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09 July 2016

Hove's Old Schools Index A - G

Listed below:- Arnold House, Cottesmore Prep School, Dr Morrell's Academy, Ellen Street Schools, Farman Street Schools, Girton House.

Arnold House
Judy Middleton
Published originally in Tales of the Old Hove Schools (1991) revised 2012

Famous Old Boy – Eric Gill (1882-1940) typographer, letter-cutter and sculptor

Arnold House was one of those itinerant schools – in other words it did not stay in the same place for long. The school started off at 97 Montpelier Road, Brighton where it was known as Western College. Dr WP Knightley was the headmaster and in the early 1890s, after he moved the school to Cromwell Road, Hove, he decided to rename it Arnold House. Later in the 1890s Arnold House moved to Eaton Road where it remained until it faded from the scene in 1903.

It was a small school of around 30 boys but it had large pretensions. In 1902 an advertisement proclaimed it was a High Class School for Gentlemen’s Sons. Boys were prepared for Public School examinations, HMS Britannia and Oxford and Cambridge Locals. There was also drilling, swimming, cricket and football while ‘special attention was paid to young or delicate boys’.

The school’s chief claim to fame is that Eric Gill, the engraver, sculptor, calligrapher and writer was a pupil there in the 1890s. He had mellow recollections of his schooldays and wrote ‘considering all things, I incline to think that our school was really a good one’.      

Much of the education in those days consisted of ‘learning things out of little books’ and remembering enough to be able to answer questions in the classroom. It did not matter whether the subject was English, French, maths or history, it could all be learnt from the little books. In a way it was a comfortable sort of education in that it fostered the illusion that once you mastered the appropriate little book, you ‘knew’ the subject.

There was a great deal of enthusiasm for games, particularly cricket and football. The headmaster was very keen on these and Eric Gill cannot have been far behind because he wrote ‘I enjoyed cricket quite a lot and football was an enthralling love’.

It was a matter of some pride that little Arnold House could muster a football team that could beat every other school in the neighbourhood including the mighty Brighton College’s junior team. In 1896 Arnold House beat Ovingdean School by eleven goals to nought. The excellent training meant that one of the team went on to play three-quarter for England. Gill did not think he was making too much fuss by going on at length about the importance of his sporting schooldays. He emphasized that the importance lay not in the winning but in the discipline that got them there.
copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph of the Sussex County Cricket Ground at Hove dates from 1908.
On its site in Eaton Road, Arnold House was next door to Sussex County Cricket Ground and all the boys held passes to the various matches. There were many interesting players but in Gill’s view nobody could surpass the pure craftsmanship and grace of a great player such as the Indian prince Ranjitsinhji. He wrote ‘Even now, when I want to have a quiet wallow in the thought of something wholly delightful and perfect, I think of Ranji on the County Ground at Hove’. When Ranji went to Cambridge in 1891 he did not know much about cricket but he took to it like a proverbial duck to water. He played for England and he captained the Sussex team. In 1907 he succeeded his uncle as Maharaja of Nawanagar and returned to India.

Apart from games, Gill enjoyed arithmetic and Euclid. But languages were obviously not Arnold House’s forte. Gill’s father, who once taught at the school when it was Western College, wanted his son to go to Public School. Young Gill was put up for a scholarship at Bradfield College. The arithmetic and other maths papers presented no problems but the Latin paper floored him completely.

Gill was good at drawing and at the age of twelve he was considered by the other boys to be something of an expert on the subject of steam engines. He gave one of his steam engine drawings to Percy Lucas, a fellow pupil, and was amazed to discover years later that Percy had carefully preserved it.


1887-1895 Dr William Porter Knightley
1896-1898 JC Glenday
1901-1903 Revd R Henry Ryland

Gill (Eric) Autobiography (1940)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2012

Cottesmore Prep School
Judy Middleton
Published originally in Tales of the Old Hove Schools (1991) revised 2016

Colonel G Davison-Brown, popularly known as the Baron, founded the school in 1896. He purchased a ten-acre site at the junction of Old Shoreham Road and Upper Drive, which in those days was a quiet rural location. The school was designed to accommodate boarders and while the building was being constructed, the nucleus (just four boys) lived with the Baron in a house in Upper Drive. There is a sad and indeed somewhat bizarre reason behind the choice of Cottesmore as the name of his school – his fiancĂ©e was killed in a riding accident whilst out with the Cottesmore Hunt whose ancient origins start in the 17th century.
copyright © J.Middleton
Colonel G Davison Brown founded Cottesmore in 1896.

The Baron’s personality was such that Cottesmore was a great success at attracting pupils. Unfortunately, the Baron did not possess business acumen and financial affairs began to veer towards debt. In order to prevent him from spending money he did not have, a group of parents rallied around and turned the school into a limited company.

The year 1929 was a bleak one for Cottesmore. It was a lean time in any case for private schools and Cottesmore’s major asset was lost when the Baron died in the same year. By 1936 the number of pupils had dropped to 40 boys, and this made the running of the establishment uneconomic; the accountants were also becoming restless.

Michael Rogerson, then a young man of only 26, proved to be the solution and he purchased a majority shareholding in the company. When his old prep school, Upland House, Buchan Hill, closed down in 1938, he managed to persuade 18 of the pupils to come to Cottesmore instead. It cannot have been pleasant for the headmaster, Mr Forster, to know that this young man held the purse strings, so to speak, but it was all to the good of the school.

A crisis of a different sort occurred in 1940 when the evacuation of British forces from Dunkirk made people consider the safety or otherwise of the south coast of England. Cottesmore was evacuated within a short space of time and Wales was the chosen haven. There were some additional boys as well because younger brothers joined the Cottesmore boys in their retreat. Initially they stayed at the Oakeley Arms Hotel, Tan-y-bwlch, Merioneth. No doubt the bridal suite was never the same again as no less than ten boys were installed there. By the close of the year the boys had moved into a former workhouse in Cors-y-Gedol Hall, near Barmouth. Here the school stayed until the end of the war. The matron Nurse Oakden provided able supervision. She ended up in charge to all intents and purposes because Harry Forster died in Wales and Michael Rogerson was serving in the Army.

Cottesmore returned to Hove for a brief period. The Army had requisitioned the school building and the authorities paid the appropriate compensation. By 1946 Michael Rogerson had acquired nearly 100% of the shares in Cottesmore and he decided to sell the school and grounds to the Convent of the Sacred Heart, which occupied premises on the opposite side of Upper Drive. He purchased the freehold of Buchan House, Crawley, and Cottesmore moved there in 1946; it was the fourth move within six years.

In 1963 Nurse Oakden retired and in 1971 Michael Rogerson’s son Mark took over the running of the school. Cottesmore, set in 30 acres, continued to flourish and it is still in business today. It is a prep school for boys and girls aged between 4 and 13 years.

After this article appeared online, *Rob Walls from Australia got in touch with some fascinating details that were new to me. He attended Cottesmore from 1949 to 1950 but it was not Cottesmore Prep School, which had already moved away, it was another school called Cottesmore House School and was run by the Roman Catholic Church. To reflect this new influence, the school flag flying proudly from a tall flagpole, displayed a papal mitre in gold on a white ground. The school uniform consisted of a grey Viyella wool shirt, red tie, grey shorts, red blazer and red cap sporting a badge of crossed keys. He started off in the old buildings but then moved to the newly built section. A fearsome memory was of a Miss Hanvey who brooked no nonsense and strode around clad in a tweed suit and brogues with a riding crop to hand. Another memory concerned school dinners and especially the chocolate pudding that contained solid, glutinous lumps and made young Walls gag but because he would not finish it, he was made to sit over it until it was time to go home. 

* Rob Walls is a Photojournalist who lives in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

The story going around the school was that during the Second World War Canadian troops were in occupation and whatever troops were there they left plenty of evidence in the shape of hundreds of spent 22-calibre brass cartridge cases that littered the ground just north of the buildings. Naturally, the boys were delighted to find such treasure and learnt how to make a piercing whistle with them by blowing across the open end. Even more exciting was a derelict railway carriage that was parked at the north end of the grounds, not far from a derelict swimming pool. One day inside the carriage a loose floorboard was discovered and prised up to reveal a cache of between twenty to thirty assegais. The boys had a wonderful time brandishing them about and pretending to be fierce Zulu warriors until the school authorities found out and quickly confiscated them.

Photographic Gallery

The following portfolio of professionally taken photographs dates from the 1930s. They were probably taken with the intention of illustrating a new school brochure. But whether or not such a brochure was ever printed is unclear. The portfolio came for auction in November 2016.

Copyright © J.Middleton
In this inclusive view of the school buildings from left to right can be seen the Fives Court, Squash Court, Chapel and the main buildings with the Vita Glass Room on the far right; the cricket field is in front. 

Copyright © J.Middleton
The Big Hall resembles a baronial hall with a minstrel-like gallery on the left. The stuffed animal heads on the walls reinforce the idea. The armchairs are comfortable and modern and the corner of a billiard table can just be seen.

Copyright © J.Middleton
The dining room is dominated by the school motto in large letters ‘Modus et Ordo’. Starched white tablecloths cover the tables and by each place there is a table napkin in its own ring; it was considered not the done thing to refer to them as a ‘serviettes’.

Copyright © J.Middleton
This classroom is well decorated with school photographs. But what really strikes the modern observer is the smallness of it. The teacher’s desk is on a podium to the right but there is only enough space for fourteen boys. In these days when classes of 30 are unfortunately all too common, the idea of one teacher to fourteen boys is luxury indeed.

Copyright © J.Middleton
This dormitory contains the standard hospital-style bed most probably with a lumpy mattress. A touch of homeliness are the eiderdowns / coverlets and as they are different, it seems likely the boys brought their own from home.

Copyright © J.Middleton
The Vita Glass Room was something like a conservatory with large south-facing windows. The sun streams in and there is a good view of the cricket field. 

Copyright © J.Middleton
The Chapel has wooden panelling and is reminiscent of the sort of interior to be found in Norway. The letters above the altar proclaim ‘My Father’s House is a House of Prayer.’ Unusually, the benches face each other. It is probable the plaque on the wall is a war memorial and there is a little vase of flowers on the shelf underneath.

Copyright © J.Middleton
You would expect to find a classic wooden horse and climbing ropes in a gymnasium but the space also doubled as a playroom, hence the billiard table on the right.

Copyright © J.Middleton
Obviously cricket was taken seriously at Cottesmore and the covered cricket court meant that cricketing skills could be practised in all weathers. 

Copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph shows some action on the spacious cricket field. Note the small garden with its bushes kept in topiary-like style.

Copyright © J.Middleton
Physical training was part of the regime and there was a hard court, a squash court and even a shooting range.

Copyright © J.Middleton
Cottesmore had its own swimming pool too. If the standards usual in school swimming pools during the 1930s were followed, it is probable that the water was not changed too often.


1896-1929 Colonel Davison-Brown
1929-1940s Harry S Forster
1946-1971 Michael Rogerson
1971           Mark Rogerson

School colours navy blue and grey

School motto Modus et Ordo 

Rogerson (M) In and Out of School (1989)
Additional information from Michael Rogerson

Copyright © J.Middleton 2012

Dr Morrell's Academy
Judy Middleton
Published originally in Tales of the Old Hove Schools (1991) revised 2012

As this school has often been confused with Hove College, it is important to establish exactly where it was situated. In fact Dr Morell’s occupied a site quite near to Hove College with both schools facing Hove seafront. Dr Morell’s was south-east of Hove Street in a row of houses called the New Terrace in 1738 and later Hove Terrace while Hove College was on the south-west corner of Hove Street. Dr Morell’s was later called Old Hove House and unfortunately was demolished in the 1930s when Kingsway was widened.

Dr Morell was a well-known classical scholar who came to live at Brighton in 1817. He acted as a minister to the Cavendish Street Chapel but he soon left. It seems likely he left because of an argument of some sort because when he held religious services at his new address in Devonshire Place a contemporary writer noted that he was ‘dividing a small congregation’. He also opened a school in Devonshire Place.

But Dr Morell kept on good terms with some erstwhile members of the congregation and when the Society of Protestant Dissenters mooted a plan for a larger church, he was in the thick of it. Indeed his name is on the original title deed. The Prince Regent sold them a piece of land in New Road for £650 and the church was built according to the ideals of Dr Morell who thought it ought to be modelled on the lines of a classical Greek temple. Therefore, Amon Henry Wilds, then just venturing out on his architectural career in Brighton, took his inspiration from the Temple of Theseus in Athens. Dr Morell was appointed the first minister and the first service was held on 20th August 1820. The Unitarian Church (as we know it) still stands but absent from its freize, are the Greek words Dr Morell thought so appropriate. A later minister, perhaps realising that not everybody had enjoyed the benefits of a classical education, feared the inscription might be misunderstood by the man in the street and had it removed.
copyright © J.Middleton
The Unitarian Church in New Road, Brighton.
Dr Morell established his school at Hove in around 1820. A pupil of his in the 1820s wrote of him ‘He was somewhat hasty, occasionally irascible, but had a very kindly heart, large sympathies and in general a pleasant and genial manner’.

It was to Dr Morell’s that young Isambard Kingdom Brunel was sent. It is tantalising we know so little about the great engineer’s time at Hove. But it seems his stay was brief – most probably about a year. He was at Dr Morell’s in 1820 when he was fourteen years old. After that he went to a college in Paris for two years before returning to these shores to join his father in business in 1823.

It is interesting to note that in a similar way to Winston Churchill’s school days in Hove, Brunel’s life was almost cut short. Brunel was described as a ‘clever and erratic young gentleman’ and his party trick was to pretend to swallow a half-sovereign. On one memorable occasion this trick went horribly wrong and the half-sovereign became lodged in his gullet. General panic ensued and the doctor was summoned. Brunel was suspended by his heels, while the anxious surgeon wrestled to remove the offending coin. Fortunately for engineering history, the doctor’s efforts were successful. An old cobbler who had his stall near the school playground used to recount this anecdote with horrid and dramatic embellishments to a fascinated audience of boys. Thus the story became something of a school legend.

Another legend has it that Brunel predicted some newly constructed buildings would not last long and he had the satisfaction of learning the walls had collapsed one night. He also had the foresight to take bets on the outcome.

In 1820 Brunel wrote home to ask his father if he might borrow his long measure (a tape measuring 80 feet) because he wanted to make an exact plan of Hove. Was the plan ever made?

One of Brunel’s interests was constructing model boats in his spare time. At Hove he was able to report back to the folks at home that he had recently made no less than six models. But he had been so enthusiastic in this work that his poor hands were quite raw.

In 1826 Henry Solly arrived at Dr Morell’s. He is important because he was one of the boys who listened to the cobbler’s tales of Brunel and if he had not set down the details in his memoirs, we should not know about them today.

Solly had the advantage of arriving with several contemporaries from Higham Hill School, which had closed down. They looked down on the boys already at Dr Morell’s as rather an effeminate lot because fights were few and far between. But great enjoyment was derived from bolster fights conducted with feather pillows between rival dormitories with the boys clad in their nightshirts. If the noise of battle became loud enough to rouse those in charge, the boys would be punished with having to learn lines of Horace or Virgil.

However, the Higham boys found an outlet for their aggression in the spirited defence of their playground, which was a large grassy area south of the coast road (where the King Alfred stands today). The playground was unfenced and audacious fisher boys and errand lads had to the kept firmly at bay. When the playground was fenced in later on during the 1830s, the old boys viewed the improvement with contempt and considered the pugnacious standards of the school were slipping.

Dr Morell was horrified to discover young Solly, although thirteen years of age, had never been taught mathematics and so he put him to work on Euclid right away. Classics were taught as might be expected and usually a native-born Frenchman taught French. One French master made a great impression on Solly. Major Berchet was Italian by birth and he had fought in the Italian contingent under Napoleon. The gallant major was one of the few to survive the rigours of the Russian campaign and both he and Solly were ardent fans of Napoleon. Before he left the school, Solly presented the major with a fine engraving of their hero.

A splendid custom was that each of the older boys in turn was obliged to recite some poetry by heart after dinner, and before the boys left the dining room. Solly himself made his selections from a favourite book entitled Beauties of Byron. But one boy blessed with a prodigious memory kept them sitting there for half an hour while he declaimed at length.

It was not hard work all the time at Dr Morell’s. In the summer there were visits to Devil’s Dyke or Fulking, while one visit to Shoreham Harbour remained vividly in Solly’s memory. This was because he could not resist climbing up the rigging of a ship anchored there. He had reached as far as the mainmast shrouds and was admiring the view when he became aware of a young sailor lad swarming up the rigging after him. Then Solly scrambled down as fast as he could with the lad in hot pursuit. In the rush, one of Solly’s shoes dropped off into the water. On dry ground once more, he had to consider how he was going to walk back to Hove with only one shoe. But a curious Newfoundland dog had caught sight of the shoe floating about and had jumped in to retrieve it.

On another occasion boys went to cut gorse on the Downs to put on their 5th November bonfire. But Dr Morell would not allow them to light it on the correct day, nor would he let them make an effigy of Guy Fawkes. The good doctor was a liberal Nonconformist and he did not wish to do anything to stir up religious bigotry, especially since Roman Catholic emancipation was being pressed in Parliament and he was fully in favour of it. When the boys did get to light their bonfire, it was a splendid sight and a tar barrel had been purchased to assist in the proceedings. Unhappily, the event came to a premature end when a hoard of roughnecks from the neighbourhood invaded the ground, flinging blazing brands around and rolling the blazing tar barrel over the grass.

Most of the boys were Nonconformist and attended services at the Unitarian Church in New Road, Brighton on Sundays. One young master found the services on the tedious side and so he had a copy of Shakespeare specially bound to resemble a prayer book with which he happily occupied his time in church.    

At the close of term, Solly and his companions boarded the Brighton to London stagecoach for a journey lasting some six hours (the railway did not arrive until 1841). The boys amused themselves by shooting off dried peas through their pea-shooters into the faces of startled passers-by. One solid Sussex carter was so enraged at this treatment that he heaved a large flint at them that left a deep hole in the roof. The exasperated coachman pulled up and made the boys put away their pea-shooters for the remainder of the journey.

In view of the numerous fights, it is perhaps surprising to learn Henry Solly later took Holy Orders – his version of muscular Christianity perhaps. Two cousins of his were also contemporaries at Dr Morell’s. Thomas Solly became a professor at the University of Berlin and tutor to the Crown Prince. Another distinguished Old Boy was CP Scott of the Manchester Guardian.

Dr Morell retired from the school and the Unitarian Church in 1827 and after a brief spell with Mr Wallace at the helm, the school passed into the care of the Revd JP Malleson – by this time the school was known as Hove House School. Both of these gentlemen were also pastors at the Unitarian church but the Revd JP Malleson enjoyed a national reputation. On 6th July 1854 he celebrated his 25th anniversary as headmaster and he was held in such high regard he was presented with a silver tea service, not to mention a purse containing 400 sovereigns. He combined the roles of headmaster and minister for 31 years before retiring in 1860.

The next headmaster was the Revd JH Hutton while another clergyman, the Revd Robert Ainslie, took over the pulpit at the Unitarian church.

The school lasted until 1875 and then there is a somewhat grey area in which Hove House School and Hove College seemed to merge. It is a fact that in times gone by Old Boys from Hove College recollected the playing field by the sea, which on maps was marked as being opposite Hove House while according to later Directories Hove College occupied Cliff House as well as a house in Hove Terrace.

Hove House School had a last flutter as a college for ladies but probably not using that name. Miss Meredith ran this establishment from 1877 to 1881 and then Miss Johnstone was at the helm from 1882 to 1884.


1820-1827 Dr Morell
1827-1829 Mr Wallace
1829-1860 Revd JP Malleson
1860-1875 Revd JH Hutton


Middleton (J) History of Hove (1979)
Rowland (J) The Story of the Brighton Unitarian Church (1972)
Solly (I) These Eighty Years (1893)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2012
Ellen Street Schools

Judy Middleton 2002 (revised 2016)

 copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
Thomas Simpson (1825-1908) was a busy architect who designed no less than thirteen schools in Brighton and two in Hove at Ellen Street and Connaught Road. This photograph shows the handsome edifice of Ellen Street Schools.
Building the Schools

A competition was staged for the honour of designing the Ellen Street Schools and the winner’s plan was published in Building News (7 December 1877). Thomas Simpson of 16 Ship Street, Brighton and Frederick W. Roper of 9 Adelphi Street, London were the successful architects. An additional note appears on the side of the plan ‘it is possible that in order to comply with requirements of the Local Government Board as to heights of buildings in new streets, the rooms may have to be reduced to 15 feet and 16 feet in height respectively instead of 16 feet and 17 feet as figured.’

The design was in grand Queen Anne style and the long building was enhanced by four gable-surmounted projections containing two windows; at either end there was a more elaborately decorated projection over arched doorways. There was a cupola in the centre, tall chimneys and decorative ridge tiles.

The walls were constructed of picked stock brick, red brick was used for gables and groins and moulded red brick was used for cornices, string-courses and panels. There were brown tiles on the roof and the turret of oak was covered with lead. The building was set back ten feet from the street line and there were wrought iron railings along the frontage. Hook & Oldrey were the builders.

The lavatories were situated outdoors in three separate blocks for boys, girls and infants and each block was reached through a covered way.

Ellen Street Schools were designed to accommodate 400 infants, 250 girls and 150 boys. The site cost £1,560 and construction and fitting-up costs came to between £6,000 and £8,000

Schools Opened

Ellen Street Schools opened their doors on 12 October 1879. It was the first school to be erected under the auspices of the Hove School Board, which was formed in 1877.

At this juncture education was not free and parents had to fork out three pence a week for boys or girls and two pence a week for an infant. Although this sounds a paltry sum, many men were earning very little and every penny counted in the household budget.

In 1880 Her Majesty’s Inspector for Schools pronounced the new building to be excellent.

Girls’ School

When the Girls’ School opened the staff were as follows:

Mrs Maria Callingham Cathrick, head
Sarah Wilmer, first assistant
Julia McGregor Blunt, second assistant
Agnes Maria Cathrick, fifth year pupil teacher
Alice Hollamby, second year pupil teacher
Mary C. Wilkes, third year candidate

Miss Blunt left to join the infants’ department in the same year

The school photographer called remarkably early, his first visit being recorded on 12 July 1881.

The school was closed for four weeks in September 1881 because of an outbreak of smallpox and there was a second outbreak in November of the same year.

On 22 September 1884 two girls were sent home; one was suffering from ringworm while the other had ‘a loathsome eruption almost covering the face’.

In October 1890 only 150 girls out of 240 on the books were present at school because of the prevalence of measles and whooping cough.

In October 1885 some 69 girls were absent from class and enquiries were put in hand to ascertain the reason. It was found that some families had moved away without informing the authorities while other girls were required to help out at home; one girl was found to be serving in a shop and two girls were just playing in the street because their mothers were out. The remainder were suffering from ringworm, scurvy, mumps, measles, ophthalmia and colds.

The school was closed from 9 July to 25 September 1898 because of diphtheria and there was a further closure from 1 July to 3 September 1899 because of scarlet fever.

Of course it was always an occupational hazard that a teacher might become infected by one of these diseases and in 1905 Miss Hannah, who became head in 1894, became such a victim. She was carted off to the sanatorium with scarlet fever and was absent from school for six weeks

Other Reasons for Absence

In 1886 it was recorded that some girls were away for five weeks to go hop picking. But sometimes the head sanctioned closure because of outside events. These included the following:

21 July 1881 – School closed for the afternoon because the Prince and Princess of Wales were visiting Hove.
4 September 1881 – School attendance affected by Hove Regatta.
1884- School closed because of Hove Regatta,
3 November 1882 – School closed because ‘Egyptian troops’ were parading at Brighton.
12 April 1883 – School attendance was poor due to the presence of the Salvation Army in the neighbourhood. (In those days the Salvation Army was a controversial organisation and opponents often caused riots. By 1889 several children at Ellen Street Schools were ‘soldiers’).
13 September 1883 – School attendance low because a travelling circus was camped in a field close at hand.

Sad Circumstances

The Log Book contains some sad details about some of the girls. For example, on 29 May 1904 there was concern for Lily Austen and Elsie Owen:

‘The former has been looking very ill again lately. She was re-admitted here after her discharge from the Consumptive Hospital at Hampstead in October 1902. Knowing her to be a delicate child, special attention has been given to her, but I am doubtful of her fitness for school in her present state. The other child Elsie Owen is, according to her mother’s statement, suffering from consumption of the bone. Since hearing that, I have permitted her to lie flat on a form during oral lessons.’

In 1906 Lily was absent from school for nine months.

Then there were Dorothy and Doris Cullen who were absent from school because of dirty heads in 1904. The NSPCC asked Miss Hannah to give evidence in court because their mother was being summoned for neglect.

In 1907 Agnes Ellen Greenland Newman, aged 12, became a pupil at the school. According to her foster mother Agnes had a growth on her brain and was the last survivor of her family who had all died from consumption or epilepsy.

These examples were by no means the only delicate girls at school but by 1908 proper medical attention identified such cases earlier on. It is sobering to note that out of fifteen infants examined in May 1908, thirteen were found to be in need of medical attention. In June 1908 the doctor ordered nineteen children to do special breathing exercises, which they performed daily in the playground under the supervision of the head.

Fortunately, there were some robust children too. In 1901 Lily Maynard received a prize for full school attendance for six years in succession.


Strict discipline was enforced by liberal use of the cane and recorded as follows:

18 November 1881 Ellen Hunt received three or four light strokes on the hand for disobedience and insolence.
16 March 1882 – Jane Green received one stroke on each hand for damaging school furniture.
Emily Lenton was caned five times between 1882 and 1883.
17 December 1882 Margaret Redman received one slap and one stroke for trying to argue rather than obey. She ran home to tell her mother and Mrs Redman came storming up and ‘disturbed the whole School with her noisy, foul language’.

Court Cases

On 9 March 1893 Miss Hannah had to punish Mabel Smith for rudeness and obstinacy. Mabel was supposed to receive two strokes on her hand but she displayed such defiance that Miss Hannah felt obliged to cane her arms, reasoning with the girl as she did so. Her outraged mother then had a summons issued against the headmistress who had to appear before Hove Magistrates. But the summons was dismissed and the magistrates expressed complete confidence in Miss Hannah’s ability.
illustration from the Brighton Season Magazine of 1907
Baron de Worms
It seems Miss Hannah had not learnt her lesson because another summons was issued two years later. Another teacher had asked her to cane Clarissa Comber for idleness, disobedience and rebellious conduct on 28 November 1895. When Clarissa refused to extend her hand when asked, Miss Hannah rapped her four or five times on the upper arm instead. Clarissa eventually put out her hand and Miss Hannah gave her one rap too.

Clarissa’s mother lost no time in showing her daughter’s injuries to a policeman. Baron de Worms also saw the marks and considered the punishment was excessive. When Miss Hannah appeared before Hove Magistrates it was Baron de Worms who presided over the court and this time she was convicted of assault and fined £1. This conviction was despite the evidence of two teachers who were present in the room at the time of the caning and the medical evidence was that the caning was moderate.

Miss Hannah was so shocked at the outcome that she went home sick. On 11 December 1895 she wrote in the Log Book ‘I resumed duty yesterday after a week’s prostration at the extraordinary result of the summons.’ Other teachers in the district were sympathetic towards her ordeal and rallied around to pay her expenses.

Happier Events

copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
This nostalgic photograph shows the staff at Ellen Street Girls’ School c. 1900. Alice Botton, pupil teacher, stand in the middle of the back row.

Miss Hannah had a gentler side to her character too. In 1893 she encouraged girls to join the Children’s National Guild of Courtesy whose rules were read out to members every week. In 1893 some 63 girls joined, by 1895 there were 206 members and the number had risen to 252 by 1900. There was a monthly magazine costing a halfpenny. Three girls appointed as officers were given a medal to wear around their necks; after one year the medal became their own property.

May Day was celebrated at Ellen Street Schools. In 1904 Rose Norris was elected as May Queen and Queen of Courtesy for a year. She received a silver medal and was crowned with roses. Classrooms were decorated with numerous garlands, daisy and bluebell chains and branches. Miss Hannah recited from Tennyson’s May Queen. In 1908 the celebrations were somewhat marred by a scarcity of flowers caused by a bad weather. In 1914 it was recorded that the school received a quantity of cowslips from school children in Somerset.


There was a great deal of poverty around Ellen Street and in November 1884 experimental penny dinners were introduced. Around twelve of the older girls came to school before 9 a.m. to prepare the ingredients for Irish stew and later in the month some 62 dinners were served, consisting of pea soup and suet pudding with treacle.

By December 1884 some 121 dinners were sold, mostly plum puddings but soup too. Hove School Board agreed to sanction the penny dinners three times a week and the experiment continued the following year bolstered with cash donations from sympathetic ladies.

By November 1885 Mrs Watts was responsible for cooking the dinners of soup and pudding – in that month boiled current pudding was on offer. 

In 1886 the penny dinners were abandoned for a while because it was felt that distress in the area had eased but by November 1887 brown bread and lentil soup was on offer.

While on the subject of food, it is fascinating to note names of some of the dishes created during cookery classes in the school kitchen during 1891 and 1892 but unfortunately no recipes were recorded. The names were as follows:

Poor Man’s Goose
Wakefield Pudding
Velvet Soup
Aunt Sarah’s Pudding
Rizine Pudding
Homing Pudding
Wyvern Pudding
Steamed Canary Pudding with Lemon Sauce

On 8 December 1886 cookery lessons were cancelled for the day because the kitchen had to be used to dry off boots and aprons after girls were caught in a storm of wind and rain on their way to school.


On 21 September 1885 the head remarked on the destitute condition of two girls, Louise and Mary Maddocks, while in April 1887 Eliza Sharpe was noted as being weak through under-feeding and wretched home conditions.

In April 1888 Minnie Reynolds could not come to school because she had no boots to wear. Colonel Baines, who was a member of Hove School Board and a Special Visitor, authorised Miss Hannah to buy the girl a new pair of boots.

In February 1889 Fanny Loughton returned to school after eight weeks of illness and she was allowed to sit near the fire because the toes were out of her boots. Colonel Baines at once provided the 3/6d needed to buy her a new pair and she walked home in them. Naturally enough, the school felt deep regret when Colonel Baines died in March 1889.

By January 1889 new boots were being awarded for good conduct.

Some unfortunate girls were in and out of the Workhouse, which meant that their families were truly destitute. In December 1887 Louisa and Kate Garbutt left the Workhouse for the second time, while in September 1888 Kate Jasper was living inside the Workhouse.

In March 1887 several girls were unable to attend to their needlework because of painful chilblains on their hands.


In the midst of all this poverty there were a few bright spots. Mrs Henriques, her daughter, some teachers and other concerned ladies provided treats for the girls. In December 1884 they provided a well-decorated Christmas tree besides distributing oranges, cakes and bonbons.

In December 1885 Mrs Henriques and her daughter helped to distribute gifts from the Christmas tree to the girls. This was no mean task because there were 190 girls on the books.

In December 1886 parents were invited to come inside and admire the Christmas tree.

Other Schools

In 1884 the head was disappointed when 53 girls left to attend the new school in Connaught Road. Some of them were amongst the best in work and attendance.

In September 1889 several girls left to attend the Roman Catholic School in Haddington Street. Finance might have had something to do with it because the fee at Haddington Street was only one penny whereas at Ellen Street it was two pence. In 1891 school fees were abolished.

In 1893 around 100 girls were transferred to the new school in Holland Road (later known as Davigdor Road School). But this was to do with catchment areas rather than the girls deserting en masse.


copyright © Robert Jeeves / Step Back in Time.
In this photograph of Ellen Street the charming cupola on top of Ellen Street Schools can be seen.

In 1886 Her Majesty’s Inspector for Schools commented that while Miss Hannah had worked diligently, he was of the opinion that considering the class of children attending Ellen Street, it would be better to concentrate on core subjects rather than attempt too wide a curriculum. She took his advice and the following year he reported a great improvement throughout the whole school.

In April 1891 Miss Hannah visited some schools in London where the ‘phonic system of teaching reading is practised’. In July 1891 the Jackson system of teaching writing was introduced at Ellen Street.

On 2 May 1891 children from Ellen Street took part in the grand procession to mark the opening of Hove Recreation Ground. They were accompanied by their teachers: Miss Hannah, Mrs Redish, Mrs Gibbins, Miss Wilmer, Miss Cracklow and Mrs Moore.

In 1900 the school was functioning with some difficulty because a new central hall was being built. There was scaffolding about, planks and piles of rubbish at the school while clouds of dust invaded the classrooms. It was all too much for Miss Hannah who went off sick with nervous exhaustion. 

In 1904 the HMI reported on the Girls’ School ‘Routine work of the classes is most efficiently controlled and directed by Miss Hannah. Discipline is excellent and instruction quite satisfactory.’

In 1905 the HMI noted that the Girls’ School had suffered a great deal from staff changes and ‘at present their mental alertness is not very conspicuous’ – presumably he meant the children.

In November 1909 a circular was despatched to every head teacher of Hove schools requesting that the School Medical Officer should be informed if any of the children appeared to be underfed. As a result of this directive around 30 children from the Ellen Street Girls’ School and Infants’ School were found to be suffering from malnutrition.

Boys’ School

The Hove Gazette (7 May 1898) recorded that some time ago the teachers at the Ellen Street Boys’ School had clubbed together to buy several pairs if football boots for the boys and now they had been rewarded by the school team winning the cup from St Paul’s School, Brighton.

The HMI report for 1904 had this to say about the Boys’ School. ‘The work of the classes is going on quite efficiently and discipline is very good; but a numerical strengthening of the staff is expedient, so that the headmaster may have more freedom for general supervision of class work throughout the whole school.’

But he did notice the walls were very dirty and the same with the Girls’ School while the central hall was inefficiently heated and he had found that at 10.15 a.m. the temperature was only 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

In 1904 the average attendance in the Boys’ and Girls’ schools was 499 whereas there was only supposed to be enough space for 479 pupils.

In 1905 the HMI was more guarded in his praises. He considered that although elementary subjects were well taught, teaching in other subjects failed to hold the attention of the scholars.

Great War

In January 1915 instructions were issued on air raid precautions. The most important point was ‘to remove children from the neighbourhood of windows’. In the event of damage to the building, the children would be marched outside in the same way as for a fire drill. Should a bombardment from the sea occur, the children must lie flat on the ground.

In April 1915 the Army took over Portland Road Schools and turned the buildings into a military hospital. The result was that the schoolchildren were displaced and had to attend Ellen Street Schools instead. To cope with the rise in numbers, a double shift system was put into operation resulting in the Ellen Street children receiving lessons in the morning and the Portland Road children being taught in the afternoon. To ensure fairness the system was alternated every four weeks or so.


On 1 April 1927 the separate departments of the schools amalgamated and the establishment became Ellen Street Mixed School.

In September 1929 the boys and girls were again separated to become East Hove Junior School for Girls and East Hove Junior School for Boys.

In 1931 Sydney Smith became assistant head and head three years later. On 3 September 1934 the separate schools were again amalgamated and became East Hove Junior Mixed School. Sydney remained head until 1957 when he retired; he died the following year.

Second World War

In the Spring of 1943 there was a daylight raid with no alert beforehand. When the children heard the noise of aircraft and bombs falling, they had to dive under their desks. The bomb fell on 6 Goldstone Street, which fortunately was empty at the time. But the blast caused plaster from the ceilings at Ellen Street to fall on the children.

Last Days

In 1952 the school was ready to be condemned and by 1953 conditions were described as appalling. By 1958 the school had been re-named Goldstone Junior School and in the 1960s there were over 500 pupils.

By 1964 people were becoming frustrated at the delay in knocking down the old building and erecting a new one. Apparently, a site had been available since 1953 but each year the Minister of Education had deleted the re-building scheme from his estimates and for years the Government had concentrated on secondary schools.

In June 1964 Robert Gunnell, chairman of Goldstone Junior School, led a deputation to lobby Hove’s MP Anthony Marlowe. In 1965 Hove Education Committee requested East Sussex County Council Education Committee to treat plans for a new school building as a top priority. Meanwhile, all around the school, houses were being demolished as part of the Conway Street re-development plan. The 1960s was the heyday in the belief that the way forward lay in high-rise blocks of flats rather than in modest terraced housing. Many years later it was realised that such ideas were a big mistake and many Victorian houses were perfectly sound and just needed updating.

Some of the demolition work was done during August 1964 in order not to disrupt lessons. But sometimes events did go as planned. In July 1965 parents waiting to collect their children were suddenly showered with dust when workmen demolished a wall opposite the school half an hour too early.

Finally, in January 1972 plans were released and the old Ellen Street premises finally closed in July 1974. The closure meant that the children were split up because some went to the new Goldstone Junior School and others to Somerhill Junior School, both officially opened in 1975.

Heads – Boys

1879 – Peter Anscombe
1919 – R. Redish
1927 – W. Hayward

Heads – Girls

1879 – Miss Maria Callingham Cathrick
1894 – Miss Sarah J. Hannah
1919 – Miss Pullings
1927 – Miss A.E. Demberling
1932 – Miss M.H. Atkinson

Heads – Infants

1897 – Miss Hammond
1904 – Miss Scivyer
1927 – Miss Dovey

Heads – East Hove Junior Mixed

1934-1957 – Sydney Smith
1958 – H. W. Mugridge


Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade

The Keep

R/E5/1/25 – Ellen Street Schools 1877 article in Building News
R/E5/1/26 – Ellen Street Schools 1877-1895, six plans
ESC 102/1/1 – Ellen Street Girls’ School Log Book October 1879 to November 1907
ESC 102/1/2 – Ellen Street Girls’ School Log Book 1907 to 1929

Thanks are due to Robert Jeeves of Step Back in Time, 36 Queen’s Road, Brighton for allowing the reproduction of one of his photographs.

Copyright © J.Middleton 2016

Farman Street Schools
Judy Middleton (2001 revised 2012)

The Revd Thomas Rooper of Wick Hill founded the first National School at Hove in 1834 and for six years it was entirely supported by him with occasional contributions from friends. By 1840 the number of children in attendance had increased so much the rented rooms were insufficient and a new school building was projected.
The contract for building the school on the east side of Farman Street was drawn up between the Revd Walter Kelly (vicar of St Andrew’s Old Church) Thomas Wisden (builder) and Robert Upperton (honorary secretary). James Charnock Simpson was the architect. The building cost £500, fittings cost £40 and there was £160 to be paid for ground rent. Over half the money came from local subscriptions, the rest came from the National Society who stipulated the Master and Mistress must be Church of England.
The wood used was Baltic fir and English oak while the roof was of best Bangor slates, each fastened with two copper nails. The paintwork was given four coats of good oil colour, and the two front doors (one for boys and one for girls) were grained in imitation of wainscot and varnished. The building was designed to hold 100 boys and 100 girls with the estimated amount of space allowed for each child calculated at 9 ¼ square feet.

The new school opened on 25th November 1840. In the Post Office Directory 1855 the names James Parson as Master and Rhoda Buckwell as Mistress are recorded. It would be interesting to know if they were still there in 1847 when Her Majesty’s Inspector for Schools wrote acidly that it was doubtful ‘whether Master or Mistress have sufficient natural intelligence or training for their post’.
As many of the children lived in poor circumstances there was a clothing fund (later called Hove Clothing Club) to help them to be decently clad for school. In the early days donations came from people such as the Revd Walter Kelly, Lady Westphal and Copley Fielding, the noted water-colourist. In 1841 some 150 children were helped and in 1845 £39-2s was expended on 139 boys and £27 on 96 girls. In November 1870 Clothing Club money amounted to £42-18-10d, most of it being tied up in vouchers that had to be exchanged at Hannington’s Stores. In 1877 an astonishing 731 children were assisted.
However, to administer the fund meant using one of the schoolrooms with the consequent loss of lessons to the scholaes. In January 1863 some 17 boys with the best attendance record were rewarded with surplus Clothing Club money.

Another worthy local club was the Blanket Lending Society, which loaned out blankets for the winter months. The 1st May was taken as a holiday because the Farman Street boys had to return all the blankets to the George Street Schools (called then the West Hove National Schools).
There was a thriving Coal Club as well but this too required the use of a classroom. For instance on 17th November 1863 boys finished their lessons at 10.30am so that the Coal Club could use the premises. The Coal Club was run by philanthropic ladies of the parish, such as Miss Gore in 1866, whose wealthy family lived at 26 Brunswick Square. In 1869 there were some complaints of boys being unduly noisy at the Coal Club. But when William Hamilton, headmaster, looked into the matter, he discovered the boys paying in their money had been made to wait until all the adults had been attended to, even if the boys had been waiting for ages. There were only a couple of Farman Street boys present at the time, the other children having come from Cliftonville and various parts of Brighton.
The Revd TR Rooper continued to take an active part in school life and Bible teaching was not his sole preoccupation. In December 1862 he brought along his copy of Murphy’s Tacitus for the boys to copy a map of the ancient world. Boys who drew the best four maps were rewarded with prizes of 1/-, 9d, 6d and 3d. A month later he examined a class on their knowledge of Roman History. In January 1863 he arranged for a magic lantern show, which highly amused and delighted the boys, and probably such adults as were present too.

Rooper liked to distribute buns and oranges to the boys. This seemed to be a favourite treat and Rooper announced that all who attended Sunday School regularly, would receive a bun and an orange after Sunday service. In January 1863 Rooper showed the boys an elephant beetle from South America while in May he was teaching English Grammar and in June he lectured on Captain Cook and the sun. His religious lectures in 1863 covered Isaiah, Micah, Joel, Nahum, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zachariah, Malachi and the Parables; perhaps with a touch of self-interest, he donated money to the school for the purchase of 45 copies of his own work Treatise on the Acts of the Holy Apostles.
In September 1863 Rooper informed the headmaster that because of advanced age he would give up all connection with the school. On Christmas Eve the same year Rooper did officially retire due to loss of eyesight and hearing. The children presented him with a walnut wood executive filled with pens and paper as a small token of their appreciation. But obviously he missed the youngsters too much to stay idle at home and the following year finds him back in the saddle lecturing on animals such as the beaver and the bear and also about antediluvian animals as well. Rooper died at Wick Hill on 7th April 1865 aged 85. As the headmaster noted in the Log, Rooper ‘had taken an active part in school life for 30 years’. Rooper was buried in the churchyard of St Andrew’s Old Church and the headmaster attended the funeral. The Rooper family continued to maintain an interest in the school and Mrs Rooper paid the school pence for some boys whose families were too poor to be able to afford it. In 1867 she presented the school with a copy of Educational Maps for Schoolmasters and in 1870 she requested the school to give a day’s holiday on 15th October to celebrate her grand-daughter’s wedding.

Rooper was not the only clergyman to visit the school although when the Revd H Elwell, curate, came to take Scripture class on 1st August 1871 he could not bear to stay long because the WC was blocked and ‘the stench was very great’. The Revd Walter Kelly was a frequent visitor and sometimes taught arithmetic. In September 1863 two pupil teachers left, having completed their apprenticeship. The following month Kelly observed that the school seemed to be managing better without the pupil teachers than with them. It was not surprising he felt this way because three months earlier he had been obliged to take down the names of all boys wanting to take part in the annual school treat; a pupil teacher had been asked to perform this task but had not done so. In July 1866 Kelly wished the children to practise singing God Bless the Prince of Wales and God Save the Queen. In January 1867 Kelly asked the head to give one penny to each boy in attendance that afternoon.
The Diocesan Inspector was suitably impressed with the boys’ knowledge of Scripture and in February 1873 he wrote ‘too much cannot be said in praise of the excellent manner in which Religious Teaching is conducted in the school’.

On 19th June 1858 William Hamilton (certificated master, 1st class) took charge of the boys’ school. His wife’s name was Louisa Charlotte and during their time at Farman Street School, they had seven children, William, Arthur, Walter, John, Charles, Alfred and Edith Emily. It seems the family might have occupied lodgings in Waterloo Street at first but by 1868 they were at 9 Hamilton Road, Brighton. Hamilton was well regarded by his pupils and the HMI applauded his efforts. In September 1867 the Inspector wrote that the school ‘was conducted with care and industry with good results’ and in October 1868 that Hamilton was ‘a conscientious teacher with ability and integrity’.
In November 1868 Hamilton instituted a night school that ran for two hours in the evening at a cost of 3d per week. By the following January some fourteen boys had enrolled and were studying writing, arithmetic, reading and dictation. In October 1869 the Inspector decided there would be no future grant for night school unless boys attended 24 times and were properly examined like daytime scholars. In January 1869 Hamilton was presented with a time-piece in an alabaster case with an inscribed silver plate ‘Presented by the Pupils of the East Hove National Boys’ School to William Hamilton’. In August 1869 Hamilton accompanied seventeen boys to see the exhibition at Crystal Palace; most of them had been saving a penny a week at school for the trip since April. The school was left in the hands of pupil teachers and Hamilton’s sister-in-law, a trained teacher.

But the relationship between Hamilton and his colleagues and managers does not appear to have been cordial. In January 1868 he wrote a letter to each member of the education committee outlining that he had served for ten years and pointing out the high price of provisions, the dearness of house accommodation and how workmen’s wages had risen everywhere. Presumably he had already written once for he stated ‘I had some right to expect a different result to my application’. The committee was evidently not in any hurry and it was to be twelve months before they voted Hamilton a gratuity of £10. In 1864 the headmaster’s pay was made up of £40 from the school committee, all the children’s pence, and the residue of the Government grant after paying the pupil teacher and deducting £10. The number of scholars and the quality of their education were deciding factors in the size of the Government grant. It was therefore in the head’s interest to have as many names on the school register as possible.
In January 1868 there was an argument between Hamilton and Miss Clayton of the nearby Infant School. He stated that during a twelve-month period, only seven children had been sent on to Farman Street and that each child kept on at the Infants cost Farman Street School twelve shillings. Miss Clayton retorted that her school had never been a feeder for Farman Street, and besides the greater part of her school was composed of infants under the age of six. When the Revd Walter Kelly examined the school admission register for Farman Street in October 1868, he was angry when he found some scholars listed who were below the age of six. Hamilton replied it would not have happened if the Infant School stuck to the rules. In April 1869 when Kelly examined the register again, he found one boy aged five and other boys whose age had not been filled in. This time there was no excuse and Hamilton was obliged to send the five-year old along to the Infants.

In February 1874 the Inspector made a surprise visit and found that five scholars marked as present were in fact absent. In September of that year he issued a stern warning that if there was any reason in the future to doubt the accuracy of the registers, the entire school grant might be forfeited and the head’s certificate cancelled.
It may be that these incidents led up to Hamilton’s departure. His contract expired in August 1876 and it was not renewed. It is perhaps significant the pupil teachers and scholars presented him with two books but there is no mention of the vicar or the school managers and the books were all he received after eighteen years of hard work. There is an enigmatic note in the Log for September 1877 when the Inspector wanted the managers to specify without delay the cause of their dissatisfaction with Mr Hamilton. William Hamilton survived until 1919 when he died at the age of 83 but his wife had predeceased him in 1910.
As was usual in small schools at the time, the head relied on the services of pupil teachers. But two of Hamilton’s were prone to violence and Hamilton did not come down too heavily on this behaviour probably because prevailing culture was lenient towards the chastisement of children. In March 1864 George Matley, a pupil teacher in his fourth year, contrary to orders ‘knocked down boy Mascall and boxed Gregory’s ears in the class-room’. Neither was he possessed of much teaching prowess; just a day later in the Log there was this entry ‘George Matley at his old and oft repeated trick of scribbling on paper in the class-room. His whole manner of teaching has of late been very loose and slovenly’. Probably the head was relieved when Matley’s apprenticeship expired in September of that year.

But Parker Anscombe was a far more violent pupil teacher. He started at the school in August 1867 and his name first occurs in the Log in December 1868 when he hit a boy in class. Fellow pupil Charles Davis said ‘If you hit me like that I would hit you over the head with my slate’. Whereupon Anscombe hit Davis too, and Davis was as good as his word, smashing his slate over Anscombe’s head. Hamilton reprimanded them both. In February and March 1869 Anscombe was still being aggressive; he punched one boy so hard in the stomach he was sick, and he clipped another boy around the ear, causing him pain. In April 1869 Anscombe hit John Bond in class and made him cry. Bond did not return to school and after two days Hamilton sent to enquire the reason. Bond’s mother said she would not send her son back to school because Anscombe was always knocking him about. Hamilton sent Anscombe round to the Bond’s house to apologise but the family had moved. It appears Hamilton had warned Anscombe several times about his unacceptable behaviour but it had no effect at all. In June 1869 after W Reynolds made an offensive remark, Anscombe lashed out and gave the boy a bloody nose, before knocking him over a form and hitting him again. Only then did Hamilton threaten to cancel Anscombe’s indentures. The following month Anscombe was in trouble again with another blow to a boy’s head but still he continued until 1872 when he had completed five years as a pupil teacher. He left in December to go to Chelsea and sit for a Queen’s scholarship. Hamilton even took the trouble to get up a testimonial on his behalf, which took the form of a handsome writing desk and four beautiful books. Ironically, Anscombe came top in a Diocesan Scripture examination.

Hamilton had relied heavily on Anscombe during his last year as in 1872 the school was run by just the two of them plus three monitors. Another pupil teacher, James Thorn, started in January 1870 and he lodged with the Hamiltons. The Log records he was aged fourteen, 5 feet 6 inches in height, and came from Ilminster. But by September 1871 he had left for Chard. The rate of pay for pupil teachers as recorded in 1864 was £10 for the first year, £12-10s for the second, £15 for the third, £17-10s for the fourth and £20 for the fifth year. In the early years the school had extra help in teaching from various clergymen but other help was accepted too. In February 1863 a Mrs Charles Pym called in and expressed a wish to take a class occasionally, and there she was three days later taking a lesson based on the Acts of the Apostles.
By contrast to pupil teachers, the boys were well behaved. On only two occasions between 1858 and 1876 was a boy punished for bad behaviour and both incidents involved hair pulling. When there was violence, it turned out to be accidental. In September 1868 a boy called Hazelgrove was eating his dinner and he had with him a small open knife to cut his bread. Young Edwin, not looking where he was going, ran up against him and received a cut in the face. Quite often a mild punishment in the form of writing lines was handed down. For instance, in October 1867 James Daly would persist in playing in front of the school after school hours and Hamilton kept him back after school and made him write ‘I must go away’ 50 times on his slate. His mother was furious at her son being kept in late but his father thought the head’s action was justified.
William Hollamby, kept behind to learn a Collect and Gospel reading as a punishment for being idle and stubborn, had a father with the same name who was a well-respected and notable figure at Hove. Hamilton would not tolerate bad behaviour by the boys and in November 1863 he declared the first boy caught teasing the girls or saying rude words to them, would be publicly expelled.

After Hamilton left, it appeared misdemeanours among the boys increased rapidly. For instance, in 1879 punishment was meted out for the following acts – putting ink on another boy’s face, hitting other children, spitting, singing, throwing a pea around the room, chewing paper and throwing that around the room, being noisy, playing truant, sticking a pencil up a boy’s nose and taking a (spinning) top from a small boy.
It was a struggle for some parents to find the money to send their children to school. After the Hove School Board took charge in 1878, the school fee for both boys and girls was 3d a week from 30th June. But on 1st July several children turned up clutching their tuppence with a message from their parents explaining they could not afford more.

In January 1868 Mrs Bird’s husband was unemployed and they could not afford 3d a week for young Frederick to attend. Mrs Bird applied to the head for assistance and a Mrs Fitzpatrick of 10 Clifton Terrace agreed to pay the school pence. In May 1870 Hamilton noted in the Log ‘During the past few weeks the average attendance has been very low, caused partly by sickness, partly by the poverty of parents who eagerly embrace every opportunity for their children to gain a few pence’. In 1891 school fees were abolished.
Also in May 1870 the Revd W Adcock asked the head to recommend the name of the most deserving poor person so that he might give him some old clothes. Hamilton suggested William Giles of 9 Lower Market Street, father of Alfred and Arthur, as a deserving case. In July 1872 it was noted that Sidney Bird would attend school irregularly because he sold copies of the Daily News every morning. But the scholars rallied round when tragedy struck. In January 1864 young Charles Constable was killed whilst out sliding and around 50 boys and girls attended his funeral. They also collected £2-18-3d for the bereaved parents. Mrs Jones, mother of one of the boys, died in June 1869. The scholars collected £1-8-8d towards her funeral expenses for which Mr Jones was very grateful.

In comparison to some local schools, sickness was not often mentioned in the Log. However, young John was told not to return to school until the sick person in his house had recovered from smallpox. In February 1871 Cornelius Crowhurst was sent home because the head had been told his brother was suffering from smallpox. But Cornelius returned to school in the afternoon with a note explaining his brother did not have smallpox but was ill with consumption in a rapid form. Presumably the spectre of tuberculosis did not concern Hamilton so much as smallpox. Hamilton took the precaution of examining the boys’ arms to ascertain if they had been vaccinated against smallpox. He found seven boys had never had it done while another seven had not been vaccinated properly.
On a more cheerful note there were several special occasions to enjoy as well as the eagerly anticipated school treat. On 10th March 1863 the entire school population of Hove (numbering around 800 children) were entertained to dinner to celebrate the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra. The meal was served in a large barn belonging to a nearby farm whose farm buildings were situated in what is now Wilbury Road.

Many of the red-letter days were connected with royal events or church occasions. On 9th November 1863 the boys left school at 10.30 am in order to witness the Volunteer Artillery fire a royal salute to celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Wales. Hamilton celebrated Queen Victoria’s birthday on 24th May 1866 by taking the boys on an excursion to the copse where they played various games and enjoyed themselves very much.
On 27th 1872 the boys attended a thanksgiving service in church for the recovery of the Prince of Wales from serious illness. Afterwards they returned to school where they were given oranges, buns and sweetmeats. The children were given a holiday when the foundation stone of Holy Trinity Church was laid on 10th April 1863; they would have watched the grand procession and consecration on 15th June 1864 but it poured with rain and they remained at school but they still received their free buns as promised.
The children were given a half-holiday on 19th August 1863 to watch Brighton Regatta and on 1st October 1867 when the lifeboat Robert Raikes was launched. Although the visit of the Inspector was a somewhat sombre occasion, at least the following day the head dished out plenty of apples and nuts.

The annual school treat was always a great day. On 27th July 1864 all the children of the parish congregated in a field at the back of Dr White’s School in Cliftonville. There was Punch and Judy, plus cricket for the boys and skipping for the girls and naturally a plentiful tea. Unfortunately for the accompanying staff it was noted hardly any provision had been made for their refreshment. The following year the school treat included sack races while in July 1866 the children marched with banners and flags to Mrs Vallance’s field in Cliftonville. In 1867 there was a Christmas treat where Negus cakes were provided and a rather disappointing conjuror failed to hold the boys’ interest. By the summer an Aunt Sally was added to the fun of the school treat. She cost 10/6d and afterwards was sent to Miss Lowe for safekeeping until the next treat.
For the Christmas treat of 1869 the school was decorated with flags, mottos and wreaths of evergreens. There were 140 boys plus twelve night school boys at the treat, which lasted from 4.30 to 8.30 pm. The tea included plum cake, two buns each and oranges, and there was a magic lantern show. Six boys blackened their faces in Christy Minstrel style and entertained the company with songs accompanied by their own instruments; fife, banjo, tambourine and clappers. At the conclusion the boys presented Mr Hamilton with a clock in an alabaster case. In 1869 and 1870 the school treat took the form of an excursion to Bramber and for the second occasion the head spent 33/- on amusements for the boys such as cricket bats.
In 1871 it was decided that the annual treat should become a Sunday School treat and no boy would be permitted to go unless he attended Sunday School. In 1877 the trip was to the Tivoli Gardens, Preston. Summer holidays usually only lasted a fortnight and were taken in late June and early July. In 1872 the head decided he would only give the boys one week’s holiday at Christmas but when school re-opened on 30th December, only 50 boys bothered to turn up. Hamilton learned his lesson and wrote in the Log ‘Caution. Don’t curtail the holidays in future’.

In 1864 boys were given homework to do (called home lessons then). This was usually learning by heart some spellings, the Collect or Scripture verses, and some arithmetic. In October of the same year the head encouraged boys to buy their own reading books so that they could study them at home. In 1865 the head proposed to give lessons in elementary drawing but it would cost a penny a week extra. Nine boys said they were interested. In 1869 the boys asked if they could have a lending library and in March three boys enquired if they could learn English history in order to prepare for a Government school certificate. For many years boys used slates measuring 8 x 6 inches or copybooks but in September 1871 exercise books were issued to each boy for the first time.
In 1883 Miss Emma Fullager, head of the girls’ school, was having trouble with young Marie Locke who had begun to slant her handwriting to the left because her father admired it. The other girls began to copy her. It became something of a battle of wills. In November Marie was not allowed to do any writing on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, and when asked to do so on Monday, she refused. Miss Fullager kept her in after school as punishment and Marie responded by not setting foot inside the school for five weeks. In 1890 Miss Helen Woolgar left Ellen Street School to become the new head of Farman Street Girls’ School.
The Inspector was becoming increasingly concerned about the school building noting in 1889 ‘the building has been passed in former years with hesitation and more suitable premises are certainly desirable’. Finally in 1893 he was delighted to hear that the school was moving. In fact 21st April 1893 was the last in the old premises and then the children and their teachers moved to a brand new building in a newer part of Hove. It was known at first as the East Hove Board School and then popularly as Davigdor Road Schools.

Copyright © J.Middleton 2012

Girton House
Judy Middleton
Published originally in Tales of the Old Hove Schools (1991) revised 2012

Girton House was established in 1904 at 2, 3 and 4 Walsingham Mansions, Hove. As it fronted Kingsway, there was enough bracing sea air to satisfy the most health-conscious parent.

Girton House has a certain ring to it and must have given the impression of being something of a blue-stocking establishment. Perhaps Mrs Willis, as everyone called her, had some connection with Girton College, Cambridge that she wished to perpetuate.
copyright © J.Middleton
This postcard dates from 1905 and must have been taken shortly after the school was established.
 It is interesting to note Kingsway practically empty of traffic. 
The curriculum was fairly wide with algebra meriting a special mention. But there was still an emphasis on the Arts with girls learning the piano, solo singing and how to recite poetry. Mrs Willis was also keen on etiquette and good manners. Girls were taught to be helpful at all times and a Girton girl was always quick to open a door for other people. They also mastered the art of letter writing to fit appropriate occasions, and how to sit gracefully in society so as not to reveal too much leg.
copyright © J.Middleton
St Philip’s Church in New Church Road was where Girton girls attended services on Sundays.
Not that bare legs were ever on show at Girton House for the girls were obliged to wear lisle stockings the whole year round. Ordinary daytime wear consisted of a brown tunic and a cream shirt. But Sunday wear was impractical in the extreme; the girls wore cream pleated skirts and white coats with a white hat encircled with a brown school ribbon. On Sundays this whiter than white crocodile made its way from the school building on the Kingsway to St Philip’s Church in New Church Road. The boys from Hove College attended the church at the same time but Girton girls were supposed to keep their eyes fixed rigidly on their hymn books. No doubt Mrs Willis would consider a glance at a pew full of boys the height of unladylike behaviour.

As far as comfort goes, the girls were relatively well off. No Spartan dormitories for them but bedrooms with three or four beds and even heating after a fashion. There was plenty of good wholesome food but unfortunately also a great deal of suet pudding.
copyright © J. Middleton.
Long after the school shut, the name lives on. The photograph was taken in 2009  and the premises are in sparkling
condition after some years of looking somewhat neglected.
However, exercise was taken. The school had its own gymnasium where the girls wielded their dumb-bells and Indian clubs. For sport in the open air such as hockey or netball, the school used the playing fields belonging to the Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School (now BHASVIC).
At first the school must have been a flourishing concern because in addition to the Girton House building, Mrs Willis took the large house on the opposite corner at Sackville Gardens. Originally, these palatial premises had been built as four conjoined but separate residential properties in 1904 to be sold at a handsome £7,000 each. When Mrs Willis found the number of pupils dwindling, she cleverly turned the extension of Girton House into a hotel that in 1926 became known as the Sackville Gardens Private Hotel. Eventually, everybody simply shortened it to the Sackville.
copyright © J.Middleton
The Sackville Hotel was designed with the most elegant frontage. Unhappily it was demolished in 2006 after a disastrous collapse during refurbishment.
It was an astute move because parents coming to visit their daughters found it convenient to put up at the Sackville. When Muriel Frost became a boarder at Girton House in 1929, her widowed father moved into the Sackville for some time. Muriel had happy memories of her schooldays despite having to spend the holidays there as well. But other girls were in the same situation and there was a special holiday mistress to look after them.


1904-1908 Mrs Beney-Willis and Mrs Gertrude
1909-1932 Mrs Beney-Willis
1933-1934 Mrs Leece

School colours brown and cream

School motto Always Faithful

Information from Joyce Goodridge
Recollections of Muriel Frost

Copyright © J.Middleton 2012
page layout by D.Sharp