Lincoln Christ's Hospital School

Lincoln Christ's Hospital School
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The Lincoln School Boarding House

From the Garton Archive at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School

Occasional Paper No 37

by

Peter Harrod

April 2014

 1

An early photograph of the Lincoln School Boarding House

In his unpublished bound volume Lincoln School Oddments, Professor Charles Garton has meticulously researched and recorded the numbers of pupils attending the Lincoln Grammar School boarding houses from as far back as records will permit. There were originally two sets of boarders; those accommodated by the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln Cathedral and those accommodated by the School.

From the late 13th century until about 1560 there were between 23 and 31 boarders accommodated by the Dean and Chapter, and housed in one of three lodgings; the Choristers’ House, the Burghersh Chantry House and the Poor Clerks’ Hall. The numbers dwindled between 1560 and 1760, when only about 10 boarders were accommodated, as Poor Clerks were not counted as part of the School after the later 16th century. Between 1760 and 1920, Choristers and Burghersh Chanters were not counted either, and after 1950 practically all the day boys were living at home. Since 1950 they have been schooled elsewhere.

During this time, very few boarders were accommodated in the School, either in the School House under the Headmaster, or in the Usher’s House or the home of another Master. Between 1343 and 1861 no more than 12 or 15 were housed at any one time. In 1793 the School House opened at 18 Broadgate, and this led to a slight but insignificant increase in numbers.

In 1862 a new School House opened on Upper Lindum Street, and remained in use until 1907 when the School moved to its newly acquired Wragby Road site. Between those years an average of 20 boarders lodged in the School House with one or two residing in the Usher’s or a Master’s house. The Broadgate House was no longer in School use by April 1871.

Numbers fell when Canon W Fowler left his post as Headmaster, but began to pick up again in 1902, in time for the new buildings on Wragby Road whose School House was designed for accommodation for up to 30 boys. During the years 1914-1920, when the School was occupied by the 4th Northern General Hospital, Coldbath House on Lindum Terrace served as the School House, which accommodated between 17 and 43 boarders. By that time Lincoln Grammar School had dropped the ‘Grammar’ tag and became known as Lincoln School until it closed as a separate grammar school in 1974 and became part of Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School.

 

 2

Headmaster Canon WW Fowler and his boarders in the 1890s (note the school cap and Eton collars)

The numbers fluctuated between 1920 and 1969, the lowest number being 18 and the highest 62, shortly before the School Boarding House closed in 1969. There was a steady increase in numbers from 35 in 1954 to 62 in 1967. Thereafter the number of boarders dwindled with the imminent demise of School House, although the School continued to teach day boys until it closed in 1974 when it became part of Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School.

The Lincoln School (formerly Lincoln Grammar School) magazine, The Lincolnian, is of course one of the richest sources of material for the articles from the Garton Archive. The first substantive reference to the School House occurred in the December 1906 edition, shortly before the School moved from its premises in Upper Lindum Street to the new site of Wragby Road. In a lengthy article titled ‘School House Reminiscences’, former pupil William A Oldfield (Lincoln Grammar School 1896-99) sent his ‘pleasant memories and dear associations’ to the Editor, from his position at the York City and County Bank.

Oldfield recalled the midnight ‘dormo suppers’ held in silent and subdued manner like a secret society meeting in some underground retreat. The fare consisted of a huge pie, pineapple chunks in soap dishes, ginger beer in tooth glasses, potted shrimps, sausage rolls, stodgy buns, and salmon fresh from Alaska. The desserts were tarts and custard rolls, and the feast was washed down with ‘lashings’ of ginger beer or lemonade (my apologies to Enid Blyton!). If Jane the Matron were to hear of such indulgences, ‘Daddy’ (Headmaster Frank Harding Chambers) was summoned, and the subsequent punishment was apparently worse that the inevitable indigestion! “ Cave, Cave, Daddy!” was the cry of warning. A secret pantry took the form of a space beneath one of the floor boards, where comestibles could be concealed without suspicion being aroused. ‘Dormo cricket’ was played with a hairbrush as bat, a pillow as a wicket, a pair of socks, rolled up paper or a sponge as a ball, and the ‘dormo’ walls as the boundaries. Even in the post-war austerity days of the 1950s a lack of equipment meant that we had to improvise in a similar way, and during both eras, games were often temporarily banned because of a broken window or two!

Pillow fights were frequent and boisterous, with the different dormitories jealously guarding their territories, and celebrating their claimed victories. Seven-a-side yard football was also a popular pastime, as indeed it has been down the ages. School concerts in those days tended to be impromptu affairs, and the school societies were described as being ‘neither so numerous nor so well-organised’. ‘Charades’ was another highly popular form of entertainment, with Kirkby and Meanwell being the star comedians, and Townroe making a ‘splendid girl’ whenever a feminine character was required. In those days, as indeed in the 1950s when I was at the School, there was keen rivalry between the day boys and the boarders, resulting in the claim that one boarder was good enough for two day boys! The matches between the two factions were anticipated with both eagerness and anxiety to be picked, and Oldfield’s possibly biased memory suggested that the boarders had the better of the exchanges in the ‘footer’ matches, played in those days on the ‘Lindum’.

A familiar figure in the boarding house of the time was the School Butler, Tommy Edwards. Tommy had served his Queen in India and was a ‘real good sort’, if easily angered. His favourite expletive was ‘bloomin’, which extended to his frequent reference to ‘Daddy’ as ‘the bloomin’ Canon’, apparently said without any semblance of disrespect! Riotous misbehaviour in the ‘dorm’ has long been celebrated as a form of ‘character-building’ in the more prestigious public schools, and has clearly been imitated by what was claimed to be a minor public school in Lincoln. Clandestine boxing matches regularly occurred in the ‘boot room’, often resulting in bleeding noses.

What is abundantly clear from Oldfield’s reminiscences is that the School House in those days seemed to be a happy environment, not least because of ‘dear old Daddy’, the Headmaster whom every pupil loved, and who took such a personal interest in each boy, from the Head Boarder to the most recent arrival.

In the same edition of The Lincolnian, another former member of the School House wrote under the soubriquet ‘Caesar’ of his seven happy years among its ink-stained tables, its plastered passages and worn stairs, its grim yard, and the intimate ‘hills and vales’ of a boarding house bed! He had arrived at the School on his first day with half-a-crown in his pocket and a jar of jam in his play box. Pastimes ranged from writing and producing plays such as ‘The Bloodstained Toothpick’, to such more gentle occupations as wooing golden-haired girls in the Arboretum Maze. ‘Caesar’ also recalled a cupboard in the corner of one of the studies which was given the name of ‘Jeopardy’. Any day boy who dared to enter the boarders’ sanctuary was unceremoniously bundled into the cupboard, which could only be opened with a pair of nail scissors.

As Lincoln Grammar School moved to its new premises on Wragby Road, the School House boarders, though few in number, were not insignificant in prowess. The House boasted the Hon. Sec. of Games, the Captain of Football, three members of the First Eleven, who had between them scored 36 goals out of 44, and one of the Second Eleven. The School as a whole of course benefited from the new accommodation, the extensive playing fields, an outdoor swimming pool and a ‘Fives’ court. The School House, however, must have been the greatest beneficiaries, not only in having those facilities available for their use after school and during the weekends, but also for the purpose-designed accommodation of the new boarding house, with its spacious dormitories, refectory, study facilities, and large day room.

Other than the vicissitudes of the inter-house sports competitions, there are few references to life in the boarding house in The Lincolnian magazines, but one can infer that changes were only cosmetic during the Great War and the years before the start of the Second World War. The School House Annual Concert was first held in about 1940, and the first reference to it may be found in the Christmas 1943 edition of The Lincolnian. Thereafter, it featured regularly in the magazines, and took the form of choral items, ‘charming’ presentations from the ‘Prep’ School, and plays enacted by the older boarders. The concert invariably began with a song such as ‘Jerusalem’, and concluded with Christmas carols, often to the ‘pleasing glow’ of a single lantern. As with so many school events, the impetus for the concerts was provided by two members of the teaching staff, Mr Davies and Mrs Ward, who were thanked for the ‘great amount of work’ that they put into the concerts. Mrs Ward went on to produce many of the plays, later supported by Mr Hayward, Mr Massie and Mr Granger, whilst Professor Charles Garton’s brother Graham, a pupil at the School, trained the choirs for the Christmas 1945 production, and also played the fiendishly difficult Debussy piano piece, ‘La Cathédral Engloutie’. Graham went on to have a distinguished career as a music teacher, composer, arranger and choirmaster (see Occasional Paper No 25).

Despite the fact that the School House became increasingly smaller in numbers and younger in age, the Annual Concert continued to thrive, and in 1949 any lack of musical ability was apparently counter-balanced by what one member of the audience described as “amazing profundity”! The 1956 Concert was described as being ‘up to its usual good standard, and featured Ian Aiken as piano soloist, and Derek Hindley, DR (‘Jow’) Howitt, PC Doughtly, JB Ward, JB Menzies, and PW Jackson as star performers in the Civil War play, ‘Allison’s Lad’, by Beulah Marie Dix. The following year, JA Townend gave an excellent rendition of Burgmiller’s ‘L’Orage’. Thereafter, with the dwindling numbers of boarders coupled with the retirement of Mrs ‘Maggie’ Ward, the School House Concert appeared to be lost for ever from the Lincoln School calendar, and any would-be thespian boarder had to be content to join the School Dramatic Society. John Hurt, probably the School’s most famous boarder, had his own exceptional talents nurtured by French Master Mr John Granger, who directed Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ in 1956, in which John Hurt played the part of Lady Bracknell, leaving a lasting impression on those of us who had the privilege of admiring his abilities.

To return to more general aspects of life in the boarding house at Lincoln School, Terry Thompson, who was a boarder from 1943 to 1947, has kindly sent his reminiscences to me, and his story begins where Oldfield’s and Caesar’s left off. Apart from a somewhat less Spartan existence, things seemed to have changed very little in the interim. Terry was at the School during Mr George Franklin’s headship, and recalled that there was one period when he adopted the role of housemaster as well as headmaster. There were about forty boarders at the time, and the Head Boy, who was also a school prefect, was ‘Chips’ Wright, who ably supported ‘Gaffer’ Franklin and the housemasters in keeping discipline. Sleeping arrangements were described as more than adequate, and in fact the rooms are still more or less intact at LCHS, including the large dormitory, which was partitioned in the 1940s, and is now used as the library. Most of the other sleeping accommodation for the boys was on the second and third floors of what is now the administration block. The most junior boys slept in their own separate dormitory, and the rest occupied the large room. Bed times had to be staggered as there was only one bathroom in the large dormitory. The latest bedtime was 9.00 pm. Boarders’ parents had to provide sheets and pillow cases, but blankets were provided by the school.

Terry recalls that fellow boarders included Pacello, Neve, Bradley, Wright, Albone, Blore and the Dickenson brothers. Although conditions in the boarding house were still somewhat Spartan, Terry does not remember much moaning. The boys tended to accept the conditions as they were. The food was described as ‘quite basic in most respects, but more than adequate’. Although the quantity was restricted, breakfast, lunch and tea consisted of hot meals. The saviour for some were the coveted food parcels which arrived from home and were sometimes shared around. This brings back memories of the Billy Bunter stories, in which the ‘Owl of the Remove’ at Greyfriars School was constantly waiting for those elusive food parcels and postal orders from home. At Lincoln School there was a scarcity of jam and marmalade, which were rationed to once or twice each week. Every boarder had his own half-pound jam jar which was used by the catering staff to dole out the weekly sugar ration which consisted of half the jar. Lunch time, which was shared with the day boys, was always interesting as there were often ‘seconds’ available, and the supervisor, Mrs Shirley, was apparently prone to favouring the boarders. Things didn’t seem to change much during the following two decades, and I was surprised to hear from Sue Faull, the daughter of Headmaster John Faull, that her family dined on the same fare as the boarders. As a day boy in the 1950s I well recall Mrs Shirley coming round with ‘seconds’, and her bellowing call of “More sauce?” is etched on my memory as indelibly as the sound of the school bell summoning us to lessons.

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Headmaster GF Franklin and the Lincoln School Boarding House in 1947

Terry has written that there were several housemasters during his time, but that he has no recollection of any of them. They clearly created a lasting impression! What he does remember is the distribution of pocket money after lunch on Saturdays; sixpence for the seniors, threepence for the intermediates, and twopence for the juniors. A decade later I can remember the thrill of having my pocket money raised to half a crown just as surely as I can recall the moment in the 1960s when my salary advanced to a thousand pounds per annum! Following the ceremonial dishing out of the pocket money there was a meeting with Mr Franklin or a housemaster to discuss plans for the afternoon. The staff needed to know where pupils would be, including those who were staying in the school grounds. Going down into town was a favourite option, but the boarders had to be back by 4.40 pm to be ready for tea at 5 o’clock.

Weekends were described as being ‘quite interesting in a way’. Saturday mornings were taken up with lessons for both boarders and day boys, allegedly so that the boarders were occupied for a few hours without needing to be supervised in the boarding house. Those involved in competitive games with other schools on Saturday afternoons were also catered for. One of the few times day boys were allowed into the hallowed boarding house space was after an inter-school football match when we entertained the opposition to a cup of tea and a snack. During the cricket season, Matron and her staff provided the sandwiches and cakes. The former consisted of either sandwich spread or potted meat in the 1950s.

In the tight structure of the boarding house routine, Saturday evenings were for homework. This was invariably an essay, set by the legendary master ‘Johnny’ Phillips. That was followed by table tennis in winter, or soccer in summer, until bedtime. There were also Saturday night dancing classes conducted by art mistress Mrs Ward. All except the youngest juniors were required to attend.  Terry is still not sure whether this was a minor form of punishment or intended meant to keep the boys out if trouble.  The lessons never went beyond the Waltz stage and were apparently never mastered by anyone!

Sundays always began after breakfast with the ritual of writing home, followed by an orderly walk down to the Cathedral for Matins. Anglican communicants, however, were also required to attend Holy Communion at the crack of dawn once every month. After Matins, some would go to the Eastgate Court (now the extended Lincoln Hotel) for coffee. After Sunday lunch another meeting was convened to determine plans for the afternoon. During the weekends in the 1950s, boarders were allowed to visit the homes of local day boys. We lived a mile or so away in Ruskin Avenue, and boarders would come to tea from time to time, and once our family had acquired a television, to watch the FA Cup Final or an episode of ‘Robin Hood, riding through the glen, with his band of men’.

Sunday evenings involved another visit to the Cathedral for Evensong. I have written elsewhere about John Hurt’s comment in his biography on watching the boarders arrive from the Christ’s Hospital Girls’ High School; ‘They came in like jewels out of the night’! The academic year for boarders always began at Lincoln Cathedral, thus preserving the continuity of the School’s relationship with the Cathedral arguably since the last decade of the eleventh century. Terry recalled that the short address was probably given by the Dean. Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School still maintains that connection, not only symbolically through the School’s crest, but in continuing the tradition of walking down to the Cathedral for the annual Foundation Service, and on other special occasions.

4

 

The walk to the Cathedral in 1956

During the 1940s, and until Lincoln School closed as a separate boys’ grammar school in 1974, there were four Houses to which each day boy was allocated on admission. These were Minster, Lindum, Bluecoat and Greyfriars. The boarding house boys, however, were in a separate House called School House, and they jealously guarded their territory. In spite of being much smaller in numbers, School House invariably exceeded expectations in the competitive games and sports, and in Terry Thompson’s time ‘swept all before them at soccer, athletics and cross-country’. He has a cherished photograph with the many cups and trophies displayed in front of the boarders. I have discovered that Terry and I have at least one thing in common in that he was the Lincoln School First Eleven goalkeeper some ten years before I occupied that ‘polo-neck sweatered’ position! However his career was cut short when Mr Franklin would not allow him to play in the ‘needle’ match against our rivals, the City School, as it was scheduled immediately before his departure to South Africa. Whist on the subject of sport, Terence also remembers the two groundsmen at Lincoln School. The first was a Mr Maxted, who occupied the position during the war, but after the war Mr Albert Kent returned and many Old Lincolnians will remember him with affection and respect for his loving manicuring not only of the School playing fields, but also the Lindum and Clayton’s, too. Apparently some boys used to frequent the groundkeepers’ shed behind the pavilion for a chat and a smoke! Those who could afford it (when the postal order arrived!) would buy ten Woodbines from a small shop on Nettleham Road.

In a warm tribute to Headmaster Franklin, Terry Thompson recalled that he was very much respected by all the boarders without exception, as indeed was Mrs Franklin, who took over the responsibilities of a matron when required. Mr Franklin was strict but fair and just. His very presence commanded respect, and he was held in the highest regard. Once a year on Sunday afternoons Mrs Franklin would invite a small group of boarders in rotation for tea; a delightful interlude thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by all. Mr Franklin’s nightly visits to the dayroom in order to ensure that homework was being completed were also appreciated, as the ‘Gaffer’ would invariably give his time and expertise to answer questions and to give advice, support and wise counsel. The Franklins, described by Terry as a ‘marvellous couple’, retired in 1957 to a small village near Cambridge where Terence caught up with him when he was stationed at RAF Bassingbourn. Terry and his family spent a delightful afternoon with them both, apparently holding no grudges for the fact that he remembered having been given six of the best on a couple of occasions for what he considered to be minor breaches of discipline. Those of us who were brought up in such a strict regime tend to trot out the aphorism, ‘It didn’t do us any harm’!

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Mr GF Franklin Headmaster of Lincoln School 1937-1957

Terry recalled only one matron while he was at Lincoln School whom he named as ‘Bobby’ Crowder, or Crowther’ He also remembered the school secretary, Miss Heathcote, who has reached a ripe old age, and lives in a care home on Burton Road. He has surprisingly little recollection of the housemasters, who must surely have had quite an influence on the boarders as surrogate parents.

Entertainment was very much down to the boarders themselves, as nothing was apparently laid on. During his time roller hockey was a very popular form of entertainment, and involved the kind of improvisation that many of us remember during those days of genuine austerity. The puck was a stone, and the sticks were fashioned from branches of the trees which graced the school playing fields in abundance. Games were played in the playground once the day boys had gone home. The game of ‘Fives’, a forerunner of Squash’ was also popular among the senior boarders, although during the 1940s the balls and gloves were in short supply. The more traditional games of cricket and football were ever-popular, and ‘Chips’ Wright made sure that his first eleven were up to scratch. During the week, one ‘exeat’ to walk down the hill into Lincoln was allowed. Looking for peanut butter was a popular activity, and sampling the Mawer and Collingham’s record listening booths was another favourite. It was probably the following decade when Spouge’s opened on the Cornhill. Apparently the seniors were usually on the lookout for cigarettes!

During the years when Terry was at Lincoln School, there was a daily delivery of milk for all the pupils. The bottles were, he recalled, one third of a pint. At the end of the day there were several bottles left over and so after all the day pupils had gone home a few of the more enterprising boarders would collect three or four unopened bottles each, store them for four or five days in their shoe lockers and allow the milk to get well and truly sour. In that way, they made cream cheese! Mrs Shirley could usually find a worn out silk stocking and this made an ideal filter. The product made a reasonably edible supplement to the jam ration or peanut butter. In response to a question about the day boys, Terry recalled that they were kept at arm’s length to be gloated over following the success of the School House on the sports field. During inter-school matches, however, the relatively harmless in-school rivalry between all the Houses was sublimated in the best interests of the school teams.

Another interesting perspective is offered in a letter from Anthony R Stephenson (nicknamed ‘Steve’), who was a boarder at Lincoln School from 1944 to 1952, and will have overlapped with Terry for three years or so. Anthony was born into a local farming family in 1936, and his grandfather, George Stephenson, farmed the land which, in the early days of the Wragby Road site, extended from the east end of the boarding house towards what became the St Giles housing estate. His father, Edmond Tong Stephenson, who was a pupil at Lincoln School in 1911, later farmed what is now the Ermine Estate from Lincoln Farm on Riseholme Road and Stone Farm off Burrton Road.

Anthony was enrolled as a boarder in 1944 at the tender age of eight, and joined Form 1 in what was then the ‘Prep’ Department, a small wooden hut at the east end of a cinder path which led to an entrance to the playing field side of the School. It was also the building in which a certain Peter Harrod had his first lessons in 1952 as a day boy in Form 3a. Anthony was enrolled as No 41 of 41 boarders, and remained in that humble position three years, after which the ‘Prep’ School ceased to exist.

Anthony also remembers the Cathedral obligation every Sunday morning, and recalls that Mrs ‘Fanny’ Ward, also known as ‘Maggie’, took some of the younger boarders for walks. Apparently she took a shine to Anthony and gave him the ‘privilege’ of carrying her handbag, a task which not surprisingly he detested! On Sunday mornings at approximately 7.00 am, Mr Franklin would appear in the dormitories shouting “Swimmingtons”, for those hardy souls who wished to start the day with a session in the freezing semi-green water of the outside swimming pool. Only the most courageous dared to resist!

In later years, Anthony’s Housemaster was Mr Jack (‘Jim’) Shirley, fresh from his war service in the Navy. Prior to his marriage, he purchased a property on Broadway, off Nettleham Road, and commissioned the boarders to spend many an hour stripping wall paper. Mr Shirley was remembered with affection as being a very kind and fatherly person who attended to the needs of a ‘young and mixed-up boy’. Many other former pupils will remember the painful thud of his cane on their derrières! Matron was also remembered as a surrogate mother. He especially recalls the cigarettes which she doled out prior to bedtime with the instruction to blow the smoke up the chimney should they hear the footsteps of Headmaster Franklin on the prowl. Clearly matrons in those days had not been trained in either health or safety!

Anthony’s main hobby was, and still is, building and flying model aircraft, which were constructed in the Day Room, now Room 703, the staff computer suite. Allegedly the curtains have not been changed since those days! Having taken the School Certificate at the age of 16, the time came to his ‘great joy’ for an apprenticeship at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire, but his last day at Lincoln School was marred by a lecture from Mr Franklin after he was caught drinking beer with a friend in the early hours of the morning! Presumably he was spared the ‘slipper’ or the cane as it was his last day!

Unlike Terence Thompson, who appears to have enjoyed his time as a boarder at Lincoln School, Anthony wrote that he did not enjoy his eight years as a boarder. However, time seems to dull the worst of life’s experiences, and he ended his letter by saying how very proud he was of the School, that his experiences did him no harm, and that he looked back on them with fondness. Yes, there’s that oft-repeated aphorism once more!

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Headmaster Franklin and the Boarding House in 1951

In this respect Anthony appears to some extent to echo the feelings of John Hurt whose memories of the School House have also apparently been tempered by experience. John’s life at Lincoln School have been charted elsewhere (Item of Interest No 10/Photo of the Month No 1), but there is a telling section in his biography in which his clergyman father, Arnould, was quoted as saying that John was not happy at Lincoln School, and that his headmaster (Franklin) was insensitive. “Mind you,” his father is reported to have continued, “John was a bit of a nightmare, so it worked both ways.” John himself had to use his embryonic actor’s skills in adjusting his southern prep school accent to avoid being dubbed as ‘posh’. He is quoted as saying that the other forty or so boarders were ‘middle class but lower middle class because they were accented’!

David Nathan, the author of John Hurt’s biography, concludes the brief but significant references to John’s time at Lincoln School by writing that he spent two years (the records suggest three) at Lincoln School, hating most of it. In an interview with Headmaster Franklin, who told John that he was not doing any good academically, he was asked what he intended to do with himself. John replied ‘with enormous nervousness’ that he wanted to become an actor. Franklin replied that he was competent enough in school plays but wouldn’t stand a chance in the profession. The rest, of course is history, but it is not surprising that such judgement coloured John’s opinion of life in the Lincoln School boarding house, and he recalled that when you are sixteen and faced with such an experienced headmaster, that kind of judgement is ‘crippling’. When John returned to Lincoln some five years later to film ‘The Wild and the Willing’, there was an uncomfortable, but cordial greeting between the two of them!

 

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The Boarding House in 1956

Derek Hindley, Geoff Eastgate and John Holland were contemporaries of John Hurt in the boarding house at Lincoln School during the 1950s, and I was a day boy at the same time. We recently met at LCHS to reminisce about those far-off days, memories of which were triggered by a tour of the buildings and by Derek’s priceless photographic collection. Derek bought a rather superior camera, a Kodak Retina II 35 mm model, whilst he was in New York in the early 1950s, and his unique collection of informal photos taken in and around the boarding house in 1956 form the lion’s share of the images in this article, including the ‘Picture Gallery’ in Appendix One.

Much of the animated discussion echoed the memories of Terry Thompson, and therefore provided ‘triangulated’ evidence and reliable ‘witness statements’. The first room we entered was the refectory, which brought back memories of lumpy porridge, a limited selection of cereals, toast with jam from each boy’s ration, and tea served from an urn. Headmaster George F Franklin’s wife Margaret acted as a kind of assistant matron, and was responsible for breakfast supervision. She was seen as something of a surrogate mother more especially to the younger boys, and images were evoked of her cutting up the long loaves of bread with an automatic slicing machine. The evening meal was what we used to call ‘high tea’ in those days, and consisted of baked beans on toast, scrambled eggs made from powered eggs, or some similarly wholesome and appetising meal. Lunches were taken with the day boys in the school dining room, a ‘temporary’ building situated between the corridor leading to the physics and chemistry labs and the Headmaster’s garden, which provided seasonal vegetables for the boarding house meals. Cocoa and biscuits were available in the boarders’ day room, which also served as a library, after evening prayers. Modest pocket money was frequently used to supplement the boarders’ meagre diet, and penny packets of broken crisps could be purchased from a shop next to where the TESCO supermarket now stands. As one of the assembled gathering ruefully put it, “We were always hungry.”

Climbing the staircase to the sleeping accommodation revived many memories of the highly structured bedtime regime referred to by Terry Thompson. There were at least three dormitories in those days; a small one consisting of about six beds in what is now room 734, a larger one of some 8-10 beds in room 735, and 36-40 beds in the long dormitory which now serves as the library at LCHS. This room was divided by a partition, separating the younger from the older boys. Bedtime was at 15-minute intervals beginning at 8.30 pm and ending at 9.45 pm for the senior boys. Housemasters, supported by the House Captain and prefects, were responsible for discipline. What is now room 736 was a housemaster’s study/bedroom, and the married quarters for staff were on the second floor in rooms 731 and 732. Matron, Miss Pickersgill, lived in room 730, and seemed to spend much of her time treating boils and administering a syrup which was an allegedly cure-all for every imaginable affliction!

There were three baths in the room adjacent to the long dorm, and boarders had an allowance of two baths per week of 15-minutes’ duration. Showers were taken in the changing-room at the head of what is now the languages corridor, presently occupied by Learning Support at LCHS. Each boarder’s shoes and kit bag were also stored in that area, and I seem to recall that day boys were permitted to use the showers after inter-school football matches.

Boys will always be boys, and recollections of somewhat puerile dorm behaviour provoked much amusement, combined with some painful memories. Pillow fights of the type described in the fictional works of authors such as Frank Richards were rife, and occasionally caused injury. Even more potentially dangerous was the practice of ‘blanketing’, in which younger boys were tossed unwillingly high into the air from a blanket acting as a kind of trampoline. Birthdays were often ‘celebrated’ in this way, and no doubt others boys received the treatment as punishment for some spurious misdemeanour. Other rather silly laddish forms of behaviour after ‘lights-out’ are perhaps better left to the imagination of the reader!

 

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‘Blanketing’ in the big dorm before Health and Safety were invented!

This picture of life in the boarding house at Lincoln School, unlike the somewhat glamorised version presented in fictional works such as Frank Richards’ Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School, and Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series, was not always a bed of roses. From my albeit unrepresentative sample, it was clear that many boarders were unhappy, and even those who had fond memories of sport, for example, also experienced periods of homesickness. It is abundantly clear from my descriptions of dorm behaviour that bullying was quite extensive, and there were some boys, who lived relatively close to Lincoln, who were so homesick that they tried to ‘escape’ in what were known as ‘home runs’. When they were ‘recaptured’ and returned to school, they were apparently treated almost like prisoners of war who were guilty of being ‘absent without leave’.

The Lincoln School Boarding House closed in the summer of 1969. However, there is a resurgence of interest in state school boarding houses, and there are currently five in Lincolnshire, including Skegness Grammar School, De Aston School in Market Rasen, and The Primary Academy LSST in Lincoln, each of which offers 60-70 places for both boys and girls.

The ‘Picture Gallery’ below provides additional images from Derek Hindley’s unique collection. It is a cliché that every picture is worth a thousand words, but those stunning ‘photographic haikus’ from Derek’s posh camera captured the scene much more effectively than my prosaic attempts.

Appendix One:   Picture Gallery

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The photographer Derek Hindley on his trusty steed with Lincoln School in 1956 as a backcloth

 10

 

John Hurt and M Andrews engaging in illicit behaviour on the Lincoln School playing field

 11

Ian Aiken and other boarders in the Day Room/Library now the staff computer suite, Room 703

 12

The ‘Chemi’ Lab in 1956, now the first set of rooms on the Languages Corridor (310/311/312)

 13

A pillow fight in the ‘dorm’ with John Hurt, third from the right, once again in the thick of things!

14

Geoff Eastgate, Captain of Cricket in 1958-59, athletic and beautifully balanced on roller-skates in the school playground

Appendix Two:     Lincoln School Boarding House 1938-69

Records have been kept for this period in six volumes of exercise books titled School House, kept in the Garton Archive at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School. The following items are selected details from the volumes, but there are also full details, including some commentaries, of all the sports events, including athletics, football, rugby, cricket, chess and fives.

Housemasters during this period in chronological order

Mr E Colchester, Mr RC Morley, MrGHW Skeet, Mr JRM Aslett, Mr RJS Curtis, Mr GL Rawlings, Mr JT Davies, Headmaster GF Franklin, Mr GD Howells, Mr D Hall, Mr PA Purvis, Mr HK Cassels, Mr JAS Taylor, Mr J Challenor, Mr JA Shirley, Mr WE Haywood, Mr FA Massie, Mr HI Sexton. Mr NB Lake, Mr JS Granger, Mr CRI Matheson, , Mr Howitt, Mr Findlay, Mr MW Rangeley, Mr Gande, Mr Haworth, Mr AJ Presswell, Mr RC Wood, Mr JH Wilson, Mr MJ Bailey, Mr ML Andrews, Mr JO Bentley, Mr J Hunt, Mr JW Inge, Mr T Russell.

House Captains during this period also in chronological order

RL Copeland, CMF Webb, PHF Webb, PH Robinson, , IS Batey, AD Raby, JCH Wright’ MPC Hayes, ME Sneath, C Smith, JF Pritchard, JB Menzies, PW Jackson, DR Howitt, AJ Walker, DW Miller, JA Townend, RW Goodchild, PC Shaw, PJ Day, RC Jones, AE Panton, PSJ Rowley-Brooke, CM Bailey, AE Mullis, GAG Tucker, JD Bayles.

Numbers on roll

1938-42:     17-22

1942-43:     27-34

1944-46:     41-41

1947-51:     19-27

1952-57:     35-38

1958-61:       45-62

1961-66:      58-62

1967-69:       46

Appendix Three     Boarding House Rules c 1930

 15

Acknowledgements

Particular thanks are due to Derek Hindley for his remarkable photographic collection, and for agreeing so willingly to share them with us, and for his vivid descriptions of the images. My thanks also to Sue Faull, Geoff Eastgate, John Holland, Terry Thompson and Anthony Stephenson for sharing their own memories, which have formed the bulk of the narrative for this article.

About the Author

Peter Harrod was a day boy at Lincoln School from 1952 to 1959. Now retired from a career in teaching and lecturing, he has been Assistant Archivist at LCHS for the past three years.

References

Multiple editions of The Lincolnian magazine.

Six exercise books covering School House matters from 1938-69

Professor Charles Garton’s ‘Numbered Folder’ on Headmaster George F Franklin

Nathan, David (1986)   John Hurt: an Actor’s Progress   WH Allen, London

Letters, emails and oral contributions from former School House pupils

Derek Hindley’s Photograph Collection