Early History of
St. Giles School
Page 2 Page 3
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
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
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
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
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
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.