In 1947, at the age of 4, I started infant school at Hermitage House in the Lansdown suburb of Bath. I cannot now recall my class teacher's name, but I do remember thinking how nice she was and if it had not been for her, I suspect I would have run away from school, as I hated the place! Morning break times were always dreaded, as we each had to drink a third of a pint of warm milk. This was supplied at that time to schools, in metal crates of special size bottles. I think these are no long made and the school milk must have formed part of some government decree! Did everyone hate it as much as I did? Presumably this was done for health reasons, but it was really foul. I loved milk otherwise and as long as it was either cold or hot, I would drink as much as required, but luke warm milk I hate to this day!
At the end of that year, my beloved teacher left this school and moved to a small and exclusive boarding school, The Collegiate at Winterbourne, a village just north of Bristol. The Collegiate had been founded nearby in 1903, but in 1946, the site of Winterbourne House was purchased and the school re-established. I must have been a very spoilt child, as without further ado, my parents arranged for me to transfer there, and I became the youngest boarder that the school had ever had at that time. Because of my age, I was not put into a dormitory at first, and the owners and head teachers of the school, namely Mr Rex and Mrs Susannah Hopes, treated me as their own. Rex Hopes was a talented artist, designer and poet and at one stage did windowdressing work for Austin Reed, the tailors. The Hopes did have a daughter Margaret, but I remember her as being somewhat older than myself. Not only did I have a room to myself, as I went to bed a bit earlier than the others, but the prefects used to come and read to me at night!!
|In school uniform!|
These were very happy schooldays and I remember the great cook that we used to have there, and also the lovely old gardener, both of whom used to spoil me, as I was the youngest in the school. I often sneaked into the out-of-bounds kitchen and came out with something special to eat in a quiet place. The school buildings were beautiful, having formerly been Winterbourne House; I believe it dates back to about 1698. The preacher John Wesley used to deliver sermons there in the late 18th century. The property has recently, I believe, again been renamed as Silverhill School, but the facilities have been much expanded since my days there . It has the most wonderful 18th century staircase which stands out clearly in my mind.