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Mrs Burt - School Days

Extracts from: "The Story of Haversham" by Rev. Samuel Hilton, M.A. Rector of Haversham

The site where Revd. Cooke started the
first school in Haversham for boys in 1822

School dedication stone 1861


Mr. Cooke’s services to the parish were of a practical as well as of a literary nature. It was he who made a beginning of the educational work here. Among the property officially recorded as belonging to the rectory in 1822 occurs the item: “A small out-house, used as a Sunday School for boys, but calculated as Cow House or Cattle Shed.”

Possibly this school had existed for several years prior to this date. Here in “a lowly cattle shed” were first taught the rudiments of education to the children of the village. It was in this humble way that the foundations were laid of the educational system of later days.

Mr. Frazer then turned his attention to the educational needs of the children. The small building, provided by Mr. Cooke a generation before, had become much too inadequate, and so in 1861 Edmund Greaves of the Manor House conveyed to the Rector, Wardens and Overseers, 484 square yards (or 1/10th of an acre) “being part of a pasture called Fairey’s Close, to be applied as a site for schools for the poor persons of and in the said parish of Haversham …. And for general purposes connected with the said schools. ”The gift of land, however, was for little more than the site of the building, and did not include the playground at the rear nor the garden alongside, for which ¼ of an acre an annual rental of 30/- has to be paid.

As for the building itself, including the teacher’s residence, that was a free gift to the parish of the Rector and of Mrs. Frazer, in memory of her father, Mr. C. King.


Census 1861 Mrs. Adelaide Ingram, mistress Kelly's Directory 1899 William H. Boon master
Kelly's Directory 1869 Mrs. Adelaide Ingram mistress
Kelly's Directory 1899 Bertha Huges mistress
Census 1871 Mrs. A. Elizabeth Ingram Census 1901 Charles Ballard Schoolmaster
Census 1881 James Herbert master Kelly's Directory 1903 Charles Ballard master
Census 1881 Elizabeth Butler mistress Kelly's Directory 1903 Mrs. Ethel Ballard mistress
Kelly's Directory 1883 Alexander Weston master
Census 1911 Ursula Ruffhead Head Teacher
Kelly's Directory 1883 Mrs. Sophia Weston mistress Census 1911 Blanche Ruffhead Assistant Teacher
Kelly's Directory 1887 John Drought master Kelly's Directory 1915 Mrs. Edith M. Bernardi, mistress
Kelly's Directory 1887 Mrs. Drought mistress Kelly's Directory 1924 Mrs. Ann Mackenzie Ross
Census 1891 John Draught Cerifed Teach School Wolverton Express 1925 Miss Cox headmistress
Census 1891 Mary Draught Assitant School Wolverton Express 1925 Miss Kathleen Baker assistant mistress
Kelly's Directory 1895 John Drought master 1930 Mrs. Kemp
Kelly's Directory 1895 Mrs. Drought mistress Wolverton Express 1940 Miss Casson - evacuee teacher

Little Linford Church School built in 1881
Census 1881 Annie Neal Infant School Mistress aged 16 born Little Linford - 14 children record in Little Linford as scholars
Kelly's Directory 1883 Church School (mixed) Miss Charlotte Stones, mistress
Kelly's Directory 1887 Church School (mixed), built in 1881; average attendance 12; Miss Regan, mistress
Kelly's Directory 1895 This parish is included in the Haversham United District School Board, formed 21 Oct, 1876; the children attend the school at Haversham

Haversham School early 1900s - click here for larger image

Haversham School 1913 - click for larger image
Haversham School 1914 - click for larger image

Wolverton Express 11th December 1925


An enjoyable concert was given on Wednesday last in the village school for the purpose of raising funds for the purchase of a pianette for the infants. The schoolroom held a crowded audience, Miss Cox, the headmistress, presiding. A lengthy programme was given in excellent manner by schoolchildren assisted by a number of friends who gave very helpful and appreciated service. Miss Kathleen Baker (New Bradwell), assistant mistress at the school, who organised the concert, skilfully rendered pianoforte solos. Songs were nicely given by Major A. Smith and Mrs. Hubert Coker (Wolverton), who also appeared in duets. Miss May Jennings (New Bradwell) added two solos at the piano, Miss Freda Emmerton (New Bradwell) recitations, Miss Freda Howes and Miss Lily Clifton (New Bradwell) dialogues, and Miss Ivy Gear (New Bradwell) humorous songs and bone solo. The infants scholars gave the play “Rumplestiltskin” in which the character parts were taken by Muriel North, Betty Barby, Willie Clarke, Reggie Winsor, and Francis Gammage. Also a dramatic recitation “The Elf and the Toadstool” by Nancy Partridge, Arthur North, and Bertha Lane; and a dramatic picture by Vera Gammage, and Sidney Clarke. The infants concluded with and action song “The Golden Boat” Donations to the pianette fund have been received by Miss Baker from Major Harnett, and Mr. Meacham. The concert should have been repeated on Friday evening, but was cancelled owing to the weather.

Extracts from "Haversham Estate And the Parish I Grew Up In" by David C. Brightman April 2000


Mrs. Kemp in March 1930 aged 32, became the School Headmistress at Haversham Village School, prior to this she was at High Wycombe and Newcastle, she was of pure Scottish descent and very strict. I never heard anyone use her first name.

Mrs. Gladys Herbert was the wife of Charlie or Waggle Herbert, he worked on Mr. Randall’s farm, and at one time lived in a long vanished cottage, on the left hand side of the Spinney at the top of the hill from the village. Mrs. Herbert was the school cook, when she lived in the village, she used to make a very tasty cheese and potato pie, and spotted dick, the smell of those dishes used to filter through all the school, mind you so did the smell of boiled cabbage!

When I was there in 1941-1947 there used to be three classrooms if I remember correctly, an Infants at the rear, one to right of the main front door, a Miss Casson or similar name was the teacher in that room, and the Big Room on the left, where Mrs. Kemp ruled. In July 1948 a Miss Tissington started as an assistant teacher to Mrs. Kemp. The rooms on the right used to be the old living accommodation for the Headmistress ie: School House.

The kitchen at the rear right hand side. In the Big Room there were two coal or coke burning Tortoise Stoves, these in the winter used to glow red hot, there were also two stove monitors, to keep these things stoked up! There used to be a large fireguard around these, usually hanging with wet clothes in the winter. Once only, someone dropped a banger firework into one of the stoves, this on exploding removed a load of soot from the metal chimney and distributed it around the classroom, God, there was a hell of an uproar from Mrs. Kemp, and we spent days wiping it up, but we did laugh!

I remember once seeing Mrs. Kemp dropping a mouse (I think it was dead) into the glowing stove.

In the morning break we had a free small bottle of milk, and woe betide anyone who didn’t use the straw to drink it, there even used to be straw and bottle monitors to distribute and collect bottles.

When it was dinnertime the 4 seater desks were turned around back to back to form a table, and usually covered with a red and white chequered oil cloth or green and white. These desks had a slight slope on them, some of us used blocks of wood or books to level them. If the dinner had too much gravy on it the overflow certainly made a mess of the plastic tablecloth, these I believe were washed or scrubbed by Mrs. Herbert and made a colourful sight in the school garden on the washing line. How Mrs Herbert managed in those days of food rationing, to always cook up a tasty meal I don’t know how, but somehow she managed to do it. My favourite was cheese and potato pie and bread pudding with thick custard.

The school toilets were very primitive, these were at the left hand side of the school playground, the boys’ was an open trough at the top end and in summer smelt awful, where it drained to I can’t imagine, but there must have been a soak away somewhere, probably into our favourite spring in the adjacent field. Mr. Massey in 1937 had the enviable job of emptying the school cess-pool, but stated ‘That as fast as he emptied it, a nearby spring filled it up again’ where this cess-pool was located I don’t know.

The girls’ toilets were in little cubicles, with half doors, a wooden seat made of pine with holes of two sizes, I should imagine for infants and older pupils, underneath these were large open buckets. These buckets were occasionally emptied, sometimes during the day to the enjoyment of the on looking pupils, this was done by the night soil lorry or honey wagon as were others in the village, courtesy of the Newport Pagnell Urban District Council, we often wondered where it went to. The toilets were still standing in 1964. Sometimes an older child went with a new starter to make sure they didn’t fall in or get curios. I don’t recollect anyone ever did though, but can you imagine it!

The only toilet paper was a 6” square of newspaper threaded onto a piece of string or the dreaded Izal type paper. There was always a strong small of Jeyes Fluid lingering around these places. The path by these toilets was maintained by layers of clinker from the school fires, as was the standing area in the boys’ urinal!

In a corner by the toilets or the bog as it was known, we used to play a game where you attempted to flick a cardboard milk bottle onto your opponents; if it landed on top you won all those touching it. These if you didn’t wash them first, after a few day in your pocket they smelt rather cheesy. The boys whose parents had a farm with a dairy herd, used to have purloined new tops and a never ending supply, that game faded away when we went to Wolverton big school.

The front playground was tarmac but in May 1998 this was replaced with gravel, the rear playground was all grass, I don’t ever remember seeing this being cut, so our feet probably kept it under control, there used to be a small garden to the right of the school, but who looked after this I don’t know. There used to be a local garden produce show in the large classroom before and probably just after the war.

In August 1942 the school was to be used as a harvest camp for boys, this was during the summer holidays, I don’t know if this ever happened though. In 1967 the Old Village School was turned over to Mr. Randall for £750, this being half the valuation figure.

Just over the wall, on the left hand side of the school, there used to be a spring with a wooden barrier one side of it, and a little brick weir where the transformer pole is today. All around grew watercress, some of us, if Mr. Randall wasn’t about, (I think he gave up telling us off in the end), used to pick this and take it home. One day someone said that the cress had sheep flukes, whatever they were, on the leaves, this put paid to our watercress picking from that place. I have never found out what sheep flukes are.

The spring was a favourite play spot after school, we used to spend hours trying to block the flow but never succeeded, it always, after a few minutes bubbled through again, but we got nice and muddy, and the mud by the time we walked home was drying very well, unless we found a ditch to dam if it was raining, or to unblock if it wasn’t, ready to dam up later and flood the road and then we could have our boat races using matchboxes and twigs with toilet paper as sails as they drifted towards the Greyhound.

Sometimes, if you timed it right, you could leave the school at 3pm, and on the way home, up to the Estate, you could hang onto the rear door of the Co-op horse drawn bread delivery cart. What that horse thought of it I don’t know, but it made things easier for us, occasionally the driver would get off and walk alongside the horse and threaten us with his whip, he then rudely told us to ‘b….r off’. And again used words which cast doubt about our parentage or used a word which meant a lump of soil, or type of hand file!

During the war years from 1941 until 15th July 1945 we had D.S.T. (Double Summer Time) meaning 2 hours added to G.M.T. This meant to us kids long hours of daylight to explore the local fields and build camps and of course birds nesting after school, that was of course if you hadn’t any chores to do at home, there always seemed to be something wanted fetching or taking somewhere or to be cleaned before you had earned your freedom.

Mr Sammy Hilton was Rector at Haversham during my school days, or until 1946, (he died in June 1954 aged 74), and is buried with his father John at Haversham, then came Mr Squires, quite a stern vicar if I remember correctly, especially if he caught us playing in the Churchyard, though many years back this was a recognised thing to use the Churchyard as a playground and meeting place and a grazing ground for the vicars livestock, though that practice seems to have died out when people started to leave flowers on the graves of departed loved ones, or the incumbent did not have any chickens or sheep, they would have found it easier to keep the grass short with a few sheep rather than the volunteers who have the chore of keeping it under control.

The horse chestnut tree by the Greyhound, in those days the landlord was Tommy Haynes, was the scene of much activity in the conker season, various conker games were played, and were nearly always won by the village lads. These conkers on a 3ft piece of string double up as an aeroplane propeller, which you whirled around in front of you, and you just made the appropriate noises (Can’t do that with a jet) and the other use was as a flywheel, pretending to be a steamroller, again making the right chuff chuff noise, you could even go in reverse!

In Mr. Randall’s field behind the school to the right, there was a pond surrounded by bushes which is now filled in, but you can tell where it was located, we used to go there on school nature lessons, to catch the frogspawn and other creatures of the deep that lurked in its depths of about 18 inches and taken back to the classroom for further investigation.

Has anybody any idea about the whereabouts of the School Honour Board with Grammar School entrants’ names on it? I remember Derek Rose was on it, but there were many other names as well. I have also been told of an old map of Haversham, given or drawn by Sammy Hilton the Rector, which used to hang in the school. At least at the moment the old wooden school flagpole, which was mainly used on St. George’s Day April 23rd and Empire Day May 24th as I remember, was still in its position on the South end of the old school. But I noticed on 1st June it is laying in the playground, perhaps it’s there for an overhaul and a lick of paint, though I noticed recently its mounting brackets have now gone, so I don’t suppose we will see that anymore. A Mr. and Mrs. Price were in residence in 1999.

The school bell and weathercock are still in position, but both a bit rusty and forlorn and now have a new owner, (1998) who, by the look of the skips outside is doing quite a bit of internal renovation. Most modern schools don’t even have a bell or flagpole or sing the National Anthem. It would surprise me if they even had morning prayers anymore, though I’m sure that is not missed!

Along the left hand wall opposite the school could be found newts, which would be out in jam jars for school study, and then put back on the wall under stern instructions from Mrs. Kemp. These caused lots of fun if one escaped and made a run for freedom in the classroom. The two lessons I hated most were country dancing where you actually had to hold a girl’s sticky little hand, and religious instruction, both of which were a waste of time.

The Old Village School was built in 1861 and closed in 1958, and turned into a private house, and the pupils transferred to the new school on the Crescent. I believe when first sold after closure the asking price was £3,000. In 1982 it was for sale at £78,000 and August 1997 the Old School was again up for sale for £225,000.

Haversham School c. 1935 - click for larger image with names

Haversham School c1953 - click for larger image
and Jan Hayword's memories

L- R: B. Walding B. Lancaster, D. Ferguson, Peter Barber, D. Hillyard


In May 1949 there was talk of a new school, but they had a long wait as the Official opening of the Estate School and Community /Social Centre was not until May 19th 1965, though the school had been in use since 1959, and extended in 1963/64, just before the Official opening.

The price for 1.8 acres of land in 1958, on which the new school was built was £1,778, and the adjoining school field of 4.54 acres was £1,045.

The playing field was purchased from Mr. Randall in 1960, the last crop grown in this field was harvested in the summer of 1967, and then eventually became the Sports Field used today. By June 1964 the school’s second phase, including the Community/Social Centre, had been built and remains much as it is today, plus a large storage garage erected in late 1996.

View of the Old Village School and Haversham School in 1964