaching qualifications or even degrees. Even when I left CH in 1955, there were a number, in the independent sector at least, who moved more or less straight from A level into teaching usually into a prep school whence they might or might not progress further into middle and senior schools. A post graduate teaching qualification was then something of a novelty.
David Eastburn (Prep B and Mid A 1947-55)

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Post by midget » Tue Nov 28, 2006 10:28 am

The lack of a teaching qualification continued for many years. My neice graduated (Chemical Engineering) in about 1970, could not get work in her chosen field, so taught maths in a boys only Grammar school. She didn't stay long.
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Post by Katharine » Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:35 pm

I don't have a teaching qualification, I am registered with the Department of Education, thus I can tach in the state system. My Maths degree is of such ancient vintage (1969) that Maths and Science graduates did not need to have a teaching qualification. I do no know when this changed, but believe that it has now changed. As to independent schools ....?
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Post by J.R. » Tue Nov 28, 2006 2:31 pm

David.

Your previous post leads me to believe that there must have been a major transformation between 1955 and 1958. A short period of three years, during which the Flecker era ended and the Clarence Seaman era began.

Beatings by Housemasters and Deputy Housemasters were common place, but NEVER administered in the manner you describe at the end of the 50's.

You were summoned to the relevant study, lectured, verbally punished and then told you were to be beaten and verbally told the number of strokes you were to receive, which COULD NOT EXCEED SIX. After removing your Housy coat, the master would then indicate where he wanted you to bend and touch your toes with your knees straight. Pick up the cane, which was usually already laid across his desk and walk behind you.

The only indication of the impending pain was the whistle as the cane cut through the air before making contact with the bottom.

N.T. Fryer would always have the punishment book on his desk which he would fill in after administering the punishment and in your presence.

I wonder what ever happened to those House punishment books ? They could make very interesting reading in this day and age, but I'm willing to bet they have all conveniently disappeared !!!

As far as the Prep houses were concerned, the cane was never used - At least not in Prep B under Mr Eagle. You gained points for being naughty and the punishment was a public gym-shoeing in the dorm before lights out after so many points had been accrued. I well remember one punishment in Prep B when Mr Eagle was going to 'slipper' a boy and as he raised his arm to strike, the boy in question scuttled forward still bent over and the blow missed. I burst out laughing, exclaiming, 'He's missed. He's missed !" Mr Eagle immediately awarded me one stroke of the slipper for being cheeky, which I took, stood up, turned and said, "Thank you Sir ! Very nice !"

I seriously think that was the point when my rebellious nature was instilled which Bogey Fryer could never come to terms with.

WOW ! What a long post for me, and almost serious !!

Incidently, I still believe in corporal and capital punishment.
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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