Burton Hill House School

Burton Hill House School

The first 50 years by Bob Browning and Mike Langtree


Thanks to:

Winn Green for providing the various points of contact for interviews; Mary Humpherson and Gerry Lewis for their diary feature; Margaret La Fontaine for being willing to be interviewed yet again! Jane Sainsbury for the loan of numerous photographs and other material; and the many others who were interviewed, loaned material and made their contributions towards the preparation of this publication.

Sources consulted for the History of Burton Hill House

Victoria County History, vol. XIV: Malmesbury Hundred
(University of London, 1991)

Burton Hill House and its Owners, F H Manley
(Wiltshire Notes and Queries, vol. VIII, Jun 1916)

The Malmesbury Branch, Mike Fenton (Wild Swan Publications Ltd, 1990)

The History of the Abbey and Town of Malmesbury, Sir R H Luce
(Friends of Malmesbury Abbey, 1979)

Wiltshire Forefathers, Jane Badeni (Norton Manor, 1960)

Jackson’s Wiltshire

Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette, 19 Mar 1846

Malmesbury, The Archive Photograph Series, Dorothy Barnes (compiler)
(Telford Publishing Co, 1995)

Unpublished research material prepared by R & B Harvey
for the Wiltshire: Buildings Record, 1993


I am delighted that the Golden Jubilee of Burton Hill House School falls at this time. I have had the privilege of seeing a steady increase in the number of pupils and students over the past few years. A confident atmosphere now pervades the school. Following a very positive OFSTED report and a time of reorganisation within the school, we have been enabled to take bold steps to provide a more efficient place of work and to offer better resources in the areas of education and care. Reading this booklet has reinforced my belief that Burton Hill House School is built on two legacies.

One of these legacies has its roots in the historical mosaic which is shared by many of the older buildings in Malmesbury. From a time way back in history when Malmesbury Abbey dominated the life of the community, through to the relatively recent succession of private owners, Burton Hill has occupied the pages of many local history books, The remaining 16 acres of land that now ensconce the house provide a wealth of beauty and tranquillity – an ideal setting to enhance the education of any young person in this generation.

The other legacy concerns the vision of Lord Shaftesbury. His inexhaustible concern for young people with great needs, and his determination to express his Christian faith in action were the two motivating forces that enabled him to translate into reality the hopes that many of his contemporaries held merely as dreams. Following the great success of his Ragged Schools, others were eventually inspired to join his social revolution. Today, 150 years later, Burton Hill School stands as just one small expression of the Shaftesbury Society’s provision to those in great need.

My grateful thanks go to Bob Browning and Mike Langtree for their inspiration and enthusiasm for this publication and for their endeavour that has enabled it to materialise. The enjoyment they experienced researching and interviewing for this project has been evident throughout.

I trust that the event this publication is celebrating will put Burton Hill House School on the map for at least another 50 years.

Phil Drake
Principal, Barton Hill House School
April 1997


The early years

Burton Hill was one of Malmesbury’s three principal suburbs that lay outside the town walls. Its name is probably derived from being a tun (hill) by the burghe (of Malmesbury). It was a distinct estate as part of the extensive lands that belonged to Malmesbury Abbey from the 13th century until the Dissolution in 1539. An eminent clothier William Stumpe purchased the Abbey from the Crown, along with “other estates of the Monastery” which presumably included Burton Hill. In 1541 Stumpe presented the Abbey to the town for use as a parish church.

When William Stumpe’s granddaughter and heiress, Elizabeth, married Henry Knyvett (or Kingscott) of Wootton Bassett, the newly—weds settled at Charlton and sold much of their other property. It appears that Burton Hill itself was then split up into smaller estates. The area that now contains Burton Hill House, however, was not developed until probably one hundred years later in the early 17th century. Manorial rights were never attached to Burton Hill House itself but to another property in the suburb; the building which is now the local hospital was once known as Burton Hill Manor.

An illicit affair

The land that included the future Burton Hill House passed into the hands of Sir John Hungerford, and it was subsequently owned by the Estcourt family. During their long ownership, other estates including Lea, Estcourt and Newnton were added to the Estcourt family’s possessions. During the early 18th century, under the ownership of Edmund Estcourt, Burton Hill was being rented by Germainious Shepherd, the owner of Bradenstoke Abbey. Edmund had only a daughter, Anna Maria. Her marriage at Malmesbury Abbey in 1766 to William Earle, a widower, appears to have legitimised a relationship that had been going on for a number of years, possibly for almost the duration of his previous marriage. A lawsuit contesting the will of William revealed that they had lived together at Paddington under the name of Edwards and that they had produced a son who was known as William Edwards. Anna Maria denied any issue from the affair fearing her mother would disown her. When William Earle died in 1774, his widow inherited all his property; thus Whitchurch Farm and Burnt Heath fell, both on the outskirts of Malmesbury, into her possession. William Earle predeceased Anna Maria by only two years. She left everything to William Edwards who was then still a minor being educated in London. As soon as he became of age, he sold Burton Hill and other property in the area.

After a short time, Burton Hill and adjacent lands were brought by Timothy Dewell, a local physician. The family had settled in Malmesbury at no 32 Cross Hayes soon after the death of Timothy’s father, probably in Jamaica. His accrued wealth enabled him to purchase the Burton Hill estate in 1787 for £2650. This acquisition was rather short—lived, however, as only five years later he died in debt. It is said that he was buried at night to escape the wrath of his creditors, one of whom was the High Steward of the Borough who was owed £50O. The Malmesbury Abbey register simply records “Mr Timothy Dewell MD buried”. When Burton Hill House was put up for auction £361O was realised. His widow returned to 32 Cross Hayes where she remained until her death.

The Previous Burton Hill House

The Previous Burton Hill House

A solicitor and clothier of Bradford on Avon, Francis Hill, was the next purchaser of Burton Hill House. With the hope of reviving Malmesbury’s clothing industry, he built the cloth mills, now known as the Silk Mills, on the river near St John’s Bridge in Malmesbury. Mr Hill died in 1828 having failed to increase his fortune. The sale of Burton Hill House was delayed five years following litigation over his will. The eventual purchasers, Simeon and Isaac Salter, clothiers of Kington Langley, resold the estate in portions only a few years later. By 1839, John Cockerell was in possession of the 35 acres that remained attached to the House. One of the Salters tried unsuccessfully to represent Malmesbury in Parliament. In a desperate measure, he built a row of six houses between Burton Hill estate and the town in exchange for £1O votes. These houses were aptly named Parliament Row.

Disaster strikes and fortune regained

In about 1842, the house was demolished and rebuilt to a design by Sir Charles Robert Cockerell, the owner’s brother. This put Burton Hill House in a league with other distinguished buildings, to this architect’s credit, including the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford and the chapel at Bowood House near Calne. But then almost the entire house was destroyed by fire in 1846. A report of the disaster featured in the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette. The fire, it was reported, occurred at about 2am on the morning of Saturday 14th March 1846. The two female and one male servants sleeping in the House escaped in their night clothes. A considerable amount of furniture was saved by being removed from the ground floor. The family was in London at the time. Mr Cockerell had arranged for that Saturday morning a meeting with tradesmen to discuss further improvements to the house. The article records that he “arrived a few hours after the fire was subdued to find a heap of blackened ruins”. The estimated loss was put at £1O,OOO. The north wing directly opposite the main entrance gate is thought to be the only part to have survived the blaze. It is also believed that the old Malmesbury fire engine which is now on display in the Town’s museum was last used at this event

A replacement building was constructed in the same year in a Tudor—Gothic style, again designed by Cockerell.

Within a few years of that dramatic event, the estate passed into the hands of Col Charles William Miles who belonged to a well—established Bristolian family of bankers and merchants. He was Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1856 and a founder member of the Malmesbury Railway Company in 1872. He greatly improved Burton Hill House, making several alterations and additions, including a large extension on the west end which comprised a ballroom with rooms above, a gallery and conservatory (now known as the Sun Lounge). His coat of arms is incorporated in the ornamental ceiling in the ballroom and an unfinished version is carved in stone above the main entrance door. Col Miles purchased much of the adjacent land and continued to develop the semi—formal gardens which his predecessor had begun. He also gave the house a new, albeit temporary, name — Ingelbourne Manor (sic).

Col Charles Miles died in 1892. He had two sons, Charles Napier and Audley Charles, who died within a year of each other at the close of the Great War. The funeral of Col. Napier Miles featured in the national press. As a result of their deaths, the estate was broken up and sold. A number of “freehold properties being a portion of the Burton Hill Estate” comprising 120 acres were put up for sale at an auction held in the Kings Head in Malmesbury on the 25th June 1919. The remaining 173 acres which included Burton Hill House, Little Ingleburn and Arches Farm had been advertised for sale by T.G.A. Miles, Esq.. in several editions of Country Life Magazine in 1921. Burton Hill House itself along with some other land was later purchased by Mr H L Storey. He had previously resided at Burton Hill Manor but sold the property to the town for its use as a cottage hospital. The family moved into Burton Hill House in the summer of 1924. The year 1924 also marked the 1000th anniversary of the accession of King Althelstan. Being a great benefactor to Malmesbury, his millennium was celebrated by the townspeople. Althelstan’s Feast, held annually on the 24th June, was chosen for the celebrations. The programme of events included “performances of Historical Play in the grounds of Burton Hill House” followed by “a tea for 560 school children, and a Tableaux by Boy Scouts”, presumably also in the same grounds.

Childhood memories

Mrs Storey’s daughter Margaret (now Mrs La Fontaine) had clear memories of her childhood there. The large lake in the grounds was constructed by hand in 1927. Scores of labourers — some say the were local, others that they Irish navvies — were employed to carry out the task of replacing a small pond that was fed by a brook running through the middle of the estate. On the many occasions when her parents entertained, Margaret La Fontaine would peer through the ornamental window overlooking the entrance hall at first floor level and study the visitors as they passed from one room to another via the hallway below. To her surprise, on one occasion, the guests were a huge party of bishops! Often Margaret La Fontaine would be joined by a number of other local girls to give shows or dance before the guests in the conservatory. Photographs of these occasions record the importance that must have been attached to these performances: the young children were dressed immaculately and carried out their duties exquisitely.

Margaret La Fontaine was educated privately at home until the death of her father in 1933. Her newly—widowed mother tried unsuccessfully to sell the estate. The house was leased from about 1936 to two sisters, Misses ‘Zoo’ and Hilary Hunt. They set up a private school, initially to provide a nursery education for local pupils, both day and boarding. The matron was Nanny Foster. The school was well—respected and said at one time to have more kudos that Eton! Tom Winch, a local fine arts valuer, spent a few years there, did his brother and a younger sister. He recalled observing weekly ballroom dancing classes which were run by a rather formidable Miss Fawcett from Kidderminster, who arrived with her assistants in a large Daimler. These classes proved to be popular and attracted many pupils who were not associated with the school. During the war years, the matron moved on, following the death of ‘Zoo’ Hunt, the senior mistress. The school steadily declined, leading to its demise by the end of 1945.

Official opening of Burton Hill House School 1947 Courtesy of Jane Sainsbury

Official opening of Burton Hill House School 1947 Courtesy of Jane Sainsbury

Mrs Storey continued her attempts to sell the estate which then included Arches Farm. The advertisement offered 150 acres of land for sale in lots. One lot, a projection of land to the north of the house had served as an orchard for the estate. This plot was to be purchased for development. A dispute arose over the ownership of an adjacent strip of land bordering the lane that now leads to Burton Hill Caravan Site. This strip of land incorporated a tennis court and a kitchen garden. Ownership was eventually established and development began only to reveal a well on the site. The result was a complete revision of the plans. Margaret La Fontaine knew of the existence of the well and would have gladly informed the purchaser had she only been asked! Sheltered accommodation known as Orchard Court now stands on the site. Mrs Storey retained just one small part of her estate, East Cottage, directly opposite the main entrance to Burton Hill House. This became the current residence of Mr and Mrs La Fontaine.

The estate agent had presented Burton Hill House itself and Arches Farm as one unit, apparently against Mrs Storey’s wishes. The Shaftesbury Society purchased the house and farm in 1946 for £11,OOO with the intention of providing education for 50 girls with physical disabilities. Shortly afterwards they resold the farm to the Webb family who are still in possession. A year later Burton Hill House School officially opened.


Burton Hill House School has employed a number of long—serving staff and provided education for many pupils over the 50 years of its existence. Some of these people were located and were willing to be interviewed on their recollections. The following items are derived from these interviews and together paint a fascinating picture of life at the school.

Margaret (Maggie) Austin member of staff 1950 to 1973

Describing herself as “a maid of all work”, Maggie’s role began as office help and ended as deputy matron. Her earliest recollection was going into the dining room for lunch on her first day at the school. “On a long table with what seemed to be masses of people were Miss Craik, Miss Green and Miss Blackwell, an assortment of nurse attendants (that is what they were called in those days.) and two sisters, Sister Davies and Sister Sharman. Most of the girls were in the little wooden wheelchairs they used at that time.” As part of her initiation, Maggie was forewarned about “the man who looks after the pigs” She was told that she would not be able to understand him when he spoke to her as he used the broadest of Wiltshire accents. This turned out to be no problem at all for Maggie who came from the depths of Minety (a local village).

“I started with what was purely office work” she recalled, “but it soon included other things: feeding the children at lunch—time when they were short of staff; and operating the lift to take the children upstairs for their rest before going back in the classrooms at 2 o’clock.” Because there were no buses to the village where she lived, Maggie had to “live in” so in the evenings she began to put the girls to bed. After a while she got involved in visits to the mineral baths at Bath with the girls who went to swim. Jill Lumb was one girl she remembered: “she came to the school having contracted polio after passing her 11 plus exams and went on to become a teacher”.

On one occasion, Maggie escorted a girl to Northolt Airport to put her on an aeroplane bound for Germany to see her parents. “We have no flight for her.” she was told. “Take her home and bring her back tomorrow.” The transport had already left so she was stranded. In the end, she spent a total of three days and nights at the airport. This was quite a challenge with a child who was incontinent and quite heavy — every time she wanted to move the child she had to get assistance from the RAF.

Maggie got to know the limb fitting centre at Roehampton well. One day she had to take a girl there on the train. This girl who had no lower arms, had been badly burned and her face was scarred. A woman in the carriage took a while to get used to the child’s appearance, but eventually offered her a sweet. Sadly the poor woman had not realised her hands were missing and when a hook came out to take the sweet the poor woman turned green.

In the holidays, some of the children did not go home, so they were taken to Bognor for a fortnight in the summer to another Shaftesbury home. Maggie described the procedure. “What a migration that was. First the girls got into the bus, followed by the hampers, linen and cases with clothes in, then the staff – not only the nurses but Frances and me plus the cook. It was a very tight fit. Once you sat down it was almost impossible to move. After arrival we would unpack everything and make up the beds, have a meal then take the girls for a walk. We would go to the beach for the morning. The children liked it if it was rough; if the waves came over the prom, they loved it. In fact, we used to cover each girl with a plastic mac and a rubber sheet. The girls would be pushed through these which enabled them to enjoy it all the more”.

Maggie remembered clearly another expedition. “One summer we went camping. It was awful! The wind blew a cold gale and it rained non-stop. Mrs Leach said every night that we must go home next day. We had with us an RAF officer who soothed her down with whisky in milk and Lincoln cream biscuits. We lasted 1O days. Matron used to ask if I was warm in bed. I was, when it was time to get up!”

An international body once came to study disabled people in Britain. Burton Hill House School was one of the establishments selected. Consequently, the flag of the United Nations flew over Burton Hill. “Imagine the hassle,” said Maggie, “spit and polish by the bucketful and lists of everything under the sun.”

Diana Butler physiotherapist 1962-1993

When ‘Di’ started working at the school, it was run by the matron. “I was met by Mrs Leach who was a short lady with her hair in a plait and wearing a long white gown. All the staff wore long white starched uniforms.” In her capacity as the sole physiotherapist at the school then, Di saw only a few other members of staff during the course of her day. A rota of care staff provided her with a different assistant on each half day during the week. A full-time physiotherapist helper became available some 10 years later. She enjoyed very much working with children. “Physiotherapy in the early days consisted of exposing the children’s bodies to sunlight and putting their limbs in heat tunnels. Exercising the children’s muscles was done by utilising spring mattresses.” When the swimming pool was constructed a few years after she started, Di had the task of setting up hydrotherapy and swimming programmes for all the children.

One pupil Di clearly remembered was Jane Vernon who was at the school during the l960s, having had a broken neck. Jane regularly read the Daily Telegraph and enjoyed the crossword. Much to Di’s amusement, though, was Jane’s enthusiasm for the racing column! This girl left Burton Hill House School at the age of l2 being able to operate a powered wheelchair. She completed her education at Florence (now Lord Mayor) Treloar School and later became the residents’ representative at a Cheshire Home in Adderbury, near Banbury.

Peter Curtis friend of the school

Peter was able to contribute to the school in a very practical way. He carried out alterations to the buildings and a number of modifications to wheelchairs and other equipment. When the school was given an old bus, he adapted it to make it suitable for the children to use. He removed the seats and refitted them along the sides of the bus so that wheelchairs could be put along the middle of the bus. He cut out a panel at the back of the bus and fitted a door to provide wheelchair access A ramp was then made for the chairs to be wheeled up. There was one small problem, however: there was no provision for clamping wheelchairs to the floor, so a small wedge was put under the wheels of each wheelchair, but that was all. If the driver had to brake hard all children finished up at the front with the driver!

He vividly recalled one journey taking the children back from a trip to the mineral baths at Bath during the winter months. “The bus broke down and we were in complete darkness. The driver of a car behind just kept blowing his horn.” Peter tolerated this for a while then climbed down from the cab and said to the car driver, “The bus has broken down. I will blow your horn if you will start my bus.”

Peter told of some swing-boats which were set up at one of the school fêtes. These swing- boats were the property of the RAP The central spindle was in fact an old axle from an RAP lorry. It was operated by a volunteer who stood and turned a handle which in turn spun the swing—boats.

Burton Hill House School Bus Photograph by William J Barrett

Burton Hill House School Bus Photograph by William J Barrett

Winn Green member of staff from 1947 to 1972, now living in London

Winn had been working at a similar establishment in Malvern. She decided to join her friend and former work colleague Kathleen McCloud—Graik. who had opened the school on May 1st 1947 as the headmistress. Mr and Mrs Leach were at that time superintendent and matron. On describing her first sight of the pupils, Winn commented “Down the corridor came a spinal carriage. One girl sat on it, one sat girl inside it, the carriage was being pushed by a girl sat in a wheelchair and this was being pushed by the only girl able to walk.” The next time Winn saw that girl, she was sitting on the mantelpiece in the ballroom, but never did find out how the girl managed to get onto a six feet high mantelpiece by herself. Winn observed that “the steps had been altered into slopes; there were seats to sit on and beds to lie on and not much else. Mr. Leach was wonderfully ingenious and creative whenever this was needed. One very basic problem was that all the desks were a standard size and pattern so anyone in a wheelchair simply could net get near enough to use them. The problem was solved by making them wider.” A local carpenter, Peter Curtis, was called in to carry out the work. Mr Leach made a prototype exercise bike. “He simply mounted a standard child’s bike on a wooden frame, took the back wheel out and replaced it with a very large and heavy cast iron flywheel from a 2—stroke petrol engine. This, of course, though slightly Heath-Robinson, was perfect for building up wasted muscles.”

Burton Hill House School Choir 1950s Courtesy of Winn Green

Burton Hill House School Choir 1950s Courtesy of Winn Green

Winn formed a school choir which for a number of years competed at the Devizes Choir Festival. Poor access proved to be a challenge. Members of the other choirs went into town at lunch time, but Burton Hill girls had to stay in the hall. The catering was simple: “Mr. Leach went across the road and bought us all Cornish Pasties.” The choir went on to broadcast on BBC radio. One of the hymns they chose to sing was ‘At the name of Jesus’ After practising the hymn for several weeks the choir reached a very high standard.

Winn also formed a Girl Guide group at the school. In 1952, the group was inspected at Bowood House by Princes Margaret who was wearing black at the time, being in mourning for her late father, King George VI.

One of the props to support the school’s nativity plays in its early years was a wooden orange box. This was used as a crib in the school’s nativity plays until Mr Leach decided to make something more appropriate to hold the Babe. When this was seen by John, the handyman, he said “It’s about time they realised that He was born in a crib and not in an orange box”.

A Royal Inspection of Girl Guides at Bowood Park 1952

A Royal Inspection of Girl Guides at Bowood Park 1952

Winn had clear recollections of the school’s first fête day. “Six tents were put up on the lower lawn. As soon as the children were taken down there, the heavens opened. Some of the children were put under the tables out of the rain until they could be taken back to the main building.” That first fête raised the sum of £200.

An early nativity play at Burton Hill House School

An early nativity play at Burton Hill House School

More money was raised by the children themselves when the swimming pool opened. They got themselves sponsored at a halfpenny a lap. Every child was given armbands and according to Winn. “They kept on going up and down, up and down, and cost me £6 which was a lot of money in those days”.

Pam Hawkins (née Vass) pupil 1949 to 1956, now living in Southampton

Pam remembered being nervous and overawed by the building when she first arrived at the school. Later, however, she appreciated the wood panelling and the ornate ceilings, particularly in the ballroom, Unlike most of the other children, Pam had been in a mainstream school so many of her classmates were older than she was. Pam rarely opened her mouth during her first term, but things did improve – she finished up as Head Girl. This duty meant that on occasions when Mr. Leach was not available at concerts and other events. Pam had to stand in to give a vote of thanks. This experience, along with the help and encouragement from parents, staff and pupils meant that on leaving Burton Hill she was a confident woman, determined to get a job — something she managed to achieve.

Helen Hedges member of staff 1984 to 1996

Helen joined as a mature student on work experience. She was involved in a variety of work, including classroom assistant, bathing and putting the children to bed. She was impressed by the atmosphere — the patience, calmness and humour of the staff and felt that this created an environment of endeavour for the children. She claimed that there were no raised voices except those of excited children. There was a strong awareness of even the slightest achievements by the children.

Helen assisted in setting up the Beddington Centre for 16 to 19 year olds, to help students through their transitional time between pupil and young adult. “By concentrating on basic living skills (dressing, shopping. cooking etc.),” she explained, “the student would gain confidence, independence and an awareness of ‘the real world’.”

One shared thrill was the opening of the Beddington Unit [extended education facilities for residential students] by Princess Anne in 1988. Helen recalled one particular highlight. “One girl [Marie Barney], whose habit was to pause considerably before responding to a question was approached by Princess Anne who asked her a question. To my delight, the answer was immediate and appropriate.” Helen explained that it sometimes takes weeks or even months for a pupil to master a special skill. She remembered the delight of a nine year old boy who was so elated that he announced to the world: “I can stand up to pee”.

William Hilliard pupil

Entry in the Burton Hill House School Magazine Summer 1975, ‘Models We Made in Craft’: “In craft we made a model of a Martian holding a gun. First of all we bent wire into the shape we wanted him and started to build papier mâché round him. He has four arms, two on each side, and one eye which is blue, made out of an egg carton holder. Then we painted him golden horns and a black head. He was silver all over and his gun was a long poster holder covered with paper and cotton wool for smoke. Later, we made a dinosaur. We started off with a wire frame, covered it with papier mâché and crumpled up pieces on its tail. Then we cut up pieces of card for its teeth and put them in its mouth. We painted it green, yellow in places and red in its mouth, painted nails on its feet and let it dry and we might send it off for an exhibition.”

William Hilliard presents his craft model 1975

William Hilliard presents his craft model 1975

Theresa McCarthy (née Brown) pupil 1947 t0 1950, now living in Swansea

‘Tess’ had very clear memories of the school and even after almost 50 years could describe the ground floor layout perfectly. She recalled the dark wood panelling in the dining room and the shields and pikes on the walls of the hallway and stairs. Her starting date, 27 November 1947, coincided with the week of the Royal Wedding. Until that date, most of her time had been spent in hospital, receiving little or no education. At that time, there was no lift at the school. Some of the children slept in the ballroom, but the smaller children who used the 1st floor bedrooms were carried upstairs by the handyman and the gardener.

Maureen Pound (née Hennessy) domestic assistant 1950 to 1955

Maureen had vivid memories of her hard work and long shifts — 7am till 7pm with 2 hours off in the middle of the day. On Sundays she enjoyed going to church services, but often fell asleep during the sermons!

The Old Laundry Burton Hill House

The Old Laundry Burton Hill House

“At this time, all the nappies and draw sheets were washed in an outbuilding that was rather grandly known as The Laundry. By today’s standards this was laughable. The staff were given a small amount of washing powder and a bit of hand cream. There was a sort of washing machine there.” Even so, this was a real luxury to Maureen as she had never seen one before.

“Night duty was always a long stretch. I used to sit in the kitchen to get warm. With only one person on duty and being quite young at this time, it was sometimes quite frightening. One night I heard footsteps on the cobbles outside, but was relieved when the school donkey put his face up to the window. Sometimes the local policeman would call in for a cup of tea and a slice of toast which would always help the night along.”

One summer for those who had not gone home for the school holidays, the girls were taken to Lulworth Cove for a camping holiday. “It rained a great deal.” Maureen remembered. “In fact, one night the girls’ tent started to leak, so everyone, staff and girls, had to get into one tent. Several of the children were wheelchair users, and it was chaotic sorting things out the next morning.” Maureen felt sure that Lulworth is a beautiful place, but has never been back there!

Yvonne Pape (née Redman) pupil 1964 to 1969, now living in Crediton, Devon

“The swimming pool was the best thing that happened at Burton Hill while I was there. It gave the children a sense of freedom, whatever their disability.” She remembered Miss Canby (now Mrs Butler), the physiotherapist, being very patient with everyone. “She also set clear targets for the children. The biggest challenge came when the school was invited to compete in British Sports Association for the Disabled events at Stoke Mandeville. Burton Hill did well, returning on a ‘high’ with a couple of cups and lots of certificates?

Yvonne recalled numerous physical setbacks amongst the children. “Bones were easily broken and various sores arose. Miss Canby worked tirelessly to get the latest equipment (callipers, etc.) to help them. Many tears were shed by the pupils when things went wrong but Miss Canby never gave up.”

Funds were raised by children’s swimming activities and raising sponsorship through the Girl Guides, The Guides taught Yvonne new skills and set new targets. She enjoyed the Guides, especially the camps and cooking over an open fire. In 1968 she led a procession at Salisbury Cathedral.

Thanks to the patience shown by Miss Thompson, the art teacher, Yvonne passed O level art, and today works as the local secretary to the Art Society.

Mr C.W. Richards former assistant secretary of the Shaftesbury Society

Mr Richards first visited the school, with his boss, soon after it had opened. Mr Richards was a very junior member of Head Office at that time. Mr Leach, the warden at Burton Hill House School wanted permission to spend some money on a dishwasher. This did not meet with instant approval from Mr Richards’ boss. Mr Richards, quite aware of his junior standing, but took his courage in both hands and backed Mr Leach’s request, stating that having a dishwasher would in fact save time. More importantly, though, using boiling water would sterilise everything it washed, thus protecting the children’s health. This won the day and the dishwasher duly arrived.

Nell Redman M.B.E. friend of the school

Nell, a long-term supporter of the school, recalled the early years of the school fête. In those days, the fête committee included representatives from many the local clubs and societies. Nell was a member of the Women’s Institute whose contribution to the fête was a One Shilling Parcels stall. One regular feature at the fête was a roundabout which was supplied by E. K. Cole. Nell also remembered dances held in the ballroom for fund—raising purposes. “When these took place,” recalled Nell, “the children were all put to bed in good time before the dance began.”

E.K. Cole roundabout 1966 Courtesy of Nell Redman

E.K. Cole roundabout 1966 Courtesy of Nell Redman

Jane Sainsbury (née Leach) daughter of the first warden

Jane, the daughter of Mr & Mrs Leach, spent her entire childhood at the school. She described it as a wonderful time. Although an only child, Jane recognised this status as being short-lived. When she was shown around the school by her parents, she realised she had lots of sisters. Later on, when boys were admitted at the school, she had brothers as well! When Jane first arrived at the Burton Hill, there was a stable block opposite the front door. The construction of a chapel was planned for that location. Over the years, money was raised to pay for the chapel. This was completed and in 1960 it was dedicated. When Jane married at the chapel in 1967, a special license had to granted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to enable the wedding to take place. Later, her elder son was christened there.

The Chapel Burton Hill House Photograph by Terry Buchanan

The Chapel Burton Hill House Photograph by Terry Buchanan

When Jane was still a young child, representatives from UNICEF came to see “how it’s done” at Burton Hill. The blue United Nations flag flew at the school and her father was justifiably proud of the fact that the school led the field.

She remembered two ladies who, on hands and knees, used to scrub the wooden floor of the long corridor which runs along the first floor. She was not satisfied until she was given some dungarees and could help them. “Those days are long gone; the corridor is now carpeted.” A not—so—pleasant memory she had as a child was an occasion when she fell off a banister and tumbled down the full flight of stairs. She landed on the grand piano. Years later, Jane was to be photographed, looking very elegant, on that same staircase on her wedding day.

Jack Warner, best known as “Dixon of Dock Green”, was a popular guest when he opened one of the annual school fêtes. He came armed with lots of photos which he autographed and sold to raise funds for the school. A newspaper report of the event tells that the sales raised £25. Jane also remembered a switch—back ride at fête. Apparently, this took almost a week to construct and almost as long to dismantle.

James Scurlack pupil 1974 to 1979 and member of staff 1983 to 1989

James’s connection with Burton Hill is unique. He is the only person (so far) to have been both pupil and member of staff at the school. James could barely walk when he joined Victoria School [another Shaftesbury Society establishment]. He left there walking with sticks and came to Burton Hill House School. He spoke highly of the physiotherapy treatment he received. As a result he could now walk without any aids, drive his own car and sail whenever the chance arises.

Burton Hill Fête switch-back ride

Burton Hill Fête switch-back ride

Mabel Tidmarsh member of staff 1948 to 1960

Mabel worked as a seamstress at the school for 12 years. She spoke with great affection about the staff, the school and of course the children. Her workplace was the room which was until recently the education vice-principal’s office. She recalled the great bolts of cloth which she used for making dresses and dark green gym slips for the girls, as well as bedspreads, and curtains for the windows. Most of the curtains needed replacing. “When you realise there are over 70 windows in the school then you know what a mammoth task that was”. Mabel remembered the fact that the smaller children were carried upstairs to bed. There were pulleys fitted to all the upstairs bedroom windows in case of fire. If fire had broken out, the children would have been put in slings and lowered out of the windows! In those days there were no weekends at home for the children; in fact some did not go home at term end. One pupil who had a “crush” on the ambulance driver and finished up marrying him.

Cynthia Walton (née Waldron) pupil 1951 to 1957, still living in Birmingham

When she joined Burton Hill House School, Cynthia was 12 years old with no formal education. She said it seemed like an endless journey from her home in Birmingham to Malmesbury and she cried most of the way. She enjoyed her time at the school, however, and had fond memories of the choir, nativity plays and particularly staying up late on bonfire night when there was parkin cake to eat and Tizer to drink.

Cynthia recalled that they were only allowed one family visit a month, but she had a brother in the RAF stationed at Melksham. “He was going to be sent abroad so was allowed to visit me as a special favour. He arrived in uniform, much to the delight of the other girls. I felt very lucky having an extra visitor.” She was also fortunate with the monthly visits because her father was a chauffeur and had use of the car. Cynthia used to wait in a tiny room upstairs which was reminiscent of a turret room. From this window it was possible to see any visitors who came through the main gate. She remembered the occasions when the Queen Mother used to stay at Spye Park and visit Cheltenham races. “The [Burton Hill] children were lined up outside the school to see the royal car go past. Many of them cherished this as the highlight of their year.”


Burton Hill House School has retained school log books covering the time from its inception until a few years ago. The following selection records some of the highlights extracted from these log books. The entries in italics that conclude each year are some of the key parallel national and international events.

1947 Burton Hill House School opened with eight girls and headmistress Miss K. McLeod- Craik (1 May) The school’s first Christmas included parties and entertainment, talking pictures and a ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ puppet show provided by local supporters ♦ Britain’s coal mines nationalised. Christian Dior’s New Look for women ’s fashion launched.

1948 The pupil role had now grown to 34 girls, and was divided into three classes, the new teachers being Miss Green and Miss Blackwell ♦ The school had a half—day holiday in response to His Majesty the King’s request to commemorate the Silver Wedding of the King and Queen (26 Apr) ♦ National Health Service launched.

1949 Forty—one girls on role ♦ There was a Christmas concert to an audience of one hundred people. An exhibition of handwork and other studies was put on display in the classrooms. RAF Lyneham, deciding to adopt the school as their chosen charity, supplied a lunch for a Christmas Party (19 Dec) ♦ Clothes rationing ended after eight years.

International visit

1950 The senior girls from a local school St Joseph’s entertained the school with country dancing (15 May) ♦ A Baffle Murphy wireless set was given to the school by friends from Gt. Bedwyn and two extension speakers for the other classrooms were given by the girls of Kings Waven School, Plumstead (19 Apr) ♦ Mr Hicler provided two buses for the school to have a day trip to Sandbanks. It was the first time two of the girls had seen the sea (14 Sep) ♦ ‘Eagle’and ‘Dan Dare’ comics launched. Princess Anne born. George Bernard Shaw died.

1951 The school had an out break of Influenza. The school was closed as only nine girls were up, and most staff had taken to their beds (6 Feb) ♦ The school was visited by a party of 52 delegates to a World Health Organisation course organised by the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund. Among the visitors were nine educationalists from seven countries. All three classes arranged a display of typical work done. The visiting teachers that were taken around the school seemed very impressed with the school desks, the use of typewriters and rubber stamps (19 Apr) ♦ Festival of Britain opened in May. Stone of Scone stolen from Westminster Abbey.

1952 Annual Prize Giving and Parents Day. Each girl was allowed four visitors and about 130 people filled the ballroom. Mrs Spencer from Head Office introduced Miss Myra Smith O.B.E., who spoke to the girls and presented the prizes and certificates (18 Oct) ♦ King George VI died. Lynmouth flood in August. Eva Peron (‘Evita’) died.

School choir enters music festival

1953 The whole school went to the pantomime at the Palace Theatre, Bath by kind invitation of the management (15 Jan) ♦ The new classroom was at last in use and class 3 started there (16 Apr) ♦ A choir of twenty girls entered the Wiltshire Music Festival at Devizes. They were placed third in their section and awarded a 1st Class certificate of merit with 86% (8 May) ♦ The school was closed for the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from 1st to 3rd June ♦ Stanley Matthews won his first FA Cup. British team conquered Everest. Joseph Stalin died.

Rail strike hampers prize-giving day

1954 There were now 45 girls on role, Eve new girls having joined the school (four nine year olds and one aged thirteen). None of the girls had had much previous schooling ♦ Confirmation by the Bishop of Malmesbury of eighteen candidates. The rest of the school was present (29 Mar) ♦ Prize Giving and Parents Day. Only about 40 people attended, as there was a rail strike on the Western Region (22 May) ♦ Rock and Roll began with Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around the Clock’. Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile.

1955 Although a Saturday the school was open as Sir David Eccles, Minister of Education, visited. The school took the Monday off to replace the Saturday, except for the Commercial Class which continued as usual (1 Oct) ♦ Disneyland opened in USA. Teddy boys arrested in Bath for creating a disturbance.

1956 Visit by Mr Franklin with mother of a prospective scholar from Persia (19 Apr) School reopened with Miss Burdett joining the staff to replace Miss Archbold. Head teacher was out part of the day on an advance needlework course (5 Sep) ♦ Premium Bonds introduced. New self-service shops spring up around Britain. Introduction of parking meters planned.

1957 Girls received prizes from the Cadbury’s Essay Competition (5 Mar) ♦ Gift of a large Weave Master frame from Mrs Lucus of Chippenham (21 Mar) ♦ Many girls taken to their bed with Chicken Pox; Miss Craik, the headmistress went on a three day course on rush work (19 Nov) ♦ Channel Tunnel proposal resurrected by the Suez Canal Company. The year of Macmillan’s ‘We’ve never had it so good’.

Gift to refugees

1958 Mr Allan from Israel visited the school on behalf of parents wishing to place their Hebrew daughter in the school, while he is visiting this country on Parliamentary business (1 May) Miss Harrison started at the school to coach with reading and arithmetic on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (23 Jun) ♦ Miss Robinson gave a talk to the girls and showed them slides on behalf of the Oxford Famine Relief Committee. The girls made a blanket from knitted squares and wrote to a refugee family (7 Jul) ♦ Elvis Presley drafted into the US Army. Eight miles of the Preston Bypass opened Britain’s first motorway.

1959 Swimming at Bath began with twelve girls going weekly. 34 girls on the register at present (3O Oct) ♦ Dalai Lama fled from Tibet. Male manual worker’s wages averaged £13.2s.6d per week. B.M.C. Mini launched.

1960 The school was closed for the Royal Wedding (6 May) ♦ The chapel was used for the first time for school service (16 May) ♦ The girls that were Brownies enjoyed a visit to Bristol Zoo, as they missed the Brownie Revels which was the same day as the school prize giving (7 Jul) ♦ Opening of the School Chapel and the P.T. Department (15 Sep) ♦ Europe’s first moving pavement opened at London’s Bank tube station. Last National Serviceman received his call—up card.

Boys arrive at the school

1961 Mr Franklin paid a visit to consider new buildings (18 Jan) ♦ The school went up to the Town Hall to see the Queen go through in the afternoon (20 Apr) ♦ Class 4 formed with six pupils, with their class area in the bay window of the ballroom (30 May) ♦ Plans drawn up for a hydrotherapy pool, the cost estimated at £7000. It was decided that the fête this year should be for fund—raising for the pool, Bob Arnold from the BBC’s ‘The Archers’ agreed to open the fête. The highest amount on record was raised, the total of nearly £500 ♦ Boy pupils arrived at Burton Hill. The matron mentioned in the school annual report that one of the changes to the school with the introduction of boys was the sound of Cowboys and Indians on the prowl in the boys’ dormitory. The school had boys aged 8-11 years and girls 9—16 years ♦ Children’s Hour ends after 39 years. First man put in space by the Soviet Union.

Burton Hill House Trophies Courtesy of Jane Sainsbury

Burton Hill House Trophies Courtesy of Jane Sainsbury

1962 A party of senior girls went to a Handicapped Rally at Fosbury Manor and met one of our old pupils there (15 Jun) ♦ Sunday Times colour supplement introduced. First passenger hovercraft enters service.

1963 School re-opened. Only 17 pupils managed to get here as snow and ice caused problems for many (9 Jan) ♦ Miss J D Thomson joined the staff. Visit by Miss Wells the headmistress of the new Florence Treloar School to be opened in 1965 (5 Nov) ♦ First successful kidney transplant. Year of the Great Train Robbery. President John Kennedy assassinated.

1964 Presentation of an electric typewriter by the head girl and head boy of Bremilham School to Burton Hill. Margaret Coles received it and typed a thank you note on it Mr St C. Byrne of Bournemouth brought a tape recording made by the children of Victoria School. After listening to it the boys and girls made a recording of songs and messages from old Bournemouth pupils for him to take back (3 Jul) ♦ Pope Paul VI visited The Holy Land. Cassius Clay became World Heavyweight Champion.

1965 Miss Green, teacher at the school since December 1947, went to Buckingham Palace (31 May) ♦ At assembly Brook Bond prizes and certificates were presented for Verse Speaking (9 Jul) ♦ Eleven pupils sat the Pitman’s Elementary and Intermediate exams (19 Jul) ♦ Sir Winston Churchill died. A two-week package holiday to the Costa del Sol cost £66.16s. One millionth Mini produced.

Visitors galore

1966 Mrs Scott took three of the girls to see The Sound of Music at Bristol (17 Feb) ♦ Visit by Mr Thoroughgood, chairman of the Shaftesbury Society, and Mrs Thoroughgood (7 Jun) Visit by Mr Crudge of Victoria School, Poole, for Sports Day (21 Jul) ♦ The children were entertained at the Christmas Party by a conjurer who gave his services through the kindness of Wing Com. Bray of Lyneham (21 Dec) ♦ GPO post codes began at Croydon. The Aberfan disaster.

1967 Visit by Apple Annie who gave the children apples, and spoke on the care of teeth (22 May) Twelve girls and Miss Craik and Mr Cox went to the Golden Jubilee Celebrations at the Victoria House School, Poole (5 Jul) ♦ Donald Campbell died in Bluebird accident. Six Day War between Arabs and Israel. Flower Power bloomed at Woburn Festival.

An aerial view of Burton Hill House

An aerial view of Burton Hill House

1968 School started at 9.30 and went on to 12.30 for an experimental period to see if it would ease the getting up problems. Afternoon school 2-4 as usual (8 Jul) ♦ School re—opened after the summer break three days late, due to the re-wiring etc.. Miss Green became acting Headmistress this term as Miss Craik had become in very poor health (10 Sep) ♦ Two Christmas performances in the Chapel as the Ballroom was partly out of use due to rebuilding (3-4 Dec) ♦ Mr Pollard, the new headmaster, was present at the play, along with the Bishop of Malmesbury ♦ Martin Luther King assassinated. First successful British heart transplant.

Fire breaks out at the school

1969 Mr Stan Pollard took up his appointment as headmaster. He was the second head that the school had inherited from Chailey Heritage Croft School (8 Jan) ♦ Sixteen children accompanied by Miss Green and Mrs Laysell to Athelstan Cinema to see The Taming of the Shrew (10 Feb) ♦ Mr Pollard was absent for 3 days whilst his wife was in hospital — a baby daughter was born to them (12 Feb) ♦ “We were pleased to see Miss Craik in the congregation when four of the girls were confirmed in the chapel” (13 Mar) ♦ A fire broke out in the Headmasters’ Office and Staff Room, during the lunch hour. It was quickly put under control by Mr Thorpe Assistant Chief Fire Prevention Officer, who happened to be present in the building at the time. He decided to call the brigade. Little damage was done and the offending electric fire was removed (17 Mar) ♦ The children in the senior school went on an educational trip to Stratford—on—Avon (9 Jul) ♦ Class 4 with Mrs Parsloe moved from the Ballroom to Miss Greens room prior to the redecoration of the Ballroom and Miss Green moved with her class to the west end of the chapel (7 Nov) ♦ Concorde takes her maiden flight, North Sea oil discovered. First man on the Moon.

1970 School started with only 21 children owing to the bad weather; the new art room was still not complete (7 Jan) ♦ Miss Thomson and Mr Pollard attended a one—day course on School Assembly accompanied by Mr Price, headmaster of Malmesbury Primary School (5 Mar) ♦ All the school was gathered together to be informed of the rules when using the new classroom and the new domestic science room, which were used for the first time (5 Jun) ♦ The whole school visited the Red Arrows that are at nearby Kemble (26 Jun) ♦ Opening and Dedication of the Beddington Wing (26 Sep) ♦ The whole school attended the Freedom of Malmesbury ceremony (30 Sep) The new stage was used for the first time (2 Dec) ♦ First Jumbo jet landed at Heathrow Airport. New English Bible went on sale.

1971 It was decided to postpone the fête due to the flooding on the bottom lawn, the fête was rescheduled for July 3 (11Jun) ♦ School re—opened with 44 on the role: “classes have been reorganised on Secondary basis with slight modification to the lower school”. The teaching staff were: Mr Pollard, Miss Green, Mrs Price, Miss Thomson, Mrs Turner, Mrs Luxton and Mrs Greenley (9 Sep) ♦ 1d and 3d coins ceased to be legal tender Britain’s most popular TV programme — ‘Opportunity Knocks ’.

Changes to personnel

1972 Farewell tea—party for Miss Green, who had been at the school since the year it opened (27 Mar) ♦ Mr Poulter welcomed to the school (17 Apr) ♦ A farewell party for Mr and Mrs Leach, superintendent and matron of this school for 26 years. The friends of Burton Hill organised this party to honour the service they had both given to the school. A cheque for £100 was presented to the couple. Mrs Price was also to leave and was presented with a cheque for One Guinea. Miss J Harrison filled the position (26 Jul) ♦ Mrs Rosemary Irving, the new secretary, started at the school (4 Sep) ♦ Bill passed by Parliament to take Britain into the EEC.

1973 Visit to the school by Mr Thomerson, the Shaftesbury_Architect, in connection with the new wash-up, laundry and Ann Brocklebank development (16 Jan) ♦ The school was given a colour television by The Friends; the children were able to watch Princess Anne’s wedding. The school took a day’s holiday for the event (14 Nov) ♦ Britain went on ‘Three Day Week’. Independent radio launched in Britain.

Dangerous prank and false alarm

1974 Mr Pollard spoke to all year 4 and 5 regarding dangerous pranks (an imitation bomb was found under Charlie’s bed) (18 Jan) ♦ Yvonne Norris achieved success at the National Spastic Games, taken by Mr and Mrs Butler with Jackie Ready (8 Jul) ♦ The fire alarms went off at 2.15am. 4 engines, 2 police cars, 2 ambulances arrived before Mr Pollard got to the school from the headmaster’s house. It was a false alarm (7 Dec) ♦ The year of runaway inflation: cost of a Mini pushed above £1OOO; nurses received pay rises of 58%; price of petrol increased from 42p to 72p per gallon.

1975 All the 57 children and helpers went to the Pantomime, 85 seats in total, all back to school for 7 o’clock (13 Jan) ♦ Birthday of Miss Northcott [matron] at which she announced her engagement (5 Dec) ♦ Margaret Thatcher became first woman leader of a British political party.

1976 Mr Pearce took some of the boys to a football match, Bristol City v Stoke (7 Feb) A new Matron has been appointed to the school Miss Ludlow-Hewitt (1 Dec) ♦ Installation of a new boiler costing £2000+ commenced by a Cirencester company (20 Dec) ♦ Mao Tse—tung died. BBC TV’s ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ ended after 21 years.

1977 Opening of The Brocklebank Wing. Many guests came to this opening including the Bishop of Malmesbury and the Mayor (6 May) ♦ Queens Guide presentation to Jackie Bowhall (13 May) ♦ Presentation of Silver Jubilee mugs by the Mayor to the children; Burton Hill House School had also passed its 25 years anniversary (1 Jul) Presentation to “Alec” at his retirement after 30 years service (20 Jul) ♦ Mr Sharpe local Fire Chief informed the school that the fire brigade would still come out to the school in the case of a fire even though a national strike was on (1 Nov) ♦ Elvis Presley died aged 42 years. Charlie Chaplin died aged 88 years.

1978 Party returned from Churchtown Farm. The vehicle got a puncture on the back wheel while crossing the Avonmouth Bridge (l7May) ♦ New scheme of three lessons in the afternoon instead of two (4 Aug) ♦ The friends of Burton Hill Association completed thirty years of collections and fêtes for the school (20 Sep) ♦ World’s first test-tube baby born at Oldham District Hospital.

Red Indians visit school

1979 The main office was divided in two: the headmaster with one and the secretary with the other (Summer). Visit by Red Indian Tribe (14 Jul) ♦ Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first woman Prime Minister.

1980 Malmesbury Lions held an Evening Social in the Ballroom as a fund—raiser for the school, while the school was on half-term holiday (31 Oct) ♦ Bonfire Night: the Round Table organised the event and everyone enjoyed a bowl of soup and a roll (8 Nov) ♦ Smallpox eradicated by modern medicine. John Lennon of the Beatles fatally shot.

1981 Heavy snow yesterday; electricity off for sixty hours in the district, though some of the schools remained on (27 Apr) ♦ 5th formers’ outing with the headmaster to Lambeth Palace (10 Jun) ♦ Katherine Araniello won £30O with a poster she had painted to promote teeth care. She collected a £250 cheque for the school and a £50 cheque for herself. The presentation was made by John Noakes [BBC Children’s TV presenter] (22 Sep) ♦ Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer.

1982 Children returned from Christmas holidays to deep snow. Mr La Fontaine’s Mini J.C.B. was used to clear the snow from the front of the school (4 Jan) ♦ Still thick snow but the pupils managed to get to the Swindon Pantomime (12 Jan) ♦ Demise of Post Office Telegrams. The Falklands War.

Roger Reynolds & Beryl Mann on a school outing Courtesy of Beryl Mann

Roger Reynolds & Beryl Mann on a school outing Courtesy of Beryl Mann

1983 The retiring headmaster, Mr Pollard was invited by staff and pupils to visit the swimming pool. In front of the gathered assembly they pushed Mr Pollard fully clothed into the pool, “this being a traditional Burton Hill House School way of wishing people well as they move on”. (25 Mar) ♦ School returned from the Easter holidays to a new headmaster, Mr Philip Drake with his wife Sheila and their four children (11 Apr) ♦ The new Head’s first taste of Fête Day, which he recalled as “chaos in the morning, lots of people in the afternoon, and lots of money in by evening £3500” (18 Jun) ♦ Maureen Conroy started duties as matron of Burton Hill House School ♦ Wheel clamps introduced into parts of London.

New bus arrives

1984 Week—end of the Swimbulance sponsored swim to help raise money for the much needed new bus (24 Mar) After lots of fund—raising done both by the school, Friends of Burton Hill, and by other organisations, the new bus was purchased. David Poulter was sent to London to collect the bus, which managed to breakdown on the way back to school. It ran out of petrol! (l6 Jun) ♦ 7 senior boys and 3 staff and 3 volunteers departed in the new bus to Germany (4 Jul) ♦ Lightening set York Minster ablaze. Aids virus discovered.

1985 Heartbeat [a Christian rock band] took assembly and gave each pupil a copy of their latest record (6 Jan) ♦ Children were taken to the Cotswold Water Park on a nice sunny day. Bruce Beal organised trips in a small boat and the children thoroughly enjoy themselves ♦ Bradford football stadium disaster. Bob Geldolf’s ‘Live Aid’ for Ethiopia. Sinclair C5 unveiled.

1986 The production of the Old Time Music Hall gave great pleasure to the pupils and staff alike, and enjoyed by a very enthusiastic audience. From the money raised by this event a total of £403 was presented to the directors for the Malmesbury Hospital Appeal (Spring) ♦ Nuclear accident at Chernobyl, USSR.

1987 The keys to the Abbey Leaze Centre were handed to the Headmaster. The first group to use the building arrived, even before the building was furnished (8 Jun) ♦ Hurricane hit southern England. Soaring house prices during the year added £53 per day to a typical semi- detached house in southern England.

Royal visit

1989 The Princess Royal visited Burton Hill House School for the opening of the Beddington Unit. The Princess met all the pupils and was very interested in the work they showed her. It was a wonderful afternoon, and after the visit, the Princess left the school by flying away in a red helicopter from the school lawns (9 Jun) ♦ The Berlin Wall was demolished. Tienanmen Square massacre.

The Princess Royal visits Burton Hill House School 1989 Courtesy of Jane Sainsbury

The Princess Royal visits Burton Hill House School 1989 Courtesy of Jane Sainsbury

1990 Mr Drake and Mrs Conroy went with some of the pupils to RAF Lyneham when Her Majesty the Queen visited the station. The Burton Hill group was introduced to Her Majesty (17 May) ♦ Introduction of the Poll Tax. Year of the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Record heat wave in August.

Burton Hill House School on TV

1991 Sir Harry Secombe visited the school with a team from H.T.V. for their ‘Highway’ programme. Sir Harry was filmed talking to the Head Teacher and then singing one of his songs on the steps leading down the terraces ♦ Resignation of President Gorbachev signalled the end of the Soviet Union. Operation Desert Storm launched the Gulf War.

Harry Secombe & Charlotte Telling Courtesy of Beryl Mann

Harry Secombe & Charlotte Telling Courtesy of Beryl Mann

1993 The Wedding of Burton Hill teacher

Julia Morton to Mr Ted Livesey took place in Burton Hill Chapel, a special licence having been received from the Archbishop of Canterbury. The service and reception were attended by all the pupils and staff of the school (8 Dec) ♦ Buckingham Palace opened its gates to tourists at £8 per head. UK insurance companies put the value of a wife at £349 per week.

Competition winners

1994 Four Burton Hill children came up trumps when they entered the Crime Watch fraud prevention competition. The group called themselves The Burton Hill Mob, and were so well placed in the competition that they each won £2O gift vouchers plus a £500 cheque for the school. They received their certificates in a ceremony at London presented by two stars from ITV’s ‘The Bill’ programme (April) ♦ Channel Tunnel opened. Barbie Doll celebrated 35 years.

1995 OFSTED inspection. The report at the end of this busy week was a very good one. The staff met at the Kings Arms Hotel in Malmesbury on the Friday evening for a much—needed meal to celebrate (Nov) ♦ Shaftesbury Society’s Nicky Slater came to the school for filming to be included is to be part of the BBC’s Songs of Praise special ‘Praise on Ice’ It was televised during the Christmas holidays (Dec) ♦ A Newcastle secondary school gave alarm clocks to its new intake of pupils to ensure they arrived on time.

1997 Mrs Sheila Wills joined the staff to take up the new post of vice principal (administration) (19 Jan) ♦ Mrs Rosemary Irving retired as secretary after twenty-four and a half years. A special assembly was held to mark this event (28 Feb) ♦ Burton Hill House School celebrated fifty years. A thanksgiving service took place at Malmesbury Abbey attended by pupils and staff, past and present together with the numerous friends of the school. A celebration party followed in the school grounds (2 May) ♦ Other 50th birthdays included the principal Phil Drake and his wife Sheila along with other staff: Jan Hurley, Illona Heal and Wendy Browning, and governor Carolynne Giddins.

What a good year 1947 was!