09 July 2016

Hove's Old Schools Index A - G

Listed below:- Arnold House, Deepdene School, Dr Morrell's Academy, Farman Street Schools.

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

See Cottesmore Prep School page

Deepdene School
Judy Middleton (2022)

In 1941 Mrs Joyce Shaw (1915-2011) started to teach evacuee children around the kitchen table in the family home at 195 New Church Road where her parents Mr and Mrs A. W. Avery lived. She had married Denis Seymour Shaw at St Leonard’s Church, Aldrington on 15 October 1938. He was an Old Boy of the Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School. There were four children of the marriage.

copyright © J.Middleton

The school started off from those humble beginnings and in 1948 it was registered as a girls’ school. Judith Sharp, who was there in the 1950s, remembers it as quite an avant-garde establishment because the senior girls could wear their own clothes, rather than uniform, and moreover they were allowed to apply a little discreet make-up. The top class only had seven or eight girls, and Mrs Shaw taught them History and English. She also taught Judith Latin from the first declension to ‘O’ level within a year.

Mrs Shaw was quite unlike most female teachers, being a wife and mother, sporting bright red lipstick and close-curled permed hair. In the summer, she always wore white court shoes. Her favourite dictum was ‘How goes our enemy?’ in reference to the clock.

copyright © J.Middleton
Mrs Shaw is on the left with three of
the senior girls in the summer of 1955

In those days there was no provision for girls to take their ‘O’ level exams at the school and the girls had to travel to a hall in Brighton near the Clock Tower. As for an ‘A’ level exam, Judith, being the first girl at Deepdene to take one, went to Roedean on three occasions to sit the three separate papers. She was astonished to find the senior Roedean girls clad in short white socks and school uniform with no hint of make-up. Half-way through the exam, the invigilator walked around the room dispensing sweets.

By 1990 Deepdene had expanded considerably, there being around 200 girls. In July 1991 Mrs Shaw retired at the age of 76, by which time she had five grand-children. Mrs Frances Bird became the new head. In October 1991 it was stated that Deepdene had an overall GCSE pass rate of 99 per cent, and nearly all the girls gained five or more with grades A, B, or C.

Mrs Shaw was devastated when she heard that Deepdene was to close on 15 July 1992. The bankruptcy notice appeared in the London Gazette (20 October 1992) and the hearing was held at Brighton County Court on 29 October 1992.

It was stated that the school had been purchased by Bellerby’s, the sixth-form college and language school based in Cromwell Road, Hove. The school was saved for a while but in May 1993 parents were reported to be angry because the senior section was to be closed, and from September 1993 only children up to the age of eleven would be accepted. Co-owner Duncan Greenland said the reason for the move was because of falling numbers in the senior school with the fees costing £800 a term. But these new measures were still not enough for financial stability, and by 1996 the school was only accepting children aged from two to six years. Brenda Cameron was the head at the time.

Mrs Shaw died on 16 December 2011, and her funeral was held on 5 January 2012 at St Leonard’s Church, the same church in which she had walked up the aisle as a bride so many years ago.

copyright © J.Middleton

Keeping the school going was still a struggle despite the support of Roedean over many years. The numbers of children in the school continued to fall. Then came the pandemic, lock-down, and rising costs In addition, the building was showing its age and needed a substantial investment for which there were no funds. The proprietors felt they had no other option than to close the school for good; the unfortunate parents were only given three weeks’ notice in which to find an alternative school for their children. Deepdene closed on 1 April 2002.


Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade

Copyright © J.Middleton 2022

Dr Morrell's Academy
Judy Middleton
Published originally in Tales of the Old Hove Schools (1991) revised 2020

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 that young Solly, although 13 years of age, had never been taught mathematics, and put him to work on Euclid right away. As one might expect, classics were well covered, and French was taught by a native-born Frenchman as often or not. One French master made a great impression on Solly. Major Berchet was Italian by birth, and had fought in the Italian contingent under Napoleon. The gallant major and Solly were ardent admirers of Napoleon. When Solly left the school for good, he presented the major with a fine engraving of Napoleon.
Major Ambrogia Berchet was born in Parma, Sicily in 1784 and with his grey imperial and pointed moustache, was a fine specimen of a Bonapartist veteran. He had won the Légion d'honneur for swimming the Danube on a perilous reconnaissance mission. He went through the Polish and Russian campaigns and was twice awarded the Order of the Iron Crown for valour. When he returned to the Royal Court of Parma he was awarded the Constantian Order of St George. Due to the unstable political situation in Italy and the fall of the Kingdom of Sicily, he was given a prison sentence, and due to an amnesty this was commuted to 10 years exile in England. Berchet, a teacher of Italian, Latin and French, had an engaging personality and made many friends in Brighton and Hove. During the school holidays he would either tutor rich families or travel to Scotland to sketch. He eventually left Dr Morrell’s school at the end of his 10 year exile to return to Italy to resume his army career as a Major in the Piedmont Army. He died in retirement in 1864 aged 80.
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 his somewhat tempestuous schooldays, it is perhaps surprising to note that Henry Solly
entered the nonconformist ministry. He had three cousins as contemporaries at Dr Morell’s - Thomas Solly (1816-1875) became Professor of English at the University of Berlin, and English tutor to the Crown Prince (Frederick III) of the Prussia, the Reverend Richard Saen a Unitarian Minister who spoke at the 1849 International Peace Congress in Paris and Nathaniel Neal Solly (1811-1895) an Ironmaster, author and talented watercolour painter, whose paintings can command many hundred of pounds in auction houses today.

Henry Solly in later life

Revd Henry Solly, Unitarian Minister, campaigner, writer on Political and Economic Science issues.
He became a nationally known campaigner for Co-operatives, Anti-Slavery, Universal Suffrage, Temperance, Education, Working Men's Clubs, Charity Organizations, Trades Guild of Learning and the early ‘Garden Cities’ movement.

Revd Solly served as an Unitarian minister, at Yeovil (1840-42), Tavistock (1842-44), Shepton Mallet (1844-47), Cheltenham (1847-51), Carter Lane, Islington (1852-57), Lancaster (1858-62) and Chairman of the Working Men's Club and Institute Union (1862-87).

On the 12 January 1849, Charles Dickens wrote to the Rev Henry Solly and the Committee of the Working Men's Institute of Cheltenham, "I need not endeavour to express the interest I feel in all such endeavours towards the improvement and happiness of the working-classes as that to which you have devoted yourselves" (this signed letter from Charles Dickens was sold by Bonhams for £1750 in March 2018).

By the time of Revd Henry Solly's death in 1903 there were 992 Working Men's Clubs in existence, by 2020 this number of Clubs had risen to 2200.

Sir William Beveridge (1879-1963) author of the ‘Beveridge Report’ which was used as the model for the welfare state, said of the Revd Henry Solly, ‘he was restless, inventive constructive spirit, part author of at least three large living movements; charity organisation, working men’s clubs and garden cities’.
Kathleen Woodroofe writing in the Social Service Review 49, no. 1 (Mar., 1975) said of  the Revd Henry Solly,
'The Reverend Henry Solly (1815-1903) was an English social reformer of the Victorian period whose work deserves more recognition than it has received so far. In 1862, he founded the Working Men's Club Institute Union, which has now grown into an organization with more than 2 million members throughout Great Britain. He also helped to found the Charity Organisation Society, which has made a unique contribution to the theory and practice of modern social work, while in 1884, at the age of seventy-one, he devised a scheme of "industrial villages" which anticipated by several decades the movement which produced the "garden cities" of the twentieth century'.
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
1875-1886 Revd Thomas Robert Dobson
1886- ? Revd Alfred Hood


Middleton (J) History of Hove (1979)
Rowland (J) The Story of the Brighton Unitarian Church (1972)
Ruston, A. Henry Solly (2001) - The Dictionary of the Unitarian Universalist History & Heritage Society
Ruston, A. Henry Solly - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Henry Solly (I) These Eighty Years (1893)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2012

See the separate Ellen Street Schools page

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

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Copyright © J.Middleton 2012
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