Letters from the distant past

Share your memories and stories from the Hertford Christ's Hospital School, which closed in 1985, when the two schools integrated to the Horsham site....

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Post by Jo » Mon Sep 24, 2007 5:52 pm

Jenny Pardington wrote:
Jo wrote:I'm sure I have some myself somewhere, but getting at them would involve clearing piles of junk and reaching up to the top shelf of a bookcase to bring down a rather precariously balanced basket. Must organise myself to do it soon.
Oh do, please Jo. I knew I couldn't be the only one to have these buried treasures and I'd love to read yours.
Oh, ok then :) I managed to get through the junk to my basket of letters this morning. Sadly, there weren't as many from school days as I'd hoped - mostly from university and when I did my year in France. But I did find an envelope containing several notes from people the year below and two years below me just after I'd left - one of my pals who was then in the UVIth was sending me a Christmas card and letter and got most of the other six formers in 5s to write me a note. Generally speaking, the big news seemed to be that the VI form was starting to be allowed to have dances with local boys' schools, only they weren't referred to as dances - they were "coffee evenings". Most people's notes were full of who had got off with which boys and exactly what they had got up to with them :D

However, a couple of them did contain a bit of school info so I reproduce them below. "J" was the friend who made all the others write - and although she was in the UVIth by then she was quite eccentric and had a very effusive, stream-of-consciousness writing style which sometimes made her sound like a breathless junior :lol:

Anyway, here goes:
-------------------------------
We got out of dancing cos Miss G isn’t here, and I got out of a Mr Rider lesson cos I was ill (?) – well C. wasn’t going to be there! And yesterday we got out of triple!!!! (yes really) English cos me P & F hid behind 1’s fire escape and D H & HP said there were only 3 of them so Miss Hann said it wasn’t worth it. P J & JB were at lectures or something – hee hee!! – we felt like 2nd formers!!

Last weekend was the Sale & Carol Service – the Sale was really good – we each had a house stall – our was smellies (R’s choice!) and we made £50 about. I had to serve on the Office Stall, which was great, flogging school diaries, school biros, school mags, school everying – altogether we made about £900!!! which is really good. The Carol Service was quite good but not as good as last year – and neither was Christmas dinner I think. Tomorrow we’re having candlelight tea and holly burning and things.

Lots of love & hugs
J.

I’m lying in a very uncomfortable position on the floor at the moment as everyone else is hogging the table! We’re all a bit pissed off (if you’ll excuse the expression) as we’ve only got two more days left – and as usual the end of term is dragging slowly to an end – with half the staff refusing to acknowledge the fact that it’s Christmas and so setting us masses of work. As for the other half – we haven’t worked in their lessons for weeks!

Lotsa luv
S.
-------------------------

I think I may have some notes from another friend when she was up t'imf several years earlier so I'll see if there's anything worth copying out of those.

Gosh, so many memories - I also spent time going through other old letters and having a real nostalgia trip.
Jo
5.7, 1967-75

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Post by Jenny Pardington » Tue Sep 25, 2007 9:50 am

This very long letter, from A.M.W.P., repeats the Sports Day news already reported by R.Y., tells of the hard practice for the Singing Comp (more of that will be revealed in a different letter), building up to the Poetry Comp (ugh!). It also reveals our total idolisation of P.H.S. (the poor woman, I hope she didn't suffer too much) and contains a couple of DR anecdotes as well as some other fascinating details of school life in 1960.

Sports Day that year was Saturday 26 March. My diary reveals that I caught the 2.20 Greenline bus home on Monday 21 March after successfully picking a lock in the History Room with a hairpin - this was with the full approval of Miss Page, who had lost the key.

Fri. morn 4th lesson

Dearest Jennifer,

I do hope you got my letter - or rather, part of it! Wasn't I crazy? I just sort of forgot to put them in, those beautiful pages! I was in such a hurry as Steph and I decided on the last minute to try and dash out and post them after prep, so I just dashed back and put what I thought was all your letter, into an envelope. Jane Mc had got Mrs Weil's backdoor key, so we just hopped out when all was clear and put them in the letter box by the station. I got such a shock, as about 10 minutes after I had got back to Ward, the front door bell rang, and in walked Mrs Weil! She only wanted R.Y. for something, though, thank goodness.

I finished my needlework in time, and Elizabeth Onley ironed them for me. They didn't look too bad, but I very much doubt if they will fit me. Still, I can always give them to Mummy or Nansie, I have had offers from both of them. Everyone finished their needlework, including Jan!

We had our last Maths lessons this morning, not another until Tuesday May 3rd. What a pity. P.H.S. was mean (well.....!). She gave us a geometry test. We all complained of course, but she just smiled sweetly, said she agreed she was cruel, hard-hearted etc and that it was a disgrace to our trade union, but all the same we were going to have the test. We did, too.

Fri. evening, 8.45 p.m. Just had interview. DR in a very good mood, and was v. quick and quite nice to all! I had a good one funnily enough, but she said I had been v. "droopy" this term, and did I feel droopy. I'm not quite sure what she meant, but so long as she said "droopy", not "drippy" I am not particularly worried.

Sports tomorrow. I'm in the Ward Relay; pity you're not here, you would have been in it. If it rains, 2's are going to do their play to the Govs, they are rather cocky about it, but we don't really mind as it would be a horrid rush to get all our clothes and props ready again. Thank goodness you aren't here, for that reason only. I would not like to do it again at such short notice. (I was such a drama fanatic, I would have wanted to do our play, regardless of the inconvenience! Ed.)

Sat. evening. We won the Sports! Your card must certainly have brought us luck. Rosemary Cox was v. good indeed, winning the High Jump Class 2 & chucking Class 2. We all got such a fright before Elizabeth Onley's chucking. She "went all funny", couldn't see or stand up, and didn't go out until it was her turn. She did a beautiful throw, although she says she couldn't see anything. Elizabeth was also 3rd in the 220. Jane Norcock was marvellous in the 220, winning it by about 6 yards. She just dashed off in the beginning and kept it up the whole time. Poor Sarah Ram, she has had swollen glands for the last 2 days and after the Sports just collapsed and has gone up to the Infirmary. She won her Class II netball shooting, though! Liz tied first with Sarah Battye for the High Jump open but they only got up to 51 inches, while Rosemary jumped 55 inches. Apparently Rosemary has never jumped that high before. Delphine was rather good in her High Jump Class III and did some really beautiful jumps. She managed to break a pole, though! The Granny's were 3rd although at one point they were 2nd, but they dropped the ball.

Peggy came down as well, delighting various people including Rose, Liz, Ann Cooper and Rosemary Young. She also attended 3 of our Singing Practices and gave us useful hints. We are working very hard at the moment and are going to have at least another 4 practices tomorrow.

I haven't thanked you for your letter yet, sorry, I got carried away by the Sports. Thank you very, very, very, very, very much indeed. It was so nice getting a nice wad of letter from someone besides Mummy. I delivered all the letters, which were received with pleasure by all. Clare seems to be cheerful, I'm glad to say.

Apparently the Study enjoyed themselves with Miss Gerrard and P.H.S. I managed to catch a few fleeting and unnoticed glimpses.

8's went up to dinner yesterday, after all, although we had previously been told we were going to have it in Ward because of the Govs. But they managed to fit another table in, amongst 1's, 2's, 3's & 4's tables. You can imagine what a squash it was. Goofy had put all the plates, bowls etc on the wrong tables too, so there was chaos. We ended up with 7's cloths, our cutlery, 2's glasses and 3's plates! Joy of joys, P.H.S. went up to dinner. She looked very nice in a royal blue woollen dress with a little Peter Pan collar and a little bow at the neck, a straight skirt and three-quarter length sleeves. She wore those nice light-colooured high heeled shoes. Aren't I observant? I didn't stare at her the whole time, though, whatever the description seems to imply. She was just sitting in a convenient position, such as I didn't have to turn my head. She also watched the Sports & came and said well done at the end when we were all crowded round Carole & and cup. Poor Carole, she was crying with pleasure! Miss Mercer surprised us all by appearing in a coloured jumper, a grey straight skirt & very high really stilleto heeled black suede shoes! She could walk on them, too!

Sun. morning 6.0 Woke up at 5.15 this morning, and I am now so bored I must do something. I'm going to my first Holy Communion this morning. I do hope all goes well and I don't do anything silly. I might, knowing me, and I should hate to.

We have only got a few more lessons, just Monday morning. Gym, Singing, English and a double free! In the afternoon there is the Singing Comp, and sticking & licking starts first thing Tuesday morning, with the Poetry Comp after break. I am not going in for the Poetry Comp but Stephanie is. She is saying one about Christmases from that Dylan Thomas book. It's similar to your August Bank Holiday one. I wonder if they were out of the same book? Nicky is going in for it, after being press-ganged by Miss Whitcher. Last Friday in formtime, Nicky, Stephanie & Jaqueline had an agreement of the "I will if you will" kind. Stephanie & Jacky kept it up, but Nicky wasn't going to, so Miss Whitcher used a little persuasion, as she said the "agreement" had been made in her hearing. So poor Nicky is now going in for it & feverishly learning a "pome".

Oh, I've just remembered, on the bit of letter that you didn't get (sorry again) I told you about asking P.H.S. to the Prep Service. Well, on Monday morning I was going across the playground & I bumped into her. I really did practically bump into her as I was looking at the ground & thinking about something else. I just threw caution to the winds and asked her. She said she would have loved to come, but she had an orchestra practice that night & she couldn't really not go. She said she would rather come to the Prep Service than "scrape her violin" but she just couldn't avoid it. As it turned out, I'm so thankful she couldn't, for DR than told the staff that she would rather only Wardmistresses and Form-mistresses went, so Miss Stephens did not go with Liz. She had to say sorry, she didn't think she'd better as DR seemed against it. It would have been ghastly if P.H.S. would have had to say that.

12.15 p.m. Elizabeth Onley has just gone for her bus. I do hope she's back for tomorrow. With you gone as well, it is going to be awful. We had a grand singing practice from 9.30 to 10.40 but Rose is going to take another practice some time today.

It was a nice service at Early this morning. As there were about 120 of us, we had both the Mr Walkers and we didn't finish until 9.0.

Jan is going out today & says her mother will post this for me so I will give it to her at 3.30.

2.40 p.m. Just back from walks; Miss Holmes took it. P.H.S. hasn't taken a single senior ward walk since she has been here! And I don't expect she will take any of the odd walks we get next term.

Stephanie, Margaret and I are going to try and meet on the Monday after we go home and have lunch together & look around the shops etc. I wish you could come, I know they wouldn't mind at all, but I don't suppose you would be able to come, would you?

I must stop now or I'll never get a letter written home.

All my love, Angela

Well done, all of you who managed to read all that one! What a marathon and I hope there weren't too many typos.
Jennifer Bore, 5's and 8's 1953-1960

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Post by Jenny Pardington » Wed Sep 26, 2007 9:02 am

Is anyone still reading this stuff? Or should I stop?

Very brief one today, a note from Margaret Wells:

"Please will you come with me to the cookery school at 9 p.m. to put the casseroles in the oven and set the time switch. Bear these figures in mind in case I forget the book:

Cooking time 1 hr
Temp 375
Delay 9 hrs

Tomatoes, bacon, sausages Top
Kidneys Bottom

Miss Jukes (with a tick)
Miss Shackleton
Miss Barratt
Miss Park
Miss Cleobury"

This may have been during a period when the head cook was off sick (she had contracted an allergy to flour) when one or another of us was often drafted in to help out, or even supervise, in the kitchen. I well remember being in charge of Sunday dinner on one occasion. BUT it also sounds like the catering for a private breakfast for the five listed teachers, especially as it was in the cookery school rather than the kitchen. My memory draws a blank but Margaret was a good cook and I'm sure it was a great success!
Jennifer Bore, 5's and 8's 1953-1960

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Post by cj » Wed Sep 26, 2007 9:06 am

Jenny Pardington wrote:Is anyone still reading this stuff? Yes! Or should I stop? No!!
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Sensation!

Post by Angela Woodford » Wed Sep 26, 2007 9:38 am

Merce in high high-heeled suede black stilettos! Wow! Grey pencil skirt, coloured jumper! Superb.

Thank you, thank you for this wonderful description. Merce went on a diet
in ?1970 ?1971 and amazed us with a drawstring waistline dress - but stilettos... on which she could walk.... :shock: :lol:

Merce always wore the flattest of flat shoes; I can see her now progressing across the playground from the History Room with a sort of serene mind-elsewhere gait. Black shapeless sweater, black shapeless skirt.

Back to clearing out and sorting prior to move -

Munch
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Post by Katharine » Wed Sep 26, 2007 9:43 am

cj wrote:
Jenny Pardington wrote:Is anyone still reading this stuff? Yes! Or should I stop? No!!
SECONDED That is supposed to be a shout from the bottom end of 6s table across to the top end of 8s!!

Your earlier comment on my remembering your name, relates to a time when a miserable little LIV new girl thought she would fit in better if she knew the name of everyone in the school - she made herself do it. It helped that there were 36 in each house so when I had got to 36 I knew I was there. I never knew the name of everyone again!!!!
Katharine Dobson (Hills) 6.14, 1959 - 1965
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Post by englishangel » Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:31 pm

I think one does remember ones Seniors, even those in other houses who were only there until Christmas, Kerren on the other hand has no recollection of me at all.

Mind, nor does someone who was a year below me in 2's, she said I must have been younger than she was as she couldn't remember me when I emailed her via FRU
"If a man speaks, and there isn't a woman to hear him, is he still wrong?"

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Post by icomefromalanddownunder » Thu Sep 27, 2007 1:18 am

Katharine wrote:
cj wrote:
Jenny Pardington wrote:Is anyone still reading this stuff? Yes! Or should I stop? No!!
SECONDED That is supposed to be a shout from the bottom end of 6s table across to the top end of 8s!!

And thirded (with bells on) :D

xx

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Post by Jenny Pardington » Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:39 am

Oh all right then! Here's another - a very rare letter from Elizabeth Onley, violin virtuoso and champion cricket-ball chucker. She had just been up to London for an interview at the Royal College of Music. We were in each other's company a lot of the time so letters were normally unnecessary. This one came in a batch of letters from everyone in The Study. As explained before, I was at home so had missed out on Sports Day, Singing Comp and Poetry Comp on 26, 28 and 29 March 1960.

"Dear Jennifer,

It seems that there is only the singing competition left to tell you about, so I'll plunge.

Muggins managed to miss the train back from London and arrived in the crush hall just as 8's were singing the last four verses of the psalm. I hopped on to the platform just before the song, all out of breath, and sang the wrong words all over the place! The outcome was that we came last. I wasn't surprised. The end of the psalm sounded pretty good, but the song was absolutely atrocious. We were all over the place, the entries were hopeless, and to make it worse, Sheila muffed the accompaninment.

Personally I agreed with his judgement, but a lot of people, especially 6's, thought we should have come much higher than we did. They thought ours was the only one that was at all lively, or had any expression in it. 2's won, and 1's won the junior competition. He appeared to go for the fundamentals i.e. intonation, correct tempo etc and didn't seem to take anything else into account. The general opinion of him was that he was a frightful stick-in-the-mud, one of those safe conventional types.

However, it's all over now. Can't say I'm sorry. I'm being thoroughly lazy now - doing needlework and reading. Bliss!

I didn't get the scholarship, but they said that they would probably offer me a place if I could raise the cash in some other way. My mother is now busily tapping such sources as the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund, war widows pension, Surrey County etc. I doubt if money will prove much of an obstacle because one of them at least ought to be under an obligation to do something about me, especially the R.A.F.

We gave Mrs D. her present - a huge C.H. book - this evening. Dianne has arrived. She appears rather bored with things.

Must stop. Hope your mother is still in her right mind etc. Mine isn't, judging by the letter I got this morning.

Love, Elizabeth."

The envelope, post-marked 10.30 a.m. 31 March 1960, has two scrawled messages on the back:

One, in Margaret's handwriting (why can I recognise her writing immediately when I'd probably pass her in the street nowadays?) says: "Sorry, can't send "Blue" - can you last out the holidays". I have absolutely no idea what this means!!

The second, from Mrs Davies, says: "Thank you very much for your share in the beautiful book that the girls gave me last night and also for the card with all your names in it. I am really delighted with it and it was very sweet of you all. Excuse no proper letter but I have no time! DMD".
Mrs D. and I were at constant loggerheads (generally about my untidiness) so it was a great surprise to even get this message!
Jennifer Bore, 5's and 8's 1953-1960

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Music exams and coffee evenings

Post by Jenny Pardington » Fri Sep 28, 2007 8:46 am

I'm beginning to think it would have been a good idea to get these letters into some sort of order first! As it is, I've been picking them out at random so this one from Margaret precedes one I posted earlier with her music exam results. I think M. was Ward Mon. for 5's at the time, hence her reference to their sports abilities: she used to draft me in to help and together we wrote, choreographed and directed a one-off musical in honour of their retiring Wardmistress, Miss Bailes, during the summer term.

"Dear J,

It is all over and I despair! He was a horrid little sniffy man with a bald head and specs which he peered over, and hardly appeared over the table. Despite Miss Barratt's threats, my scales and studies weren't too bad, and nor were my pieces, but my sight-reading was really awful and so were my ear tests. Elizabeth is feeling very mis. because she didn't do very well (so she says) but I don't think she need worry. She's also despairing about our singing. It seems that as soon as I arrive on the scene everything goes wrong, so I'll keep away.

5's are absolutely hopeless at their sports. They managed 3ft 10in jumping, the record being 4ft 4in! The record for the flat race is 10.4/5 and they took 12 2/5!

Now to get to the important news, i.e. Miss Smith (and Miss Gerrard) to coffee They arrived 3 mins after quarter to. Miss Smith in blue-green corderoy. We poured out coffee - Miss S. had grey cup and saucer, Miss G. green. Miss S. sat in red chair near corner cupboard. She had two rolls and two biscuits. We talked about - be prepared to groan - school food, digging holes in ground and living there, untidy study (whereupon Miss S. tried to open corner cupboard), annoying juniors, "A" staff and "B" staff (v. amusing!). We had no difficulty in keeping up conversation and managed to mention you 2 or 3 times but she didn't ask where you were. We considered practical jokes which "B" staff might play on April Fool's Day - also v. amusing as you can imagine. We all fell for both of them, Miss S. especially.

Miss K.B. missed you in Art! You know that English prep we did for Clo? I've just seen mine in her bag (she's in for Mrs D) and I got "B well tried" so boo squish to Rose who said I couldn't possibly have kept on the point for 10 sides. Well I did Neurr! Nyeah! Nnerrr! Do you get the sound I mean?

Bryan hasn't written again though he promised he would. Frisky has got his exams on Mon so I must get a Good Luck card for him.

Hope all's going well with you.

Love, M.
Jennifer Bore, 5's and 8's 1953-1960

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Post by Katharine » Fri Sep 28, 2007 2:02 pm

When I posted earlier about having staff to coffee in the Study others did not remember it - so glad to see it mentioned.

Ah yes, A & B staff, A staff could sit on the back pew in Chapel - same as DR, also take their turn in the seat in front of hers. B staff filled up the rest of the row - those were the visible differences but were there others?
Katharine Dobson (Hills) 6.14, 1959 - 1965
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Post by Ajarn Philip » Fri Sep 28, 2007 6:36 pm

The order doesn't really matter, Jenny, it's the flavour of the era that's so wonderful.

Boo squish...

Love it!
I know exactly what words I am wanting to say, but somehow or other they is always getting squiffsquiddled around

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Post by Jenny Pardington » Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:29 pm

A quick one from S.A.W. before I disappear for a few days. End of Spring term 1960 is looming.

"J.M.B.

Sorry I haven't written earlier but I have been in a tearing hurry ever since 6.10 this morning. The aura of gloom round my school needlework has lightened a little but I'm still going to be in a heck of a rush. How long are you going for? and will you be away on confirmation day? I hope not. Please remember to write. None of my adoring family have deigned to communicate with me since last Thursday and I am simmering with righteous rage.

Isn't it a gorgeous day? I incurred Gerrard's wrath by gazing out of the window and Queenie nearly got her hands on a poem entitled "In Praise of Spring" but my innocent smile must have disarmed her.

Do you like Compton Deverell? I shouldn't try and get through it if you hate it but it is one of my favourite books because it doesn't rush and it doesn't bother about impending wars and railway strikes and all the horrible things that crop up in most books. My taste for literature is sadly unappreciated in ward. Everybody runs for the murders and war books which I can't stand.

I am going to do something really dreadful soon. I can feel it inside me. Perhaps I shall tear my school needlework into little pieces and cast them at Miss Richards' feet or perhaps I shall hit M.K.P. over the head with a hockey stick. Anyway it will be something quite bad to fit in with my mood. Valerie and I give each other surreptitious nudges to remind ourselves where we will be this time next week.

Must stop. Be good. Wash your neck. Love S.A.W."

I don't remember reading Compton Deverell, but this was the young woman who introduced me to the beat poets, J.D. Salinger and many other good things - I still have the books with her inscription inside.
Jennifer Bore, 5's and 8's 1953-1960

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Post by Ajarn Philip » Tue Oct 02, 2007 12:25 pm

S.A.W. is undoubtedly one of those people you can't help liking without knowing anything about her, judging purely on what she writes and how she writes it. I'd really like to know what became of her.
I know exactly what words I am wanting to say, but somehow or other they is always getting squiffsquiddled around

Phil Underwood Ma A Col A Mid B 68-75

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Thanks Jennifer

Post by Alexandra Thrift » Mon Oct 08, 2007 2:54 am

......love them.

They should be published and copies sent to the Housey Museum.

Much hadn't changed 10 years later when I was still there........especially the Needlework gloom and terror.

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