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1948 To 1955 Rope Hill School Boldre Lymington Brockenhurst Sway

A Memory of Boldre

A few months ago I started to try and contact "boys" who experienced Rope Hill School in Boldre during the forties and early fifties - but then sickness overtook my efforts and things were all placed on hold. Pleased to say am now fit enough to try again.
I went to Rope Hill from 1948 to 1953 and well remember both Heaton and Arch as headmasters. I recall at the start of each term the London based boys meeting on the platform at Waterloo Station for the train ride to Brockenhurst. I remember the sunday morning walks from the school to St Johns church in Boldre, no matter what the weather. Can recall watching kingfishers on the rivers bank as we crossed the bridge on the way to the church. Sunday afternoon walks through the forest to places like Sway.
Would like to hear from others who went to the school about this time and also to exchange copies of any photos etc that you may have. I have been lucky enough to previously had responses from some ex Ropillians (is that such a term?) as I try again to put a history together that my children, grand children etc may enjoy reading. From their responses others are clearly doing to same and it would be good to bring it all together.
Looking forward to hearing from you
Robert de Winter
11 Acorn Way
Stoke, Nelson
New Zealand 7011

A memory shared by Robert De Winter , on May 31st, 2014.

Comments & feedback

Sun Jan 4th 2015, at 2:16 pm

qfeduchin commented:

Hi Robert, I guess I must be about your age, since I also started at Rope Hill Preparatory School in 1948. I was 73 in May 2014. My name at that time was Ralston, first name Quentin. My brother Jolyon also joined the school, about 1955.
I also remember both Heaton and Arch.
Heaton was not someone I remember with pleasure.
Archibald Arch however I can truly say I liked a hell of a lot. For one thing I was exceedingly good in the maths area, which he was a great teacher of, and I loved listening to his history lectures when the normal history teacher was away.
I was always sorry I never managed to recontact him after I left; I saw him only once again when I was 15 and we had a delightful argument about the relative boot sizes of my father's Austin A50 compared to that of his A55..
I believe he sold up after some scandal with Mrs Burbidge, the nurse, of whom I did not have a high opinion, and went to live in Bournemouth where he got some job.

Sun Jan 31st 2016, at 2:44 pm

Edward Williams commented:

Hello again Robert: - we have communicated before, and I still in VR nurse my forehead which connected with your bat when you attempted a 'sixer' during a break-time game - I did learn to stand further back in later games - those formative days of youth are now over 65 years ago and I still presume that they the foundation on what we eventually built our lives. The school trip to the RN Dockyards at Portsmouth must have subconsciously influenced my joining the Navy - it was eerie returning to Phoenix in later days - after all the Navy training I became an Off-Shore Surveyor for primarily the commercial Oil/Gas Industries in several areas around the world during their scramble to find the expensive off-shore resources. I finally settled in Ottawa, where in my retirement, I sit and ponder over all these facets of life that have lead me to where I am today. Anyhow, the Rope Hill Days did scorch a path in my development in one way or another, and here I am trying to contemplate the exact details - I think I need more space to expand my thoughts.....................

Sun Jan 31st 2016, at 2:46 pm

Edward Williams commented:

Rope Hill Preparatory School was located in a rural area of the Hampshire New Forest in the village of Boldre, near Lymington and Brockenhurst. We three WILLIAMS boys, Edward John (EJ)(me), Ernest Charles (EC) the twins, and Richard David (RD), were at Rope Hill School from Sep 1951 to Mar 1955, , and we lived in New Milton , maybe thirty miles away. We visited the school in May/June of 1951 for a preview, and were invited to join in a game of Catch supervised by a teacher - Anthony Good was our chaperone. At aged 7, I found the first days there tough and I was homesick - although the regimented schedules and discipline were probably much desired by our parents, they were a shock to us, who were until then free-ranging children of two working parents, and probably too free with our mischief. That first term showed me how well Day-Boys and Boarders got on with one another, and one particular skirmish had the Day-Boys using their bicycle pumps as water guns on us Boarders, and they emptied the prize front-yard fountain - the administration were not pleased, but where was the adult supervision at break time. This same antagonism extended to the wooded spinneys that surrounded the school building, and two separated areas were designated, one for the Day-Boys and one for the Boarders - God help the invader from the other camp. In the Boarders spinney there were secret passages through the rhododendron bushes, smooth barked beech trees to carve our initials into, and various other points of interest - it was a break-time haven. We Williams' were not to shine on the athletic/sports field, swimming pool, or stand out scholastically either. The imposition of homework was a shock to my system, and also having to write exams. One memory I have is of suddenly noticing one winter evening a big flame over the trees to the east (Fawley) – we worried that the fire to burn its way right up to the school. The Boarders were walked off to Boldre Church every Sunday rain fair or foul , and on those narrow winding lanes it was a wonder we survived the passing cars – it was an old Gothic Church with connections to the HMS Hood incident I later found out. We had to purchase poppies for the outdoor Remembrance Ceremony. The annual Christmas Carol Service was the climax of weeks of practice that devoured our free time, but the parents must have enjoyed the sound of our soprano voices – subsequent years I felt did not come to the same degree of perfection. There was an end of year trip to Wimbourne Minster and Corfe Castle. ----- to be continued....

Sun Jan 31st 2016, at 2:49 pm

Edward Williams commented:

Continued from previous entry ------- . It came as a surprise at the start of the 1952 year to find the Head Master Mr. Heaton was replaced by Mr. Arch - he immediately closed down access to the spinneys to our great disappointment – every term we begged the the spinneys be reopened to no avail. Another piece of new-broom discipline that we fell fowl of was the deadline times imposed for parents to return their boarding children to the school after a break - parents were not chastised, but us children had to suffer days of detention until the crime was expunged. One year we were allowed to spend our free time in the summer cultivating a patch of wild hillside into beds of vegetables which were evaluated for prizes come Sports Day - the wild grass, preying rodents and competing students always had a field day before evaluation. One winter a friend brought his toboggan to school and the pathway downhill to the playing fields became a race track over the snow which only rarely fell. Our time at Rope Hill drifted by – we graduated to higher classes – teachers and fellow students came and departed – there were weekly trips in the summer to Lymington outdoor swimming pool into which broken bottles had been tossed to discourage non-swimmers – there were also annual School Trips: the Navy Dock Yard at Portsmouth, Eastleigh Airport, a ferry trip to see the Royal Yacht return from the Queen’s World Tour, and probably other trips I have forgotten. I did learn one lesson – as a wicket keeper/catcher you do not stand too close to the batsman – De Winter swung for a sixer and connected with my head – I dropped like a stone. The Rope Hill days, months and years slowly ticked by until my parents had us sit the dreaded Eleven Plus - we failed two years running - so much for an expensive schooling experience - our parents must have had a falling out with the Head Master, for we were suddenly yanked out of school at Easter 1955 without a chance to say farewell to anyone. In hindsight I treasure those days at Rope Hill. I remember the following teachers: Mssrs Heaton, Arch, Randle, Edwards, Nickelson, England, Sheldon, Flood, etc - Matrons: Mrs Heaton, Mrs Burbidge? - Pupils: Bagnell Twins, Rhymes, Palmer, Dibden, Dickinson, Hooker, Bateman, Hice, Tipper, Good, Clarke, Miller, Burrows, Craig, Waltham, De Winter, Givan, Bostock, Grenvell, Swift, Collinson, Ralston, Jones, Remper, Sutton, Cutler, Jack, Wynne, Archer, Turville, Pope, Carter, Bennett, Griffiths, Ellis, Pasmore, Green, Withers, Hodgkinson, Atkinson, Weaving, Marr, Menhinick, Anstead, Jennings, Baldwin, Nock, Deighton, Smyth, House, Hallett, Nodleman, Burns, Swift, etc, etc - I wonder where they all are these days.
Ed Williams
2146 Peter Robinson Road, Ottawa, Canada K0A 1L0

Sun Jan 31st 2016, at 3:01 pm

Edward Williams commented:

Quenton Ralston: Yes, I do remember you at school, but our paths never really crossed to get to know you then better - also, I do remember my fellow boarder boys commenting on the nightly excursions of Mr. Arch into town, but in my youthly innocence I never speculated on details. I remember his puzzling us with threading a stringed pencil through a jacket buttonhole and leaving us to figure out the trick. It's good to hear from you - Ed Williams.

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