St Michael's School

Photo:2 Harrinton Road - formerly St Michael's School

2 Harrinton Road - formerly St Michael's School

┬ęTony Mould: all images copyright protected

Idyllic memories

By Paul O

A distinctly unorthodox curriculum

My year group was the very last at St Michael's School. The school had long been at the Victorian villa in Harrington Road by then and pupil numbers were in decline. I have such idyllic memories, though. I remember lessons in rooms that had clearly been living-rooms, still with mouldings and cornices and fireplaces; playtime in the garden, with its lawns, its pond, its woodpile and lunch at a single long table. We had basic literacy for the first year and then onto Miss Willis's distinctly unorthodox curriculum. Even in the mid-1960s, as modernity assailed the worm-eaten fabric of British life, we still learned poems by Wordsworth, Latin nouns, the geography of the Tigris and the Euphrates, and St Paul's itinerary through the Holy Land.

Cook made our favourite dishes

We sat exams, played cricket -- though there were barely enough of us to form two teams, sang hymns and listened to Miss Willis read each morning from a Bible on onion-skin paper with gilt edges. And yes, we still rested on grey blankets after lunch. One of my favourite memories is of Miss Willis inscribing my name and the year (1965) on Kennedy's Latin Primer, a copy that followed me around for decades. There was the cook who came in each day and would prepare our favourite dishes for us; mine was at the time was gooseberry tart. I distinctly remember a raw winter morning when it was suddenly decided that every child should have hot milk and Lincoln biscuits to fortify them.

Are you an ex-pupil of St Michael's? If you can share your memories, please leave a comment below.

The spell was broken

If I remember correctly, the school moved to Preston Park Avenue briefly. Then in the summer, on the last day of term, the teachers were selling off the fittings: parents took away infant desks and chairs, children acquired tantalising packets of coloured chalks that had languished in cupboards for years. Sadly all at once, the spell was broken. In recent years, I thought about revisiting the house in Harrington Road, but it is now divided into flats and there is probably little trace of the school. But they were such happy days.

This page was added on 10/08/2014.
Comments about this page

My brother Roger and I were pupils here in the early 1960s. Your reminiscences revived many of my own. I owe a lot to Miss Willis, especially an appreciation of poetry. Somewhere I have a copy of Palgrave's (?)  Golden Treasury signed by her. What along time ago and what a legacy? I have been very lucky in life and owe a good deal of my successes to her. 

By Geoffrey Munn (20/05/2017)