Hillbrow School

Hillsbrow School

This webpage was inspired by Mrs Ruby Meaning, who worked at Hillsbrow School 1939 - 1941. She asked what had happened to the school and as I knew nothing about Hillsbrow I set about finding out. Here are the result so far, and although my research has provided much more information that I ever dreamed it would.

The school badge
(Courtesy Richard Symonds)
  Hillsbrow House School 1928
Hillsbrow School was opened in 1924 by Mr G.D.Seale, its first headmaster, in a house called Hillsbrow that had been built by John Linnell, the artist, for his son William. Before starting the school Mr Seale had been an actor in Hollywood, and his mother lived in Chale in the Isle of Wight. Mr Seale might have owned the building but much of its land was on a 7-year lease from Fullers Earth. It was advertised as being for the preparation of boys for public schools and the Royal Navy. Boarders and day boarders were taken from 6 to 14 years of age, entire charge being taken of boys whose parents were in India and the Colonies. The grounds comprised nineteen acres and included orchards, woods and kitchen garden. Probably the house and grounds remained much as they had been when William Linnell was in residence.
In the 1924 advert for the school (see below) there is a special mention that the staff members included the Rev. W.J.Perry, presumably the same Rev. Perry who had been the head of St Anne’s School which had closed in 1919.
A scout troop was attached to the school and football, cricket and golf featured were special activities. Boxing, shooting, carpentry and Swedish drill were also featured.
Mr Harman was bursar from 1927 to1939. His wife and two daughters would spend five weeks of their summer holidays at the school each year. His eldest daughter (Mrs Atterbury) later became a part-time secretary there.
In 1930 a swimming pool was built.

.......The 1913 map shows Hillsbrow as it was when a private house)..................................................................................Headmaster Mr Seale c1933 .....................(photo courtesy Holmesdale Natural History Club) ...................................................................................................(Photo courtesy Mrs Atterbury)

One of the the earliest advertisements for the school, from the 1924 Holmesdale Pictorial Guide to Reigate and Redhill and District


The 1954 advertisement
includes the swimming
pool, the chapel and the
fact that there are now
60 acres. The telephone
+number has changed from
54 to 2976

The pool being filled c1933
(Photo courtesy Mrs Atterbury)
The school cook in the 1930s
(Photo courtesy Mrs Atterbury)
Headmaster Mr Seale 1935
(Photo courtesy Mrs Atterbury)
Mrs Atterbury, aged six, is sat at the school's pool second from right between her mother and father, Mr and Mrs Harman, in 1933. Mr Harman was the School Bursar. Her sister, Ivy, is the other side of her mother. Tommy Bird, the school secretary at the time, is on the left. (Photo courtesy Mrs Atterbury) Mr Seale with his mother (seated) and the female members of Harman family in 1938. Here Mrs Atterbury, aged 11, is the girl on the left.
(Photo courtesy Mrs Atterbury)
Two photos of a 1932 parents' cricket match (Photos courtesy Mrs Atterbury)
Headmaster Mr Seale speaking at at the tea following the 1932 cricket match at the school. (Photo courtesy Mrs Atterbury)
Mr Seale with old boys after a cricket match in 1938
(Photo courtesy Mrs Atterbury)
Old boys at Hillsbrow, date unknown
(Photo courtesy Mrs Atterbury)

A 1938 rugger programme (courtesy John Haynes)

       I met GDS first when the school was still in Devon.  My parents had gone down there with me to have a look at the school.  I recall a very large cricket pitch, and GDS getting up from a (think) deck chair.   The other thing I remember is some boys coming and expressing thanks for something by saying ‘Sawfs’ (Thanks awfully, sir) while flick their hands so that the limp index finger smacked loudly against the second).   This was an example of GDS’s way of cultivating little ceremonies and routines to create a sense of community.
       My recollections are few, partly because GDS died while I was still in form 5.   There he used to take us for maths and I dreaded it because I always scored  naught in the tests and he'd pause over his mark book and give me a very discomfiting glare, holding my eyes, his cheeks limp with what seemed like great anger. Because of this I was relieved when one morning it was said he couldn’t come to class because he wasn’t well.  But this turned out to be the beginning of the illness from which he died some time later and I remember my relief now with some unease.
       Dark perhaps sallow complexion, glasses, balding at the front and sides.  He had a habit of smoking without knocking the ash off the cigarette so that it grew and grew.   He once returned from America to show us a new invention, the ball point pen.
       I recall him sick in his study in a bed which seemed to fold down off the wall.  There was a framed oil painting of his dog, Stumpy who was very old and died about the time he did.  I was ushered in once when I'd done my first good of bowling,  five wickets  in  a  house match  against Hillyard's  team,  Brow  House.  I remember the actual deliveries now: bowled Hillyard  (played-on)  then Perkins (yorker), and some others  holding  the  ball  loosely in about four fingers.   GDS had some flat dark green tins of  army  supplies,  white writing on them,  with  a mixture  of  things in them, chocolate and Horlicks tablets  I recall,  and so on.   I believed they were given out to soldiers (or others) as basic survival food.   These he gave out as prizes.   I recall scratching my analysis in columns on the back of it. I was never old enough to play for the school while he was alive. Though I believe he could be quite angry over bad performances. A vague memory of other, older boys mumbling that he has annoyed, and seeing his very clouded face moving towards the nets.  But this is very vague indeed.  Apparently he had once been a very good cricketer.
       The other boys showed great affection, which for some reason  I  was held  back  from,  perhaps  by  my  fear  of him, and perhaps by the general unhappiness I felt, a  homesickness that made me withhold real loyalty to the school, and at the same  time  made  me  feel guilty  and  not quite up to the mark communally. This also may have been a class origin,  since  I  never  felt  I quite belonged - though I have scarcely belonged so  fully  to  any  other  community than  that  one.  It was certainly, also, a function of something at home which gave rise to that susceptibility to homesickness in the first place.  I didn't know then that he had been an actor before the First World War, and only come into teaching later, at a school in St Johns Wood, I believe.   Although he must have known my parents were in music hall he never mentioned his own past in the theatre to them, or to any of us.  Photos of him certainly have a debonair Noel Coward charm, and John London thought he used it to good effect on the Mums.  He was also a lay preacher and a member of the local rotaries.
       He seemed to be away and in hospital for a long time.  Once I spoke to him on the phone, taking my turn in the line going from the upstairs hall into the staff room.  I repeated what other people had been saying, and asked him about his leg.  I've still no idea what was wrong, and what he finally died from.   Eventually there was an announcement by Edward Shegog, then the senior master, that he had died and some boys rushed up to the dormitory to weep on their beds.  I felt little and felt guilty about that.
       The whole school walked up the hill of Nutfield Road to visit the cemetery where he was buried.   I recall seeing a wreath from the staff and boys of Bickley Hall School, whom we played matches against.  Penfold was the name of their fast bowler, I recall.
       GDS had an interest, background perhaps, in the navy and demonstrated the salute once.  This comes out in early ads for the school in the almanacs in the Local Studies library in Guildford – ‘Preparation for the navy is offered’.
       After prayers the older boys would spend some moments chatting in his room before going to our dormitories.  On the eve of cricket or rugby matches the team were invited in to his study and we stood in a line, he in front of his with his back to the fire, and we each had a sip from a tankard of beer.  The symbolism of this escaped me then, and still does.  Men together, in some way?  Kicking over the traces?  Bonding?
       His birthdays were massively celebrated.  We composed 'Many Happies', which were pictures to stick on the walls, with Many Happy Returns to Mr Seale, or GDS etc.  And for the first one I made a model plane with another boy, but there was a muddle.  I asked him to 'keep it', meaning look after it until the birthday.  But he thought I meant it should be his, not a present.  He was Blakeney.  The next year Mum and Dad sent a rather boring tie.
       I see him at the table in form five, opening all  the  presents  for various  people,  often  models  they'd  made themselves - of ships, planes - 'A whole fleet of  ships  from  Fay (?Faye)' I can hear him saying. We also made a kind  of  confetti  out  of  tiny  pieces  of paper,  each  of  which  had  Many Happy Returns written tiny on it.  These were rained down on him from the top of the stair well, a great helix of banisters going up and up.
The making of the ‘many happies’ was done in the sixth form,  and there was a notice with OUT OF BOUNDS TO GDS on the door.  Once there was a mock crisis when he made to go in there. He was a very effective leader in all this, developing his own image as a loved head, and for many he was.  There was no sense, doing the preparations for his birthday, that this was ordered from on high, or that it was an irksome task.
       At breakfast times the prefect on duty would call for silence and GDS would call out the names of people who had letters and then skim them across the dinning hall  across plats, cuts, marmalade jars, to where the person was.  Then there would be Latin grace:  Benedictus, benedicatur, per Jesum Christum dominum nostrum (I think! at least for the grace after the meal).  GDS sense of tradition is marked by the dark oak boards he had on the dining room walls with lists of old boys and which public schools they had gone too. 
       Once we came back from holidays, perhaps a half-term, and heard there had been a fire in GDS' study.  I have a vague notion this was around the time of his illness.  The painting of Stumpy was now scorched around the edges, and quite a few items of furniture were dumped and half buried in the woods, along the main track from the cellars to the cricket field (parallel to the drive) which we called The Derby Course.   They could be seen as we ran past a dip where the holly tree was, just before getting to the so-called 'Sandpit', which was out of bounds.  Was this, like the hole in the field behind the cricket field, possibly in fact a bomb crater, like the one in the field behind the cricket pitch, also out of bounds?
       There had been no painting of GDS so, as a memorial, they blew up a snapshot of him, and framed it on the back wall of the dining room, just behind the chair at which he sat with the prefects, and above the gas fire.   It showed him sheltering a flame very tenderly as he bent to light a cigarette, and there were some blurred figures in the background.  I think these were ladies' hats, and that it was taken at tea during a cricket match, on the lawn across from the main door of the school and the circle where cars turned.  But this scene painting may be purely my own invention.  The effect of the picture strikes me, with hindsight, as showing a moment of vulnerable solitude in the midst of parents' and visitors' chatter.
       He had no wife, his mother was now dead, and his brother Ernest, a businessman I think, occasionally visited, much slimmer than GDS, and eventually took over the school for a while after GDS's death.  My main recollection of him is of my own timidity. He was a Jew by race but a Christian by adoption, and David Williams thinks he may have been a repressed homosexual.   I recall once other boys, in the New Dorm, saying how they loved him, and one boasting that they had kissed him.   But that’s just hearsay from my point of view.  David Williams joked that he liked the passage in Rupert Brooke about the rough male embrace of the blanket. My fear of him was as much to do with me as him, and I saw that he had a genuine affection for the boys.  This came out at ‘Cheers’, when after some notable school event we’d get out of our beds shortly after lights-out and come out onto the second floor landing and each dorm in turn would call out Three cheers for Mr Seale, and once we’d gathered he’d reflect on the event and often get boys who’d been involved to say some words.   The most emotional times were at the end of the term when boys were leaving and made speeches and often cried, sometimes with his arm briefly around them.
       David's recollections of him through his father, Old Bill, who had been a master at the school, are, also, of a very difficult man to work for, one who wouldn't accept criticisms, who dictated prize giving speeches on his behalf from his sickbed, even indicating the pauses for applause or laughter.   When Old Bill had got fed up and wanted to go elsewhere he got the most luke warm of testimonials, it seems, out of resentment. 
       Seale had worked at other prep schools and came from London, St John's Wood.   His first pupils had come from his previous prep school.  And he had a knack of attracting sports people.  Jack Hobbs had visited the school in 1924 to coach and be bowled out by the wonder bowler Cyril Fyers.  A full length photo of Hobbs holding a cricket ball used to stand in the school hall, that dim room with a carpet in it, a sideboards full of nick-nacks (I recall a big brass fly you could lift the wings of to reveal a place to keep things or maybe put ash).   Gordon Richards' sons came to Hillsbrow, as did Rickerby.  Freddy Mills came in my time, complete with radio crew (no mention of the school in the broadcast, apparently).   Mills also came once to judge the boxing championship (awarded on boxing ‘ringcraft’.   With Mills on his first visit was the then British heavyweight champion, Johnny Williams whom I later played cricket with when staying for a half-term with Pat Burnham at the (then) Barley Mow (later The Arcal, I’m not sure what now).   Also GDS got Sarah Churchill down before the war.
He had a television, and in fact had been given a present of one of the first ever made, he apparently having been in contact with a colleague of Baird's.  We were allowed in to watch early variety shows (I think, 'Roof Top Rendezvous) and news, and the test matches, the 'varsity' rugby match, and so on - all cross legged on the floor in the dark.  I remember Worrel, Walcott, and Weekes, and announcers having to hold smiles too long before the camera cut.
       Looking at his gravestone as I did returning five or so years ago, you saw that Hillsbrow was his life.  He was the headmaster of Hillsbrow, and nobody's beloved this or that.

A form completed by GD Seale in 1915 agreeing to enlistment in the armed services for the duration of WW1
(courtesy John Haynes)

The obituary of Geoffrey Douglas Seale from the Surrey Mirror Friday April 8th 1949 (Alan Moore)

The stone on Geoffrey Douglas Seale's grave at Nutfield Cemetery is inscribed: -

The plot plus an adjacent one were bought and paid for by Alfred E Seale of 9 Warrington Crescent, Maida Vale, London, and Francis W Harman of Bank Chambers, Oxted. Alfred E Seale died in 1953 aged 66 and is interred in the adjacent plot. Geoffrey Seale was aged 59 at death, Alfred Seale was aged 66 at death. (grave photo and details Alan Moore)

In 1940 or 1941 Mary Churchill, daughter of the then Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, visited Hillsbrow to present the prizes. She is shown below with some of the boys. There was a Surrey Mirror article accompanying the picture which, due to its length, is reproduced at the end of this page
(Picture and SM article courtesy John Haynes)
A Mr and Mrs Meaning were at the school from 1939 - 41 and later during the war, possibly in 1941 or 42, the school moved to near Tiverton in Devon, its Redhill premises being taken taken over by the RAF. In 1945-6 the school returned to Redhill.
Mrs Atterbury, nee Harman, worked there as part-time secretary from 1946 - 1959.

Airmen from Redhill aerodrome billetted at Hillsbrow School during WW2 making use of school desks.
(picture Alan Moore)

More Information from John Haynes

John Haynes at Hillsbrow 1950

........Hillsbrow school exists now only as a site near the top of Redstone Hill in Redhill, Surrey. You can still find the odd mug handle and rusted dormitory bedstead, formless lumps of stone which formed part of the cellar, the odd coloured tile from the conservatory floor. And there is a small archway, almost buried now, and crammed with old Dulux tins and a bedspread, which was once the entrance which led from the ground floor landing of the house into the cellar where William Linnell, the son of the nineteenth century painter, and wine connoisseur (he went to the docks to select his vintages) placed his cellar. Of the house, which was called 'Hillsbrow' from the beginning, almost nothing else remains except for some of the stone steps that led down from the back of the house towards the open fields falling away towards Nutfield, and what were then the rugger pitches. The oaktree, which grew against and into the wall sustaining the two sides flights of these steps still stands, as do many other of the trees which, to a boy who noticed such things, marked out the landscape of the woods which had, in his own time so comforted the aging painting, Linnel, and formed the basis for many of his paintings with a woodland background.

Hillsbrow with the dining room in the foreground

.........If the house, or the genius of the place, could speak, I think it might be to whisper the name of John Linnell who loved this woods so well, as I, a homesick prep school boy who missed his mum, did with at least as much intensity, if not with the same ability to make art of. Linnell's biographer, Alfred Story, writes, that 'Linnell became after his settlement at Redhill a simple child of Nature, and all his pictures painted after that time, especially those of his best period, strike one as being as intimately in accord with...Nature.' Linnell first visited the house in May 1849, entirely by chance, it appears, as a result of a delay in his journey to Edenbridge. This his how his biographer, Alfred Story, describes it. 'At Redhill Junction there was a delay, and they took the opportunity to walk up the hill to Redstone Wood. Linnell had previously noticed a wooded knoll on the left of the line from London to Brighton, and had remarked that it seemed just the place for an artist's cottage. A nearer view of the spot enhanced his satisfaction with it, and to his surprise he found that it was for sale. Well wooded, overlooking a magnificent stretch of country, and in the midst of a thoroughly agricultural district, it seemed the very place for the home of a landscape-painter, and so convinced was Linnell of the fact, that, after making the necessary inquiries and investigations, he resolved to buy it. The property belong to a stock exchange broker called Allsop who was, paradoxically, a follower of Robert Owen, of whom Linnell had a 'but a poor opinion of his 'intellects''. Linnel had original originally planned to build a small artist's cottage but in the end his conception widened and he 'employed an architect to draw up designs for a substantial house such as would meet all the requirements of his family which now numbered four sons and five daughters. The building was completed and the family moved in in July 1851.
As time went on Linnel added to this estate. Four or five years later he bought a further thirty-one acres from Lord Somers, mainly arable land, which he let to tenant farms. His painting 'Harvest' is set in one these fields. According to Story the tenant farmer there 'remarked that he supposed that the artist would get more out of the field than he should, meaning that the painting would probably fetch more than his year's crop'
........ Later still, in 1862, Linnel added Chart Lodge estate to his land, adding a further thirty-two acres, so his total estate amounted to about eighty acres. A large proportion of it was woodland and this was kept almost intact, hardly ever felling a tree, or even so much as lopping a branch.
Linnell also built two further houses at Redstone, one each for his sons William and James. It was William's house which became known as Hillsbrow and is the building which later was to become Hillsbrow School. He refers to the houses as 'the colony'. The woodland in which they were set, known as Redstone Wood, infused both his painting, and his spiritual life. Referring to the landscape around him, he said, 'this is the serious labour of my life' Then pointing to a landscape on the easel, he added, 'That is but my recreation'. It was only after settling at Redstone that Linnell began to write nature poetry, which while not being too facile as poetry, does attest to his the deepening love for nature after moving there.

Hillsbrow grounds

His story makes very little mention of Hillsbrow as such. We can imagine that it probably resembled Linnell's own house, and there is a sketch by John Linnell junior called 'Redstone Wood', which shows a house very like Hillsbrow (Hills Brow, as it was usually called then). This house may possibly be Hillsbrow, since the style, especially the distinctively tall chimneys, is the same, and the way the land falls away from the corner of the house to the left (in the drawing) is very similar to the Hillsbrow that I myself recall, there even being a path at that time, just where the path
runs in the picture. However, what looks like a high wall on the right of the building does not correspond to the Hillsbrow of the 1940s. There was a wall in roughly that place, dividing the kitchen yard from the path and the steps just mentioned, but I recall that this was much lower, then, and there was no window or door coming outwards from the main house to adjoin it, as the sketch shows. So either this part of the house was partially demolished at some point, or the drawing refers to one of the other houses, which did not survive so long as Hillsbrow itself, perhaps Linnell's own. The sketch could hardly be of James's house since that was on flatter ground below in Philanthropic Lane South, close by where Redhill cemetery now stands.

........ It was in 1881) that Mr. Holman Hunt [the very prominent Pre-Raphaelite painter], being on a visit with Mrs Hunt to Mr William Linnel, who was now living at Hill's Brow, the house built for him son the estate by his father, called upon his old friend.
........ After John Linnell senior's death, the Linnell family remained on the Redstone estate until 1912, when it was occupied by a Douglas Charles Brown. The founder of the prep school at Hillsbrow, G .D. Seale, is first mentioned in the records in 1924, when the school was called Surrey House Preparatory School, then Hillsbrow House in 1925, and finally becoming Hillsbrow School thereafter. Advertisements in the local press emphasis the setting as 'one of the most delightful spots in Surrey', and mention that the school receives boys from six and fourteen and a half years, preparing
them for public schools and the Royal Navy. It was worth mentioning then in the 1920s, as it surely would not have been later, that 'Games are a special feature, CRICKET, RUGGER, SOCCER and GOLF being played. The School has been particularly successful in this direction'.
........ Redhill was a good site for a prep school, not only because of the beauty of the woodland setting and the suitability of the house from the point of view of size to accommodate about a hundred boarders, but also because it was close to the railway station at the bottom of Redstone Hill. The development of Redhill as a town distinct from Reigate was bound up with the development of the steam train. The South Eastern Railway line from Redhill to Tunbridge Wells had opened in 1842. And it was a railway journey, seven years before which had brought Linnell to Redhill. The rise of the railway network in Britain, was a factor also in the expansion of the public and preparatory schools in England, since the any particular school was now much more easily accessible to people living at a distance, especially if it was on the main line.
........ G.D.Seale, the founder of the school was not the owner of the house, however, it being leased from a fullers earth company. Fullers earth is a form a clay used in making of cloth, and is plentiful in Nutfield, which lies a mile or two to the West of Redhill, and adjoins the grounds of the school. The Victorian County History of Surrey says 'The history of Nutfield, so far as it exists, is the history of the fullers earth industry', and to the wider history of the clothing industry of Surrey.

The painting, 'Noonday Rest' by John Linnell, gives us an idea of the view from Hillsbrow School.

....................................................................1947 or 48 School Group courtesy John Haynes
Back Row - Morris  ?  Buckingham  Fleming  Devereax I ?   ?    ?   ?  Lamb  Ghinn II  Leighton II  ? Oliver II  ?   ? Walker   ?   Sharp
Fifth Row - Bedford   Drayson  Hobday  Hein  Mackay   ?   ?Howells  Bacon  Herbert  Syrett  Ghinn I  Gill Lolly  Cooper  Devereaux II   ?   ?
Fourth Row - Haynes   ?   ?   Lake   Pulford    Nash  Read I    ?   Hyams   Hemsley   ?   ?    Hyatt   ?     ?     ?   Politzer   ?    Giles  Leighton I
Third Row - Seldon   Oliver   ?   Petrie   Elliot   Davison I  Hillyard  Finn  Wallman  ?Mons  Webb  Judd    ?  Horswell  Goodrich     ?
Staff Row - Perkins  Simmons ?   ?   Miss Mason  Mrs Caston  Mr Shegog   Mr Seale  Mr Weeks   Mr Beinemann   Mr?Huxley  Miss Browne  Miss Wilson  Mrs London Hansley
Front Row - 1     2   3    4   5   6   7   8  9   10Salmon   11  12  13   14 ?Nichols  15  16
....................................................1949 School Group (or possibly 1948 when Seale was in hospital) courtesy John Haynes
Top Row 1  2   3 Salmon  4    5 Poser  6  7  8 Sharp  9 Buckingham 10 Morris  11  12 ?Cook  13 ?Rollason
Fifth Row 1 Hansley 2 3  4  5 Oliver  6 Walker  7 Leighton II  7 Ghinn  II  8   9  10 ?Nygamwalla   11  12  13  14 DeverauxI  15   16 Hein
Fourth Row 1   3 Giles  3 evereauxII  4 Lamb  5 GhinnI  6 Lolly  7 Gill  8 Herbert 9 Bacon 10 Syrett 11 Politzer  12 Cooper 13 Leighton 1  14 Mackay  15 Ellis  15 Drayson  17 Haynes  18 Leighton I
Third Row 1 Pulford 2 Lake  3 Read I  4 Hyams  5  6 Elliot  7 Webb   8 Wallman  9 Finn  10  Judd  11 Seldon  12 Horswell  12 Hyatt  13 ?Hemsley 14  15
Staff Row Unknown   Miss Harman  Miss Mason  Mrs Caston  Col Holdsworth  Mr Shegog  Mr Weeks   Mr Beinemann  Miss Brown  Miss Wilson     Mrs Aldridge
Front Row 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Nichols 9 10 11 12 13 Thompson 14 15 16
(Note: - Picture is 1948 - see photos from David Huxley further down this page)
All rows numbered from the left..........................................................1950 school group
Front Row boys: None known
Staff Row: 1 unknown - 2 Mrs Aldrich - 3 Mrs Caston - 4 Miss Wilson - 5 Mr Chalk - 6 Mr Weeks - 7 Mr Shegog - 8 Col Holdsworth - 9 Mr Crowe - 10 Miss
........ Browne - 11 Miss Mason - 12 Mrs Holdsworth - 13 Miss Harman
3rd & 4th Row boys (As the two rows behind the staff are not easily defined they are treated as one row) 1 & 2 unknown - 3 Bedford (looking out from
........ behind 1st staff member - 4 unknown - 5 ) - 5 Devereaux II (behind Mrs Aldrich) - 6 unknown - 7 Giles - 8 Poser - 9 unknown - 10 Deveraux - 4 Giles ........ - 5 - 6 Ghinn - 7 Bacon (behind Mr Chalk) - 8 Herbert 9 unknown - 10 unknown - 11 Ghinn I (directly behind Mrs Wilson) 12 unknown - 13 Bacon ........ (directly behind Mr Chalk) - 14 Polizter II - 15 Herbert (directly behind Mr Weeks) - 16 unknown - 17 Pulford (behind Mr Shegog) - 18 unknown - 19 ........ Lamb (behind Col Holdsworth) 20 ?Nygamwalla - 21 & 22 unknown - 23 Mackay (behind Miss Browne) 24 Herbert II - 25 Haynes (behind the nurse, ........ Miss Mason) - 26 to 28 unknown, 29 Simmons (between the last two ladies) 30 & 31 unknown - 32 Morris (next to last) 33 unknown.
5th Row boys: 1 Burham - 2 & 3 unknown - 4 Buckingham - 5-7 unknown - 8 Syrett - 9 Lolly - 10 Gill - 11 unknown - 12 Ghinn
II - 13 unknown - 14 Walker ........ - 15 Leighton II - 16 unknown - 17 Fleming - 18 Sharp 19 unknown
6th Row boys: 1-11 unknown - 12 Davidson - 13 Bacon - 14-19 unknown
John Haynes wrote an award winning poem that whilst primarily about the death of his mother contains many references to Hillsbrow people and events. It appears at the bottom of the page.
John Haynes' Personal Notes on Ted Crowe (ERC)
Ted Crowe (and his brother) had been pupils at the same time as Jimmy Hay, and Ted taught at Hillsbrow briefly after he'd done his national service, and before he went on for his main career at Blundels where he eventually became a housemaster, and after retirement ran the Old Boys Club.  He was a maths teacher but he never actually taught me.  But he was a most dedicated teacher of cricket and also took time to come and read us bedtime stories.   I think has family had connections with Holland and/or the East Indies and had been tea traders. He seemed always to have a schoolboy's haircut, but was huge at the same time.  Jacket with leathers on the elbows. Big hands. A tall line-out forward.
- Put half a crown on his stumps in the nets, as opposed to Lloyd Weeks' shilling.  Ellis, who wasn't really a bowler at all,  got him out with a mis-hit fulltoss, and I bowled him with quite a good one.  He always claimed he never saw a ball swing because he watched it so closely. A distincive stroke at that time was hitting a half-volley with both feet together and a dramatic bend of the back, which gave an strong idea of power. On the small Hillsbrow pitch was once hit on the glove, and while he was wringing the his hand the ball had run for a four at long-on. Coaching batsman by throwing the ball from a short distance for them to practice this or that stroke.  A lot of time with Richard Herbert, with whom he had a particularly good joking relationship. I scored 25 against Brighton College, bowled finally by a boy called Mann. 'Nice knock', he said when I met him after the match. We were standing by those creosoted logs put by the wire overlooking the pitch, where the rest of the school sat to watch, including Miss Wilson who was said never to miss a ball. Though I saw her miss one once.
.......ERC Took a leg stump guard, and as he got in, moved wider of the leg stump so that he could push a single to the off from straight balls.  Seemed a good strategy at the time.  I recalled this much later when I managed to turn a match round by scoring 20 fast in a match in Kaduna, Nigeria.  I thought of ERC but in fact took the opposite strategy.  Guard of middle and off, and turn and drag anything that come to the on, or over mid-on's head. Also I moved a good foot out of the crease to turn balls into half-vollies. This was one of my better innings, and helped I think by having fortified myself with a bottle of lager before going in!  Not usual practice but it tells a tale to me as to why all my batting life my correct style has not produced anything at all (over 25). Inhibition?
.......Saw ERC bat for South Nutfield, I think.  I filled in, on another occasion, when South Nutfield were short.  Then ERC's brother was playing.  He was in as no 10 when I came in as no 11.  I was scared of the club bowler who seemed very fast, and was the more worrying because he had one very bloodshot eye.  I stopped some three balls, flinching a little, alas, and then ERC's brother (I forget his name) got out, and I was very relieved.   When we fielded I got a bowl and even took a wicket.  Not quite sure how, but thought at the time it was hit-wicket.  Drove back with Lloyd Weeks in the car (Late Mr Seale's Ford V8) and he was indignant to have been told I was a good bowler by someone. 'Of course I know he's a good bowler!'  And I had no problem as to length with the full-sized ball. ERC used to tell me that when he played for Hillsbrow they used to wonder what had happened if Jimmy Hay didn't hit the stumps in the first over.
RUGGER - As a rugby forward ERC was interested in line-out techniques and the then comparatively novel idea of using one hand to steer the ball back.
DINNER TABLE - ERC sat at the end of the table just behind the prefects' small square table. Col Holdsworth (Indian Army retired, who had actually been to Poona!) sat in the middle and was 'in charge'. Before ERC came the place had been occuped by the red-face Mr Webb, who had a massive very loud motorbike, and 'taught' sometimes in the upper sixth - held in the same dining room around the prefects' table.  Webb seemed not to know anything and devised quizzes about the names of cars to keep us occupied. At table I talked to ERC about why a ball swings, and the New Zealand bowler Cowie.  He had read that it was 'all to do with your feet', I think in an article by Bill Bowes).  That seems to have been right.  At the time the textbooks (which I read on cricket but not on rugger) focused only on the grip. ERC tried to demonstrate this in the nets. He didn't take his bowling seriously, but I still remember thinking his action as a bowler was hopeless. My ears stuck out and ERC teased me about this, saying it helped me swim. 'Haynes uses his ears'.  In ripost I pointed out that one of his ears stuck out more than the other one - 'like a touch judge'. 
BEDTIME STORIES - Warmest recollection of ERC. He needn't have done this but came into the Den of Thieves and read us stories before lightsout. One was a long novel about motor racing, and a driver called Jerry.  It was all Maseratis etc, in their national colours, and the speeds marked on the dash board in different coloured 'sectors'.  At one point it had a kissing scene, which he went through without hesitating, and (as I recall) without getting any under the blankets giggles either. 'She relaxed in his arms' (something like that). Other stories were cricket stories.  One about an club player who could bowl a 'popper', and got selected for England on the strength of it.  Bedser's 'fast outswingers' described (inaccurately, I thought at the time).  I'm not sure if it was in the same story that he is running for a catch, falls, and then it was all a dream and he is found dead full length on his sitting room floor.

The following is a letter from John Haynes following the death of Ted Crowe. It is closely relatable to the above personal notes.
            I knew Ted Crowe only briefly during my few years at Blundell's, but had known him quite well, if that's possible for a twelve-year old – when he was at Hillsbrow Preparatory School in Redhill, now long since closed. He had been a pupil there and there are records of his batting and bowling prowess. He'd been a contemporary of Gordon Richards' sons, and met Jack Hobbs who visited once (and one of the boys bowled him out). 
            I recall him in three roles. This would have been in the late 1940s. One was as the teacher at the end of our table in the dining room, with whom we discussed cricket, and who used to tease me about my (allegedly) sticking out ears, saying how useful such ears were as a aid to swimming speed. We had discussions about what made a cricket ball swing, the techniques of swing bowling being not much understood in those days, and he took the trouble to research this and come up with a theory that it had to do with where you placed your feet in delivery. This, I recall, had something to do with the New Zealand bowler Cowie.
            The second role was as a bedtime story reader. I recall Ted coming into the dormitory in the period before lights out and reading us stories, often short stories about cricket. I don't recall the author, but well remember one story in which an ageing cricket enthusiast dreamt of taking a match-winning catch and was found next day with arms outstretched dead on the sitting room carpet. Another where a village cricketer was able to produce a miraculous delivery called a ‘popper' which got him suddenly into the test team puzzling the world greats of the time. He also read a novel about Formula One racing, where I first heard the names ‘Maserati'.                         The third role was him as cricket coach (being a half-back in rugby I didn't come into his forward coaching) where he would spent hours of his time (he could have been relaxing somewhere else) just throwing balls at a given length for people to practice this or that weak shot. I still rejoice at once – one of the few – actually hitting his stumps in the nets and getting half a crown which was ‘on' them. Ted impressed us mightily by how hard he could hit the ball, and had a shot when somehow he'd got to the pitch of the ball but his legs were together and his body formed a curve of immense power as he uncoiled dramatically. Ted had a theory that you might take leg-stump as a guard, or even just outside leg-stump, so as when you're confident later in the innings you can push straight balls towards cover point for a single. We had a very small cricket pitch at Hillsbrow and once he managed to hit a four off his batting glove.             I was never entirely comfortable at either Hillsbrow or Blundell's, for all sorts of social and individual reasons, but he was able to relate to me – us – in a direct way without that dignified reserve that – so it seemed to me – most masters seemed to have. Yet there was never a problem of respect, even when, trying to respond to the comment about my ears I pointed out that his own ears - one sticking out more than the other - would suit him very well to be a touch judge.
            Ted's father ran a village cricket club on a Sunday, called The Crowes, which I got called up for one day when they were short. I was most relieved – given the fast bowler with the blood-shot eye at the other end – when Ted's brother got out before I'd had to face too many and the innings closed.
            I briefly met Ted some ten years ago when he kindly asked me down to Stamford Peverell to talk about Hillsbrow. At the time I had started a history of the school, alas still not finished. He put me up, dined me, and showed great kindness in that very bachelor home of his which, I imagined, now that he had just retired, may have been the first time he'd lived in a house alone like that, after the Army, Hillsbrow and Blundell's. I recall walls of cricket photos, shelves of cricket books, and a sofa slightly awash with framed pictures also, I think, to do with cricket. Ted seemed to me – at least at the distance from which necessarily I saw him – a good man, and someone who genuinely loved what he did for a living, lucky indeed in that and so had the option of what we call ‘happiness'. I see his always schoolboy-looking haircut and rolling gait and swinging jacket tails, shoulders slightly slouched, the grin, the large hands. It isn't every schoolmaster we remember with affection, and when I read of his death the shock of grief was all the more sharp because, as I say, since my schooldays I've grown away from the traditions that education embodied but I hope his shade might grin if I perhaps dare to whisper that for me, yes, Crowe lives!
            I beg to share in your grief.

John Haynes (Francis House) 1950-53

John Haynes' Recollections of John London at Hillsbrow
        John London lived at The Lodge.   I think GDS was at first helping him out.  He'd been a pupil, and then I think did various helpful things for GDS.  He was a committed Christian, though a Jew by background, and he used to preach sermons at the school chapel.  They were always much more human and interesting than those of Shegog, who rather lacked charisma.  London also helped with the rugby sometimes, and played in some of the Old Boys cricket matches against the school.   A very nice man, I recall.  I've found a letter from him.  He says - "1945.   I was given the Lodge when I married in return for some coaching etc and school duties by G D Seale.  I stayed until Anthea was born and I found a house (thro the woods) in Chanstonbury Chase."   He doesn't give any other dates.
RUGGER - JL referreed our home rugger matches.  He also took part of the after-match discussions, in which a 'panel' led by teacher Lloyd Weeks
would talk through the match to the assembled school. Once he began by going through the team one by one starting from the back. I came first as I was - for the first time - full back. 'Kicked a good penalty - exceptionally good'. This  surprised me. Yes, it went over, but I'd thought only just high enough to clear the bar. JL also reffed house matches, and others.  Once (can't remember what sort of match) the Polish boy, Poser, kicked the ball away just as I was scoring. Whistle blew.  Twenty-five. I disagreed with this decision, and thought it done to make a point.  I had in fact got the ball down (I still claim).  I didn’t express this opinion at the time, however.
         JL  played  for  Dorking,  I think, against a school staff team.  At lunch heard him say that their fly-half (?Jeep) would be 'too fast  for Lloyd'. JL was, I think full back, and had to go off  with an injured shoulder. Not sure if it was the same match in which Lloyd Weeks with the ball was in a  one-to-one situation with JL alone to tackle him.  Lloyd swerved this way and that and eventually sent  JL the wrong way.  But on the touchline I wondered if in fact he hadn't done it for Lloyd's heroic image with us.
         Moment in afternoon  training.  Lloyd Weeks explaining tackle techniques.  JL offering to be the tackled one in a demonstration, 'Put me down hard, Lloyd!'. Lloyd didn't.
CRICKET - JL a medium paced swing bowler. On the cricket pitch one evening, telling someone about 'a new grip for the inswinger', which consisted in placing first two fingers together, not in a V, along the seam. I recall an action with a sort of half turn of the arm before delivery, and sometimes a kangaroo hop.  JL was taken off after two overs playing for South Nutfield, when we went with Lloyd Weeks to  watch one weekend.  In the car coming back I mentioned this and Weeks said he was bowling 'tripe'.  Tthought this very frank at the time and a little disloyal!
CHAPEL - Sermons every other week.  We preferred them immeasurably to 'Spike’s' (E W Shegog), who always looked nervous and always talked in the act of adjusting his watch strap. EWS did try to counteract  this,  and one week began his sermon by bellowing out 'I don't feel like it!' which certainly made us sit up, and people mimicked it later to giggles. JL talked about a statue of a lion (I think) made of butter, and this may be connected to Michaeleangelo. Can't remember the point of the example, though!
         JL also sometimes used to talk about religious and related topics to us on a Sunday morning after we had completed our letters home session.  An approachable person, in some ways an outsider, but also part of 'the establishment' and in authority. JL Dug me in the tummy as  I  stood in the choir and said 'sing up' as we were getting ready.  I thought that this was evidence they'd all  been talking about me.  Aggrieved because I was singing up (I thought).
MR SEALE'S ILLNESS - We had formed a long queue in dressing gowns to talk to GDS on the phone in the staff room. He was in hospital. My
  turn came and I didn't know what to say.  Someone else had expressed sympathy about his leg, so I thought there must be something wrong with that, and expressed the same feeling. Noticed that the telephone pips marking three minutes had gone so I said something like 'There go the pips.' JL was amused, thinking that I'd thought I should stop because the pips signalled 'time up'.
SNIGGERY RECOLLECTION - For some reason, to do with the Singsong, I think, some of use were in the lodge, and Bruce the dog planted his nose right on the flies of a visitor's trousers.  JL shouted 'Bruce!'. It think the dog was a scotty. JL was one of a number of shadow figures about whom nobody ever explained.  Others were Mr Harman (?accountant), who sometimes came round the dorms at goodnight times, and always seemed to have a  large number of  sixpences  in  is pockets and continually jingled them (some boys made vulgar remarks about  'pocket billiards').
OTHER RECOLLECTIONS - Harman had a beautiful daughter (?secretary) whom we were all in love with. She once gave me a square of chocolate when I was asked into that little staff room to edited my story for the Mog with Peter Chalk (I remember he put in the word 'adequately').  An animal story about a cub and mother, but don't recall what type of animal! The gesture of given me the chocolate was done in a way which suggested a lack of formality between staff and pupil, which  was very unusual in the school. That's what I remember it for.
        Mrs Caston was alleged to 'own'  the school. Possibly catererer? She used to eat her bread an jam by putting a little bit of jam at the edge of the bread, eat  it,  and then put another little bit on, and so on. I don't think many of us liked her. Much later, my mother said, she was very disappointed because Mrs Caston was about to tell her a 'piece of  scandal' about E  W Shegog, and then got interrupted. I can't think how this meeting took place.  After I'd left, somehow?   Mrs Caston had been in some other catering job before she met GDS who persuaded her to come to the school.
John Haynes notes of James Dalrymple Hay
        Jimmy Hay  (James Dalrymple Hay) and his brothers, Johnny and Ronnie were 'charges' (I think that's the right word) of GDS after their parents had died, so they lived at the school.   I was a contemporary with Ronnie for a while.   Jimmy discovered in the late forties that he was in fact a baronet and was suddenly 'Sir James'.    He was later captain of Dorking rugby club, and was an estate agent by profession.   There was a connection to Africa, I think, as I remember finding boxes of old books in a dark corner of the cellar (not used) and him letting me having a copy of Jock of the Bushveldt he no longer wanted.  I have a note that once Jimmy went to the Oaks with GDS and sat in Gordon Richards' box.  I have some rough notes that Hay's father had been an Indian Army Office in Delhi and then in Assam, and that he died during the war.  Hay's grandfather had apparently been killed in an earthquake.   Jimmy Hay became the Principal of the school briefly towards the end of its time.

From the Daily Telegraph 27 Sep 2005 - Sir James Brian Dalrymple-Hay, Bt, died on 21st September 2005, aged 77; husband of Sylvia; father of Fiona, Charlotte and Lucie; grandfather to Rylan, Briony and William. Funeral at Warnham, 4 October"
He was born 19 January, 1928, the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Brian George Rowland Dalrymple-Hay (who died on active service in 1943) by his wife Beatrice (d. 1935), daughter of A.W. Inglis, and
was educated at Hillsbrow Preparatory School, Redhill; Blundell's School, Tiverton, Devon.
Career: - Royal Marines 1946-47; Lieutenant Royal Marine Commando, 1947-49; Estate Agent and Surveyor's Pupil, 1949; Principal 1955-67; Partner, Whiteheads PLC Estate Agents, 1967, Director, Whiteheads 1983-85; Principal, Dalrymple-Hay Overseas 1985-87, &c.
Sir James, of Warnham, Horsham, West Sussex, married in 1958, Helen Sylvia, daughter of Stephen Herbert Card, by his wife, Molly, by whom
he had 3 daughters, Fiona, Charlotte and Lucie. He is succeeded in the baronetcy (created in 1798) by his younger brother, John Hugh Dalrymple-Hay, b. 16 Dec, 1929.
Other Notes from John Haynes
        Rickerby, I never met, and was put in touch with him by letter by John London when I started researching Hillsbrow (and alas never got it finished).  He was a very well known jockey, and at Hillsbrow 1926-29, London thinks. Gordon Richards the champion flat jockey for many years sent his sons to Hillsbrow.   Another 'celebrity' connection was the England cricketer Jack Hobbs who took an interest in the school,  and used to come and do some coaching, and was in fact bowled out by one of the first XI, a guy called Cyril Fyers - which got into the papers.  I have a ref to Surrey mirror 1929, but not clear date, I'm afraid (Fyers later died in 'Ceylon'.)    That was way before my time, but I recall the almost life-sized photo of Hobbs in the entrance hall of the school.  Freddie Mills is mentioned elsewhere.   Other people who became well known are the Bedford brothers,  David is a well known composer who has also been a rock musician, and  so  has a foot in both 'classical' and rock music, and Steuart is a prominent conductor, I think still working.   Alan Gill (see below) became a journalist and historian on emigration to Australia and is now in touch with Richard Hein who is/was, I think, the MD of a travel firm of some kind.  Both were contemporaries of mine, as were the Bedfords, and  - as it were - Freddie Mills.
        Looking through my notes I found a letter from David Williams in which he mentions his father 'Old Bill' as being senior master from 1927 to 1940, and then 'subsequently came back as headmaster in the 1950s at the invitation of Jimmy Hay'  Bill had before that been head of St Michael's School, Limpsfield.  We used to play them.   After the Shegog era had ended in scandal  (sexual) things seemed to have gone downhill until the scandal (financial) with Wicks.   I have a letter from one of the pupils who witness the absconding of Wicks
        Memories of Hillsbrow by Alan Gill
.......Hillsbrow School was founded in 1924 and had its silver jubilee celebration in June 1949. That occasion is engrained in my memory because, at the age of 12, I received a special dispensation not to attend – the date happening to coincide with my elder sister’s wedding.
.......In my child’s mind the school itself, and anything or anyone connected with it, was like holy writ. We were brought up to “worship” (a word carefully chosen) the founding headmaster, Mr Geoffrey Douglas Seale, whose features and every gesture I still remember. On his birthday each child was encouraged to paint or draw a suitable card, and to make a donation from pocket money to buy appropriate gifts. Mr Seale would make his appearance among a festoon of brightly coloured cards and posters, feigning surprise at the demonstration of faith and loyalty. When he made a plus point in his speech of thanks, or even walked among us, we would flick our fingers in a curious gesture, at the same time calling out “Saufs, Saufs” in a loud voice. This was an abbreviation for “Thanks-awf-lay Sir”. I still recall the greeting today and have occasionally used it on greeting another Old Hillsbrow Boy.
.......Then there was the school song, with its mushy lines about: “Hillsbrow, that’s where everybody has a heart so true. Hillsbrow, where could anybody find a school like you.” It was almost Dickensian. There were severe punishments (including a “knees up” ritual inflicted on younger boys by older boys), and organised “bashings up” – I recall a decent and physically powerful boy protecting me by shielding me with his body. We accepted all this as “normal”. It never occurred to me to mention such matters to my parents. Had I done so I suspect they would have shrugged their shoulders and let it pass.
.......The teaching staff were mostly unqualified, but pleasant. The school had a proud boast that (until 1950) every candidate went on to pass the Common Entrance examination for an English Public School. The boast involved a bit of a fib. There was actually an arrangement with Blundells to which the school had been evacuated in World War II.
Ex-pupil Alan Gill on site 1967/8
(picture Alan Gill; supplied by Ed Gibson via David Osborn)
Alan Gill's entry on Friend's Reunited
Journalist and writer, educated Hillsbrow School, Redhill, and Charterhouse, Godalming. Emigrated to Australia in 1971.
"Hilsbrow, that's where everybody has a heart so true. Hillsbrow, where could anybody find a school like you?"
Remember that school song? Yes, indeed. And the motto: Adsequere (spelling?) Not many schools were like you. Quirky customs - flicking fingers and calling out "Saufs". School burnt down to the ground in mysterious circumstances. I have photos of the wreckage. The stuff of Dickens.
Remember the masters? Seale, Shegog, Weekes, Bieneman, Crowe, Hawke. Then there was Mrs Brown, Miss Caston, the lovely Miss Mason and Mary Harman (I had crushes on both of them). Franki Swayle (the chef) and Mr Mew (the gardener).
Funny how I remember these names from over 50 years ago, but cannot remember names of people I met yesterday.
Would like to hear from anyone who was at Hillsbrow at any time.
Went on to Charterhouse (Weekites). Mad keen swimmer, otherwise not very distinguished. One day Housemaster remarked at an OB function "If you don't work hard you'll end up like xxxxx". He was refering to another not very bright lad who, after leaving, became a journalist.
So I did likewise, went to Australia and joined the reporting staff of the "Sydney Morning Herald". Interesting career - done this, done that - now semi-retired and the author of two books, one of which "Orphans of the Empire" (about British child migration) has won wide attention.
........................My Places:  1950 Hilsbrow - 1954 Charterhouse - 1955 to 1955 RAF Hednesford - 1955 to 1957 RAF Manston
From ex-pupil George Cardew
.......My vague memories of Hillsbrow (54 years in the past): - Entered School: ca 1948-49? (aged about 10). Left School: ca 1953-54 (aged about 14)
Names of Main Friends: ? Carter, Daniel Norman - Other names: Devereux, Thompson
Notable events: Visits by the boxer Freddie Mills (very popular)
.......Head teacher: Mr Shegog (renowned for his vile temper). English Teacher: Miss Wilson (quite a severe woman). Maths & Sports teacher ?: Mr Weeks (a popular figure) .......I cant remember any other names............
.......In the winter we played rugby unless the weather was bad in which case we reverted to soccer. Cricket in the summer months. I won a senior arts prize in July 1952 (a book signed by E. W. Shegog) which I still possess.
.......I lived in a large house in Linkfield lane, Redhill (now demolished to make way for a "new" housing estate). I left in about 1954 and was enlisted in the RAF boy entrants service. Since 1967 I worked as a programmer in academia (Univ. of Sheffield) until my retirement in 1998. I will be interested to hear of other people's accounts within the time frame that I was present at the school.
Pictures from David Huxley
The cricket pitch (courtesy David Huxley) The Chapel (courtesy David Huxley)
The swimming pool (courtesy David Huxley) Mr Chalk (courtesy David Huxley)
The front of the main building (courtesy David Huxley) The 'Sing-Song' from 1952 (courtesy David Huxley)
School 1948 (repeat of picture further up page) (courtesy David Huxley)
The School 1949 (courtesy David Huxley)
The School 1950 (repeat of picture further up page) (courtesy David Huxley)
The School 1951 (courtesy David Huxley)
School 1952 (courtesy David Huxley)

Rugger Team Autumn 1950
(courtesy David Huxley)


Rugger Team Easter 1951 (courtesy David Huxley)


Rugger Team Autumn 1951
(courtesy David Huxley)


Cricket team 1952
(courtesy David Huxley)

Reminiscences of ex-Hillsbrow School pupil Richard Symonds.
.......I was a pupil during the early to mid 50's when the headmasters were firstly Mr Williams and then Mr Chalk. I include three photos of the entire school, taken over 3 consecutive years by the official photographer (can't remember his name). I and my 2 brothers are in the picture (they're shown below). I also remember fellow pupils whose names were George Tobitt, "Ali" Barber, Mannikum, Pashmann, Nierumond, and many many others. We spent hours as kids playing marbles under the huge Wellingtonia tree which stood outside the front of the school (it is behind the photographer in the pictures) i.e. we are all facing it. We also made a beaten earth and banked racetrack at the back of the school along which we raced our Dinky toys. I was Stirling Moss in a green Cooper, my brother David had a blue and yellow Ferrari and pretended to be Fangio.
.......Every Saturday afternoon during the winter months, we had to troop down a very steep hill through fields to reach the playing fields where we always played Rugger. In the summer months, we played Cricket, much nearer the school, on a pitch near the main gates. I also remember the huge bonfire party on Guy fawkes night. We processed up the drive from the main gates to the huge pyre, holding flaming torches in our hands, singing "Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum...." ... and we would all plunge our torches into the wood pile and set is all ablaze. The more daring of us used to bury potatoes in the ashes and had hot jackets the following morning. One year a rocket went wrong and flew into the firework box. the whole show was over in 2.4 seconds flat!!
.......Other memories are: - Herrings always on Friday; I hated the greasy things - Standing behind our chairs  in the dining hall before and after every meal whilst the headmaster said grace - Ma Caston, the cook. Always yelling "Symonds, outside the study door to get the stick. I will not tolerate your disobedience any longer" Actually, she had a heart of gold. Always giving me currant buns - Tuck boxes in the conservatory; in Summer the ants in the sugar; in Winter the frozen Tizer - Looking forward to Dad's occasional visit on Parents Day with bag full of goodies for my tuckbox - Always getting beaten for one triviality or another. Often by Mr Williams, and also by Mr Chalk, his successor, but not so much - Saturday TV in the headmaster's study; William Tell, Lone Ranger, Rin-tin-tin; Lassie, Robin Hood - Sing Songs in the great hall. Played the part of a St Trinnian once. Gym slip, pigtails and satchel - Public Boxing Competitions; humiliating; not my scene. Spent the whole time being chased round the ring by a 5th form bruiser - Playing marbles under the big Wellingtonia tree in front of the school - The .school photos, all the
.......Richard Symonds......the school in 3 ranks, and teachers in the front row. The photographer was aged about 100 with a tripod bellows camera about the same vintage.
.......One peculiarity of the school was the calling us by our surnames, and adding a numeric if there were more than one with that name. I was Symonds IV, My 2 elder brothers were Symonds II (Peter), and Symonds III (David). There was a Symonds I, but he was no relation of ours.   I also remember the 6th form, for those preparing for their common entrance exams, and it was called "Wang Chang". As to why, I never did find out.
..... The old gardener used to get sweets and fizzy drinks by weekly order for the boys. I was naughty once and he wouldn't get any sweets for me that week. I threw his mug of tea at him. Was beaten - Was ill in the San for two or three weeks in isolation - Also near the veranda was a hazel nut tree. Ate the unripe nuts which gave me tummyache - Playing in the woods, acres of them all round the school - Sunday chapel - had to "dress-up" with polished shoes etc.; crocodile in and out - I remember Mr London, one of the Governors, in his pinstripe suit - The cricket fields at bottom of drive; 1st eleven's pitch was nice and smooth, the other one was for the junior Colts and was more bumps and grass tufts than anything else - The rugger pitches at bottom of a steep hill. I was better at Rugby than cricket - The awful country runs. Found a short-cut, and often among the first to get back. never found out! - The damp cellar where we had communal baths after games; the inevitable towell flicking - Boxes of Weekend chocolates by post from granny - The one third pints of milk, often frozen in winter, and the sticky currant buns every elevenses - Group singing sessions. Ash grove; Hearts of Oak; Ye Banks & Braes; British grenadiers, etc. - Had an annual school magazine, called the "Mog". articles, poems, etc - all contributed by the pupils.
Hillsbrow school photo 1955. Centre is Headmaster Mr Williams. John Cooke is directly behind him. To John's left is Colin Chambers, next to him is George Tobbitt and then Northover (the tall one). Richard Symonds is right in the middle of the back row - 8th from either end. His brother David is on his right, 7th from the left. His other brother, Peter, is in the 3rd row back on extreme left. Mrs Caston, the cook, is 2nd from right in staff row.
(Picture courtesy Richard Symonds) (Additional identifications Robert Morley, Hillsbrow 1952-56)

There is a suggested date correction to 1957 based on the fact that this was when John Cooke was head boy.
Hillsbrow school photo 1956. Centre is Headmaster Mr Chalk. Richard Symonds is 3rd from left back row. Peter Symonds is in 3rd row 7th from right. David Symonds is in the 4th row back on far left. Mrs Caston, the cook, is on the left of the staff row. (Picture courtesy Richard Symonds)
There is a suggested date correction to 1958 on this photo based on the fact that Mr Chalk wasn't head until 1957, possibly autumn term
Further ID by M.Noble - Back row 5th from left is M.Noble; 7th from left is Mackay.
Hillsbrow school photo 1957. Centre is Headmaster Mr Chalk. Richard Symonds is in the back row extreme left. David Symonds is in the row in front of Richard and is 4th from left wearing spectacles. Peter Symonds had by this time left Hillsbrow. Colin Chambers was head boy and is directly behind the headmaster; on his left is Tim Moss. Mrs Caston, the cook is on the far right of the staff row. (Picture courtesy Richard Symonds) (Additional indentification Robert Morley, Hillsbrow 1952-56)
There is a suggested date correction to 1959 based on the fact that this was when Colin Chambers (stood behind the head) was head boy
Further ID by M.Noble; 4th from right is Patrick Bailey.
2nd row from back 1st left is Wood; 2nd from left is M.Noble; 5th from left is Hugh Keays-Byrne; 6th from left id Niroumand; 9th from left is Chown.
On the staff row the 3rd from left (after the two ladies) is Mr Moran, the Irish teacher.
Further memories Hillsbrow School by Richard Symonds.
My brother, Peter, apparently broke all Hilsbrow School swimming records, and he was also excellent at Cricket and Rugby, being in both the 1st Eleven and First Fifteen. I remember, as Chris Turner says below, the parents very vocal in support. One parent, would stand on the touchline yelling either  "Run, run,run..." or "tackle him low, tackle him low, tackle him low", almost incessantly depending whether his boy had the ball or was attacking. Peter had a close friend, George Tobitt, who I still see regularly, and who farms at Bletchingley/Outwood. For many years he had castle Hill farm, and then on the death of his father (also a farmer) he moved to the family farm, Sandhills in Outwood Lane. I remember another boarder, James Jenny, who was a very quiet individual and who I subsequently heard had a troubled life - I believe what you would nowadays refer to as bi-polar personality. It was not long after my leaving Hillsbrow that I heard through a friend that sadly he had committed suicide. Another boy had the name of Boreman (I think that is how it was spelt). His father had something to do with higher management at Fuller's Earth, the firm who leased the land to the School. I also remember the winter film-shows. We all would all troop into the main classroom (4th & 5th forms had dividing doors, which for the occasion were collapsed to squeeze us all in). Some of the shows we watched were Belle's of St Trinnians, The Titfield Thunderbolt, and the Lawrence Olivier production of Richard III.  Also the Sing Songs. I remember once I had to dress up as a St Trinnian Girl - and skip onto stage to hoots of derision from the audience, and great embarrasment to myself. I also remember there was a skiffle group, one Sing-song. An improvised Double Bass was an inverted tea-chest with a broom handle and length of taught string which the musician plucked. There was also a scrubbing board which the fingers were violently brushed up and down to produce the "skiffle" sound. Someone else played an old metal watering can as a trombone. I also remember Mr Paschmann was rather unfair with punishments. My brother David, who was a day-boy, had got nearly home one day (he lived in Chart Lane) and was caught by Mr P. with dirty knees. We all thought it very unfair for him to have sent David all the way back to School to wash them, and then report to the headmaster for a caning!!  My parents were up in arms and the incident probably influenced their decision to move him to Bury's Court to complete his Preparation for CE.   
A Suggestion from Richard Symonds
Would it be a good idea to mention where where we went on to after leaving Hillsbrow? It may jog some memories of other readers. It would be interesting to see what Schools others went to, whether Grammars or Public Schools.  My brother Peter moved on to Osborne House, IOW, towards a navy career (he then went to Kingarth, Barton Manor, and finally HMS Worcester, finally passing out as a Midshipman. Fifty-off years on, he is no longer in the Navy, although I think he is still on the Reserve list - is it the RNVR nowadays? and do they still call it the "Wavy Navy?   My other brother David moved on to Bury's Court School, Leigh, and then to St John's Leatherhead; and I moved on to Berkhampsted.
.....For further information about Richard, log on to his  profile url: http://www.blogger.com/profile/09385195278663366884
Richard Symonds kindly supplied these 1950s photos of himself to show the summer unirorm (left) and the winter uniform
Hillsbrow photo 1958 or 1959. (Photo courtesy M.Noble)
3rd row back (behind the staff) are l-r unknown - unknown - Keays-Byrne - Niroumand - Turnbull - Watkins - Tolputt - Northover - Noble - Wood - Bailey - unknown - Chown.
Photo courtesy M.Noble
Pictures taken 1967/8 after the fire and after the building was demolished.

The old sign on the gate of Hillsbrow lodge 1967/8. The lodge, which still stands at the end of the drive nearest the A25 road, was once a classroom.
(picture Alan Gill; supplied by Ed Gibson via David Osborn)
. A view of what was once the front of the school with the old wellingtonia tree still standing 1967/8 (picture Alan Gill; supplied by Ed Gibson via David Osborn)A
The rear steps 1967/8
(picture Alan Gill; supplied by Ed Gibson via David Osborn)
The site in 2008  
The overgrown entrance to the school (on the right ) in 2008
(picture Alan Moore)
Hillsbrow Lodge 2008 (picture Alan Moore)
  Headmasters of Hillsbrow

1924 Mr GD Seale
.........Mr Shegog
.........Mr Williams
.........Mr Chalk
.........Mr Wilk(e)s 1963

The overgrown steps in the grounds (Picture courtesy Morag McCullagh)  
Reminiscences of Mr George Howick of Cheyne Walk, Horley.
I was born at Redstone Wood Cottage, Philanthropic Road. There was a footpath through the woods directly into the school grounds. My Mother and Father were friendly with one of the staff, a groundsman I think, and one of the maids who worked there. They often used to call at Redstone Wood Cottage to to spend the evening with Mum and Dad. They used to play darts and shove ha'penny.
Hillsbrow school used to have spectacular bonfire and firework displays on November 5th to which my parents, sister and myself were invited. During the holidays we used the open air swimming pool, which was situated in the corner of the field adjacent to Fullers Wood Lane, which later became part of the pick-your-own farm.
During the war the school evacuated to Devon and the RAF were billetted in the school and the lodge, and two large wooden huts were erected on the lawn. The school stood right on top of the hill and was noticeable because it was one of the rare buildings that boasted an 'H'-type aerial in pre-war days. (Author's note: - A parent gave a television to the school when his son left in 1937)
Remembering Hillsbrow by Chris Turner

Me in 1955. In the 1955 group above I am
in the 2nd row from the back, 6th from the right.
I arrived at Hillsbrow in the spring in 1950 just before my sixth birthday. I already knew most of the staff and pupils as my brother, Alan, had been there for some two years and we were regular attendants at the Saturday rugby and cricket matches and at Sunday morning chapel. One of the main things I remember from those long gone days, was the huge involvement of parents in all activities. The touch line at the rugby was lined with supporters with many of the fathers being particularly vocal in their support. On of the main occasions was the annual fixture between the Old Boys and Dorking RFC.
........Cricket also was very well supported with deck chairs laid out in neat rows for the parents and the whole school had to attend, the boys sitting on benches made of logs. There was a father’s match and, on Founder’s Day, the Old Boys would play. Tea was served after the match in the case of rugby, and mid match for the cricket.
........Sunday morning chapel was also a big social occasion with tea or coffee served to parents in the dining room afterwards. Mr Seale had just died when I arrived although he had been ill for a long time and Mr Shegog had been the head for at least a couple of years. There was no class one, just 2a and 2b, both situated in the chapel with a sacking curtain to divide the room.
.......Mrs Holdsworth was my first teacher. Her husband Col. Holdsworth was also on the staff. Mrs Aldridge took class 2a and the redoubtable Miss Wilson took class 3 in a hut behind the chapel. Miss Wilson was already getting on in years then and partially deaf. She was very strict and feared by all at first but we all.grew to be very fond.of her in time. She loved her cricket and would speak to no one when the match was in progress. She also ran the library which she continued to do after she had retired from teaching. She taught English and History mainly and it is entirely due to her that I had a life long love of English History. She had a wonderful way of telling the stories so that you would never forget them. It was the same with Scripture, as RE was known in those days.
........Mr Weeks was the main sports teacher and then there was Mr Chalk (Peter) who was there for years and became head after I had left. They both lived at the lodge at the bottom of the drive. Mr Peschmann was another I remember who joined the school in the early 1950s to teach French and English. He would stride up the drive with a rucksack on his back and a long walking stick.
........The school had some strange traditions. One I remember was the particular way of greeting good news. We did not applaud but made a clicking noise by pressing middle finger and thumb together and then shaking your hand up an down allowing the index finger, which was held loose, to ‘slap’ against the other two which made the noise. When 100 or so boys did it together it was quite a row! I can also remember the tradition of cheering those who were sitting their Common Entrance exams and giving them hefty thumps on their backs as they made their way upstairs to the room set aside for them.
There were film shows on alternate Tuesdays in the winter and occasional other entertainments. A magician by the name of Ernest Castro was a regular visitor with his wfie April. On Sunday evenings during the winter each dormitory would perform a play which they would create themselves and a cup was given for the best. Then there was the English Cup, a competition for public speaking which all above a certain age had to enter.
........The undoubted highlight of the year was the annual ‘Sing-Song’. This was a bit like a scout Gang Show. The choir would open by singing  the popular sings of the year and end the show with some old favourites. There would be other singing acts as well as short plays from the juniors, seniors and those in-between. Individuals with any particular talent were also showcased. Again many parents would lend a hand with lighting, costumes and make-up.
........Each season brought its ‘craze’ – conkers, marbles and many others. Most boys would bring a toboggan or sledge to use when the snow came, as it always seemed to do. There was also swimming in the summer in the unheated pool and each winter term would end with the boxing championships. I remember well visits from Freddie Millls who was then light-heavyweight champion of the world. He had his training headquarters at a pub near Dorking run by Mr & Mrs Burnham whose son, Pat, was a pupil at the school. As well as sparring with some of the smaller boys who stood on a table to reach him, Freddie would come and help to judge the boxing finals.
........There was school on Saturday mornings as well as weekdays and in the summer we would all go to the flag pole by the cricket ground to witness the hoising of the school flag on match days. Every afternoon, winter and summer, would be devoted to sport after just one lesson. After rugby we would bathe in a huge concrete bath in the cellar and just about finish in time for tea, for the borders, or to get the bus home for the day boys.
........Extensive woods allowed our imagination to run wild. One day we would be cowboys, another day Robin Hood and his band of men. We would build elaborate camps and form quite large gangs to defend them against rivals.
........After a few years Mr Shegog left and was replaced by Mr Williams, an elderly, very strict but clever man, who had taught under Mr Seale many years before. He was a chain smoker and one of the things hard to imagine today is that teachers did smoke while teaching and it was quite common to find cigarette burns on your exercise books after they had been marked, particularly if it was Mr Williams doing the marking!
........John London was an Old Boy who was heavily involved with the school. As well as running the old boys club he would give a talk a chapel every Sunday and was one of then driving forces behind the Sing-Song.
........Altogether, Hillsbrow was a terrific school to grow up in and my only regret is that I have not kept in touch with the many friends I made there. One or two I have made contact with since through the page I established on Friends Reunited. If you are reading this and have not looked at that page please do so. You may find some old friends!
.......Below are a two photos of Hillsbrow cricket groups .............Chris Turner - Hillsbrow 1950-1957
This is from 1952. It is not of very good quality, I got it from a newspaper. The boys are:
l-r; back row; AG Baker, MAJ Ledingham, CP Giles, MJ Politzer, DJ (David) Corbin, MED Hare.
Middle row; J Poser, JR (John) Bedford, PS (Pat) Burnham, TJ (Tim) Sharp), PW Rollason.
Front; JW (John) Bance, PH Huxley.
John Bedford was I believe the first boy to score a century in an inter-school match
(but see John Haynes comment on this). Pat Burnham’s parents kept the Barley Mow on the main A25 at Betchworth, later re-named Arkle Manor. The world light-heavyweight champion, Freddie Mills, used the pub as his training headquarters and he was a regular visitor to the school attending the boxing championships on several occasions. John Bance later captained the school at cricket and rugby and his younger brother, Ian became the second player to make a century the year after I left in 1958. (Picture courtesy Chris Turner)
  This 1957 team photo is my own copy. I was the team scorer (and also touch judge for the rugby team). Not being good enough to get into the team itself I aways wanted to be involved!
Back row: Keith Watkins, Richard Jennings, Alan Watson, Peter Symonds, Roland Abbey, George Tobitt, Alan Mckay.
Middle row; Brian Rawlings, Richard Rendell, John Cooke, Colin Chambers, David Sharp
Front: Chris Turner, Jamie Cooke.
I believe that Peter Symonds may have been the brother of Richard whom you mention but I am not certain of that. David Sharp was the younger brother of Tim in the 1952 photo.

(Picture courtesy Chris Turner)
It is with great sadness that information has been received from the family of Chris Turner that he passed away very suddenly on 30th October 2011 aged 67.
John Cooke Remembers Hillsbrow
......I remember Hillsbrow with some happy memories and some sad ones too.
I went there, aged 8, in 1952 when my parents decided that it would be better to educate me there rather than in Singapore. I only saw them once a year until 1957 and I remember a lot of extreme loneliness (missing my mum!). Later I remember two brothers who went about holding each others hand and crying for their mother.
....Later, I was much happier. I am in the school photo that you have as 1955. Actually it was 1957 and I am the boy standing right behind old Mr Williams.

John Cooke 1957

I am also in the 1957 cricket team picture in the centre (see above). My brother is in the photo as well as Chris Turner (scorer) The cricket coach, Mr Cathie? got me very keen on cricket which has been a lifelong passion.
....Also in that picture is George Tobitt. I remember once accidentally bumping my forehead on the back of his head and received a most enormous pair of black eyes which took ages to clear up. At the school concert a song was written about us.

.................................................................. "Two lovely black eyes
      ......................................                        Cooke got a surprise
                .......................................             Bumping on Tobitt's too solid wood head
                 ........................................           Two lovely black eyes"

..............................................Sung to the tune of the original song of course.
...Mr Shegog was headmaster when I arrived in 1952 and I don't remember much about him except he beat me once for talking after lights out. I think he left under a bit of a cloud.
....Then it was Mr Williams. Looking back now, he seemed incredibly old but I liked him. He tried to make me write right-handed because my left-handed writing was such a mess. It did not work! He beat me and Chris Jones once when we caught taking a short cut on a cross country run. He was head boy and I was the number 2! Philip Manikum (now an actor) used to entertain us at night with endless stories and we used to listen to Radio Luxemberg and "Journey into Space" under the blankets.
....My parents took my brother Jamie out of the school because they didn't think the teaching was up to scratch. I thought the teaching was OK, though maybe not so good for academically gifted boys. My last class there was called the Wang Chang! I can't think why.
....I also remember rationing in 1952- Each boy had a third of a pint of milk every day and a few
sweets each week. I remember how bad the food was and at the end of term I think I usually weighed less than the beginning. Did we really eat horse meat!  Mr Weekes used to play conkers with us and he had one that had probably been baked in an oven that was a winner. There was a Mr Lees who was a very good swimmer and I saw him in one of the school photos. I was afraid of Mrs Caston. She may have had a heart of gold but managed to conceal that from me! I also remember how cold it was in the winter - there wasn't any heating at the school that I remember. Also, endless games of french cricket with Tobitt. Tobogganing down the hill at the back of the school.
....I went off to Kings Canterbury in 1957 and then became a Chartered Accountant.

....John Cooke

Memories of Hillsbrow by Richard Chown (1957 – 1961)

..........I started at Hillsbrow as a “day boy” in 1957 and became a boarder after about a year of travelling between the school and Oxted where I lived. I think the bus fare was 8 old pence, and sometimes I would pay to go to Godstone, where I got off and bought sweets with the few pence saved! I would then walk the last 3 or 4 miles home. I have two particular memories of the commute. Firstly when there was a bus strike. It lasted about 2 weeks during which time my father would drop me at Godstone, where another dad filled his clapped out van with children destined for Hillsbrow. There were no back seats and we all sat hunched up on the cold metal floor and slid around and bumped into each other as we went round corners.
...........The other memory was when an incredibly thick fog (smog) descended and the bus driver refused to take the bus on past the terminal at Godstone. A new lit roundabout had been built, but once beyond the lights you could not see to walk. I hung around in the dark at the edge of the roundabout lights getting colder and colder and there was now little traffic on the road. A car slowed and a female voice asked if I was Richard. A teacher from my previous school had seen me and somehow had recognised me. We drove back to Oxted doing little more than 5 miles an hour as the headlight could not penetrate the fog. Once or twice we stopped and I got out so that I could let her know how far we were from the kerb!
...........Reverting to my reminiscences of Hillsbrow – which I tend to look back on with some nostalgia as a boys’ version of St.Trinians! While discipline was enforced by the use of the cane, we also enjoyed a lot of unsupervised free time which resulted in a degree of anarchy at times. I recall a rather gentle Irish teacher joining the staff, who was perhaps a little naive for the some of the more cheeky pupils. I remember one day watching from the staircase as two juniors locked him in his classroom, when his lesson was about to finish. Being a prefect I called out “What do you think you are doing?” Two worried boys looked up and I asked them “Who is in there?” Upon being told it was the Irish master, I lightheartedly said “That is OK then”. Unfortunately for me the Headmaster had followed me down the stairs and seen the whole thing so I was summoned to his study. The Headmaster was aware that I would be playing in a rugby match in a couple of hours time, so he delayed administering the cane until after the match!
...........I can remember playing a game of billiards with the Irish master. He was being distracted by some other boys, so I went to tap him on the shoulder with my cue. Unfortunately I actually hit him quite hard on the head so that the billiard cue broke. Thankfully his easy going nature prevailed and he laughed it off.

Other memories for me are:-
......Mr Mew’s recollections of survival in the trenches in the First World war.
......Mr Wilk’s parrot, when he nipped me!

......Midnight feasts after lights out – twiglets, cheeselets, tizer, cider, etc.
......Raiding Mrs Caxton’s pantry for lincoln biscuits
......The sole convector heater in the two adjoining classrooms failing to keep us even vaguely warm

......The dreaded Mrs Caxton and her fag ash and her shouting at Symonds
......The calm manner in which Alex McKay dealt with his asthma attacks
......The Cowlings’ Meschersmitt. The Cowlings were two brothers, whose photos appear in the rugby photos. There were a few parents who regularly attended chapel on Sunday. The boys would watch to see who came up the drive. The Cowlings' parents owned a Mechasmitt. It was a 'bubble car' that was made by the famous German aircraft manufacturer and the car did not comprise much more than a cockpit and 3 wheels. From memory both parents and the boys somehow squeezed into it.
......Quiz and Ego. Quiz was latin for Who? and was said when someone had something to give away. The first person to shout "Ego" (me) got whatever it was - perhaps some unwanted item from a tuckbox or seconds of a leftover pudding!
Having to feel 2 down 4 along for your rugby boots in the boiler room where there was no light
......Polishing up the brass headlights on the car restoration
. I believe someone else made mention of this, but I am afraid I don't remember the name of the young teacher. There was a wooden garage next to the school and a wreck of an early motor arrived with a new master. After many months the car was re-built and restored and, by way of thanks to those of us who helped polish it up, he took us for a short spin.
......Seeing the huge rats that hung around the effluent and the foul smell of the outflow
......Singing risqué songs in the coach on the way back from rugby matches
......At the end of the season the older boys in the team being taken out for a beer or cider at a pub

...........I remember Keays-Byrne being at the centre of things. Like when he found a young jackdaw, which we helped to keep fed and watered for about a week until it was ready to fledge. When it came to release it flew off a couple of times but returned to our shoulders. The next day it flew around in a circle before departing for good.
...........The school grounds were brilliant for making camps, building a maze, and playing games. Sometimes these would end up becoming a bit tribal as with Roundheads and Cavaliers.
...........The Wellingtonia tree was the meeting point at break times and it survived generations of pupils carving out parts of its soft bark.
...........I remember that it was not always straightforward going through the field down to the rugby pitch as a herd of bullocks took to giving chase. The return walk up the hill after games would pull at weary legs.
...........I recall it being my turn to ring the chapel bell one Sunday, when it came away from the chapel wall. I had to hold the bell in my left hand and doll it with my right. It got heavier by the second and I just about managed to hang on until the seemingly endless procession had entered the chapel.
...........On returning after one holiday our dormitory had been refurbished and we now had the luxury of bedside lockers. Well, actually they were old apple boxes turned on end with a bit of elasticated wire across the front to hold up a fabric curtain, but for Hillsbrow this was luxury!
...........I think I was first shown how to do “hospital corners” at Hillsbrow, which I seem to remember were part of the regular dormitory inspections, which not infrequently lead to some discovery and a caning for someone.
...........I followed Watkins to Brighton College. I think Hillsbrow’s motto “Ad Sequere” meant to follow on. At more or less the same time Mr Chalk left Hillsbrow to become Headmaster at Brighton College’s Preparatory School.

...........Many thanks for the opportunity to wallow in nostalgia.
..................Richard Chown

Memories of Hillsbrow by Don Scott

.......53 years have passed since this photo was taken but it was interesting to see oneself all those years ago and to remember others in that picture. I, Donald Scott, am 2nd row down, 3rd in from the right in the 1955 photo above, . How the years have flown since then, a lifetime, literally has passed. So many faces I remember, though now the names elude me somewhat, but some spring to memory, I mean who can forget matron in that picture, Miss Hunter, obviously known to most of us boys as "Hawker" Hunter. Mr Crocker (Crockett to those of us that had seen Fess Parkers film of that name), Mr Chalk. Mr Williams, and another new face that year Mr Wilkinson. Both Mr Crocker and Mr Wilkinson came to the school with 2 wrecks of cars, Mr Wilkinson's being an Austin 7 Ruby if I remember rightly and Mr Crocker's a pre-war car of unknown make that was an open car with a "dickey" seat in the boot. At some stage or other i travelled in both cars, usually to do with sport. I ended up as a full cap in rugby, having played hooker for the school since the colts. David Sharpe I seem to remember was scrum half and Brian (spud) Rawlings fly half.
.......Summers I usually spent as a half cap at cricket, usually found to be hanging around on the outfield, my bowling being pathetic really and my batting a bit above abysmal, however I did take a few catches in outfield in "decider" matches for the school that gained me the half cap but I was never going to be a contender for the white full cricket cap. Those lazy hazy days of summer.
.......It's been mentioned elsewhere that we used to race Dinky racing cars down a home made track outside the conservatory and along the path just below it. My hero was always Stirling Moss at the time. Regards sledging, how we never killed ourselves on the back hill eludes me. Those that took part took our lives into our own hands when we set off down that slope that led down to the line of trees at the bottom with only the well worn path to the rugby fields as a passageway through them. Health and Safety today would have heart attacks looking at those excursions downhill on the famous "Davos" sledge. Can anyone imagine a head teacher having to submit a "Risk Assessment" to our activities in the grounds of Hillsbrow, for instance when some of the senior boys (when I was a junior) being hauled before Mr Williams for digging a tunnel in the sand on one of the hillsides in the grounds.
.......I think some of my favourite memories are of the winter shows we pu
t on just before Christmas. Some of them I remember well, for instance the "modernisation" of MacBeth. "Is this a haggis I see before me" was the memorable line from that show. My contribution was as the old man in "The Wise Man of Gotham", though I did also play Blind Pew in treasure island. Since I retired I have trodden the amateur stage many times now and written plays for the theatre, a definite inheritance from Hillsbrow. The other bonus from those late night shows was we got to sleep for a couple of hours in the afternoons of show nights.
.......One of Hillsbrow's forgotten heroes has to be Mr Moo, the gardener/handyman. After all the swimming pool didn't fill itself up during the summer term, neither did the rugby posts self erect, or the Guy Fawkes night bonfire build itself. That was all down to Mr Moo. No one ever really knew his name that I know of, he was just there, just Moo. Usually found when not doing something around the school in his massive shed at the bottom of the driveway just before the lodge. Who can ever forget the procession with flaming torches from Moo's shed to the bonfire up on the football pitch on or around Nov 5th and the firework display after. Once again instant heart attack for any H&S Inspectors had they been around then.
.......The more I write the more the memories return, so rather than send you all to sleep I will finish with my own personal thoughts. I didn't WANT to go to a boarding school, that was a decision taken by my parents however as it was because I had no say in that part of my life I can't think of a better Prep school to have gone to, for all it's faults, hairs from the cook's red setter in food etc being just a minor irritation. I was with a lively bunch of lads of around my own age and I have to say a staff that I believe were exceptional in their care for those entrusted to them not only to look after but also to educate which in my case they did, giving me a lust in later life for knowledge, especially regards history. They were all a great crew as would be said in today’s world
"The game is more than the player; the ship is more than the crew". ..............Don Scott, Cornwall.

Reminiscences of Mark Noble  
Like several other contributors, I was amazed  to find such a detailed website about Hillsbrow. I was at the school from about 1957 to 1960, firstly as a dayboy then a border. My parents lived in Warlingham and I caught the bus to school. Mr. Chalk was the headmaster and slept in a room next to the Sanatorium at the top of the school. Some of the other teachers lived in the lodge.

Many memories come back to me:

Roaming the large grounds in break times and building a maze each year out of a patch of ferns (or was it nettles?)
The long walk down and back to the rugby pitch.
The large stone bath in the cellar for post match group washing.
The Sunday night plays the boarders put on for each other.

I remember too the firework incident when they caught fire accidentally and went off all at once, spraying the parents’ cars on the drive with sparks. We all thought it was hilarious. No health and safety then. The soft spoken Irish teacher refered to by Richard Chown (whom I also remember – didn’t he live at Oxted?) was Mr. Moran. I am not sure why I remember his name and not many of the other teachers. We had to write the name of the duty teacher in chalk up on a board in one of the classrooms each week. There was quite a frequent turn over of teachers. I think they often did a years teaching as a gap year before going on to university. One South African was very charismatic. There was also a young motor bike fanatic from the Isle of Man who always talked about the TT races and had an old Post Office telegram messenger’s bike that he was trying to do up. The formidable Mrs Caston I will remember forever. One end of term, someone wedged the hammer on the electric bell used to wake up us boarders. Whoever was the duty master was puzzled when he could not get the bell to ring but when Mrs Caston arrived on the scene she knew immediately what the problem was: “whoever has fixed that bell, unfix it immediately” was bellowed up the stairs!

In my last year, I did extra tuition in maths in Redhill with a retired master (was it Mr. Williams?) with (I think) Hugh Keays-Byrne and Patrick Baily. We sat around his dining room table struggling with quadratic equations and when he left the room for one of his frequent cigarette breaks, we would move the clock on the mantelpiece forward to finish the torture more quickly.

In my first term as a boarder, I shared a dorm with a boy only aged about 8 or so (the name Dribell possibly). I think his father had been Lord Mayor of London or something but he was very young to board and cried himself to sleep every night for weeks.

I am still best friends with Patrick Baily and remember Alex Mackay and his asthma – and didn’t he break his arm or leg once? We thought this was very exciting!

I squeaked through my CE and went on to St Edmunds School in Canterbury and then on to St. Andrews University. I then qualified as a chartered accountant and at the time of writing am still working.

The story I heard about Mr. Wicks,  the headmaster who took over after Mr Chalk and after I had left, was that he raised funds from parents to pay for improvements at the school but ran off with the money.

There are two other things I remember. Firstly, at one time a great aunt sent me (quite innocently) her late husbands first world war service revolver. She obviously had no need of it and thought it an ideal present for a young male relative. I used to go to school with it my satchel and used it (no ammo of course) when we played cowboys and indians in the woods. I would end up in prison these days.

Secondly, I remember the headmaster, Mr. Chalk, at one stage showing us some old black & white pictures of life in the school at some previous time (pre war? possibly). What surprised me even then was that all the boys were playing outside completely naked. I think it would be considered very suspect these day.

Mark Noble November 2010.

Freddie Mills
Several references to the boxer Freddie Mills being at Hillsbrow have appeared above. The above photos of the occasion were kindly sent in by Peter Leighton.
Peter also sent the photo on the right saying, 'The photograph on the bench taken on the school cricket field shows (from the right) - me, Ted Crowe and John London. Don't know the other two. My guess is that this was 1953. I was at Hillsbrow from 1946 to 1950, managed to finish up captaining both the cricket and rugby sides. The quality of  teaching must have been pretty good as I managed to gain a scholarship to Cranleigh. This I remember gave rise to a half-day holiday.' Peter also appears in a number of other photos on this page.
The 1960s
School group in 1960. This picture is from Nicholas Wall. His fellow ex-pupil, David Osborn, remembers some of the names as follows: -
Front row boys seated, numbered 1-15 from l-r: 1 Cheetham, 7 Roger Ohlson, 8 David Osborn, 10 Whitmore (minor), 11 Mark Caudle, 12 Hudson.
Second row (staff) numbered 1-9 from l-r: 1 Matron, 2 Mr Britten, 3 Mr PJ Smith, 4 Mr Chalk, 5 Mr Wickes, 6 Mr Shields, 7 Mr Devereux, 8 Mrs Howe.
Third Row (behind staff) starting with two small boys, numbered l-r 1-15: 2 Andrew Maitland, 4 Niroumand, 6, Hugh Keays-Byrne, 10 Mackay.
Fourth row from boy with different jacket, numbered l-r 1-15: 2 Keith Pfister, 3 Charles Ottowell, 5 Howard Whitmore (major), 9 Nicholas Litchfield,
10 Alan Murrell, 11 Tom Roseveare, 12 David Braithwaite
II, 14 Courtney.
Fifth row, 1st boy behind boy with different jacket, rest of row slightly higher, numbered l-r 1-15: 1 Robert Broughall, 5 Slade, Peter? Braithwaite
7 Courtness, 15 Jerry Samuel.

Back row, numbered l-r 1-2
: 2 Rhodes, 3 Nicholas Wall, 4 Simon McDonald, 6 Marshall, 7 Ashford, 9 Sen Keys-Byrne
II, David Hedges, 12 Edwin Gibson.
(More names from Alex Mackay)
I came upon your website and was amazed to see myself in a few photos which brought back great memories. I left in 1961 to go on to Fettes in Edinburgh.   I cherish my Rugger team photo of Christmas Term 1960. We were all grinning happily above the less than exultant summary "Played 6 : Lost 6".   I can add some names to the 1960 school photo: 3rd Row: 2. Keith Bulmer, 3. Hardy, 4. Patrick Bailey, 5. Richard Chown, 6. Hugh Keays-Byrne, 7. John Borkowski, 8. Alex Mackay (me), 9. C Dickenson, 10. Jeremy Farmer, 12 AP Courtness (I think). 4th Row: 8 is Michael Beeching,  So many familiar faces but names have  gone!   Hillsbrow was a great experience. I ran into Patrick Bailey a few years ago and he had an estate agency business in Wadhurst, but I think he moved to Rye. He told me he was in regular contact with Marcus Noble.   My best memories are the concerts we gave with brilliant scripts written by Peter Chalk. I can remember his version of Macbeth ..."Is this a haggis that I see before me? Is it to this the fates will draw me? Blood will have blood, carrion flesh, a swinging corpse..................and not too fresh!!!" And the concerts - they were great!   Anyway, best of luck to all your old boy readers.   Alex Mackay
Boys in the chapel at Hillsbrow School in the early 1960s. This picture is from David Osborn who is the boy on the right of the second row back in the main group (behind the only boy there with two stripes on his socks). The man far right is headmaster Mr Wickes and the man next to him is Mr Philpott*.
*A separate contributor says that the name was Phelps, not Philpott
Memories of Hillsbrow by Andrew Courtness
I was amazed to find your webpage on Hillsbrow School. I was there around 1959 to 1963. The pictures brought back long forgotten memories – Alex Mackay has put me in the right position in the 1960’s photo – Andrew Courtness (AP). I recall Mrs Caston as being a tyrant liking only her cats (tiddels and spotty) and Jack Hawkins (pictures of the actor all around her). When Mr Wicks bought the school (his wife I recall was a war hero) heating was installed and many other improvements made. Mrs Caston left rather suddenly and I recall we boys took over cooking breakfast for a time.
...... What became of Mr Wicks? David Hedges and I were taken around Europe in the Summer of 1963 by Mr Wicks, meeting up with David’s mum in Paris. After that I lost touch as things seem to go wrong with the school, ending up in it being burn down.
...... As a result of finding your web page I have spent the evening in the attic turning up many forgotten memories. Amongst the dust and dirt I have found summer 1959 and Christmas/Easter 59/60 copies of the school magazine “the Mog” and three pictures of the Hillsbrow Rugger Teams in 1960/61 with names. Alex Mackay (one of the contributors to your web site) is with me in all three. I seem to recall he played full back and had his collar bone broken. (We were so bad that the other side always broke through leaving the full back as the only defence).
...... The Boxing Instructor commented in the Mog that “Courtness too was guilty of a little too much running around in circles and not enough hitting out” It probably explains my moderate success as a civil servant. (I recently retired from being the Commercial Director and Registrar of Shipping for Jersey Harbours).
...... I’ve also found copies of my old school reports. Mr Wicks signed himself as R.S. Wicks on the reports, but he had other first names as I recall he had a problem in Italy having different first names on his passport and the bank details. I had understood that he bought the school from Dalrymple-Hay. Certainly he and his wife seemed had a financial interest. His wife disappeared off the scene not long after starting at the school. Looking back, I cannot be sure of Mr Wicks’ proper name/s. He was an enigma. One name he used was ‘Wilfred’ and others which I cannot recall, but none which began with R.S. He told us stories of his time in the RN during the war. They bore a great deal of resemblance to events involving others which I read in later life, so they may have been purely for young boys’ entertainment. He also wore a ring with the insignia of Sir Francis Drake to whom he claimed to be related and usually wore a silk handkerchief half protruding from the sleeve of his jacket – it all went down well with the ladies.
...... In those days we all referred to each other by surnames.
...... Most of the staff lived in the large house and down in the lodge. On the top floor there was matron’s flat, the headmaster’s bedroom (where Mrs Wicks also stayed at the beginning but I don’t recall she taught) a master’s bedroom, the junior dormitory c12 boys (no heating and only one blanket in the early days. We used to get up after lights out and get dressed in our day clothes on cold nights) and one bathroom. Boy’s toilets and another bathroom on the landing below. On the second floor was the senior dorm. Headmaster’s Study, Deputy’s study. Bathroom (we had a bath roster). Staff toilet. Attached between the 1st and 2nd floor was an annex which had on its 1st floor a games room and through that the intermediate (new dorm) dormitory. It was there that I spent the last week of the summer term (to see how I would like it). Keyes-Byrne (who is mentioned on your web site) was in the bed next to me and I was put in his care. He collected animal skulls and left them to dry out on his locker between our beds – fascinating!
...... The ground floor was made up of three classrooms (there were others in the Lodge and wooden huts) kitchen, dinning room (where I first got drunk on cider at the annual rugger dinner) and the evil Mrs Caston’s quarters. Below were old cellars with a large changing room and communal bath, boiler room and boiler faithfully fed by Mr Mew (the ancient groundsman) until Wicks had it replaced with oil fired heating. Mr Mew told us spine chilling stories of his time in the 1st world war. There were also side cellars with unused brick cavities for wine and cider casks. I and other boys were terrified to go down there at night time believing it haunted.
...... One time we had the luxury of an assistant matron, I must have been about 12/13. She was 17 years old and I felt very attracted to her but didn’t really know why. I was always asking for a good night kiss at light’s out and did get one just once. That and the number of stripes from the cane was our street ‘cred’ in those days.
...... My last night at Hillsbrow (1962) was interrupted by Mr Wicks and another master, seeking revenge for some minor end of term prank. They switched on the lights and proceeded to cover the entire dorm. with tomato soup power which had been stored in sacks. Having turned everyone and everything before them blood red, they then followed up with soda siphons. I and my clothing smelt of tomato soup long after despite all of us desperately bathing through the night before being met by parents the next day. It went down the cracks in the bare floor boards and could not be removed – perhaps a good reason to burn the place down. - Andrew

Extracts from Andrew's copies of the school magazines from 1959 and 1960 courtesy appear below
Christmas and Easter 1959/1960
Editors: J. N. TOLPUTT, K. R. G. WATKINS
As we write with the brilliant rummer sun gleaming on our paper, it is not so easy to retrace our steps back through the past winter. The Bonfire, “Sing-Song” and even Rugger seem so far away. But we do remember that we enjoyed ourselves, even on the Rugger field, despite the fact that in the Easter term we found ourselves up against some strong—and undefeated—sides. We do congratulate the team on the admirable spirit displayed, particularly at Holmewood House where we put up probably our best performance. Some of the younger mem’bers of the team made their presence felt and this brightens next season’s prospects when we old timers will be fighting on other battle fields!—Adsequere.
We extend our best wishes to Young, Terry, Goss, May and Tucker, who by now will be firmly entrenched in their new schools. Through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Young we shall be opening a tennis court this term and we would like the donors to accept our grateful thanks.
Salvete (May, 1959) Braithwaite II, De Vos, KeaysByrne II, Vernon-Jones
(September, 1959) Almond, Baker, Brown, Courtness,
Fowler, Litchfield, Maitland, Marsh, Radcliffe, Slocombe,
Wallace, Williams
(January, 1960) Cowan, Hall, Hedges

Valete (December, 1959) Young (King’s, Canterbury)
Goss (St. Edmund’s, Canterbury)
Terry (St. Edmund’s, Canterbury)
May (St. John’s, Horsham) (April, 1960) Tucker (Ravensbourne College)

Summer 1959
Editors: J. N. TOLPUTT, K. R. G. WATKINS
We survived the rigours of the winter terms with only one epedemie—the ‘flu. The Rugger team was fairly inexperienced but the play was of a good standard. The House Matches last term proved to be a very exciting contest. The victors, School House just beat Hill. Redstone came third.
Unfortunately, after four years, we have to say farewell to Mr. Cathie. We appreciate all his help at Cricket and in the “Sing-Song” and we feel sure that he will be missed at Hillsbrow.
We congratulate the C.E. successes of Crichton, Sullivan, Sharp and Brown and we wish them, together with Scott, Draper and Niroumand I every bit of luck in their new schools. It is fortunate for us that Sharp and Brown are with us for the cricket season—and we have hopes! Dare we hope, too, for a good summer?

Salvete . (September, 1958) Baily, Borkowski, Clayden, Doyle, Evans,Gardner, Ottowell, Portelli.

Valete (January, 1959) Pfister, Samuel, Harvey, Murrell, Towle
(December, 1958) Crichton, Draper, Scott,
(April, 1959) Sullivan, Niroumand I

  Christmas 1958 Easter 1959
Head of School Chambers Chambers
Prefects Chrichton
Niroumand I
Niroumand I
Captain of Rugger Chambers Sharp
Vice-Captain: Sharp Young
Librarian: Varley Varley


.....The Rugby Team Easter 1959

......D.Sharp Captain

........Played 9 won 3 lost 6

Photo courtesy M Noble

C.T.Everitt .....N.Niroumand..... R.Bacon .....H.Keays-Byrne .....R.Chown..... M.Noble
.....T.Brown .....J.Sullivan .....J.Tollput .....P.Terry .....K.Watkins .....I. Bance
.......P.May .......D.Sharp .......R.Young .......A.Niroumand
......................D.Sykes .................................J.Cowling


.....The Rugby Team Easter 1959

......W.Young Captain

........Played 6 won 43 lost 2

Photo courtesy M Noble



M.J.Goss .....R.I.Chown .....N.Niroumand .....G.Tucker .....H.Keays-Byrne .....M.Noble .....R.Turnbukll .....A.Mackay
.....P.D.Terry ..... .....P.H.May ..... .....W.R.Young ..... .....K.Watkins ..... ..... J.Tollput
..... ..... ..... .....D.Sykes ..... .....I.Bance ..... .....J.Reid. ..... .....J.Cowling


.....The Rugby Team Easter 1960

......K Watkins Captain

........Played 9 won 3 lost 6

MJ Noble RL Chown H Keays-Byrne J Northover FC Wood RJ Turnbull KW Bulmer A Mackay
JD Reid
............JN Tolputt ............KRG Watkins...... LG Bance ......N Niroumand
............MJ Hardy............JM Cowling ............NG Cowling ......AP Courtness

......The Rugby Team Christmas 1960

......J Bance Captain

.........Played 6 lost 6

Photo courtesy M Noble


NJ Lichfield RA Broughall JG Farmer C Dickenson PO Bailey JH Borrowski KW Bulmer
......MJ Noble ........HM Keay-Byrne ........J Bance ........AJ Mackay .......RL Chown
..................MJ Hardy ......SJ Maynard ............PO Courtness......AD Wallace

......The Rugby Team Easter 1961

......HM Keays-Byrne Captain

......Team played 5 won 1 lost 4


......................MJ Hardy ..........JJ Samuel .......GA Lacey .........CA Cundy
KJ Gaskell - RA Broghall - PO Bailey - C Dickenson - JH Borrowski - JG Farmer - PJ Sims
AP Courtness
..RL Chown ....HM Keays-Byrne ...AJ Mackay...KW Bulmer .....NJ Litchfield
......................SJ Maynard...................................................PJ Braithwaite
................Christmas Term, 1959........................................RUGGER RESULTS...........Easter Term, 1960

Hillsbrow v Abbey Lost 0—3
v Tonbridge Lost 0—23
v Combe House Won 26—9
v Abbey Won 26—6
v Epsom Juniors Won 16—3
v Combe House Won 8—3

v Bickley Park Won 27—0
v Belmont Won 47—3
v Abbey Lost 0—16
v Epsom Juniors Lost 5—9
v Bickley Hall Lost 0—19
v Holmewood House
Lost 3—24
v Belmont Won 19—8
v Brighton Juniors Lost 3—26
v Bickley Hall Lost 0—31

............................................................BOXING CHAMPIONSHIPS
.Christmas 1959 .....................................................................................Easter 1960

Goss (R) v. Sykes (H)
Cowling 11(H) V. Courtness (H)
Tucker (S) v. Young (B)
Watkins (B) v. May (S
I (R) v. Tolputt (R)
Hardy (B) v. Hellyar (R)
* Terry (S) v. Niroumand (H)
Farmer (H) v. Cowling 11 (H)
Vernon-Jones (R) v. Ottowell (S)
Reid (H) v. Cowling 1 (H)

Reid (H) v. Cowling I (H)
Ottowell (S) V. Vernon-Jones R)
Courtness (H) V. Cowling 11 (H’)
Tucker (S) v. Tolputt (R)
* Niroumand (H) v. Cowling I (H)
Keays-Bryne I (R) v. Watkins (B)
Hardy (B) v. Vernon-Jones (R)
Courtness (H) v. Farmer (H)

Exhibition Bouts Names in italics indicate winners

BOXING CHAMPIONSHIPS, EASTER 1960 - A word from the Instructor
We made rather a slow start and illness prevented some boys from ever really catching up, but half-way through the term we seemed to get going and by the time we met the Abbey School, I think that we were as well trained as we could be.
The boxing at the Abbey was a slight disappointment as we didn’t quite take the decision this time, as we have done on two previous occasions, but no one need take this to heart as I considered our standard of boxing to be very high. My main, and in fact, only complaint regarding this competition is that, to a certain extent, out team lacked aggression. A particular instance of this was the bout that Reid won. He was far superior to his opponent but too often he stood and waited to be attacked instead of ‘getting in’ and piling up the points to ensure a comfortable victory. Courtness, too was guilty of a little too much running around in circles and not enough actual hitting out. He may be interested to know, that as far as I was concerned, he won his bout by the narrowest of margins—exactly half a point. Two good blows from his opponent would have lost him the decision. It was as close as that.
Tolputt and Watkins just couldn’t get going. They must have felt rather like a Don Quixote tilting at a windmill and getting caught up in the flailing arms. Tolputt particuiraly, found himself overwhelmed by an opponent who didn’t stop pounding him for an instant.
With regard to our own Boxing Championships I am very pleased indeed with the standard, but agreed with the judge when he said that you must stand nearer to your opponent. A great deal of hitting out of distance was done. The two boxing cups were certainly well deserved by the recipients. For Tolputt it must have been the crowning glory of an outstanding term. Vernon-Jones was a complete surprise to me and no doubt to Hardy as well. His solid straight lefts were first class.
The exhibition bout between Niroumand and Cowling I is also deserving particular mention. Well done, boys! I shall be doing a lot of dinghy sailing this summer, so when boxing starts again during the Christmas term, I shall have to be careful to refer to left and right hands and not to ‘port and starboard.’
I do hope that I shall see many new boxers coming forward so that we can perhaps challenge Abbey or some other school again.
Good luck in the forthcoming cricket season.

During the Christmas Term we had many spare time occupations. We started off with conkers but this did not last very long as boys found it too difficult to get them. So instead the boys went to pick up chestnuts to crunch during class! Eventually, one boy bought a “chuck-glider,” thus encouraging many others to buy them too. We even had a diesel-engine control-line ‘plane. For the rest of the Christmas Term, the Sing Song took up most of the boys’ time.

The Second Form delighted us with a production of “Snow White” written by Tolputt and directed by Mrs. Howe, with Rosevear in the title role. The King and Queen were played by Keays-Byrne II and Braithwaite; the latter, fighting against ‘flu was intent that “the show must go on,” Vernon-Jones and Hallas were the Prince and Huntsman and Borkowski’s eerie voice animated the Mirror. The seven dwarfs, Maitland, Baker, Marsh, Brown. Towle, Almond and Portelli thoroughly enjoyed themselves and cleverly suggested the varied personalities.
Young and Tolputt next turned the pages of “Chud’s Chronicles” paying due attention to the “Golden Handshake’ and Space Travel. Cowling I with jaunty poise appeared as the schoolgirl in stiletto heels. The Middle School romped through a burlesque on the staff called “St. Crispin’s Day,” with Litchfleld as Mrs. Caston and Harvey as her dog.
Probably the most memorable item was “Jobs for the Boys.’ Goss, Cowling I, Hardy, Lacy, Keays-Byrne I, May and Mackay gave us their choice of career ranging from drummer to window- cleaner. The cast must be congratulated on excellent timing. Mr. Lacy wrote the script, produced the item and then, together with Mrs. Lacy rounded off the first half of the programme with a professional partnership.
After the interval, the traditional “Cathie’s Chorus” gave us a lively selection of Sea Shanties, with a diminuendo in the form of Mackay singing “Silent Night.” The Third Form in tartans and tam o’ shanters told us the sad tale of “Lord Ullin’s Daughter” (Dankwerts). Ottowell with great zest declaimed the narrator’s part and Dc Vos a convincing Scot appeared as the bereaved Lord Ullin. Others taking part were Maynard, Ashford, Pflster, Hallas. Ffoulkes, Broughall and Burtenshaw.
A revival of “Witches’ Gruel” by the Seniors brought the “Sing-Song” to a close. Any similarity between this piece of nonsense and Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” was intentional. Tolputt as the Lord of Glamis and Young in blonde wig and rugger boots as his enigmatic spouse, emulated the thespians of the Old Vic All the actors made the most of their lines—Watkins as the Bard himself, Turnbull, Goss and Northover as the Witches, KeaysByrne I as MacDuncan, May as Chorus, Terry the messenger and Mackay as John Knocks. Supporting roles were ably provided by Niroumand, Wood, Cowling I, Hardy, Chown, Noble, Beeching and Barber.
We extend our grateful thanks to those who, year by year give of their time and talents to make the “Sing-Song” a success: to Mr. Chudley, our compere; Mr. London, our producer: Mrs. Turnbull, our wardrobe mistress; and to Mrs. Chudley, Mrs. Watkins, Mrs. Bacon, Mrs. Howe and Miss Cross for thei assistance with dressing and make-up. This year. of course, we must not forget our guest artists, Mr. and Mrs. Lacy.
Cast (not mentioned above)
‘La Vie Parisienne” Mackay, Chown, Terry, Goss, Vernon-Jones, Hellyar, Reid, Sykes Watkins, Young, Turnbull.
“St. Crispin’s Day” Williams, Cowling II, Courtness, Dickenson, Tucker, Howe, Litchfleld, Braithwaite I, Gardner, Hardy, Samuel, Harvey, Reid.
Farmer, Radcliffe, Tolputt.
“Cathie’s Chorus” Mackay, Ashford, Bulmer, Bance, Braithwaite I, Courtness, Dickenson, Evans, Farmer, Fowler, Harvey, Hellyar, Litchfield, Maynard, Howe, Vernon-Jones, Pflster, Wallace, Reid, Williams, Ottowell, Baily, Murrell.
Notes on Hillsbrow from an unknown contributor
I was actually at the school from 1958-63. The school uniform was Cambridge blue with Oxford dark blue trimmings - a nightmare for the outfitters who were left with lots of unsaleable old stock. The school house was burnt down some years after we left and the site, I think, was in the process of being redeveloped but the wellingtonia tree is still there.  Everything was very much overgrown. I think I last visited the site in 1995.
The masters I most remember were Mr Chalk (Latin), Wick's predecessor, Mr Philpott (History and Choir)
(A separate contributor says that the name was Phelps, not Philpott), a young English master who played rugby for Dorking, who managed to break his ankle larking about on a tarzan type swing that we used near the large shed, and the lady who taught the juniors down in the lodge.
I was in School House.  Do you remember the Keays-Byrnes who lived in Caterham.  The elder, Hugh Keays-Byrne, a fine actor, went to Australia and had a big part as a baddy opposite Mel Gibson in 'Mad Max'.  Hugh didn't act in his film part just played himself!!
(Cast of Mad Max - Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Steve Bisley, Roger Ward, Vince Gill)
My contemporaries were Pfister, Braithwaite, Roseveare (all lived near Kenley aerodrome) and Maynard.  My Dutch friend De Vos, I remain in touch with.  My main claim to fame was winning the under 10 league cup for Rugby."
Below is the poem by John Haynes. It won the Arvon/Daily Telegraph prize and is set in the grounds of Hillsbrow after the school had been deserted for some time, in the early 1990s.  It's more about his mother's death than Hillsbrow as such, although there are multiple references to Hillsbrow School. Here is the Surrey Mirror report of the visit of Miss Mary Churchill to Hillsbrow. The Year is not known but is either 1940 or 1941. (Article courtesy John Haynes)


in memory of my mother

A house can be haunted by those who were never there
                  if there was where they were missed.
                              Louis Macneice,  Selva Oscura

           And the blind walls crumble, unknown, o’erthrown,
           And none shall inhabit again!
                   Rudyard Kipling, Letting in the Jungle

Hillsbrow Preparatory School for Boys:
the house is gone and stars of cowparsely
stand on what was once cricket pitch. A noise

of wind through trees, rock-cake-like masonry,
tiles, nettles, blackberry brambles, a glow
along a loop of gossamer, suddenly

breaking off, starting again.  Amo,
amas, amat,  the endings and no name
for who is loved, and loves: endings to know

by heart.  You never came. You always came.
As red as this red thorn your hair was red
here where the dorm was, where you reach the same

White gloves across the dark inside my head
as if it isn’t you but me who’s dead 

The entrance to the drive where taxis came
calls with the birds beyond WINSOME AND FEIGHT

below the school fields, then,  over the gate,
wade up  through this once chin-high swaying hill
of grass into the grounds, to this estate

of dead leaves like cornflakes, the night-dress frill
of foxgloves, thorns squealing my anorak,
a broken post, a rusted window grille,

this castle to which you may not come back,
but from whose boundaries you’ll never err,
here  you must learn to mourn for lack with lack

- here, in this thin green air and tang of fir,
as then, a trespasser,  a trespasser.

Here Mr Weeks stood at a blackboard set
against the hatch in the refectory
and chalked the perfect forms our souls forget

as soon as born, he said. Geometry,
it brings us to our innocence again,
and we are safe in it. There’s certainty.

The axioms are wired into the brain
and nerves and don’t need any other proof.
They lengthen through diagonals of rain

like bright piano wires,  the spider's woof
and weft,  the  lines that narrow through the sleet
beyond the dripping railway station roof

towards this spot where they will always meet
however much the curved in lips entreat.

Who sewed the shield and motto to my breast
and forehead, you or they?  It’s not escape
at all,  is it?  Fern and foxglove,  the gold-crest

and the jay, the creatures this landscape
conjures like Mowgli whose own hairless coat
of skin he thought was just another shape

of wolf, who learned to turn his human throat
to languages that neither beast nor child
can really learn. Look well, o wolves!  The note

Miss Wilson cries across the desktops filed
with old initials that slowly begin,
as it goes on,  to look more gnarled and wild,

is your note, is the grass, nettles, ruin,
the jungle that has long since been let in.

A lease long since expired.  A ghost with freckles,
school cap, and a squeaky handled suitcase.
He watches from the rhododendron petals

and smacks of  drips.  He's never seen my face
although my face is his, and never can
because he never left this magic space

to be the man it made of him, the man
he is,  child as he is,  lord in his fief
of overgrown dogtracks, a Tammylan**

with brown fingers who plucks the secret leaf
to grind  inside his cave, the cure that dries
all tears, transforms all memory, turns grief

into this bank, these hieroglyphs in line
some coot has printed in its blinding shine.

Our homesickness¸ said Mr Seale, we know
ourt souls through that. It makes us strong. His eyes
had lifted from the bedtime book. And so

we don’t have lullabies, no lullabies
at Hillsbrow School.  We grinned, wet parted hair,
pyjamas, slippers under beds, and cries

of owls beyond the open windows where
Lost Jungle City was.  Goodnight, he said,
his hand up to the switch, and vanished there.

And in the darkness just above my head
tears balanced on your eyes as if in some
spotlight, but now for me alone instead.

And so there was a lullaby, then, Mum.
You sang it without knowing that you’d come.

And now it’s your turn to be left. Don’t care
what happens to them, dear.  Throw them away,
it doesn’t matter, throw them anywhere.

It’s just the thought of being trapped all day
and night under the grass down there inside
a box, that’s all.  And for gawdsake don’t pray,

dear, will you?  No. There’ll be no gospel ride,
for all the chapel anthems, Mum.  There’ll be
no train hooting to take you on its wide

and shining gauge, only the ash, only
a choke and chug of smoke, a pulling slow
away, a sudden clank of hooks, a Cheeri

as you fall back from the carriage window,
lost on red lips in a perfect – o.

You’ll never know just how much I love you
The tape if I could play it now would stir
the same vibrations as it did once through

a hall, across these wet bedsprings whose rust
gleams like red hair, across the bits of stone,
the blackberries, the particles of dust

that twirl in these shafts here as in a cone
of spotlight, and the sound of wind through trees
turns into interference now,  the tone

the same, and Dad’s soft fingers on the keys.
I speak your name -  same height, same length and depth
and frequency of it, same little breeze

blown from your lips into my ear from death,
same with my every - lost in hissing - breath.

A S Neill once wrote that homesickness
is longing, not for what is missed, but what
in fact was never there, an emptiness,
like someone’s intimacy in a spot

light on a stage. The only words of yours,
almost, that I remember now, were not
your words at all,  but Tin Pan Alley scores,

the clichés of the year, however sad
or beautiful the yous and evermores
that you  implored the darkness with, or glad

your smile through the applause, lost in the part,
the wonder of the empathy you had,
which I can share, which I too learnt by heart,

the you it speaks to absent from the start.
Not true.  Not quite. You always talked of him,
of  Daddy,  how he used to wave his stick

and shout in hotel foyers, how his grin
would come close to your cheek, the little tic 
it had, his little eyes, how as he died

you sang Abide with Me outside his sick-
room window till somebody touched your side
and you could stop, and watch the sprays of hair

among the pillows moving still, and cried
seeing that headmistress, hearing the blare
of his old fashioned horn between the cool

horse chestnut trees, removing you from where
you’d loved it – hockey, cricket, swimming pool  -
because he wasn’t there:  your boarding school.

Again I leave the ward and look out through
the windscreen at the bluebells on the grass,
again see Sister’s eyes.  She’d thought I knew

that if you went home it would be to pass
your last few weeks with him. It would be sad
to separate them, she said in that glass

cubicle with its desk and stubby pad
of death certificates. It would be cruel
too, hopeless as he seems to have been, Dad,

at coping as she put it. But you, you’ll…
won’t you?   I’ll what?  I nodded though. Yes, I...
Bluebells like bluebells in the woods at school.

And then from Fratton Park a massive sigh
filling the clouds and draining down the sky.

The photo of you with the cricket bat,
white trousers and white shirt at some school game
fools people and they think it’s me,  with that

hair level with your collar,  just the same
cut as a nineteen sixties one,  same nose,
same gaze, I saw myself in when it came

out of the page towards me from a photo
in a paper showing some Zaria-
Jos rugby match,  fixed as their hooker throws

into the line-out, and I’m crouching near
the lens before the catch and maul and surge,
same prepschool fly-half still,  agile in fear,

as boys, fathers, masters, all yell and urge
along the touchlines.  There our faces merge.

I came back all the way from Africa
because of your small cough as you put it,
came as if from school towards the flicker

of the waves through a train window, lit
illuminations, fish and chips and spray
along the seafront. My seasons still fit

into the round of term and holiday,
but now it wasn’t coming back, or hoe
(dogs barking, teacups, lawn), although I’d say

that it’s almost as far as from this Boys Own
Paper empire I once used to rule,
that I’ve come now, from where I live, am known,

loved even, as a stranger,  that white fool
professor always going back to school.

I shake the ashes out and watch them fly,
hang for a moment in the late sunshine,
fall shiveringly.  I brought them here for my

sake, Mum, and for this green air and this fine
as powder kind of long drawn out half-lit
but never quite known grief, never quite mine

at all, not even here in this PRIVATE
KEEP OUT site where the specks just disappear
into the bracken, willowherb, no secret

little ritual except to hear
the ordinary blackbirds start to cry.
Never love anybody too much, dear,

you said, red lips against my brow so dry
they’d never leave a mark.  In case they die.

Your voice on my cassette fills up the sky
that you’d have seen together, driving back,
your traffic lights, your dusk, your rain, your cry

of gulls,  your sea, your smell of bladder-wrack,
an arc of coloured lights around a bay,
your lit up pier like strung out pearls, your black

brows in the mirror framed with bulbs, your tray
of make-up sticks, the tabs, top hats, fishnet,
your glistening lips that mine would mime the way

I mime them with you now watching the wet
verges twist and flee soundlessly back through
the tunnel that my headlamps make,  and get

the empty words as word perfect as you,
and every single note of it, yes,  true.


This webpage was inspired by an email sent to me on behalf of Mrs Ruby Meaning who worked at Hillsbrow School 1939 - 1941. She was asking what had happened to the school and as I did not know I set about finding out. The above is the result, which has far exceeded my original expectations.
12 December 2011

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