Ely High School 1905-1972
Editors: Anne Russell, Frances Hatch and
Sixth Form Committee
Miss E. E. Fletcher
Chairmen of Governors
The Very Reverend C. W. Stubbs, Dean of Ely, 1905-1907
The Very Reverend A. F. Kirkpatrick, D.D., Dean of Ely, 1907-1936
The Very Reverend G. W. Evans, Canon of Ely, 1936-1938
Alderman T. Peake, 1938-1944
Mrs. Sinclair Martin, 1944-Jan. 1957
Alderman Sneesby, 1957-1972
Miss E. E. Fletcher, B.A., 1905-1929
Miss E. M. Verini, M.A., 1929-1936
Miss B. Tilly, Ph.D., M.A., 1936-1966
Miss E. Moody, B.A., 1966-1972
From the Chairman of Governors
It is with mixed feelings that I write these few valedictory words on Ely High School. I have had the great honour of being Chairman of the Governors for the past fifteen years. I have served on a number of Governing bodies, but Ely High School has perhaps given me more pleasure and satisfaction than all the others.
Pleasure, because of the wonderful spirit of friendship and cooperation which has always prevailed among the governors and staff throughout the whole school. Satisfaction, because we have a school that has produced such excellent results without tears. Work with happy faces. When I think that our Speech Days, our Sports Days, our inimitable musical occasions and plays are now things of the past I feel rather sad. But as I have already said it is with mixed feelings that I am writing.
As one who has strongly supported the re-organisation scheme throughout its sometimes rather stormy passage, I cannot allow this feeling of sadness to outweigh the satisfaction it gives me to know that in future so many more girls will be given the opportunity to share the great privileges that their more fortunate sisters have enjoyed and used to such advantage in the past. Ely High School is going, but the girls remain and our teachers that have served us so well will still be with us.
Our fine buildings are still here surrounded by our beautiful and spacious playing fields. I am confident that the good traditions of the old school will infuse into the new order, inspiring all with the urge to make it succeed. I will take this opportunity to thank first Miss Tilly and then Miss Moody for making my task as chairman so pleasant. Their friendship and help, along with the wonderful support and co-operation of my fellow governors has indeed made my association with Ely High School a very happy one. My sincere thanks to them all.
As for the future, let us say with the poet Browning, "The best is yet to be." I am sure it is.
J. M. Sneesby.
From the Headmistress
The last years of our school have been full of exciting new ideas and development in the laboratories and classrooms; this has been against a background of impending change since 1966, as Mrs. Jones, who was a tower of strength all through those years, will vouch.
Among the many happy memories are those five occasions when our choir went on to the platform to receive from the hands of Sir Harry Legge Bourke, the cup for the most artistic performance at the Isle of Ely Festival, lively concert finales by our enthusiastic orchestra, the Madrigals sung with such delicacy and humour by our Sixth Form and students of the King's School.
We have had excellent dramatic productions too; the earnest ant armies from "The Insects" of 1966 are now thoughtful and responsible citizens in Form VI; the little country bride,her harassed groomand irascible father from "Le Chapeau de Paille d'Italie" of 1971 are still pupils in Form IV. Between those two years we have enjoyed some unforgettable performances: "The Crucible", with its deeply moving human problems; "The Good Woman of Setzuan" interpreted with lightness of touch and great charm, with its beautiful settings of dragons, imposing gods, wedding lanterns in the yellows, reds and blues of Chinese porcelain; "Under Milk Wood" in which Dylan Thomas's endearing Welsh villagers were interpreted with fresh sprightliness and impetuous humour.
Pottery, collage, batik, and tie and dye have kept our Art Room in a fever of activity. How encouraging it has been to hear of desperate attempts to keep one white shirt in a house, while every tablecloth, blouse and tea cloth was becoming a wheel of colour. Visiting exhibitions of art and crafts from schools throughout the Isle have transformed our Hall.
Teach-ins for parents have been enormous fun too, as an extension of nine to four learning with Modern Mathematics, English and Drama, and Art with pot-throwing and seed collages attended by classes of some sixty "mature students".
Our school has been a family concern and we have enjoyed parents' meetings in Burwell, Prickwillow and Soham, in Littleport, Haddenham and Cambridge. The creation of the Council of Parents and Teachers has brought with it many social occasions in the school, of which the most memorable was our Christmas Fayre, colourful flower arrangements, toys and mobiles, cakes and bottles, stretched from the Library to the stage.
Pupils have looked outwards from school and interested themselves in many activities locally and in other parts of the county. They have lived in other countries and each returning spring will remind some of the clear white outlines of the chateaux of the Loire, of the changing reflections in the wide expanse of that river in the month of March, while a few will think of the banks of the Neckar and forests and vineyards of Wurttemberg. In July some of our students are going to stay in Quebec. All will have memories of the spantaneous friendliness and hospitality extended to young people by families in France, Germany and Canada.
The unfailing interest of our Governors and ex-governors among whom we are proud to number Alderman Mrs. Parsons, the Chairman of our Education Committee, and of members of staff, who this year include four Old Girls of the School, have been indispensable to the happiness and worthwhile achievements of our community. We have been encouraged by sympathy and support of the many, many Old Girls living near at hand in Ely and in Cambridgeshire, in London and further afield. Miss Tilly, Miss Verini, Miss Baird and Miss Defew we have remembered often and they have never forgotten us. Our Bishop and the City of Ely have been very kind to Ely High School, and we hope that all will remember it with affection.
Miss E. Moody
Miss E. Moody, B.A., Headmistress.
Mrs. M. M. Jones, B.Sc., Deputy Headmistress.
Miss P. B. M. Blakeman, N.D.D., A.T.C., Head of Lower School
Mrs. M. D. Bucher, B.A.
Mrs. P. J. Clarke, B.A.
Mrs. A. Covey-Crump, L.R.A.M.
Mrs. E. A. A. Foster, G.R.S.M.
Miss N. E. Gatland, B.A.
Mr. T. W. Gregorek, B.A.
Mrs. V. P. Hawes, B.A.
Miss M. Haylock, Teachers' Diploma in Housecraft.
Mr. J. D. Hind, B.A.
Mrs. G. E. Hind, B.Sc.
Mr. G. N. Hukins, B.Sc.
Mr. J. Lacey, B.A.
Mrs. A. D. Lewis, B.A.
Mrs. P. Lubienski, B.Sc.
Miss J. Maguire, Teachers' Certificate.
Miss R. J. M. Margetson, B.Sc.
Mr. W. P. Morris, B.Sc.
Mrs. L. D. Palmer, B.Sc.
Mrs. B. J. Rice, B.A.
Mademoiselle N. Rideau.
Miss J. E. Seabrook, Certificate of Education.
Miss H. Stanyer, B.A., Careers Tutor.
Mrs. J. E. Stevens, B.A.
Mrs. A. C. Sumner, B.A.
Mrs. J. M. N. Symons, B.A.
Mrs. D. M. St. Joseph, M.A.
Dr. J. R. Williamson, B.A., Ph.D.
Miss F. K. Woolstenholmes.
From Mrs. M. Sinclair Martin
As the longest serving member of the Governing body (am I the 'Grandmother' of the house?) it is difficult to know what to select for special mention in the last edition of the school magazine.
First - the people - for the people really make the School. How fortunate we have been in our outstanding Heads and second mistresses - Dr. Tilly and Miss Moody - Miss Baird, Miss Defew and Mrs. Jones .... May I also pay tribute to the many assistant staff who also gave of their best, and it was very good.
Next - the place. What memories that old building in St. Mary's Street holds. I became a Governor in the uneasy days of the Munich crisis, and we had great discussions about Air Raid Shelters - would it be possible to construct them without uprooting the mulberry tree? How could one share the utterly unsuitable premises with a London School? (The fact that it did work out fairly smoothly is a terrific tribute to hosts and guests, pupils and "mums".) Could I get petrol coupons to come to Governors' meetings? Could we get hold of some linoleum to patch the most dangerous bits on the stairs? Could we, dare we, start the unheard of innovation of school dinners?
Speech Days - I know they can be boring, but as Chairman I tried to see that they weren't - We had some excellent speakers ... I attempted to give the girls at least one really good laugh on each occasion, and also to provide myself with a new hat. Sometimes these aims coincided! I wonder how many people ever knew of the obstacle race which the back stage regions of the old Rex cinema provided?
In conclusion, here is a little bit of history which has not been recorded before. You all know the chestnut trees which border the playing field beside Downham Road? I can tell you exactly how old they are. In the fateful summer of 1940, we had living with us a small Cockney evacuee named Hazel (this was pronounced Izal, presumably after the disinfectant). She had never grown any plants, so I planted some of the "Conkers" off our chestnut trees, at Black Horse Drove. Great was our delight when they sprouted little green shoots, and in due course we set out the baby "trees" in a trench in the garden. After a few transplantings they were sizeable trees, and when we acquired the school site at Downham Road, I offered them as a gift. So next time you look at those chestnut trees, remember how they were planted. They are a symbol of our determination not to be beaten. (Should I have said "Conkers" or "conquers"?)
This is the last issue of the Ely High School magazine. But I like to think of the coming changes, not as a kind of dying, but a transplant, like my trees. The past has been good: the future may be even better.
From Miss E. M. Verini, Headmistress 1929 to 1936
A request to write something for the Ely High School's last magazine set me re-reading the little pile of magazines I have always kept from the E.H.S. years of 1929 to 1936. I loved those years, and names I had vaguely forgotten came back to me as vivid persons. Almost every name I read, and others I recalled, came alive and moved around in that fascinating muddley old building, with all its fun, its inconvenience, its mulberry tree and green figs, its many stairs and open coal fires, its golden crocuses bursting through the worn asphalt, its home-made pond ... I could go on forever. That to me was E.H.S. ... a happy place, alive, full of good purpose. We all knew one another, and enjoyed it with all its ups and downs. And its girls did well, some noticeably, others in quiet steadiness that counts for much.
The names floating through my mind vividly recalled all this as they took shape, moved around school, jolly, or a bit tough at times, waking up, growing, concentrating for their move out of school to wider places. Now that I am 78 I suppose that many of them are grandmothers, or retired from work, and must have changed considerably.
The school was not too large and though it grew to bursting it was gay and its many problems were challenging because all concerned live, real persons. At hand were the beautiful cathedral and the great Fenland spaces, contributing to the school more than perhaps we realised of stability and stimulus.
Now the school is in a new generation with its own character. My generation is bound to think the schools of today are too big, too uniformly impersonal. But the children of today are as full of promise and hopes, ups and downs as of old. We wish them and their new school well, though their life cannot be as ours.
Miss E. M. Verini
In 1937, Miss Baird, then Deputy-headmistress, said of Miss Verini on her retirement:
Miss Verini was always natural and easy. Formality and restraint were foreign to her. She had no feeling of superiority of her position and none felt ill at ease with her. Happiness and goodwill emanated from her and this influence was felt throughout the School. Thoughtful of others, she was indifferent to her own comfort. She was generous in every way to all, except herself. She was the hardest worker in the School and yet was never too busy to attend to others. Her vitality seemed inexhaustible. Her strength lay in her quietness and confidence.
From Bertha Tilly, Headmistress 1936-1966
Now that our greatly loved School is to come to an end, this seems a time to tell of some experiences and to confide to you all who are members of it my own deep feelings and love.
When I first came to Ely in 1936 I had never been to the east of England and only vaguely knew the name of Ely because of the fame of the Cathedral, but in a wonderful way my first introduction took place a year before when a book called 'To a Minster Garden' by Dean Stubbs was lent to me. I do not think that any book has ever inspired me more.
Then came the time in March 1936 when I was summoned to go for an interview and I saw for the first time in reality the lovely little place which was to be my home for thirty happy years. The other applicants and I found ourselves staying at the Lamb Hotel for the night and at dinner we sat at separate tables with our backs to each other so as not to appear to be staring too inquisitively. Miss Verini had invited us to look round the School buildings in St. Mary's Street that evening: we were taken on a conducted tour in the dark except when lights were turned on in the various rooms. After a morning of interviews I was appointed, and although I had felt all along that Ely was meant for me I dared not have confessed to that beforehand.
Although I was overjoyed at coming to a place so full of history and tradition,so rooted in the very soil, and graced by one of the world's most beautiful buildings, yet the old school buildings gave me a feeling of depression: they were cramped, Bedford House inconvenient and in many parts, makeshift.
On the other hand, one of my great personal desires was fulfilled when the Lodge became my home. I had always wished for a house of my own and here was a delightful Georgian fenland house with the local characteristics - the old pump (no longer in use), a back-house and even a brick oven. What is more, there was a garden planted with many old fashioned and precious plants, such as red peonies, butcher's broom, tradescantia, wisteria, lavender and rosemary bushes at the front door, to the old gnarled mulberry tree spreading itself over the lawn, which I grew to love almost as a friend. There was too the fig garden and a fine bay tree.
Miss B. Tilly
In spite of the difficulties imposed by the old buildings which seemed to me to put a limit to much that the School might have done, my motto was always 'Nothing is too good for Ely High School' but always in my heart was the longing for new buildings which I once lamented as 'the dream of a future delight'. It was only after twenty-one years that this dream was realised when our new buildings were opened in 1957 by H.R.H. The Duchess of Gloucester on the Downham Road site. Here we had more than could ever have been wished for: a beautifully planned and built school in the midst of green fields and hedges and open spaces in all directions, and all air and light possible. Nine years of happy satisfaction were to be mine in this new and longed for environment.
Ely High School has served the City and a far-flung rural community since its inception in 1905; now after sixty-seven years of usefulness it is to be merged into a wider and larger organisation. Its importance in providing secondary education in this district with its scattered villages, remote hamlets and farms cannot perhaps be estimated: the lives of many girls have been expanded and enriched; some have gone on to interesting careers making use of potentialities which might otherwise have lain dormant; they have for instance gained admittance to leading Universities and Training Colleges, Art and Music Schools, famous Teaching Hospitals; some after graduating have returned to the Fens and married.
And what better asset to the community could there be than a well-educated Fenland farmer's wife?
Through the years I have learned to love, and shall never cease to love, the Fenland people, for their sincerity, the genuineness and freedom from sophistication, for their healthy outlook, their robustness of mind and body and common sense in addition to their country ways. I am proud to have watched over the development and progress of some three thousand girls, latterly amongst them many daughters of mothers whom I knew in my early years.
When I think of you all, the girls I have known, I believe that you will carry with you always the ideals and traditions of the School you loved: if you do that the School can never really die but it will live on if no longer visibly at least in your hearts and minds and in the whole quality of your lives. For myself I love and shall continue to love Ely and the Fens and cherish in my heart the School which was mine for thirty happy years.
In her tribute to Miss Tilly on her retirement in 1966, Miss D. G. Defew, Deputy Head for many years, said:
Soon she had a deep love for our historic little city with its mighty cathedral. Her beauty-loving nature delighted in the changing fenland sky and the wide, flat spaces of our fenland fields. A little more slowly, but no less surely, she came to know and value the sturdy strength of the fenland character:
"The salt of the earth," I have heard her say.
Soon she had settled into the ordinary routine of the school, and felt at home in the quiet background of Ely and the surrounding country. Then, in 1939, the outbreak of war brought us, as to everyone, a cataclysmic disruption of our way of life; crises made their own special demands, created their own problems. Miss Tilly brought to bear on all of them her power of concentration, her attention to detail, and her considerable organising ability. They were met and passed successfully with such apparent ease that no-one was upset.
No one was upset ... because the Headmistress always "played down" the upsetting elements in such crises, keeping the actual long and heavy work to the seclusion of her study, or to the Lodge, reducing the impact on the school to the minimum. This was her way of working, quietly, unobtrusively, not allowing the work itself, or its effect on her, to affect the smooth running of ordinary day-to-day living.
The normally recurrent times of extra activity - the beginning and end of school term and school year; interviews of all kinds, with leavers, with prospective staff, with some 11+ candidates; the making of the timetable - were met in such a way that the school in general was probably quite unconscious of the Head's extra busy-ness.
Many Old Girls will remember the thoroughness with which she considered the question of their careers, and how generously she gave time and thought to their welfare, sometimes long after they had left school.
Dr. Tilly's achievement as Head Mistress owes as much to what she was as to what she did.
From Miss B. R. Baird who taught French from 1916 to 1946 and was Senior Mistress from 1929 to 1946
'Good morning, girls.'
'Good morning, Miss Baird.'
And then I used to look at the eager, expectant faces of the girls and think how fortunate I was to have to work with such enthusiastic girls, and for thirty years I enjoyed this pleasant and rewarding labour.
From the depths of my heart I thank you, my old girls one and all, for the great kindness and consideration which you gave me in the happy times I spent with you at our beloved Ely High School.
From Miss D. G. Defew
As a far back, though not a Foundation, Ely High School pupil, I feel a wish to pay a tribute of appreciation and gratitude to some of the many 'benefactors' of our school, who have joined the company of 'those whom we love but see no longer' - some - since I neither know nor can claim to remember all such - but whether known and named or not I would wish to inekide them all in this tribute:
the dauntless, tireless greatly gifted pioneer Headmistress Miss Fletcher, whom we all feared, loved and admired; who looked on her school as one of those places of 'sound learning and religious education' for which she regularly prayed;
her quiet, gentle, but very firm assistant Miss Parkes, who showed us in herself what it meant to be an English gentlewoman;
Miss Pigott whose private school was the nucleus of the High School, who ran the Preparatory Dept. for many years, with the wisdom, firmness and thorough devotion to duty characteristic of her generation of career woman, and who, after her retirement, remained for the rest of her life a warm, constant friend of the school;
her successor, Miss Pater, who took over from 1929 to 1944 and, with equal quiet strength, continued to give the children personal interest and a steady example of Christian living;
the late Miss Cooper, a devoted teacher of music, who served under three Headmistresses unique in the history of the school;
before her in time, three former pupils, the youngest, my contemporary, Gertrude Goodin, a most popular P.E. mistress, whose early death was a great grief to the school.
Bertha Maskell, née Sennitt, whose very able mathematical and scientific brain, together with the power to arrange her knowledge logically and comprehensibly, made her such an excellent teacher.
Beatrice Bywaters (née Goodin, Gertrude's eldest sister) who taught mostly Juniors, for whom she had a very special gift and understanding - probably one of the best beloved of all members of Staff. Besides being an Old Girl, and a member of Staff, Beatrice was for a time a Governor - unique I think in that three-fold relation with the school.
And speaking of Governors - I cannot omit dear Dean Kirkpatrick with his piercing blue eyes, bushy white eyebrows, and deep voice - who never passed anyone wearing the school boater without a benevolent greeting.
Lastly, one who has been known perhaps to more of us than any of the others - our devoted former O.G.A. secretary, whose unfailing interest in the O.G.A., and in its individual members, deserved and won so much affection and gratitude from us all, Mabel Taylor.
Let us now praise famous men
Men of little showing.
For their work continueth.
Broad and deep continueth
Greater than their knowing.
(Apologiest to Kipling)
Tributes from Miss Tilly and the Upper Sixth Form to Miss D. G. Defew on her retirement in 1964.
The School suffered a grievous deprivation in Miss Defew's retirement from her post of Deputy Headmistress last July. To many girls affectionately "Defe", she had been part of the School over many years.
She entered as a pupil at the age of eleven, and became in due time one of the most distinguished of our Old Girls when she took a London Honours Degree in English at the Royal Holloway College; then after a few years she joined the Staff of her old school. Successively she was a senior English Mistress and then Deputy Headmistress. Her service on the Staff covered a span of thirty years. During one of these Miss Defew acted as Head Mistress during my sabbatical year.
To say that we were sorry when Miss Defew left us is an understatement. We were losing not only a much loved teacher, but also a wise counsellor and friend. As the day of her retirement approached, we learned to appreciate this more and more. Miss Defew was a valued member of our community because she taught us a sense of human values as well as English. She could illustrate almost any situation in a play or story, with a parallel from her own life, and never failed to do so where it helped to explain a difficult passage. There is much evidence of the excellence of Miss Defew's teaching in the results achieved in examinations, but we hope that everyone will remember also her understanding and perception of human nature.
Miss Whitmee, who arrived at Bedford House in January 1945, well remembers her office in the Lodge, which also housed the headmistress, Miss Tilly, and the Preparatory Department. She stayed with the school when it moved to the new buildings in Downham Road and has always been known as a very kind, hardworking member of the staff. The pupils have always recognised Miss Whitmee as a quiet, efficient person, interested in the school and its activities. We should like to thank her for her faithful service to the High School.
Interview with Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter
Both Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter feel that their twenty years of service to the school have been so interesting and enjoyable, and by no means uneventful. Take for example: " ... the day I was pinning curtains in the hall - I fell from top to bottom and fractured my ribs.
.. . the day I fell down the boiler house steps ... "
Despite these mishaps Mr. Carpenter has not had one day of absence. There is also a funny side. Mr. Carpenter laughs as he remembers "incinerating a pile of rubbish, twigs and the like, late one night". It was only later that he was informed that "Miss Haynes had spent a whole evening in Newmarket and the surrounding district, collecting those specimens for her class."
Like her husband, Mrs. Carpenter has been busy in school, helped by the domestic staff. One thing which Mrs. Carpenter remembers especially? "The annual garden fetes - they used to be a real public function - and sports day/open day."
I wonder if it's because of the washing up?
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter.
The Kitchen Staff
I think that the school owes a far greater debt to our kitchen staff than many people realise. Mrs. Aldridge, for example, has given over 25 years' service to the school, while Mrs. Kerr and Mrs. Dew have each contributed 16 years. It is no mean task to cater for the varying tastes and appetites of a girls' school and we should like to express our appreciation to Mrs. Kerr and her staff for their cheerfully rendered service.
Sally Hill, L.VI.
I count myself very lucky that when I came to Ely six short years ago I found a staff of helpers so devoted to the School: Mrs. Kerr, Mrs. Aldridge and their happy team whose excellent service has never failed; Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter whose daily supply of lovely and exotic flowers has brightened the Crush Hall and my study in all seasons, and who with their staff have kept all our rooms as polished as they were in 1956; Mr. Starling and his staff who have kept the grounds in immaculate condition, and Miss Whitmee whose tasks have trebled as a result of our new activities and the rapid changes in the educational scene.She has been more than a secretary; a loyal friend to two Headmistresses for twenty-seven years. There has never been time to thank them enough but I want them all to know how very much their support has been appreciated.
Miss E. Moody
Miss Moody has given much to the girls of Ely High School: an enlightened and outward-looking approach to their academic studies, a broadening of the curriculum to include interests usually thought to be boys' activities - car driving, engineering, computer programming, as well as rock climbing and boating. She has actively encouraged foreign exchanges, giving more opportunity for girls to make friends and live abroad in France and Germany.
Her love of music and drama has been reflected in the varied dramatic and musical productions. Not least of her gifts to the school have been those of her time and energy immeasurably increased as greater demands, because of the long talked of re-organisation becoming reality, have been made on her.
The six years during which Eileen Moody has been Headmistress have been all too short a time in which to realise her plans, but those who have appreciated her concern for the girls, and the school, have seen the ideal towards which she was working.
Her sense of humour, her sympathy and her lively mind are characteristics which we have recognised in school and hope to continue to be associated with in the coming years. We wish her well in the future and especially in the post she officially takes up in September, that of Assistant to the Principal, City of Ely College.
Ely High School 1966-1972
I began my school life at Ely High School in September 1966, at the same time as a very important member of the school, Miss Moody. The first memorable event for me was the Lower Third's Christmas Party given by members of the Lower Sixth. Memories of my party were revived when, at the end of the Autumn '71 term, my friends and I of the present Lower Sixth organized this year's party. It meant hard work but it was all worthwhile and from comments we received afterwards the Lower Thirds enjoyed it as much as we did.
Another important event in my first year at Ely was Junior Speech Day. This was the first speech day for girls of the Lower Third and their parents and also girls entering the school in the following September and their parents. The Honourable Mrs. Fox came from Haddenham to present the prizes and the day was enjoyed by all.
My second year at Ely was an eventful year as far as changes in school were concerned. There was a change in uniform, which was welcomed by many of the girls. Berets and boaters were abolished except on special occasions. During my first year there were strict regulations as to when and where berets were to be worn and as soon as we were allowed to take them off on the 'bus there was not a beret to be seen.
The form of assembly also changed and Junior Assembly for the first and second years was established in the gym,while the Senior School Assembly was held as usual in the hall. Since I started school our Carol Service has been held in Ely Cathedral every year, except 1971, when we went to St. Mary's Church; this has meant that parents and friends have been able to attend.
The language laboratory came into use during my third year and has proved itself to be a worthwhile addition to the school. A new Latin syllabus - The Cambridge Schools' Classics Project - was introduced in my second year.
One afternoon a week in the fourth year was set aside for various activities. Many girls chose to visit Highfields, the Palace School or the Tower Hospital. The voluntary service had been started the year before by Miss Moody and I believe it gave much pleasure to all concerned.
Another activity available to us was the pre-driving course held at Mepal aerodrome. Several of my friends attended this course and enjoyed it tremendously and I always heard about their experiences, many of them amusing, the next day. Two additions to the school during my fourth year, both for the use of sixth formers, were the new Chemistry laboratory and the sixth form common room. As I am now in the sixth form I appreciate the necessity for both these rooms, especially the latter, but in the fourth year my feelings were those of envy.
Earlier in my lower sixth year I attended a computer course run by Cambridge Technical College, which I found to be very interesting. Also I have been visiting St. Audrey's Infant School once a week and have learnt a lot about this age group, which is useful as I would eventually like to teach.
During the Christmas and Easter holidays for the last two years members of the Lower Sixth have been taking part in a Vocational Guidance Scheme organised by Mr. J. H. Evans, Professional and Commercial Officer at Wisbech. The jobs undertaken varied from four days to a fortnight of the holidays. The scheme was arranged on the basis that if anyone was paid, the money would be put into a central fund and shared afterwards.
Jobs undertaken included laboratory work, Hospital and Hotel management, librarianship, reporting for a local newspaper, accountancy, Town and Country Planning, art and design, nursing and working in a travel agency and solicitor'soffice. We have been able to see in advance whether we, in fact, are suitable for our selected career. Several people have been offered a post in the future, which is an indication of the success of the scheme.
The time I have spent at Ely High School has been, as you can see, eventful and enjoyable and I look forward to my last year.
Susan Wheeler, L.VI
The Lower School
As the girls who have come to Ely High School in September each year live in places as far ranging as Cambridge and Cheveley, on the far side of Newmarket, one of our first outings is to walk to the Cathedral and spend a while exploring both inside and out. The building is familiar in varying degrees to many girls but to others this visit is a new experience. Regular visits are also made to Ely Library.
Last year a party of first year girls spent an afternoon in the Fitzwilliam Museum, and for two or three years we have been able to visit Soharn Village College, thanks to the invitation from the Warden, to see a programme of Ballet.
The Lower School girls have been keen to raise money for those less fortunate than themselves by sales of cakes, dinner hour disco, fashion shows and collections; donations have been sent to Oxfam, Dr. Barnardo's and Action for the Crippled Child. Those near at hand have not been forgotten and each September girls have brought fruit, vegetables, jam, flowers, etc. to a Harvest Service; these have then been taken to Tower Hospital.
A small group of our juniors are keen members of the recently formed Ely Wild Life Youth Service Conservation Corps and have joined in its activities. These have included taking part in testing the effects of the pollution of the rivers, organised by the 'Sunday Times' during August of last year. Walking the footpaths on a Sunday afternoon has been an experience that all have thoroughly enjoyed - not least the most recent walk through Clayway Drove from Thistle Corner to Chettisham.
Another Conservation outing took us over a precarious bridge to the R.S.P.B. bird hides at Welcher Dam. These activities have given our girls a chance to meet their fellow students from Needham's and St. Mary's schools. However, on one occasion the High School girls had the task of completing and bringing up to date a survey of litter bins in Ely (begun by St. Mary's School pupils). Since then the girls taking part have met to look at the complete map of the bins showing their distribution and indicating the type and position of each one. Recommendations and suggestions about them have been made.
I look back on three years as Head of Lower School with particular pleasure when I think of the visits in the Summer Term of the girls who were to join us in the following September. We invited these newcomers to meet us for dinner and to take a look round the school before joining in the activities of drama, P.E., pottery and music during the afternoon. Everyone was most appreciative of this occasion and, later in the term, of the opportunity to come to Lower School Prize-Giving. This latter occasion has been a pleasantly informal one when the weather has allowed us to be out of doors.
This year, during the last week of term, we look forward to welcoming Dr. Tilly as our special guest. The visits that I made to Primary Schools proved to be an enjoyable experience as I was always made most welcome on these occasions by the Head Teachers. I found it essential to continuity not only to meet some of our future pupils, but also to see something of their school and background, particularly as our first year girls have come to us from such differing junior schools.
Finally, I would like to say that I have found it an interesting and rewarding, and on the whole an enjoyable, experience to return to the school where in the thirties and forties I spent twelve years as a pupil. During the intervening years the school has changed with the times and we now look forward to an exciting re-birth as part of the new organisation.
ELY HIGH SCHOOL
Reprinted from the accounts by Miss Tilly in the Golden Jubilee Magazine and in the 1958 magazine. The building referred to in the first account is Bedford House.
The School was born in the College, in the house which is now the Bishop's House, but was in those days the Deanery. On July 26th, 1904, a meeting was held there of the Ely sub-committee of the Isle of Ely Education Committee. The seven members present at this meeting were the Very Reverend the Dean of Ely, the Venerable Archdeacon Emery, the Reverend Canon Kennett, Mr. Charles Bidwell, Mr. Arthur Hall, Mr. T. B. Granger, and Dr. Dufton, H.M.I. It was decided to establish a school, and at the same time to purchase the present buildings.
The Dean (The Very Reverend C. W. Stubbs), was appointed as the first Chairman of the Governors and Mr. Arthur Hall, J.P., the first secretary. It is thus seen how from the first the School had a close connection with the College, and owes much to those Churchmen who took a deep interest in its welfare.
Dean Stubbs left Ely after two years, to be succeeded as Chairman by his successor, Dean Kirkpatrick, who held that office for twenty-nine years. His place was taken by Canon Evans, and for several years after that, Dean Blackburne was a member of the Governing Body.
The back of Bedford House c. 1905
When it was decided to establish a school, an arrangement was made with Miss I. Piggott, principal of a private school in Ely, by which her pupils were to form the nucleus of the High School, and Miss Piggott was to hold the position of Head of the Preparatory School, to be run in connection with the new High School.
The Preparatory was open to boys as well as girls, and in this connection it must not be forgotten that our School has many Old Boys, as well as Old Girls. The Preparatory, which was housed in what is now the Sixth Form Block, continued to exist until 1948, when it was closed as a result of the Education Act of 1944.
In a sense it seems fitting that the School should have been established in buildings which had served for several years as the Old Fen Offices, the headquarters of the Bedford Level Corporation. The drainage of the fens made possible the farming of the land, and the majority of the girls are those whose fathers are engaged in working the fertile reclaimed soil, and enjoying its rich returns. From this land, too, comes part of the money, in the form of rates, by which it is maintained.
When the present buildings were purchased by the Corporation, about 1800, and rebuilt in their present form in 1827, it was little thought that they would later serve as a girls' school! The present dining room was used as the Board Room. A very fine silver mace, presented by the Duke of Bedford, was always placed upon the table before business began. This is now to be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Registrar of the Corporation lived in the house, and the whole was known as Bedford House.
Hence was originated the name by which the School was known for many years. When the Fen Offices were moved to Cambridge, the buildings became a private house, and so continued until they were purchased for our School. We still have in the garden, an old keystone dated 1846, which belongs to the times of the Old Fen Offices. It is inscribed with a verse of poetry by Samuel Wells, a fenland poet, and reads:
"At times the lofty arch is proudly rear'd,
To some how lov'd, to some in life how fear'd.
A grateful heart erects this humble pile,
To Bedford's Level and to Ely's Isle."
LIST OF THOSE WHO ENTERED THE SCHOOL DURING ITS FIRST YEAR
Entrants May 1905
Alan J. Gardiner.
Entrants June 1905
Entrants September 1905
Entrants January 1906
H. Manwood Blakeney.
On May 17th, 1905, a reception was given for the newly appointed Headmistress, Miss E. E. Fletcher, B.A., by the first committee of Governors. The following were the first members:
The Very Reverend the Dean of Ely (Chairman).
Mr. Charles Bidwell, J.P.
Mr. Arthur Hall, J.P.
Mr. Albert J. Pell, J.P.
The Reverend Canon Punchard, D.D.
Mr. T. Bartell Granger.
The Reverend Canon Kennett.
Mrs. R. S. W. Perkins.
The School was formally opened the next day, May 18th, when forty-two children appeared, ranging in age from six to nearly fifteen. There were six forms, and two mistresses, in addition to Miss Fletcher. Everyone had to work two sets of girls for all lessons, so that teaching even such small numbers must have been hard work.
With the very beginning of the School began its growing pains which have been going on ever since. The premises were, unfortunately, never adequate, even at its inception. What must have been a fine and beautiful garden, comparable with any in Ely, became gradually cluttered with wooden huts, put up from time to time as the number of pupils became unworkable in the existing accommodation.
In the early days there were fine lawns, an old thatched summer house, even a hothouse, where grapes and tomatoes were grown. All these have long since disappeared, and now there remain only a small playground, and a small piece of lawn. The tale is one of ever increasing expansion and makeshifts of various kinds to meet it. About 1912 the old buildings were enlarged at the back to make larger classrooms, and the long cloakroom was added.
It is difficult for us now to believe that in the early days the present Art Room was the Gymnasium (after the floor had been lowered to give necessary height to the room) and that Cookery was taught in the present square cloakroom, where there was an old kitchen range, and that the Dining Room was the Assembly Hall for Prayers.
About this time, too, the Laboratory was enlarged to its present size. There was no real relief to the overcrowding until the Lodge was acquired in 1917, and the Headmistress was able to move in and vacate much needed space in the main building. During the 1914-1918 war the numbers in the School rose to some two hundred.
What a relief it must have been when an old army hut (costing only £220) was erected in the garden in 1920, for, during the meantime, one class had to be taught in a room in Cass's Garage. In this hut, now partitioned off for Domestic Science and a Senior classroom, Prize Givings were held. On these occasions there were to be seen banks of ferns and the whole school in white frocks.
Expansion continued rapidly: 1932 saw the building of the present Gymnasium, which also serves as our Assembly Hall. Then, when numbers again threatened to become unworkable (for they nearly reached two hundred and fifty), two extra classrooms were added in the garden, between the Old Hut and the Main Buildings, in 1934.
During the Second World War the national awakening to the need of education again sent the numbers soaring up. The peak was reached in 1944, with a total of four hundred and fifty-five in the School, including the boys and girls in the Preparatory. Extra new buildings were impossible in wartime, but fortunately we were able to use three rooms in Archer House in the Market Place, until 1948 when the last addition was made to our premises, giving us four classrooms, a laboratory and cloakroom accommodation.
The life of the School is always full of events great and small, more than can ever be recorded. Some, however, stand out in our history which should not go untold.
During the 1914-1918 War some Belgian refugee children were pupils in this School.
The Second World War affected us more closely. In 1939, when schools were evacuated from the larger populated areas to country districts for safety from air raids, we received, as evacuees, the Central Foundation School from Bishopsgate in the East End of London. We all quickly made friends and found ways of working together. They remained with us until 1944, and it was then that we were able to acquire desperately needed extra accommodation by taking over from them rooms in Archer House.
The Official Opening of the new buildings has come and gone, and H.R.H. The Duchess of Gloucester has visited us for the second time. The first time was in March 1947, on the occasion of the great floods, which followed one of the worst winters on record.
1931 Mildred Sawyer. 1950-51 Pamela Wilson. 1932 Beatrice Brailey. 1951 Jean Gibson 1933 Joyce Smith. 1952 Paula Leonard 1934 Doris Clarke. 1953-54 Winifred Smith. 1935 Stella Ager. 1954-55 Mollie Wigg. 1936 Ruby Lodge. 1955-56 Vivian Convine 1937 Patricia Atkin. 1956-57 Christine Saberton. 1938 Megan Coghill. 1957-58 Sylvia Wymer. 1939 Muriel Faulkner. 1958-59 Helen Smith. 1939-40
Kathleen Norman. 1960 Susan Riley. 1940-41 Inez Lambert. 1961 Jill Burroughs. 1941-42 Barbara Ambrose.
1962 Patricia Taylor.
1942-43 Margaret Gentle. 1963 Rosemary Burritt.
1943-44 Ella Thurmott. 1964 Kay Bedford. 1944-45 Jean Dewse. 1965-66 Christine Carter. 1945-46 Jane MacDonald. 1967 Brigid Riley. 1946-47 Pamela Blakeman. 1968 Judith Fernie.
1948 Stephanie Wells. 1968-69 Susan McCauley. 1948-49 Barbara Sanders. 1970-71 Valerie Neal. 1949-50 Anne Stow. 1971-72 Gaye Kerridge.
The melting snow which had covered England for three weeks began to flow over the levels of the fens. The Preparatory Department of our old buildings, very soon after converted to the use of the Sixth Forms, became the Military Headquarters for the control of the floods. One very blustering cold Sunday when T.R.H. the Duke and the Duchess toured the flood areas they ended their tour in our buildings, and ate a picnic lunch in our preparatory school room.
How different was the occasion on October 21st, 1957, when again we were honoured with a visit from the Duchess! There were the sparkling new buildings, lines of girls to welcome her arrival, banks of flowers in the entrance hall and important visitors from the Isle and Cambridgeshire. In her speech the Duchess was kind enough to refer to her visit ten years ago.
We have two memorials of her visit to the School, one is the tree which she planted in the grounds, and the other is her signature, the first one, in the Visitors' Book presented by the Old Girls.
Pupil Teachers May 1905
Ely High School pupils who have returned to the school as members of the teaching staff:
Mary Byfield (née Reynolds)
Vivian Hawes (née Convine)
Barbara Rice (née Sanders)
from Gertrude Edmunds, née Coy, in School 1905 - Christmas 1909.
I believe my sister and I are two of very few pupils left who attended Ely High School on its first day. Margaret was six years old, and went into the Preparatory, and I, at twelve years, into the Senior School.
The nucleus of the school was formed by all the pupils from a small private school run by a charming lady, Miss Piggott, who was made Head of the Preparatory, and loved by all her pupils. Miss Fletcher was Headmistress of the Senior School, and I believe there was one other teacher. Very soon Miss Parkes joined the Staff as Art mistress; many pupils will remember her.
Bedford House, the main building, was complete, but the grounds at the rear contained old stables and sheds which provided an excellent playground; later a laboratory was built in their place. There was a big garden, and many fruit trees, the fruit of which we were forbidden to pick, but a tremendous quantity used to fall on the ground, and it wasn't always the wind that caused it!
Miss Fletcher taught English and Mathematics, and was at first shocked at our lack of knowledge on both subjects, and that we had no wish to read literature or learn algebra and geometry. Mr. Chubb, the very young and nervous Cathedral organist, taught us singing; later he became organist at a cathedral in California. Dr. Wilson, also the Cathedral organist, an older man who had no hesitation in telling us what he thought of our vocal talents, took over from him.
As the years passed, numbers increased, and we were prepared for public examinations, and 'school' took on a more serious attitude - less play and more homework.
I like to think that one period when her father was a minor Canon of the Cathedral, Elizabeth Goudge, the authoress, as a young girl came to school for certain English lessons. The wife of Canon Glazebrook, herself a writer, also used to come and give us delightful lectures. In her young days she had known Jane Austen and her family and told us about them.
from Edith Jefferson, in School 1905-Easter 1906, and Jane Reid, née Jefferson, in School 1905-July 1907.
My sister, Jane, and I were two pupils who arrived the first day Ely High School was opened. Miss Fletcher and her assistant received us and we faced our school days. Prayers in the Hall each morning never have been forgotten. Part of our dress was the straw boater, with the school badge on its band. One of these I have in my possession, quite a treasure. Hockey we played in Paradise Field, great fun.
Our best wishes for the future of the school, of which we have very happy memories.
For a few years, while waiting for a place at a Physical Training College, I became a teacher at the school, and during some of the first World War years, while I was a P.T. teacher at March, I still visited Ely for hockey matches. Between leaving March in 1916, and Ely in 1917, when I married, I filled in any gaps at E.H.S. when staff were ill.
For me E.H.S. no longer exists, but through the magazine I have been interested in its progress. Once again I believe the whole atmosphere will change. I send my best wishes, and hopes that its standard may remain high.
from Gladys Woolnough, in School 1905-July 1907.
In the beginning .....
On a bright May morning in the year 1905, a group of about thirty girls, wearing straw boaters and gloves could have been seen standing outside Bedford House, waiting for the door to open for them to be admitted. It was the first day of the first term of the High School. We entered and having left our hats and gloves in the cloakroom, and put on our indoor shoes, we were escorted to the Hall and met the Headmistress, Miss Fletcher, and her assistant mistress, Miss Le Pelly. For the first year we were taught by them in the front ground floor room with Mr. Chubb for Singing, and a visiting Art mistress from Cambridge one afternoon a week. Of those thirty or so girls, only a very few are living now.
The following term Miss Parkes joined the Staff and more girls were admitted, and we were very soon using all three of the front rooms for IIIrd, IV and Vth forms. I was in the IVth form, and my sister was in the IIIrd form.
It is a long time to look back, nearly 70 years, but I have very happy memories of the beginning of Ely High school so many years ago.
from Lorna Kisby née Hammond, in school April 1918-1922.
'Self reverence, self knowledge, self control - these three alone lead life to sovereign power.' These words by Tennyson were framed and hung in the hall of the old High School in St. Mary's Street. On my first day at school they were solemnly scrutinised and pondered over during morning assembly, and on subsequent mornings during the years I was at school.
How difficult when one is so young to 'make anything' of such profundity; Self reverence - is this not slightly presumptuous and a form of conceit?
Self knowledge - how does one ever know one's self? And self control - ah! that, one could understand - but how tedious to try to achieve it! However, from the experience of fifty years later these words stand out quite clearly and full of meaning. Tennyson also said 'knowledge comes but wisdom lingers' and the acquiring of a little wisdom during a long life is an achievement much to be desired.
In our dealings with our fellow men and in the realisation of the things of the Spirit, reverence, control and knowledge of ourselves leads us to reverence and knowledge of the people with whom we come in contact and control of our children and those in our care.
I wonder what wise person placed those words in that particular place in the School and what influence they have had on succeeding generations of girls who must have looked at them so often and tried to understand their meaning?
from Irene Bent, formerly Stanley, née Coverdale, in school 1919-1922.
An ex-pupil of Ely High School, I am also a mother, step-mother and mother-in-law of ex-pupils , and when we meet it is like a Reunion, as we all think of the school with affection. My daughter was in 'Operation Shopping Bag' and we have many smiles when she tells us some of the things which happened on that expedition. We also wonder at the speed with which the girls settled into their new home, and were organised into a new routine. The school will never seem quite thesame to us, but we have some very happy memories to look back on.
from Gwen Clarke, née Stevens, in school 1922-1929.
'Transported with delight', or were we, who remember the old days at Ely High School in Bedford House. In these days the country girls merely arrive in a 'bus or by train. How very ordinary it seems to me as I look back on my schooldays in the nineteen-twenties.
My father was a Fen Drainage Engineer, in a place 'far from the madding crowd' and a good seven miles from Ely. For my first schooldays I had attended the tiny rural school at Pymore. It was set in the corner of a grass field and was built on to a small mission church at the end of a lane from a little village which had a single shop, and as we lived over three miles from even this metropolis, you can see how isolated we were. It was from this school that I was fortunate enough to win a scholarship to our beloved Bedford House.
Not for us the mounting fever of 'so many days to the eleven plus' and all the attendant rivalries. Indeed I did not realise what the examination paper I was doing was all about, a fact which will no doubt cause some of the present scholars to raise incredulous eyebrows. At my first visit to Bedford House to be interviewed by the first Headmistress, Miss Fletcher, I was quite scared and overawed by the place, feelings which were not eased by the fact that we were shepherded by two tall senior girls who, to me, seemed to loom above us like giantesses.
The vexed question of transport first reared its ugly head on the morning of the first interview. There were no 'buses, we were over three miles from a station and I was only ten. My father and I started out on bicycles, but I made slow progress. Near Little Downham we were overtaken by the headmaster of Pymore school who actually owned a car. I finished the journey in his car, with one arm stuck out of the window, clinging grimly to the saddle of my bicycle, which was tied on the running board.
Had I known then that I was to ride that distance every schoolday for the next seven years, I might have felt somewhat apprehensive. How I envied the girls who, hatted and gloved, gathered in the front cloakroom each day at the end of school, to go, escorted by an eagle-eyed mistress, to the station every day. Fancy going home on a train! What luxury!
Of course the weather was a continual hazard. Many were the times I spent the first lesson in my (dare I mention) liberty bodice and pants, in front of the dining room fire, steaming gently until I was dry. I think we were the only ones who cycled so far, but there were others who came by more unusual transport.
Evelyn Cross, Muriel Taylor and Freda Stannard came in a little governess cart which Muriel drove. The pony was stabled at the Bell Hotel in High Street. I remember one very dashing girl from Aldreth, Eva Prime, coming some days on her father's motor cycle! Still we survived our various journeys. My husband and I had the privilege of seeing our own daughter Diana attend Bedford House, though her latter school years were spent at the present building, and she travelled in a far more prosaic fashion.
Looking back, I think we had it the hard way, and were far from being transported with delight, but I shall always remember my old school with affection and pride. Sometimes, even now, when I go to Choir Practices at Bedford House (now the Adult Evening Centre) on my way through the cloakroom, just for old times' sake I touch the peg on which I hung my clothes in those far off days.
from Joan Rouse, née Onion, in school 1919-1929.
My connection with the school goes back over fifty years, as I joined the Kindergarten under Miss Duffield in Bedford House, went on into the Preparatory under Miss Piggott, and from there to the Upper School, where Miss Fletcher was Headmistress.
Most of us were rather in awe of Miss Fletcher I think. Miss Parkes, the Deputy Head, was a very gentle and kindly lady, but the one I remember most was Miss Baird, who always impressed me with her calm authority, and some of whose sayings I can still recall. I well remember her saying: "And when you girls grow up and get married and have children, think carefully when you choose their names. I always feel so sorry for the poor little Periwinkle."
My favourite subjects were gymnastics and games: Miss Goodin was the mistress, and the whole school was saddened by her untimely death.
Now I am married with two children of whom the older, Michael, is a teacher, and my daughter, Elisabeth, was one of the first pupils to go to the new buildings on Downham Road, under the Headship of Dr. Tilly and Miss Defew as Deputy Headmistress, in 1957.
In 1961 my husband, Ernest, a County Councillor, became a member of the Governing body of the school and it was a proud moment for us both, when, after Elisabeth's marriage in August 1971 at St. Mary's Church, Ely, to Signor Brunello Nardone, of Naples, the reception was held at the school, the only occasion the building has been used for such a purpose.
from Brenda Riley, daughter of Mrs. Mabel Taylor, the devoted Secretary of the Association for many years, in school 1921-1933.
I have many memories of E.H.S.:
Sports Day held in the lovely grounds of the then Theological College; Speech Day when we marched into the Assembly Hall to the music of Schubert's Marche Militaire, all of us dressed in white, and feeling a little self-conscious; Miss Baird standing on the cloakroom steps checking that we had on our hats and gloves, as we entered school.
But rather than write of memories, I would like to say, on behalf of three generations of Old Girls, my mother, my sister, and my two daughters, Ely High School, thank you.
from Dorothy Newman, née Dade, in school 1926-1934, writing from Australia.
For the last thirteen years I have been in charge of Biology studies at two Colleges. For ten years I was in charge of the Biology course at the Victoria College of Pharmacy. I got rather tired of the rather impersonal work, preferring to have a smaller group of students whom I could get to know and so I changed positions and went to a Jewish College, where I am now in a similar sort of position in charge of Biology Studies as part of a general (not a degree) course.
Part of the College, it is interesting to note, was built with money obtained from the German Government as part of their reparation payments to the Jews after the war. We are now in the beginning of a new four year plan of expansion involving the construction of a new hall, new synagogue which can also during the week be used for drama work, new staff rooms, new Biology laboratory and a new library and swimming pool. The whole is estimated to cost $1,200,000.
I find it most interesting to have Jewish students (only about 40-50 out of 1,200 are non-Jewish). They are full of ideas and never backward in expressing them - in fact most of them are extroverts and all are very excitable, but they are anxious to do well and their parents are also anxious for them to do well. The college is a place where anyone who does her job conscientiously and well is appreciated and I find this refreshing - previously it's always been the more you do the more you are expected to do. This year I am also supervising all the 1st year students.
from Gwen Lister, nee Easey, in school 1931-1936.
I had always lived in Littleport, until last year when my husband and I took up residence in our new flat provided for the caretaker of a new building consisting of one hundred bed-sitters for students of Girton College. We took with us our twelve year old cat and our seven year old Labrador, both of whom have settled down very well to city life.
Wolfson Court, amongst the College playing fields, and only ten minutes walk to the backs, glorious now with spring flowers, is very pleasant. College life is very different, but very enjoyable, getting to know the students, especially those from overseas. We have made new friends and are very happy in our entirely new life.
from Winnie Law, nee Hiblin, in school 1930-1936.
My one small claim to fame is that I belonged to the Fenland Singers during the years they achieved success by being runners-up, and then winners of the B.B.C.'s "Let the People Sing" contest. I also worked as a school secretary for some years, and filled in for three years as a cookery teacher. This may cause some surprise and amusement to my former D.Sc. teachers, but I assure them that 'will improve with effort' became a fact.
Now I have two sons and three grandchildren, the latter ranging from nine years to four months, and the source of great joy. My elder son, Roger, is an artist journalist, and has achieved a great deal of success as a free-lance, and now works for the colour section of The Sunday Times.
Some years ago I visited my sister-in-law, Margaret, in Ontario, and Isabel Boulter in Vancouver. Margaret married a Canadian, has four daughters, and at the age of fifty achieved an external B.A. degree. She now teaches English and Business Subjects at a High School. Isabel married a Canadian after living and working in Europe, the Lebanon, and America. She has a daughter and a son. Joyce Cobb, now Elliott, living in East Grinstead, also has a son.
I send my best wishes to others of my year, and hope my news may be of interest to them.
from Peggy Macer, née Mitcham, in school 1929-1938.
Pat lives at Peterborough, and is in her third year of teaching at Park Lane School; she enjoys it. I have so many memories of E.H.S., for I had ten years there, and my husband is an old boy of the Prep. School. I remember my father telling me he witnessed a signature on the conveyance of Bedford House, when it was sold to be a school, I believe.
Changes must come, I know, but I do not feel Ely High will ever be the same, although we shall each carry our own special memories of our time spent there.
from Eileen Hill, nee Woodrow, in School 1928-1939.
Ely High School as I knew it - remembered with pride.
from Mary Mortimer, née Newman, in school 1934-1939.
I have been here at Saltfleetby now for almost 17 years, teaching in this small village school of 44 pupils. I love it and wouldn't teach in any other kind of school. There is just we two, my husband and self plus one dog, Bruno, and one cat, Tammy. We live 2 miles from the sea though our sea is salt marshes, not very fashionable but lovely and quiet for long walks. I knit, read, have just finished a Spanish 'O' level course, and am wondering what to take up next. I take a full part in village activities and I am an active member of the Teachers' Centre.
from Elsie Weiss, née Neal, in school, 1934-1939.
Twenty years ago, in 1946, less than a year after the end of the War, I arrived with my small daughter for the very first time in New York. My husband had preceded us to his homeland on V. E. Day, and it was just seven years since I graduated from The High School for Girls at Ely. I should like to say here that all I have been able to accomplish, to enjoy, to understand and to learn since would not have been possible without the foundation I received during those five brief school years.
My husband elected to stay with the United States Air Force, and for twenty two years we, daughter Carol, and son Roderick, travelled with him to many places in the U.S.A., and to Germany. We have lived in tropical heat and frigid cold, through hurricane and flood, in a German mansion and in the second cousin to a log cabin. My early housekeeping and cooking were based on Miss Brooke's teaching and in recent years Generals and Ambassadors have eaten her Cornish Pasties at my house. I think I was also the only Air Force wife who could make a hand-made buttonhole!
During the fifties I taught in a private Kindergarten in Frankfurt, and in the sixties I set up the curriculum and taught in an experimental pre-school in Virginia. During the last seven years I directed and taught a highly successful academic programme for pre-school leavers in my private school. Developing my own system of teaching reading encountered some official opposition at first, but in the end I received from the state schools some of their 'hopeless' cases, and I had requests for advice from the Director of Education! All this I am writing not to glorify myself (heaven forbid) but to pay tribute to those teachers who taught me so well that I was able to build on that knowledge and to continue to grow mentally.
Reminiscences? Miss Colman's faithful Jock lying outside the Staff Room door; Ruby Whymer and I braiding Pauline's wild hair before entering the Science Lab. so she would not have to endure Miss Richard's caustic comment; sitting cross-legged on the floor listening to Handel's Water Music; Miss Defew's example of a mixed metaphor, delivered with a flourish as she left the form room: 'I smell a rat, I see it floating in the air, I will nip it in the bud'; being swathed in cerise draperies as Hippolyta in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"; singing the descant to Brother James' Air in that magnificent Cathedral which Americans taught me to appreciate; taking part in blouse and bloomers in a Gymn Display on the lawn on Open Day; and finally shaking hands with Dr. Tilly when those five years were suddenly at an end.
Now we are once more living in Germany, this time with the Department of State, which my husband was assigned after his retirement from the Air Force. Roderick is studying History at the University of Stephen F. Austin in Texas. Carol at sixteen was found to have what one New York critic called 'one of the best voices of her generation'. Thus, after gaining a Master's Degree in Music in New York she is making her way as an opera singer,having sung in Barcelona, Zurich, Hamburg, and, of course, New York.
I have been fortunate in that I have been able to come home frequently and reinforce in person the friendships that I made at Ely, meeting Ruby Whymer, Joan Woolard Becket, Joan Partridge Ellis, and Barbara Curtiss Williams. The world has grown much smaller since I studied the Cathedral clock from the Third floor windows. My mother has made the round trip to America three times, and to Germany twice since she passed her eightieth birthday!
Now I have run on, as they say in Texas, but all because I wanted to say Thank you to and for Ely High School for Girls that, alas, as such, is soon to be no more.
from Pamela Page, née Roaks, in school 1934-1940.
Whenever I have a sleepless night I start counting - not sheep, but the twenty-five members of Lower IIIB at E.H.S. in 1934-5. It was my very first year at the school and the one I remember best. Our classroom was the top back, and our form-mistress Miss McKay. Stella Ager was Head-Girl and Daphne Drayton played the piano for Prayers.
In those days the prefects were as formidable to us as dear Miss Baird herself. Form discipline was maintained by a system of black marks or crosses, shown by an ominous chalked cross on the blackboard of a form behaving badly. Something terrible happened to a form receiving more than five a week, but we never discovered what it was - peril was regularly averted by swift application of the blackboard duster!
I remember lessons in the painted room where somebody often hid in the cupboard at the back; long treks to Paradise on cold winter afternoons; trips to the ballet at the Arts Theatre and a visit to a silver fox farm at Brandon; Miss Roy taking us to the top of the Cathedral tower.
I remember the keen interest we took in Miss Tilly's clothes. We loved those suits she wore, especially a deep red one. On Speech Days, with our pleats newly pressed, 'O-o-o-rpheus with his lute' we trilled to Miss Cooper's baton; we enjoyed Fete Days, and took great pride in the School Play, especially I remember 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', with Lily Goodge playing Puck, and Megan Coghill, Bottom.
Then came the threat of war and the arrival of a little Jewish girl from Germany. 'Be especially kind to her', Miss Tilly asked us and we were. Then came war and with it inevitable changes. One vivid memory of the day in 1940 when Paris was invaded - with what fervour we responded to Miss Baird's command to sing 'The Marseillaise' at the beginning of our French lesson.
I have lived for the past twenty-three years in the West Country, but the best 'Cornish' pasties I have ever tasted were those baked regularly once a week by an E.H.S. cookery class, and sold to the rest of us for 1½d. each. Delicious!
from Dulcie Chapman, in school 1937-1944
School in Wartime - some short Reminiscenses.
At first we had a year of part-time school, so that the Central Foundation School, evacuated from London, could share our buildings. In spite of extra homework it was very pleasant to be free every afternoon, and meant that country girls could have a meal at home. Later, when we could share Archer House and the Club Room with the evacuee school for lessons which did not need special rooms, we had the whole day at school again.
I remember singing lessons taught by Miss Senior from the C.F.S. in the Clubroom. We learnt such songs as 'The Road to the Isles' and 'Brother James' Air', both unforgettable. Normally we were surrounded by billiard tables and darts boards, but once during an Air Raid warning we went down to the cellar of the hotel, where the sight of rabbits and pheasants hanging until ready to cook caused quite a sensation even among us country girls.
Our lessons in Archer House were mainly History with Miss Phoenix and, later, Mrs. Staniforth; English with Miss Defew; and Mathematics with Miss Colman and later Miss Stanway, Miss Colman on warm Thursday afternoons needing open windows, competing with the voices of the market traders.
In spite of wartime restrictions on travel, and rationing which made cookery lessons almost impossible, we were able to manage a few visits to Cambridge to the Arts Theatre to enjoy Ballet and Drama, and schooldays were very pleasant. I am sure we did our best, and made the most of the prevailing situation. The wonderful opportunities offered to children today, for wider studies, educational visits, better prospects may make us feel a little envious, but, for us, and for them, whether or not Schooldays are the happiest of one's life, usually they are the most carefree, however little this is realised at the time.
from Pamela Blakeman, in school 1935-1947.
I have many memories of fifteen years at Ely High School, first in the Preparatory Department and during the last three years, as a member of Staff.
The years at Bedford House are now long ago; I think of coal fires in winter, blue dresses and panama hats in summer, of seeing my first play'Tobias and the Angel' performed by the Martin Harvey Company, visiting Cambridge colleges in Miss Defew's charge, Miss Oates' enthusiastic teaching of Art, the cathedral West tower from the Vth form room (can I near Miss Baird's 'La Cathedrale'?), sketching a crying cherub in the cathedral, the variety of friends, Miss Defew's VIth form English lessons, the Friday morning record in Assembly .
My memories of Ely High School in the Downham Road building will, I know, be of many of the girls, though it is too soon to relegate them to the past. Also of the large airy Art Room and the peaceful view of the road winding through the fields towards Little Downham and the Fenland sunsets, of the Art and Craft exhibitions showing work of secondary school students from our part of the county that Miss Moody allowed to be arranged in the school hall; of the more distant Cathedral, the Christmas Carol Service there and the concerts in the Lady Chapel.
Thank you, Ely High School.
from Greta Taylor, née South, in school 1941-1948.
The War overshadowed much of my time at Ely High School, but in spite of this they were happy days. The Staff and girls from the Central Foundation School in London joined us at the beginning of the war, and we shared our school life with them.
During the flood disaster of 1947, the Army used part of the school as their base for directing relief operations in the area.
I am sorry that Ely High School, as such, will cease to exist after July 1972, but I hope that the pupils of Ely High School today will carry the spirit and ideals of their old school with them into the new City of Ely College.
from Enid Bedford, née Rice, in school 1943-1953.
Was it the High School or was it destiny that John and I should now be man and wife? Our preparatory paths never met but rather ran close by John entering Kindergarten with Miss Page in 1941, and I beginning in 1942. Yet we can reminisce on well-loved characters, daily routines and pranks of those days; the ceremonial secret fig-tasting sessions; vast well-guarded fires which lured everyone to the front desks, even if the staff, especially Miss Pater, taught standing in front of them.
Our paths diverged, when John left for the King's School and I spent the next ten years going through the school from Form II to VI. The War had considerable effects. Sharing accommodation with the evacuee school from London involved enjoyable walks to and from Archer House and the Club Room. Feeding and accommodation for dinners were other problems, and teaching obviously presented difficulties owing to changing populations, shortage or space, limited supplies and equipment; but the Staff overcame these, encouraging and helping us at every opportunity.
On reaching the VIth form I chose to study Mathematics, and my path then converged to the King's School, where John had been for several years. My education became co-educational, and though I hated it at the time, it became comprehensive in its widest sense.
I went from school to Reading and London Universities, and after teaching in Kent for three years, came home to be married. For obvious reasons of nostalgia John and I are sorry to lose the High School as such by its absorption into the Comprehensive unit. But we wonder, are we unique or are there other couples both past pupils of Ely High School?
[I know of one other couple, Peggy (née Plumb) and John Chapman who both attended the Preparatory Department though at different times; also Tony and Margaret Giles (née Wilson) and Peggy Macer (née Mitcham) and her husband although neither of these wives, I think, was in the Preparatory. D.G.D.]
from Margaret Prior, née Smith, in school 1950-1955
Friday afternoon Clubs were begun when I was in the Upper IV alpha, and, after a short time in the Stamp Club, which I found less interesting than I had hoped, I joined the Sketching Club, run by Miss Surgey, whom I remember as a small blond, enthusiastic artist.
For the first time I found my artistic endeavours actively encouraged, and, more important, I learned to look at Ely and buildings in general with different eyes. We went out into the city, mainly near the cathedral and really looked at the old buildings, noticing the line, the structure, the building materials, the age. My attempts at sketching were as hopeless then as they are now, but how I enjoyed trying, and how interested I became in architecture and history.
Best of all were the winter afternoons in the cathedral itself when it seemed in the gloom and quietness to step out of the twentieth century and back into mediaeval times. As one worked at a sketch the coldness of the stone, the rich red and blue of ones favourite window, and, if lucky, the sound of singing all created an atmosphere which gave one a sense of affinity with the past. It did not come on bright afternoons which brought the crowds of tourists, nor in the very light Lady Chapel - just in the evocative half-light of winter in the oldest part of the cathedral.
Living now many miles from my beloved Ely, when I return, always in the winter, the old magic, first realised so many years ago on those Friday afternoons, still works as strongly as ever. I hope that I, in my turn, may have encouraged a child to look, see, and appreciate the past, and its contribution through the ages to the present.
from Vivian Hawes, née Convine, in school 1949-1956
I returned to teach at the High School in 1962 and am now married to a farmer and living in Wicken; we have one son, aged 4½. I help to run a Playgroup in Soham in the mornings, teach at the High School in the afternoons, and am a G.C.E. examiner in my Christmas and Summer holidays!
I remember my schooldays with affection and they have provided me with lasting friendships: the 'inseparable four' - 'Lev', 'Yardy', Ann and myself still keep in touch. Ely High School gave me a love of schooldays, of teaching and expecially of English Literature, and for this I am grateful. I hope I can pass to my pupils some of the enthusiasm which came to me from Miss Defew: thank you 'Defe' for that, and for the sound guidance you gave to me, and to so many others.
Thank you, too, Miss Tilly for your encouragement, which helped so many fen children to aspire to successful careers.
from Jenny James, née Martin, in school 1951-1957
After leaving school I worked for 14 years in the Trustee Savings Bank. In 1967 I married Robin James and now have a son, Jonathan 3½ years and a daughter Rachel 7 months. It was lovely the other evening to be able to take Jonathan around to show him where I went to school. As we drove away from the new school I had no real memories. Had I just returned to the old High School as it used to be, many sentimental memories would have returned.
from Helen Smith in school 1951-1959
Those of us who as pupils attended the quietly joyful Golden Jubilee Commemoration Service in 1955 and the cheerful opening of the New Buildings in 1957, little thought that a sadder gathering in the Cathedral would so soon mark the end of the School as we knew it.
I remember most of the changes of the fifties, with the growth of a wider outlook and more adventurous spirit in the School. What a contrast too there was between the old and new buildings! I had a great affection for Bedford House itself with its pleasant form rooms, remaining gardens and even for its miscellaneous huts; but how terrible was the noise and crowding in the music room at lunch time, how tiresome the 'crocodiles' to lunch at Chapel Street, and to games at the Paradise Fields, and how bleak were the Speech Days in the Corn Exchange.
For me the new buildings never acquired the friendly character of the old but I think that it was working in the splendid light and spacious library which turned me towards my career in Librarianship.
Some of my warmest memories are of the many excellent productions; not only of House and School plays and operas, but also of Staff plays, which reached a high standard of acting and direction, and were such fun to watch or take part in.
from Diana Swanson, née Stanley, in School 1954-1959, now stationed with her R.A.F. husband and family in Cyprus.
Having heard from my mother about the special issue of the School Magazine I felt I couldn't let the opportunity slip by without contributing to this memorable occasion.
I was fortunate enough to be at school when it was moved from St. Mary's Street to Downham Road, so my affection for the school lies mainly in the new building. In the actual moving process all the desks and heavy furniture went first on the lorries, and it was left to us girls to carry out 'Operation Shopping Bag' and take the many smaller things to the new building ourselves. The atmosphere was marvellous, like being on holiday; everybody was laughing and chattering away. I cannot remember the actual weather, but I think even deep snow would not have damped our spirits. Nobody seemed to mind how many journeys she made, nor grumbled at sore feet and blisters.
After the old school this one seemed like a glass palace, surrounded by a sea of green playing fields. I remember thinking that all those windows would get broken, but of course they didn't.
Familiarity breeds contempt, they say, and we soon took our new splendour for granted. Only after I had left school did I realise how my affection for it had crept up on me. I travel a lot now, but whenever I'm home I take a trip along Downham Road, and look at the school. I'm beginning to wonder how I shall feel next time when I see it with a new name.
from Susan Riley (Reflections on Ely High School 1952-1960)
Both my mother and grandmother had been pupils of Ely High School and were still actively involved in the affairs of the school through the Old Girls' Association: I vividly remember feeling very conscious that by going to the High School I was continuing a family tradition, and aware of the responsibilities that seemed to be associated with this.
My eight, mainly happy years there included two major events in the history of the school - the Golden Jubilee celebrations and the long-awaited opening of the new school - but perhaps it is the more trivial incidents of everyday life in school which one remembers more clearly. In spite of their drawbacks there was something about the variety of buildings in St. Mary's Street, ranging from the elegance of the past to modern postwar prefabricated huts, which seems, on reflection, to have symbolised the gradual growth of the school to meet the changing educational needs of the area it served.
About the move to the new school my main recollection is that we would begin the day with every intention of breaking the record for the number of trips up and down Downham Road, but by lunch time our minds would be fully occupied in devising schemes whereby we could remain stationary for a time at one end or the other.
["I came upon them at one such moment, sitting on the chairs they were supposed to be carrying, in a neat little ring on Downham Road path. I turned a particularly blind eye" D.G.D.]
My first impressions of the new building were the striking effect of its vivid colour, the then completely characterless quality of the building, and an increasing awareness that it was the school community, working and playing together, which would gradually provide the character and traditions for its buildings. I have always been glad that as Head Girl during my last year I was able to play at least some small part in achieving this.
My sister, Brigid, and I, as well as being the third generation of a family to attend the Ely High School, also have the distinction of being the first sisters to hold the office of Head Girl. I speak for us both when I say that this pleased us greatly and that we were grateful for the opportunity to give some service to the school in return for the benefits and advantages it has given to us and other members of our family.
from Georgina Shane, née Smith, in school 1953-1960
Having lived in South Carolina since 1966, I thought you would like to know a little of how life is here. A hundred miles (two hours' drive) takes us to the marvellous coast beaches; another hundred North to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, and a hundred south to the Sunshine State of Florida. We enjoy a mild climate with hot dry summers and mild wet winters, ideal for the local crops of tobacco, cotton and peaches. It is almost too good to be true to pick fresh peaches every summer. Hunting, fishing and all water sports are the main pastimes and can be enjoyed almost all the year round.
One of the original thirteen states, South Carolina celebrated its tricentenary in 1970. It bears marks of the Revolution and of the Civil Wars, but manages to preserve the old, while building the new, with high-rise structures growing fast alongside the old plantation houses with their slave quarters and their reminders of the not so good old days.
I have heard South Carolina called the hillbilly state, but have found its characteristic to be old-fashioned friendliness, which is hard to find anywhere. I think all who come here can find something to suit their own interests, from sightseeing to sunbathing, and I hope other places have as much to offer as we move on.
from Heather Marshall, née James, in school 1955-1961
I look on my days at Ely High School, both at the old and the new buildings, with affection. Events and personalities are remembered when I meet fellow Old Girls in my travels.
I left school in July 1961, and started my career in the then Ministry of Labour in Cambridge in September, 1961. During the last ten years I have covered all aspects of the department's work in Oxford, Watford, London and Ely. I eventually returned to Cambridge in 1969 and am now an executive officer interviewing professional and executive staff and helping them to find congenial employment, either locally or somewhere in the world. As you can imagine the work is demanding but very interesting and rewarding. I am now married and living in Ely and after all my travels in the United Kingdom and abroad am quite content to remain here in this beautiful Cathedral City.
from Mary-Jane Ansell, née Darby in school 1957-1964.
Living in a quiet country town in the fens, I never imagined that I should marry a New Zealander and come to live in windy Wellington the capital of this beautiful country. Jim and I met in Cambridge, where he was at King's College doing a Ph.D in Applied Mathematics, and I was at the Technical College doing an external London B.A. in English, French and Latin. We both graduated. I received my degree in the Albert Hall, in the presence of the Queen Mother, and Jim took his in the Senate House, half an hour before we were married in King's College Chapel.
Our journey to New Zealand took us through the canals of Venice, up the steps of the Acropolis, across the Bosphorus, round the bazaars of Teheran and Kabul, to the Tai Mahal by moonlight, through the floating market in Bangkok, across the Hong Kong ferry then south to Sydney, and across the 1,100 miles of the Tasman Sea to a dawn arrival in Wellington.
Jim is now a University lecturer in Mathematics and I am a library assistant in the Alexander Turnbull Library. I am still actively interested in French and my Latin has proved helpful in learning Italian. Spanish is next on the list.
New Zealand is an impressive country full of contrasts; concrete skyscrapers are gradually rising in the heart of the city, demolishing the charming old colonial homesteads in their path. Twelve thousand miles but only thirty six hours between Wellington and London, and we hope, in the near future, to visit family and friends in the 'Mother-country.'
I sent the school best wishes in its future role, together with my greetings from the Antipodes.
from Janice Clarke, née Parr, in school 1958-1965
Since leaving school I have done nothing outstanding, nor been to any exciting places, but I have been very happy. I have been working in the Pathology laboratories at Addenbrooke's Hospital, beginning in the Histology Department, which produces microscopic slides from body tissue to help in the making or confirming of diagnoses. During my training for the Intermediate Examination of the Institute of Medical Laboratory I spent some time in the Bacteriology, Blood Transfusion, and Haematology departments. I found however, that to me the most interesting was the fifth laboratory, Biochemistry, to which I therefore transferred.
Now a full-time wife and mother, I still cannot stop studying. I am attending evening classes in advanced level German, and hope to take the examination in a few years. After this I should like to take a course at the Open University, in possibly Biochemistry or Mathematics. I do not regret not having gone to University straight from school; rather I am glad to have had a few years to think over what subject I would prefer and be best able to take. My only regret is that I did not study 'A' level Mathematics. I am very grateful to Ely High School for giving me such a great interest in so many subjects.
from Brenda Malkin, in school 1958-1965
Since leaving school, as previously, my life has been full and pleasant. At college, as at school, I joined in choral and dramatic activities. While I was studying for an honours degree in English Literature, which I found extremely absorbing and worthwhile, I decided rather hastily to 'go abroad' and, rather surprisingly stuck to my decision. The chance came in May, 1968, just prior to my graduating when I heard that I had been accepted by the British Volunteer Programme to spend fifteen months in Tunisia. At the last minute, however, I was transferred to Jinja, Uganda, West Africa.
Uganda was a memorable experience for me. I taught language and literature to 'O' level in a Girls' Secondary School. There were many extra-curricular activities and duties since the girls boarded at the school, most of them living too far away to go home each night. I still have the tapes of my Choir and Drama group, which bring vivid memories of my time there. There were over three hundred students aged from thirteen to twenty, representing various tribes in Uganda and a few Sudanese refugees.
The Staff comprised British and American volunteers, British expatriates, who had studied for teaching diplomas at Makerere, Uganda's University, and Indian and local African teachers. All made me very welcome. At the end of my extended contract of two years, I had the gratification of seeing 'my fourth form' obtain their passes in Language and Literature. We had studied mainly African Literature, a new venture for me.
Out of school a trip to Mombasa, on the Kenyan coast, meant a safari across country for about a thousand miles, through the Great Rift Valley, the city of Nairobi, and Isaro Game Park, which stretches along the main coastal road. Arriving one could savour the mixed flavour of the cosmopolitan port. The beach, about three miles from Mombasa island, stretched for miles, white and glistening in the sweltering heat, bordered by palms and the deep peacock sea. There are a welter of haunts for the tourist in East Africa: the well known game parks, the inland lakes, the coast and its quaint Arab towns, the brushland, the mud huts, the shambas and banana groves.
At present I am serving with the Ministry of Overseas Development on contract for two years in Kenya, again teaching English, this time to 'A' level, and as I write I can hear the girls singing and see them dancing as this is the end of term night. Tomorrow they will be off to their respective families, and I shall be leaving for my banda on the coast.
from Judith Street, in school 1969-1968
I am just completing a 4th year at Trinity College of Music, London, and during this time have passed three singing diplomas: A.T.C.L. Performers; L.T.C.L. Teachers and finally my Fellowship in Performance, F.T.C.L. Last year I won the Oriana Madrigal Society Prize for singing which is awarded annually by the college. I hope to study for a further year in London and at the same time continue to do recitals, concerts and freelance work.
from Susan Dewey, in school 1962-1969
In answer to the plea for items, reminiscences or news I thought I would write a little about what I have been doing since school.
Having always been interested in languages I decided to specialise in French, and, enjoying the language side more than the literature, I applied to do French and Linguistics at Reading University. Linguistics is generally defined as'the scientific study of language' and involves classifying speech sounds, words into descriptive systems, and trying to achieve a logical scientific description of speech phenomena. I hope this new subject will realise its potential in language teaching. I find it fascinating, and would warmly recommend it to anyone of interests similar to mine.
After two years at Reading I am now enrolled for a compulsory year abroad in France, at the University of Rennes in Brittany. In many ways this is a very pleasant experience but I find myself a very English person who greatly prefers the homeland.
My plans for the future are still uncertain; even though a degree may not now be as useful as once it was, I hope that at the end of my course it will prove of considerable value. Even so I wish I had been offered alternatives to my proposal of a University, much as I have enjoyed it. One idea I have of a career is teaching - preferably French language only, using my linguistic background as a guide. I hope that I would thus be giving a useful service to society, for which, of course, Ely High was the first in preparing me.
from Christine Gibbon, in school 1963-1970 now about half way through her course at Royal Holloway College.
I think, Miss Defew, that if you came back now you would find that College has not changed very much - except, of course that about one third of the students are male now. Most of our students have rooms in one of our four halls of residence, and as another hall is in process of building this situation is likely to continue for some time.
Like you, I am studying English. We have an average of three lectures a day - write one essay every two weeks and then have a tutorial when it has been marked - in a subject like English there is so much reading one has to do - in the vacations as well as during term. There is also quite a lot of social life -and always the walks in Windsor Great Park. The College grounds themselves are also very nice, especially at this time of year with the spring flowers coming out - I think probably I shall go into teaching, but I have some more time to enjoy the relatively easy life of a student before I have to make up my mind.
SIXTH FORM YEARS
from Avice Tabeart née Hatch, in school 1921-1929
I remember: the privilege of History Lessons all alone in the Library with Miss Thomas translating directly from the Italian of the "Life of Tho. of Celase" during our Franciscan studies. Private tuition was a wonderful foundation for a later History degree.
The joy of new library books such as "Twenty-Five" by Beverley Nicholls and "The Gathering of Brother Hilarius" by Michael Fairless. Struggles to write essays based on Miss Watson's cuttings from "The Observer" backed by reading in a borrowed "Encyclopaedia Britannica". One stilted effort on Egypt which reached the School Magazine was very unlike the real situation experienced in Egypt itself where my third son was born.
The start of the House System when we designed our badges, and Etheldreda House voted to make a garden alongside the Preparatory School. Prayer book instruction by the Precentor, the Rev. Seriol Evans, now Dean of Gloucester, whose lessons made the meaning so much clearer, and the presentation was quite a change from the norm.
The wonderful team spirit and the Hockey XI when we did our best to beat teams from Lynn, Wisbech and Thetford. Our great grief when Miss Goodin died so very suddenly and so very young.
The glory of wisteria on the Lodge at exam times and on the walls in the grounds of the Theological College where we held our Sports.
The pleasure of singing in a good choir conducted by Miss Cooper and winning trophies at Cambridge Guildhall. Performing excerpts from Shakespeare. Why did we never put on a full play, apart from one skit on "Hamlet" which murdered the tragedy?
from Winifred Butcher, in school 1920-1927.
To be a VI former wanting to take Science subjects in 1925 created problems which the school had never faced before. Botany and Mathematics were the only sciences offered up to "Matric" standard and Miss Jarvis and Mrs. Dent added this coaching to their already full time-tables. But two other subjects had to be found. Miss Jarvis filled in with Zoology; but for Chemistry there was no alternative but to go to to King's School, not to join the boys but to have private tuition from Canon T. J. Kirkland in the Headmaster's study. Practical Chemistry was done in the King's School labs. after tea under the kindly supervision of the laboratory technician.
Biology practicals were solitary occasions too. I well remember my first dissection. I was alone with a book of instructions, a new dissecting kit and a beautiful white rabbit, and it was a long while before sentiment and tears allowed me to make a reluctant start!
Not much was achieved that afternoon and I think I never quite lost that distaste for dissecting, although I have been teaching Biology until my retirement three years ago!
Mathematics lessons were happier. Miss Dent would sometimes introduce an element of competition by suggesting that "Such and such" would be too difficult, and of course self-respect then demanded that the task be completed as soon as possible. Perhaps some such spur was necessary. I was alone too in Art, aiming for the full school certificate of the Royal Drawing Society, and still having Division VI to take. So each week I selected and set up my own still-life model to paint in water colours, later taking my work to Miss Parkes for criticism.
Of course this solitary programme had its compensations. No-one really knew where I was at any given time, so I was often able to avoid that depressing daily ritual - the supervised crocodile walk to the station.
To avoid overmuch specialisation I had to attend certain lessons in the Arts subjects; a snippet of "Childe Harold" one week, and a page or two of Chaucer the next. It meant little to me but it was fun to be back in a class with the others again.
from Nina Ambrose, in school 1920-1927
They were very happy and formative years because of the high, unusual quality of the teaching and the absolute integrity of the teachers. Miss Baird taught us French but not only, rather even more, about life. Mysteriously, almost mystically, she opened doors for us into her breadth of vision on to so many things of beauty and permanent value.
I remember she was the first to make me have a sense of what she told us Pascal, the great French philosopher, described as "les vastes espaces de la suit" and we became through her, familiar with the long names and symmetry of some of the main heavenly bodies.
Latin with Miss Watson was a stern discipline because with great humility she admitted her own limitations and needed our cooperation and we gave it therefore gladly and we enjoyed Vergil and Livy, following some delightful early Latin without tears with Miss Huggins.
Miss Jones and Miss Jarvis taught us Botany in attractive guise. We all knew the plant families and tracked down their history in a School Flora with great avidity and entertainment: I watch the countryside with much more interest as a consequence. I am grateful for Miss Thomas's lessons. We sat wide-eyed at her scholarly charming way of imparting knowledge, and acknowledge with gratitude her generosity in loaning her valuable books in the days when our School Library consisted of one modern bookcase and there was no City Library. All these teachers helped us tremendously to a happy life in a somewhat unorthodox but thereby a delightful school building.
from Gillian Ada, in school 1920-1924
I myself could not have followed my career except for education and the public examinations taken at E.H.S., I was enabled to read English at London University, to train at Cambridge, and to teach English chiefly for 39 years, six at Sutton-in-Ashfield, and 33 at Gainsborough High School. Here I was Head of Department, was in charge of the school library for 27 years, produced several plays and was of course involved in numerous other activities, being a real 'old stager' when I retired in 1970.
E.H.S. certainly fostered in me a love of Literature, both English and French. When teaching Literature I have been able to quote large portions learnt by heart at school, and many memories also, chiefly of books studied with Miss Watson, for public examinations: Eothen, Hazlitt's Essays, Wordsworth, Religio Medici, for example, and I have been able to enjoy what I taught all the more because of its association with the past. Many generations of E.H.S. girls have good reason to acknowledge a debt to Miss Baird. As for those who were privileged to study French Literature under her firm guidance were concerned, she gave us not only sound factual knowledge, but, through her own genuine love of it, some ideas of the real feeling and music of French poetry.
My membership of the school Guide Company not only gave me various useful pieces of information such as "Cold water in first when preparing a baby's bath" and a vivid recollection of dragon flies skimming over the water on a hot day, in Wicken Fen, but it led directly to my serving as a Guide District Commissioner and taking Brownies and Rangers, for nearly five years, not in school but in a colliery town and district.
Deportment and formal manners may not be considered so important nowadays but several details of our tuition in such matters remain in my memory. My sister, now living in Rhodesia, writes of Miss Baird: "She had a personality if anyone did, and I am sure that is why I still feel undressed if I have no gloves."
But E.H.S. was a place not only of "sound learning' but also of "religious education." The newcomer of earlier generations would immediately notice the framed Tennysonian quotation on the walls of the assembly hall "Self reverence, Self-knowledge, Self-control." Friday dinner hour lessons first with Rev. F. J. Bywaters and then Rev. Seriol Evans gave a nonconformist a considerable knowledge of the Prayer Book.
I have been very fortunate in that in both Schools where I have taught, the same blend of good academic standards and Christian values has also existed and made life more of a unified whole. I am sure that whatever their later experience, all old girls will look back with some happy and amusing recollections of school life and sincere acknowledgement of all they owe to E.H.S.