Corporal Punishment......

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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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by J.R. » Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:37 am

Angela Woodford wrote:When was Flecker Headmaster, Michael?

Paedophiles amongst the staff? How come he did nothing?
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by DavebytheSea » Fri Sep 19, 2008 12:07 pm

Flecker "the Oil" (nicknamed thus following an address wherein he described Housey as machine and himself as the oil) was headmaster from 1935 until he left (with me) in 1955.

Paedophiles on the staff? Undoubtedly - but then the term was not then understood or used in its modern sense - classicists would interpret the word in those days in a far less perjorative light.

One must remember also that the vast majority of the staff were bachelors in an all male enironment, who devoted their life to "the boys". I remember one very eminent educational psychologist (and himself an Old Blue) once remarking, in a very relaxed moment I have to say, that the devotion of the staff toward their charges may have been the mainspring behind some very inspirational teaching. One must remember that the revered MacNutt himself produced some outstanding Oxbridge scholars.

Having read the above, I realise that my psychologist friend (now alas no longer with us) would scarcely have brought himself to make such a remark, even in private, in today's social environment. I am not sure I should even have recorded it here. However, it does make some sense of the widely diverging views among those of us who shared those immediate post war years ar Horsham. For some it was undoubtedly horrific, while for others, like myself, who encountered little of the horror, it was throughout an enchanting and enriching experience. I have commented elsewhere on the forum on a gifted teacher about whom many rumours abounded and abound, but who for me remains a beacon of musical endeavour and excellence. In my case, his behaviour was always friendly but untarnished - and he bought me my first ever pint at the Swan in Pulborough.
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by J.R. » Fri Sep 19, 2008 12:21 pm

DavebytheSea wrote:Flecker "the Oil" (nicknamed thus following an address wherein he described Housey as machine and himself as the oil) was headmaster from 1935 until he left (with me) in 1955.

Paedophiles on the staff? Undoubtedly - but then the term was not then understood or used in its modern sense - classicists would interpret the word in those days in a far less perjorative light.

One must remember also that the vast majority of the staff were bachelors in an all male enironment, who devoted their life to "the boys". I remember one very eminent educational psychologist (and himself an Old Blue) once remarking, in a very relaxed moment I have to say, that the devotion of the staff toward their charges may have been the mainspring behind some very inspirational teaching. One must remember that the revered MacNutt himself produced some outstanding Oxbridge scholars.

Having read the above, I realise that my psychologist friend (now alas no longer with us) would scarcely have brought himself to make such a remark, even in private, in today's social environment. I am not sure I should even have recorded it here. However, it does make some sense of the widely diverging views among those of us who shared those immediate post war years ar Horsham. For some it was undoubtedly horrific, while for others, like myself, who encountered little of the horror, it was throughout an enchanting and enriching experience. I have commented elsewhere on the forum on a gifted teacher about whom many rumours abounded and abound, but who for me remains a beacon of musical endeavour and excellence. In my case, his behaviour was always friendly but untarnished - and he bought me my first ever pint at the Swan in Pulborough.
Now sadly, a housing complex !

Used to be a nice pub with a nice view down the river.
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by DavebytheSea » Fri Sep 19, 2008 12:41 pm

Angela - I realise I have not answered the second part of your question - how come Flecker did nothing?

First and foremost, the ethos at that time was that the housemaster exercised the rights and duties of headmaster in all non academic matters. Therefore, it was the house that was all important to the child - indeed there was an understanding that as all social activity was centred in the house; even talking to boys in other houses outside lesson times was considered abnormal behaviour and, until about 1946, often actually required the housemaster's permission. Therefore Flecker's involvement in what housemasters did within their own houses was entirely minimal. Houses thus developed in widely differing ways and provided widely differing environments and school experiences for their inmates.

As we all know - and as I stated above - those post war years in a boys' public school were as far removed from present day Christ's Hospital as it is possible to be, certainly as regards the perception of sexual morality. Homosexual activity of any sort (even between consenting male adults) was a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment. Yet everybody knew it existed and, in the absence of girls at Horsham, it was common for older boys to form romantic attachments to those younger than themselves. However, if this passed from mere passive affection into something more physical, action was taken - usually one or other of the parties was moved into another house as quietly and discreetly as possible.

What happened at Christ's Hospital was probably no different from the other boys' public schools. As a protected product of Arthur Rider's Mid A, I remember being hugely shocked by my cousins' accounts of alleged atrocities at Eton and Charterhouse; I was then of the opinion that nothing like that happened at Housey.

The fascinating thing about all this past history is that the truth will probably never be known in its entirety. Even today, those caught up in such shenanigans are probably still reluctant to speak of something that in our day was rarely discussed except in whispered conversation. It was then considered shameful and not something to be spoken of.

Finally, I would say that it is questionable whether today's paranoia is any more helpful. Today's child may be better protected, but he has lost the joy of intimacy with others of a different generation. It is a very brave or foolish man today who will offer help or friendship to another's child. As a result, youth has lost its respect for an older generation and, in the name of safety, we are all rendered thus unsafe and we are all the losers thereby.
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by Angela Woodford » Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:39 pm

Thank you David. How interesting!

Are today's attitudes preferable? I really don't know. I welcome a liberal attitude towards homosexuality, providing it's of the "consenting adults" variety. Or a teen experimentation which might clarify the eventual sexual preference of the individual? Today, children are extra vulnerable in revealing personal details to strangers via the Internet, which I find a more worrying concept as opposed to the close friendships that can be struck up in a boarding environment

However, it must be terribly difficult for schoolmasters/mistresses. The very people who must offer "help and friendship towards other peoples' children"!

Even at Hertford in the 60s, friendships with girls in other Houses wasn't encouraged. In 6s, our dear old Pot discouraged friendships between girls of different years, and tried not to encourage the "schoolma" tradition, so I can imagine something of the 40s taboos which you describe.
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by J.R. » Fri Sep 19, 2008 4:42 pm

Having gone through the fairly austere regime at CH, I found it very very hard to show natural affection with our daughters, something I have since overcome with the advent of Grand-Children.

One of our Grand-Daughters was 14 this week, and popped into our local club for a coke and to collect her pressie with Mum, (eldest daughter). On leaving, she gave me a lip to lip kiss, which is her choice. Her elder sister prefers a kiss on the cheek.

I noticed some of the sly, almost furtive glances from some of the young parents in the bar and couldn't help wondering if todays paranoia in this new PC society of ours is turning parents away from their kids in fear of what others might say !
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by michael scuffil » Fri Sep 19, 2008 5:20 pm

Flecker was headmaster from 1930 to 1955. That was far too long by any standards. Apparently he managed the school very well during the war, and it would have been better if he had left in 1945. In the next 10 years I get the impression he had grown indolent and complacent, and let the school run itself. (I should add that this is hearsay, I arrived at the same time as Seaman.)

For some very unflattering comments on him by A.H. Buck, see "More Than a Brother". Buck hated Flecker, and it is an irony of CH history that Flecker was headmaster almost the whole time Buck was a master there (1928-56), but in Seaman's very first year, it was Seaman who accepted Buck's resignation with alacrity, following Buck's admitted overfamiliarity with a boy.

There was a master with a seriously paedophile reputation (I myself heard stories from credible victims) who simply did not return for Seaman's first term; I imagine he'd been told he wouldn't be welcome.

There were - of course - a number of masters with obvious paedophile tendencies, but in most cases they were harmless, and took their pleasure from (for example) strolling through the changing room "to talk about the match". There was the occasional covert sadist, but given that corporal punishment was in those days legal and general, it was difficult to prove that the punishment was in fact for the gratification of the master rather than the chastisement of the boy. Macnutt (who incidentally was married) was an exceptionally overt case.

I think I will start a thread on Seaman (watch this forum). He was an interesting man in spite of appearances.
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by michael scuffil » Fri Sep 19, 2008 5:43 pm

Between the time I read Angela's post and answered it, the various posts above appeared. I'd like to say I agree with almost everything DaveByTheSea has said on this subject. Attitudes were different then, and the current paranoia is less than helpful. (The Dunblane killer had paedophile tendencies, almost certainly harmless, and wanted to work with boys, and was refused. Had he not been, he would have had a harmless outlet for his tendencies, and the tragedy might have been avoided.)

That said, the News of the World in the 50s made a living by exposing dodgy schoolmasters and clergymen, even then, and I think not everything can be shrugged off by saying that the past is a foreign country. Some of what went on should have been stopped.
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by Mid A 15 » Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:27 pm

Fascinating posts from both Michael and Davebythesea.

I've said it before but it bears repeating that it is very easy to adversely judge actions taken in the past by the standards of today which is a point I've inferred from the posts of both David and Michael.

The late BS Gregory was well known for wielding a gym shoe when he considered that punishment was needed. He would almost certainly be defined as "cruel" or "abusive" by the standards of today yet in my opinion, and in this instance it is not rose tinted spectacles after the event, he was scrupulously fair and if you were punished by him (as I often was) you deserved it. That was then the end of the matter and you started again with a clean slate. There is absolutely no way I regarded him then (or now) as cruel or abusive and I suspect that Ajarn Philip, having also had BSG as Housemaster a few years later and no doubt also being the recipient of a few "cracks" with the gymshoe, would agree with me.

That said I agree with Michael that there were probably abusive incidents (by any standards not just those of today) that were suppressed and of course that suppression should not have happened.
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by Ajarn Philip » Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:52 pm

Mid A 15 wrote:The late BS Gregory was well known for wielding a gym shoe when he considered that punishment was needed. ...in my opinion, and in this instance it is not rose tinted spectacles after the event, he was scrupulously fair and if you were punished by him (as I often was) you deserved it. That was then the end of the matter and you started again with a clean slate. There is absolutely no way I regarded him then (or now) as cruel or abusive and I suspect that Ajarn Philip, having also had BSG as Housemaster a few years later and no doubt also being the recipient of a few "cracks" with the gymshoe, would agree with me.
All the way. A real gent.

Especially as, if you were in pajamas, he let you put your breeches on first!

I can remember being caned on the hand at a state primary school in Clapham Junction, though I can't remember what for. Probably running down the stairs - I was such a 'good boy' in those days it makes even me vaguely nauseous to think of it. But that hurt. I mean it really hurt. I was caned again at CH every now and then, but there's a difference between age 8-10 and age 15-17. I can't remember ever being unfairly punished at CH, and I was punished a fair few times.
I know exactly what words I am wanting to say, but somehow or other they is always getting squiffsquiddled around

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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by Angela Woodford » Fri Sep 19, 2008 9:42 pm

How bad did you have to be, to be whacked with the gym shoe or cane?
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by Mid A 15 » Sat Sep 20, 2008 12:37 pm

Angela Woodford wrote:How bad did you have to be, to be whacked with the gym shoe or cane?
As far as I remember it depended on the individual master and house.

I stand to be corrected by Philip, Plum Senior or other Maine A Old Blues of the time but BSG never used a cane as far as I am aware. The gymshoe in his hands was deterrent enough!

One might receive one whack for something like persistently talking when told not to after lights out and up to six for more serious offences such as fighting, dependent on the severity of the fight.

I recall one occasion when I was carrying some food, possibly to take to BSG himself, when somebody tripped me up much to the amusement of a few others. I managed to stay on my feet and save the food but was so annoyed (I was a bit impulsive in those days) that I tipped the lot over the person that tripped me. BSG gave me three for that but it is what happened before and afterwards that defines the man. He called me in and told me that throwing food in Dining Hall was completely unacceptable and that I would be punished. However he told me that he knew WHY I had thrown the food and assured me that the other party would also be punished. You cannot argue with that. He then whacked me and five minutes later found me in the Changing Room and said "Miller, nets in ten minutes." The incident was closed and the only reason he left it five minutes was that he was sensitive enough to know that a boy may not want to reveal that he had shed a tear after the beating. (I hadn't!).

The man commanded total respect and no little affection despite having a stutter (or was it a stammer?I'm unsure of the difference). One of my CH related regrets was going back a year or two after leaving, visiting Maine A and finding BSG absent. He died, in harness, not long after so I never did see him again.
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by michael scuffil » Sat Sep 20, 2008 6:41 pm

Angela Woodford wrote:How bad did you have to be, to be whacked with the gym shoe or cane?
I was never beaten (by a master -- sometimes illegally by a monitor), so either I had a nice housemaster, or I wasn't bad enough. Probably both. Bryan Magee suggests that Macnutt preferred to beat boys he found good-looking, apart from beating them on bare buttocks: this suggest that the gravity of the offence was in his case irrelevant. Other masters had a reputation for wielding the cane freely. Once, in a German lesson, Reggie Dean (the teacher) threatened a boy from Barnes A by saying (I quote verbatim) "Pongo's a hard beater, you know!" Reggie was a notorious disrespecter of persons, but this public remark did surprise us. It was true, and (in my opinion) euphemistic. I think there's little doubt that Pongo [Littlefield] liked caning people.

I think in the Prep (I wasn't in the Prep) you were beaten for more trivial offences than in the Upper.

Killer Fry got his nickname from caning a boy hard for giggling during house prayers (this nickname was otherwise entirely inappropriate). Impertinence would get you beaten: I know someone who was beaten by RA Hewitt (okay?) for calling out: "Cock it up, Jack" as RAH was mounting his bicycle. Being beaten by the Headmaster was a special privilege: Seaman caned a friend of mine for camping out one night, and having half of West Sussex police force looking for him.
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by J.R. » Sun Sep 21, 2008 11:39 am

As I recall, there was no caning in Prep B, but you would collect points for sins, and this would result in so-many strokes with the gym-shoe, administered at bed-time in the dorm by Mr Eagle.

I was caned twice by Bogey Fryer, and once by R.A. (Okay?) Hewitt along with Phil Wey for playing Reveille on our bugles in the dorm on the last day of term, which was earlier than the normal rising time. Phil and I were late into dining hall for breakfast as we had to wait for R.A.H. to get dressed and reach his study.

The news had spread to the dining hall by the time we walked in, and we were greeted by a cheer from Colerindge and Middleton tables.

Great days ! I have absolutely no problem with corporal punishment.
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Re: Corporal Punishment......

Post by michael scuffil » Sun Sep 21, 2008 1:06 pm

J.R. wrote: I have absolutely no problem with corporal punishment.
Nor do I in theory. Having known them all, I don't think either Eaglet or Bogey or Hewitt beat you for their own pleasure. But the practice was wide open to abuse. And it was a kind of sexual abuse that was difficult to pin down as such.

(Your reveille wasn't loud enough to reach Thornton, though I heard about it.)
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