Article Two by Carole Freeman
St Stephens Church, Vansittart Road, with the school beyond [View a postcard of this area in approx. 1900] The Wrought Iron Gateway to the school.
The larger gates have been replaced but the pedestrian gate is almost certainly original
My memories of St Stephens school are mainly good ones. I remember the first day of school, the classroom was the first inside the big metal gates behind a maple tree, I think it was. It was a long room, with wooden floor boards, and benches down either side of the wall. It was warm and cosy, and one of the first questions we were asked was to tell the teacher our birthday, I could not remember mine! A good start! The children who started on that day , I remember Anthony ?, very tall and blonde boy, Janice Nicholls, Sally Playle, Mark Eymore, Andrew Lansley, Jackie?, Karen Lodge, Georgina ?, Nigel Platt, Debbie Clark, and a few more nameless faces, now. And I believe we stayed mostly in the same class, but I doubt they remember me though as I left in the last year before the 11+. The church was in Vansittart Road, and the school gates were separated by a large wall.
Arthur Road Side of the school
The toilets and cloakrooms, were between classrooms I think. The long interior classroom along Arthur Road side, was like a play area, where there were huge square containers of water and sand. A TV was also in this room down the far end. Following this along was the school hall, used for music, singing hymns, and playing small instruments. It doubled as an indoor sports hall. There were ladders and ropes, that were along the wall, that would be swung out for sport. The girls sports clothes were school knickers, (bought from Caleys or Beasleys, or Daniels), our vest and black plimpsoles. There would be small areas where different pieces of equipment were put, and we had a few minutes in each area.
The playground, which backed on to the church, had lines marked out for sports, football, and netball I believe. There were also monkey bars, one in the first playground, and another in the lower playground for the older children. Behind the one in the lower playground there was also a grassy area. Though for athletics sports we had to walk down Vansittart Road to a field, which was between and surrounded either side by homes. (Now part of the Windsor Boys School Car Park and Tennis Courts on the southern side of the grounds. Ed.)
Also we had to cross, with the aid of our lollipop man, Maidenhead Road, to walk to the swimming pool, by the river. The pool had a large carpark from memory, I do not think it was ever full of cars. I learnt to swim there in the shallow end!
Anyway, back to school. I think it was in the morning break we had our free milk, and an older child was responsible for selling biscuits and 'potato puffs'. I remember the 'puffs', were three pence, because once I tried to buy them with the plastic money we used to learn about currency. I think that was where I learned the difference between real and pretend money! The general office was located in the centre nearly of the school, next to the belltower. Which we all thought , I mean really thought, was haunted. Mind you, considering the age of the building it probably was.
The teachers I remember where Mr Byard, who was supposed to be retired, but often came in. Mrs Baker, Mrs Novtiskar (apologies for spelling), she gave me my first bible, an old one of hers. I still have it! Miss Hawkins, she scared me half to death. Really strict, upright woman, who now I can envision looked as though she belonged in a 30's movie. Sleek, waved hair, black framed glasses, lipstick I am sure, dressed in a two-piece suit, grey or brown. Mr Orme, he started not long before I left. And Mrs 'Wigglebottom', I do not know her real name. But, she had gold framed glasses, hair in a bun, and saved me on more than one occasion from a tongue lashing from Miss Hawkins. Who remembering now, was given a camera as a retirement gift from the school , because she always loved to travel the world. It was in her class, one year, that I witnessed the solar eclipse, then she allowed us out to see it in the playground. When we had to rehearse for the event of a fire, we had to go down the bell tower, and out into the playground if we were in the 2nd level classrooms. I wonder if any of the teachers are still with us and living in Windsor ?
For lunch we were taken in order of class, out of the gates, and around the corner into (the street names eludes me now), to the hall next to the church, up the steps into a large hall for lunch. Cooked dinners, we paid for on the Monday. The tables were long, and lengthways alongside the walls. I was afraid to get the table next to the large fire place, you could hear the wind whistle down it, even though it had a cover in front, I was always thinking there was someone behind it!
The Church Hall
The school dinners were quite good then. The priest was often there, and we always said our prayers before and after meals, 'and may the lord make us truly grateful'. We always had a hot meal, apart from salads in summer. Meals of pie with vegetables, egg mornay, which I confess, I only ever had at school, and always a lovely pudding, with custard or sauce. My mouth waters, no wonder we never ill, we were well fed at home and at school. We would then traipse back to school, and if we were lucky there was still some play-time left, but not enough to make us bored and troublesome. Remembering it now, it must have taken us ages!
We would then have church on Fridays, I am not sure if this was every week, it seemed like it. If we were late, (I sometimes was weather dependent, as I used to catch the brown bus from Dedworth), we had to wait outside. The big oval wooden doors with the metal work, looked really ominous from my eyes, as I knew if we were too late there would be trouble. Yet, if we were on time, I loved being inside the church, singing the hymns as we did in assembly. The glass windows, the statues, for me, it was a really beautiful church. The pews, the velvet kneeling cushions, it is a lovely memory.
Our headmaster was a nice man, I only used to see in assembly or church. He had a nervous tic, I think his name was Mr Harland, or Karland ? I believe he used to teach piano at his home too. In assembly the hymns were written on a sheet of paper that hung from the hall walls. The only play I remember having a really good part in was "Scrooge". I played 'Martha', and I still recall we had to dance around our dolls and I was so exited I trod on them when we ran around in a circle. But, I had so much fun!
We had a visit from the members of 'Play School' once, brilliant I enjoyed that too! The school was a really cosy comfortable place to be, if the opportunity ever arose I would have put my children there, as although it was strict and old fashioned, it gave the children who attended a solid start to their education. I so regret the fact I had to leave, (my mother moved), and although the 11+ exams were the following week, I'd have given anything to stay.
From Rosie Burnett, Australia
More photos of Clewer St Stephen's Primary School
The Church Hall with The Mitre Public House beyond. The entrance gates and playground beyond The steeple on the church The junction of Arthur Road and Vansittart Road, looking east towards Windsor
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Article Two by Carole Freeman
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