Section Menu

School Day Memories.

Mrs Ralph (Hinton Waldrist)

Talking to the Longworth History Society.

Mrs Ralph went to school in Kingston Bagpuize started when 9 until 11+ when she went to Botley. Mr Stephens was head (?) and Mrs Young was one of teachers. Had an old Tortoise stove, put frozen milk on it to thaw. She didn’t like school. Teachers were tough. There were three classes. Two classes in the big room, with no partition between and one in other room. School dinners were brought from Wantage to the school in big containers in village hall. Half your pudding was slopped in the other. It wasn’t appetising. There were one or two evacuee children who lived with families.

They had to walk to school from Kingston Hill where they lived in the cottage beyond the farm in the wood on the right *. Lived with grandfather who worked on Kingston Hill Farm. Used to meet the Stringer children, who lived at the buildings at the cross roads and all walked on together. Moved into Nissen hut later. She used to watch Ballard shoeing horses. (Mr Day used to live in Windmill cottage).

* This cottage, Brake Cottage on Kingston Hill, has housed so many of the people mentioned in this website. Mrs Ralph's family; The Drewett family,

Our move to Kingston Bagpuize schoolhouse.

Graham Platt

Graham and Muriel Platt moved into the Village when Graham took up the post of School Head Master.

We were delighted when three single members of staff there volunteered to come out with us. Between us we managed to clean and decorate the whole house, replace worm-ridden cupboards with new ones and turn over the soil of the garden. With orchards behind us and a field  (where houses now stand) and a farmhouse in front of us, we loved the house and its position and were delighted when the Blandy Trust (for it was then a “Controlled School”) provided a brand new bathroom in place of an outside toilet originally at the back of the house.

We both enjoyed the close proximity with the village school, and in the very early days, answered a knock on the door to be presented with a huge spread of antlers by a small boy scarcely able to carry them!

But there were disadvantages. Our first winter was a very hard one. The pupils’ toilets were outside and froze solidly. The coke for the boiler was stacked in the school yard and covered by about a foot of snow. To crown all, Graham and the school cleaner (Mrs Tarry, a great character) both developed ’flu over the Christmas holidays. Younger daughter Sue – aged 11 – was in bed and Muriel was chatting with older daughter Jennifer when she suddenly realised that the boiler had not been checked. So out they both trudged into the snow, dug out the coke and relit the now non-existent fire in the boiler.

This was all happening, of course, in the old school (now the Scout Building) which then had only 56 pupils – a very small school divided into three classes – the top and second group in the main building and the youngest group in the Village Hall, which was then next door where houses now stand.

My early years in the Village.

Sybil Beard

I was brought up on goat's milk. One of my earliest recollections is being tied to the fence at the front with the goats. They were tied up because they would eat anything including washing and things from the flower garden. Although I didn't walk until I was about two, I used to shuffle along on my bottom through the hedge and across other people's gardens to get to the school. I was very keen to start school and I would go and knock on the school door and say, "Can I come in?" And they would say, "You are not old enough yet." and dismiss me. So to stop me being a nuisance at school I was tied up. I was about three I suppose but children matured much more slowly then, you didn't sit up in your pram until over six months old and I was a hefty, great big baby. I was 10 lbs when I was born, my mother was six stone something. We had those high, boat-shaped prams and I sat out there and jumped up and down. I was a hyperactive child I realise now. I got the whole thing over onto the flag-stones though I was strapped in.

You never saw Mr Strauss at all, he had all his London friends down and all the school children had to go out and cheer because they were making a film of an actress of some sort riding through the village with a tiger in the car. That was the only contact he ever had, if he wanted to use the people for something.

Our grandfather had 13 children and we managed to trace them all except Bob. He was mentioned dozens of times in the school records as being absent or off. When the hounds met in the district Bob Ballard was never at school. He was a really naughty boy and then suddenly he disappeared off the scene and there is no trace of him since. [Read the story of Robert Ballard's Schooldays below.]

School log book - School-1902-Jan 15

Jill Muir's transcript.

Jan 17 The foxhounds passed the school during noontide followed by others and Robert Ballard
June 2nd As peace has been proclaimed the National anthem was sung at 10.45 am. after which the whole school adjourned to the Warren and indulged in a Cricket Match. Girls v. Boys.
Dec 10th Robert Ballard was absent …. following hounds.

My memories of Kingston School.

Keith Viney

The far room (east) was the infants and the other large room was split in two by a partition. I used to go home for lunch but run back as fast as I could after lunch, often along the wall there. The area next to the old village hall was a field then and the school had allotments there. We all had our own little patch which we tended and used to grow some marvellous things there. There was very little traffic through the village, so much so that if something came along early on in the war you stopped and looked at it. We used to roller skate down the road. Someone used to ride a bike and you’d hang on to the back of the bike and skate all the way down the road without worrying about traffic.

My days at John Blandy School.

John Garrett

John: I went to John Blandy School. The head master was Mr Stephens. He had a hard rubber ball on his desk and if you turned round to talk to someone he would throw it at your head. Nine times out of ten he would miss and hit someone else. We went home for lunch. There were two classes. (Later the infants were taught in the Village Hall and nearer the end there was a Terrapin hut in the playground. I did tend to watch the clock and the hands didn’t seem to move.

Kingston school.

Maud and Tony Drew

Maud.: "I went to Kingston school. The playground was divided into boys and girls. In those days we had three class rooms and a full complement of 48 children in the school with 3 teachers. If 48 were there for a whole week we had an extra play on a Friday afternoon. So we used to say `Don’t be ill, don’t be ill!’ The girls on a Wednesday used to go by carrier bus to Abingdon for domestic science – cookery mostly, sometimes washing and ironing. I didn’t enjoy it. The mistress there, she was a real dragon. She used to shout and frightened the little village folk to death. The boys used to go on a Thursday for woodwork to the council school in Conduit Street. "

Tony: “I never enjoyed the woodwork either. It wasn’t a good day. Richings, who used to take us in, was the carrier that took Dad’s job after the First World War.”

Maud.: “Being a carrier, when we came back from school we often had to go dropping parcels round Shippon and round Marcham.”

Tony.: “I don’t think he ever went faster than 20 miles and hour. Real slow. We used to have a fellow bring round paraffin. Mr Cox, where Cross Road Garage is now. He lived there. He used to come round once a week with big milk churns of paraffin and ladle it out just the same as they did milk. It was used for lamps and a cooker,. Electricity came about 1937 – two bulbs. Installing it was so expensive. We had one put in the kitchen and one on the landing to shine into four bedrooms it couldn’t go into the fifth one. With about a 60 watt bulb and a big kitchen it wasn’t all that bright but it was better than candles. We still went to bed with a candle. We didn’t have a socket.”


“I know when we were children, doing homework if we bumped the table the lamp was on it smoked. It was a brass oil lamp with a wick.”

Mr Strauss.

Tony.: “I can remember walking to Newbridge when I was about seven and my brother who was older than me, he was 8, and we were walking along and Mr Strauss came along in his Rolls and a chauffeur and he stopped to pick us up. It was a really hot day. I’d got nothing but a pair of shorts on and when we got down to the river and he pulled into the car park and I got out and I thought I'd peeled the leather off of his seat because I was absolutely stuck to it. It frightened me to death – I thought 'Oh no!' He was a nice man. There was Mrs Lessing, his sister and her son and I think somehow they’d invested some money in pepper and the value dropped and that was it. That changed the village when that went.

Maud.: “Mrs Lessing always used to come and present the Christmas presents at the school party. I remember my brother, I think it was just the boys, when they were 14 and left school they were presented with a wrist watch and it was about to be my brother’s turn and the estate finished so he never got his watch.”

Kingston Bagpuize School.

Jane and Dick Clarke

We all had gardening lessons. Mr Shergold was the schoolmaster – a very nice bloke. His wife also taught. Mrs Young and Miss Russell, who was the post mistress’s sister, also taught.


We had Mr Platt as headteacher and had lessons in the old village hall. We had dinner in one room and lessons in the other. When we moved up a class we had to go the the village hall for our dinner.) We mostly all stayed to school dinners – they must have been about a shilling a week and they were quite good. It was only the tapioca! We had a good education at Kingston School. The head was good. He looked after us kids at school. He started the football club (???). We walked up to the field. Us kids took weeks to clear that field of stones. There was a maypole. The school ground was tarmaced it was just dirt. Girls were segregated from boys in the playground.

Playing games

Then the cricket club moved up there. It used to be behind New House Farm. The Adams family lived in the middle of the field where the cricket field used to be. We played football anywhere we wanted. The KB field was too far for us and there was nowhere nearer that we couldn’t go. We swam in the Windrush. We played by the Ock too. It was really muddy but we enjoyed it. There used to be quite a corner there with mud under the bridge where we collected crayfish. We walked along the brook and collected moorhens eggs. There were more eggs in the water than in the nests.

There was open ground opposite the bungalows on the main road and fairs and circuses would go in through the gate by where the big white bungalow is. When building started there the fair and circuses moved across the road.

Teaching in Kingston Bagpuize School.

Joan Weaving

My first job at the school was with the reception class. There was no room in the main building so my classroom was one of the rooms in the old Village Hall. We shared the hall with other village organisations. School meals were delivered from Wantage.

In the summer we would sometimes walk all the children along the Abingdon Road to the Football filed. As the numbers of children on the roll increased we took delivery of two terrapin buildings.

Events that stick in my mind?

  • Mr. Platt chasing his daughter's pony along the main road in the Faringdon direction. It had escaped from the field opposite the school (which is now Rimes Close).
  • In the old school - carrying buckets of water to the classroom for painting.
  • The outside toilets and shovelling a path through the snow to get to them.
  • The constant noise of traffic on the road outside (pre-bypass).
  • Large open fire in the two classrooms in the old school - lit each morning by Mrs Tarry.
  • Mrs Hetty Young, who had joined the school at 17 as a pupil teacher (before the war) - much loved by all and a wonderful teacher - even without benefit of college or university.She was a quiet lady but was always known as Mrs Young, by all, even in the Staff Room.

Growing up in the village.

Bob Brooks

I went to Kingston old school – Mr Maine was the head then and later Mr Platt came. I remember Granny (Hettie) Young – who couldn’t have been that old but she was a granny type – she bought all her class presents at Christmas. She lived in Rectory Lane, Kingston Bagpuize. She was sister to Tom Cantwell’s wife, Margery. Jimmy Young lived with the Cantwells. The reception class was held by Hettie Young in the old village hall. When I left the school I went to Matthew Arnold. I did Rural Science instead of Art. There was very little gardening at primary school and precious little sport too. We were walked down to the cricket pitch to play games. Mr Platt was strict but fair. I don’t remember him physically punishing anyone the whole time I was there.

Village 'incomers' schooling here.

Adrian Gamble

In about 1970 more houses were built. The new incomers' children went first to the Village School opposite what became Rimes Close, and later to the newly built John Blandy School.

Here is the view of one of those 'incomers' to the village.

I first went to school in [what is now] the Scout Hut. Outside toilet – freezing in winter. It was a shock after Cambridge and Abingdon. The school in Cambridge had 10 in each class. Abingdon had 35 in each class and the school here had big classes too. I went all through primary school never having read a book from cover to cover! In fact I went through all my schooling like that. Now it’s completely different. I didn’t know my times tables. Mrs Weaving tried very hard for the one year I was with her. There was an attitude that we leave books lying around and they’ll read them if they want to and if they don’t they won’t and obviously I wasn’t that bothered! Now it is much better. They sit and read every day and bring books home every day and read to us. The standard of work is so much better. Our children are 11, 10 and 8. They will probably go to Faringdon School after John Blandy.

School days.

Marjorie Neal

I attended Kingston Bagpuize school and then went to The Elms in Faringdon. The Kingston school was strange after the modern one I’d attended in Oxford. The headteacher (before Mr Shergold – a Mr Stevens) was an elderly chap. There was a coal fire and he used to sit on the brass fender the whole time and all I can remember is the burning smell of his trousers. As I arrived at the school I was met with a gruff “Sit there” – no introductions, nothing. We were outsiders. I must have got on reasonably well though. There were two classrooms. The other teacher was Mrs Young – her husband was the brother of Rose Timms' first husband who died.

Thoughts on Kingston.

Jim Soden

Kingston Bagpuize then was a feudal system – everything revolved round Strauss – he had the hop fields and all the land to Fyfield. He looked after everyone. He always gave prizes to the children in school and took an interest in everything that went on. He went bankrupt – he bought a couple of shiploads of pepper, thinking to make his fortune, but it wasn’t worth anything and he lost a tremendous amount of money. I remember the village being split up – this was why our land came so cheap as the market was flooded. It was a bad time for farming.
I went to the village school – I left at 13 and a half. It had 2 classrooms. I didn’t learn much. One of Mr Ballards' daughters helped there. Marjery Russell looked after the babies – her mother ran the post office. After I left I came to work for my Dad.