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The Early History of
St. Giles School
Horsted Keynes
Page 4

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1940 June "The children practised Air Raid Drill using the church as a refuge."

Sept. The work of the school was continually interrupted by Air Raids. The school was not dismissed until the all clear was given sometimes as late as 5.0 p.m. (Battle of Britain). About this time the hut at Valley Holme was found to be unsuitable and its use was discontinued.

1941 By Jan. 1941 the Heathbrook School occupied only one classroom; presumably many of the evacuees had returned to London. The Village School now had only 61 on roll taught by two teachers. In October 1941 the remaining evacuees merged with the Village School with a staff of three, one an LCC teacher. There were 84 on roll.

1942 A police sergeant lectured the children on dangerous objects dropped from aircraft.

1944 The first Parent Teachers Evening was held.

1945 The school celebrated V.E. with a two day holiday.

1946 The school canteen was electrified and regular canteen staff engaged.

1947 The weather in the early months of this year was very severe; the pipes froze and the school was closed for long periods. Swimming instruction at East Grinstead open-air pool was given once a week during the summer months.

1948 A Parent Teachers Association was formed.

    During the post war period many schools were modernised and in some cases the old school was replaced by a new one. The Managers of Horsted Keynes school considered building a new school, and two possible sites were discussed. One site considered was the Cricket Field and the other a plot of 2[half] acres at the rear of Hamsland House. The latter was reserved by the County Council for this purpose but the new school was never built, and in 1954 work began on the conversion of the old building. A third classroom was built, central heating and electric light and power were installed and inside sanitation provided. The old infants' classroom, which had originally contained the gallery, was converted to serve as a staff room and school office.

Sept. 28th 1955. The Opening and Blessing of the new school building by the Right Reverend, the Lord Bishop of Chichester at 7.00 p.m.

    Many Church schools could no longer meet the expense of improving the standard of their premises and had to become "Controlled". This meant that the Local authority met all expenses but the Church's authority over the school was diminished. The Church in Horsted Keynes was determined, if possible, to maintain Aided status for the school and this they managed to do. This meant that the School Managers were responsible for the fabric of the building although they could claim a grant towards the cost of repairs and extensions. They enjoyed certain privileges also; the Managers appointed the staff of the school and could use the building for church purposes. They also had control over the religious teaching in the school.

    Mote Croft, which had been the residence of the Headmaster for so long, was not used as such after about 1930 and was let to tenants. For many years renting out the school house had raised insufficient money to keep it in proper repair and any funds needed by the school had been provided by the P.C.C. regular collections being taken in church for the maintenance of the school. In 1973 the School Managers sold Mote Croft and the proceeds were invested.

    During the 1960s plans were drawn up for the extension of the school by building a hall adjacent to the school kitchen, but these plans were never put into effect. The sale of Mote Croft produced additional capital and provided for further development necessitated by the post war population "bulge" bringing the school roll to 125 in 1975. The old army hut used as a canteen had become dangerously rotten, and in 1972 was replaced by a new, larger prefabricated building to serve as an additional classroom and also the dining room.

    The 1960s and 70s were times of experimentation and growth in the new Primary schools of this country. New educational ideas were practised which gave teachers and children a much greater opportunity to explore, experiment and to pursue topics of particular individual interest; centres of interest and "project work" replaced the rigid timetables of pre war days. In mathematics a real interest in mathematical ideas rather than an emphasis on lengthy calculations was fostered. The local environment was used to a greater degree enabling the pupils to engage in first hand scientific geographical and historical pursuits. It is however, interesting to note that in this school there is evidence that such methods had been used by far-sighted head teachers long before it became fashionable to employ these methods. Another building project undertaken was the provision of a swimming pool in the school grounds. The children carried out an archaeological dig on the site before the pool was built. At the deepest levels, in excess of three feet, shards of coarse pottery were discovered. At about 2 ft. 6'' shards of Elizabethan green glaze pottery were found having thumb patterns on what had obviously been the base of the artefact. Black glaze pottery of the 17th and 18th centuries were found above and even nearer the surface an abundance of Victorian crocks. At all but the lowest levels pieces of clay pipes were unearthed and identified by the authority D.R. Atkinson. The oldest small bowled pipes were of the 17th century. The shards of pottery found at the lowest levels were not positively identified, but as they were at a lower level than the Elizabethan pottery could be the remains of medieval pots used in the original Manor House.

    The twinning of Horsted Keynes with Cahagnes in Normandy prompted exchanges between the two village schools which from 1971 were made for several years. During the 1960s plays had become a regular event in the school calendar. Each December a play or pantomime was produced in which every child in the school took part. During the seventies these plays were continued but during the spring term.

    At Christmastime each year a Boy Bishop was chosen to be enthroned on St. Nicholas' Day and later to preside over the Christmas Carol Concert. At about this time the custom of giving each child a slice of "plumb cake" on the last day of the Christmas term was revived.

    In 1974 Maypole Dancing was revived and it became traditional to hold a May Fair each year with dancing and a mumming play.

    In 1982 a further prefabricated building provided an additional classroom. This building was a redundant classroom from a school site in Crawley which was dismantled, transported, re-erected, repaired and redecorated entirely by the efforts of parents of children in the school.

    In 1980 the arms of Archbishop Leighton the fierce Leighton lion and the motto "in mitiorem partem" were first used by the school. In 1984 children from the school took part in a pageant to commemorate the tercentenary of the death of the Archbishop.

    The old roadsign to give warning of the proximity of a school was the torch of knowledge which is handed on from generation to generation. In Horsted Keynes the torch was aptly lit by one named Lightmlaker inspired by his Uncle Archbishop Leighton whose name in his native Scotland is pronounced LIGHTEN.

Researched and written by Ruth Bird & Robert Sellens. June 1986.
Scanned and Re-Edited by Robert and Christopher Philpot Jan 2002

This is the end of the book as originally published we hope to bring it up to date as soon as we can. There is a lot more story to tell including the building of the Macmillan Wing. Staff changes include the appointment of new head teachers. Other teachers coming and going, lots of musical shows, and the highest number of pupils "since records began".

Oh yes, the canteen has gone to a better place too, along with "home cooked" hot school meals and "dinner ladies". Hope that you like eating sandwiches, at least you can eat them outside in the nature corner!

The school also has an new purpose built hall. Unfortunately this means that the school's swimming pool to which many parents contributed just 20 years' ago was buried and the kids now have to bus to Haywards Heath for swimming lessons. This "progress" was regretted by many.


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