ITS HISTORY from the STONE AGE to the 21st CENTURY





Home  General History  General Notes  Person Index  Contact me











Google Earth placemark for the location of the School



The Elementary Education Act of 1870 introduced the concept of compulsory education for children under thirteen, but initially didn’t insist on compulsory attendance and only required the provision of education for children up to ten years of age. For children in High Hurstwood this would mean a long walk to Buxted Church of England School that had been established in 1857, but as the parish of High Hurstwood had been formed from the northern section of Buxted parish in 1871 and a church was being built it was decided that a school should also be provided 2 miles north of Buxted school. It’s thought that the school was built with money donated by Lady Harcourt in co-operation with the National Society that had been set up to promote the building of Church of England schools.



The 17 July 1873 edition of the Pall Mall Gazette carried a list of recently issued parliamentary papers, one of which was a scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners relating to the management of a school to be established at Hurstwood in the original Parish of Buxted, Sussex. In this scheme a trust was to be created by separating out £900 of the Saunders’ Charity endowment for this trust only. The Governing Body was to consist of three elective and three co-optative governors. The first three co-optative governors were to be Colonel Francis Vernon Harcourt of Buxted Park, The Rev Charles Swainson Vicar of Hurstwood and Joseph D’Aguilar Samuda MP of Chillies. The subjects of secular instruction were to be: reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and for girls also needlework. The date of this scheme was 20 November 1873, being the date Her Majesty by Order in Council declared Her approval of it.

A scheme for the administration of the Saunders’ Charity approved by Her Majesty in Council on 23 October 1876 included using £60 of the charity’s income to support four local elementary schools with Hurstwood Endowed School receiving £25, and if the charity’s income was sufficient £50 was to be used to advance the education of the pupils attending these schools with Hurstwood receiving £10 for free places, scholarships, additional books and equipment, etc.[1]



The normally accepted dates for the start of this school are that its construction was started in 1872, this being the date on the cast-iron guttering, and that it opened in November 1873. The 1882 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Sussex states that High Hurstwood Church of England School was built in 1872 for 120 boys and girls and had an average attendance of 93. The school has an endowment of £30 yearly from bequests by the late Colonel Harcourt and Lady Catherine J V Harcourt; £25 from Saunders’ Charity and £10 from Fermor of Crowborough’s Charity.

A newspaper report on the school’s centenary celebrations in 1974 reported that the land on which the school stands was purchased for £25 10s, and then in 1879 a piece of land was acquired for £7 10s so that the head teacher could cultivate it as a garden. This land on which the original school was built had been one of the fields of a small farm known as Red Tile House, now called Hurstwood House, which had for many years been one of the assets owned by the Saunders’ Charity that had been setup in the early 18th century by Dr Anthony Saunders, Rector of Buxted, to promote the education of children in the parishes of Buxted and Uckfield. The early history of this land will be found on the page detailing the history of Hurstwood House, formerly Red Tile House, when this becomes available.


The 19th Century

The first Admission Register and Log Book for the school, which covered the 19th century and first few years of the 20th century have been lost so the history of the school during this time has had to be assembled from other sources.

So there is no list of the initial intake of pupils, but three or four of the girls in this initial intake can be deduced from the 4 September 1878 edition of The Sussex Advertiser that reported on the Buxted Annual Flower Show held at Buxted Park on Wednesday 28 August 1878. This listed the winners of Colonel Harcourt’s prizes of books to the girls of High Hurstwood School for the best specimens of needlework. The 1st prize went to Alice Tourle, 2nd to Hannah Midmore, 3rd to Louisa Muddle and 4th to Sally Wilmshurst. So these four girls, who all lived in the village, were going to High Hurstwood School in 1878. As the first three of them were recorded as going to school in the 1871 census, they must have then been going to Buxted School as High Hurstwood School had yet to be built, and when High Hurstwood School opened two years later they would have been amongst the first intake of pupils. Sally Wilmshurst, who was only 2 years old in 1871, would have started school at the time High Hurstwood School opened, or shortly after.



The 1878 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Sussex states that Miss Elizabeth Windmill was than mistress of High Hurstwood School. Nothing more is known about Miss Windmill but it’s thought that she was probably the first and only head teacher until long-serving Mr Smith became the head teacher in late 1880.

The Elementary Education Act of 1880 insisted on the compulsory attendance of children from 5 to 10 years of age and for children under the age of 13 to be employed they had to have a certificate to show they had reached the required educational standard.

On 4 October 1880 James William Binns Smith became headmaster of High Hurstwood School. He had been born on 30 January 1849 at Colne in Lancashire, the illegitimate son of Elizabeth Smith. His parents, John Binns and Elizabeth Smith, then married at St Bartholomew’s Church in Colne on 19 November 1850 and had their son baptised at Colne on 7 December 1851. In the census of 1871 James W B Smith was a 22-year-old National Schoolmaster living with his parents, John and Elizabeth Binns, at Ashton-under-Lyne in Lancashire. When he was 23 years old James William Binns Smith married Sally Haughton at St Peter’s Church in Ashton-under-Lyne on 15 August 1872 and their son Leonard was born at Ashton-under-Lyne at about the same time.

In the census of 3 April 1881 the School House at High Hurstwood was occupied by school master James W B Smith aged 32 and born at Colne, Lancashire; his wife Sarah aged 33 and born at Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, their son Leonard, a scholar aged 7 and born at Ashton-under-Lyne; and lodger Caroline Lephard, a pupil teacher, aged 19 and born at Uckfield. Caroline Lephard was the daughter of Edmund and Martha Lephard, she was born at Uckfield in early 1862 and was to marry publican Edmund James Leaphard at Lambeth in 1890.

The 1882 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Sussex lists James William B Smith as master at High Hurstwood School. Then early in 1883 James and Sarah Smith’s daughter, Patience Louisa Smith, was born while they were living in the School House. At this time Julia Elizabeth Walter was a pupil teacher at the school; she was the daughter of Edward and Betsy Walter and she had been born in High Hurstwood in early 1869. She was a pupil at High Hurstwood School before becoming a pupil teacher there and by 1891 she had moved on to be a teacher at the elementary school in Nettlestead, Kent. Another pupil teacher at this time was Nancy Kenward, and both these pupil teachers also taught the under 10-year-old children at the Sunday School at Holy Trinity Church in High Hurstwood.

The children from the northern end of High Hurstwood parish still had a long walk to school so in 1883 a school for 48 children was built at Poundgate, 1½ miles north of the existing school, and some children transferred to this school which also took pupils from the adjacent areas of Withyham and Maresfield parishes who also had long walks to their respective schools.



The following is from the memories of Archibald Fenner, who was a schoolboy at High Hurstwood in the 1880s: About 120 children attended the Day School. For a long time our education was free; but one morning in the late eighties Mr. Smith blew his whistle for all seven classes to cease work, saying he had an important statement to explain to us: “Mr. Samuda, our chief benefactor had passed away,” therefore all in the large schoolroom (the four top classes) must bring 3d. each per week for attendance and 2d. for three exercise books, the lower classes 2d. for attendance and the same for books. This came as a bomb-shell to poorer parents and those with large families had a struggle to find it, - an unhappy time for master and teachers, long distance children walkers of 4-5 miles thought they should be let off, others declared they would not pay for books, finally Mr. Smith by using punish­ment (the stick) restored law and order, and the children brought along their money. Mr Samuda was Joseph D'Aguilar Samuda, a wealthy shipbuilder and Liberal MP, who had his country residence at Chillies in High Hurstwood from 1866 until his death in 1885. The need for parents or a benefactor to pay school fees effectively ended when the 1891 Elementary Education Act provided for the state payment of school fees.

The 11 April 1891 edition of the Sussex Agricultural Express reported that at the Uckfield Bench of Magistrates on 9 April 1891 the application by the Rev Thomas Constable for a theatrical license for High Hurstwood School was adjourned so that the magistrates could inspect the building. It’s not known if the license was later granted or what sort of entertainment prompted the application for the license. In the census of 5 April 1891 the School House was occupied by Elementary School Teacher James W B Smith, aged 42, his wife Sarah aged 42 and their daughter Patience aged 8. The 1890, 1891 and 1899 editions of Kelly’s Directory of Sussex all give James W B Smith as master at High Hurstwood School.



The Elementary Education (School Attendance) Act of 1893 raised the minimum school leaving age to 11 and was then amended in 1899 to raise the school leaving age to 12 years of age.


The early 20th Century

In the census of 31 March 1901 the School House was occupied by Elementary School Teacher James W B Smith, aged 52, his wife Sarah aged 52 and their daughter Patience, aged 18, an Articled Pupil Teacher. The 1905 and 1909 editions of Kelly’s Directory of Sussex both give James W B Smith as master and Miss Nancy Kenward as infant’s mistress at High Hurstwood School.



Nancy Kenward was the daughter of Stephen and Emily Ann Kenward and she had been born in High Hurstwood on 3 May 1870. In the census of 3 April 1881 Nancy, aged 10, was living with her parents in the Mill House in High Hurstwood and she was a pupil at nearby High Hurstwood School. Then in the census of 5 April 1891 Nancy was a 20-year-old assistant school teacher living with her parents in part of the Mill House in High Hurstwood. In the census of 31 March 1901 Nancy was a 30-year-old school teacher living with her parents at Lephams Bridge in Buxted. Then in the census of 2 April 1911 Nancy was a school teacher and 40-year old spinster living with her parents at Ivy Hole Cottage (now Woodpeckers) in High Hurstwood. Nancy continued to live at Ivy Hole Cottage and be a teacher at High Hurstwood School until her death in 1930.



In the census of 2 April 1911 the School House was occupied by James William Binns Smith aged 62, an Elementary School Teacher and his wife Sally aged 63; they stated on the census that they had been married 39 years and had two children who were both still alive. Then two years later on 31 January 1913 James Smith retired and in appreciation of his 32 years’ service as headmaster the people of the village presented him with a plaque together with a silver teapot and a satchel of money. The plaque still existed at the school at the time of the 1974 centenary calibrations but seems to have since been lost.



The next head teacher was Mrs Gertrude Finlayson who commenced her duties on 3 February 1913. Infant’s mistress Nancy Kenward was absent on 1 July 1913 because of the death of her father. The 1913 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Sussex give Mrs G Finlayson as mistress and Miss Nancy Kenward as infants’ mistress at High Hurstwood School. Gertrude Finlayson was only head teacher for about 1½ years.

 On the 28 September 1914 Miss M Eleanor Johnson commenced duties as head mistress. The 1915 and 1918 editions of Kelly’s Directory of Sussex both give Miss M E Johnson as mistress and Miss Nancy Kenward as infant’s mistress at High Hurstwood School. During the whole of December 1918 Nancy Kenward was absent with influenza. After 7 years as headmistress Eleanor Johnson left the school on 30 September 1921.

The education Act of 1918 raised the school leaving age to 14 but was not implemented until a further act in 1921 was passed.



Mrs Ella W Maber commenced duties as headmistress on 3 October 1921 when there were 44 pupils on the register. In September 1928 the pupils started listening to some lessons broadcast by the BBC. On 26 September 1928 at a meeting between the school managers, head teacher and parents the formation of a School Canteen was discussed. On 26 October 1928 the carpenter finished building the kitchen to supply school dinners for the children and a Valor Perfection Stove with three burners and an oven was received. The School Canteen opened on 5 November 1928 with 29 children having meals. On 20 February 1929 Mr Piggott visited the School Canteen while the children were eating; he wanted to know how it was working and suggested a more varied menu was adopted. So on 26 February stewed plums and custard were served as the first step towards a varied menu.

Nancy Kenward had become a pupil at High Hurstwood School in 1875 when she was 5 years old, she would then have progressed to pupil teacher and then assistant teacher and was still a teacher at the school when she became ill on 24 March 1930. She was then living at Ivy Hole Cottage in High Hurstwood, but a month later she died at 33 St Michael’s Place in Brighton on 27 April 1930, aged 59, from cancer of the abdomen. She had been a teacher at the school for over 40 years. Her burial in High Hurstwood Churchyard on 1 May 1930 was attended by eight senior pupils from the school who arranged wild flowers for her grave; one of these pupils was Cecil Wood who remembers the occasion.



In 1932 Holy Trinity’s Parochial Church Council decided that the church should have stained glass windows in memory of the long serving teachers at the village school, namely Miss Nancy Kenward and James and Sarah Smith. At their meeting on 23 June they approved the designs, and then at their meeting on 10 November it was recorded that the windows had been installed and were most satisfactory.

Mr & Miss Marsden (father & daughter) of Hurstwood House, which is next-door to the school, gave all the children at High Hurstwood School a book each Christmas, at least during the time Joyce Watson was at the school from 1925-1934. This is also remembered by Cecil Wood who was at the school from 1928-1937.

While Cecil Wood was attending the school (1928-1937) Ben Midmore, the village shoemaker, was school caretaker, though Cecil is not sure if this was for all the time that he was attending the school.



Headmistress Ella Maber left the school on 20 September 1930. Then Miss R A Gardener, a staff supply teacher, took charge of the school until Miss Dorothy Elston, who had been headmistress at Poundgate School, started duty as headmistress on 3 November 1930. On 6 January 1931 Miss Kate Duester stated duties as assistant teacher; she was from Oxfordshire and lodged with the Moon family at Camellia Cottage where she became very friendly with neighbour Ada Bailey. During the 1931 Easter holidays Miss Elston married Patrick Angwyn-James and informed the school managers that she would resign at the end of September. On 31 July 1931 the school closed for the summer holidays and Mrs Angwyn-James concluded her duties as headmistress.

The school reopened on 8 September 1931 and Mrs G L Mouat commenced duty as headmistress. On 6 July 1932 the school was closed as the teachers and children were presenting The Old Woman who lived in a Shoe and other nursery rhymes during a Fate and Musical Pageant held at Old Forest Farm, Beacon Road, Crowborough that was reported in the 8 July 1932 edition of the Kent & Sussex Courier.



On 26 August 1932 the school closed for the summer holidays and Miss Kate Duester resigned because she was going to get married. Kate married Frederick Duester in Oxfordshire shortly after resigning; she had her friend Ada Bailey’s daughter Ivy Bailey as her bride’s maid and her brother George Duester, a great friend of Frederick, was best man. Several years later George Duester and Ivy Bailey met again by chance in London and ended up marrying in 1942. Kate and Frederick went on to open a private school. Kate was replaced at High Hurstwood School by Miss Hazel Morris, who commenced duties as Supplementary Teacher on 27 September 1932.

It was in 1933 that mains electricity was laid on through High Hurstwood and it was during 1935 that the school was connected to it. Before that the school used oil lamps for lighting. On 1 February 1934 Miss Olive Wood commenced as Supplementary Teacher; she lived in Chillies Lane just above Chillies Farm and rode a 2-stroke motorbike. One day after the school had been connected to the mains electricity the Head Mistress was away and Miss Wood was taking the class when a thunderstorm came up and it got very dark but Miss Wood wouldn’t switch on the electric lights because she thought it would attract the lightening and the class had to stop work.

Mains water was laid on through High Hurstwood at about the same time as mains electricity and the school was connected to it in 1935. Before this Cecil Wood remembers having to get water from the pump at the school’s well.

Cecil Wood remembers Mrs Mouat’s husband, Archibald, who had been a ship’s carpenter and had sailed around The Horn in wooden sailing ships, was an invalid and another room was added to the School House in 1935 for his use. The Parochial Church Council meeting of 27 February 1936 recorded a vote of thanks to Mr Braby for his assistance in providing this, presumably they were referring to financial assistance. Mr Mouat taught the boys woodwork and they had to take their work around to his room in the School House. They made a ship’s capstan for a play and also chicken coops for the people at Chillies. To make some extra money Mrs Mouat sold hot Horlicks drinks to the children at ½d per cup during the cold weather, and also charged for giving dancing lessons to the children after school hours. Mrs Mouat had two daughters Joan & Betty who attended the school and went on to Rye Grammar School.



On 31 October 1935 Miss Morris left High Hurstwood School to take up a post as an Uncertificated Teacher at Waldron C of E School. The following year the school reopened on 1 September 1936 after the summer holidays with 14 admissions due to the closing of Poundgate School bringing the school roll up to 50 pupils.

When the school reopened at the beginning of 1937 after the Christmas holidays 16 children were absent due to influenza and the Medical Officer closed the school for the second two weeks of January. When the school reopened on 1 February there were still 11 children absent and during that month several were away with severe colds. Then on 15 March the school was closed for the day because the heating had broken down, and this happened again on 16 November.

The 1938 summer holidays were extended an extra week by the Medical Officer because of an outbreak of measles during the holiday; the school reopened on 5 September 1938.


The War Years

On 31 August 1939 the school was closed because of a national emergency, and three days later Britain declared war on Germany; the Second World War had begun for Britain and High Hurstwood School. The school reopened on 18 September 1939 working a double-shift system in conjunction with the teachers and pupils of Gordonbrock School, who had been evacuated from Lewisham, London. The National Register of 29 September 1939 recorded that five teachers of Gordonbrock School were living at The Top Cottage in Chillies Lane and pupils were boarded out in ones and twos at many of the houses in the village that had room for them. They had been evacuated, like many other London schools, because it had been expected that London would be bombed immediately after the start of the war, but this never happened until a year later with the London Blitz. As a result, after a time some of the children started to return to their families in London, though some remained in the village until 1942, and there is a plaque in Holy Trinity Church presented by Gordonbrock School in memory of its time in the village.



On 21 December 1939 Miss Olive Wood resigned as Assistant Mistress, she was leaving to get married. Then on 11 April 1940 Mrs Ellen Ruffle was appointed as temporary Supply Teacher. In early 1940 Mrs Kath Dadswell started working at the school as the school cook, a position she was to hold for many years. When the school reopened on 26 August 1940, after the summer holidays, 12 evacuee children with two teachers from Sholden C of E School in Deal, Kent were admitted. Then on 19 May 1941 the evacuees were transferred to Poundgate School, which reopened for a short time during the war, and on 25 August 1941 Mrs Ruffle commenced work as a permanent teacher.

Due to an increase of junior pupils on 7 September 1942 twelve senior pupils were transferred to Buxted C of E School, and then on 26 October eight evacuee children were transferred from New House, which was presumably then a temporary school for evacuees. On 16 November 1942 the school starting time was put back to 9.25am due to the black-out. Then on 14 May 1943 the pupils were given a holiday because the school room was wanted for a ‘Wings for Victory Week’ concert.

Mrs Mouat resigned on 3 November 1943 to take her husband to a quieter area; he died in Hastings registration district in 1948 aged 61. On 9 November 1943 Mrs F E Dodson became temporary headmistress for three months until Miss Emmeline Alice Pickett, who was one of the teachers of Gordonbrock School evacuated in 1939, started her duties as permanent headmistress on 31 January 1944. She lived in the Schoolhouse with her aged mother and would leave classes for a few minutes to go and check on her mother.

The Education Act of 1944 raised the school leaving age to 15 and introduced the Tripartite System of education with the 11-plus examination at the end of primary education. High Hurstwood School now only took pupils up to the age of 11, not up to school leaving age, and became a Primary School. Senior pupils over the age of 11, if they didn’t pass the 11-plus to go to Grammar School, went on to Buxted School and then, when it opened in 1952, Uckfield County Secondary School.

On 2 February 1944 Mr Drummond-Smith inspected the school gas-masks, every child bringing their own Then two days later Pamela Hemsley was injured on leaving the school at 3.30pm. There was a police inquiry into the accident and on 22 February a bar was put up outside the school gate that was to remain there for over 60 years until major enlargement of the school resulted in the construction of a new entrance.

On 16 June 1944 there were air-raid warnings and one hour was spent in the re-enforced lobby that was the school’s air-raid shelter and time was again spent in the shelter on 23 June. Then on 3 July they were instructed to take cover when flying bombs came over the school and the shelter was used at 11.20am for 20 minutes, at 12.35 for 10 minutes and at 2.10 for 10 minutes. The shelter was used again several times on 11 July. The school’s air-raid shelter had been formed by re-enforcing the corridor between the two schoolrooms with wooden railway sleepers that remained there for many years after the war.

The evacuees left the school on 18 July 1944. Then when the school reopened on 30 August 1944, after the Summer holidays, the ceiling in the infants’ room was found to be down, A wireless set paid for by subscriptions from managers and parents was installed and the ceiling of the infants’ room was repaired on 16 September. On 20 September the first lesson of the afternoon was suspended so that blackberries could be collected for the canteen.

Mrs Ruffle’s son Fred, who was in the RAF, was killed on 23 November 1944 and the following day Mrs Ruffle was absent from the school due to her bereavement. Fred was buried in the local churchyard on 29 November and Mrs Ruffle returned to her duties on 4 December.

On 22 January 1945 the temperature in the school at 9am was only 32°F and the vicar phoned to get something done, resulting in the plumber arriving at 9.35am. Four days later the school was closed because of frozen pipes; it was decided to keep the fire going in the main school room 24 hours a day and the school reopened on 1 February.

As part of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign the private garden that went with the School House had been converted into the School Garden where the children were given tuition in gardening; the soil had been tested by the Horticultural Officer on the 6 April 1944, and then on 31 October 1945 permission was given by County Hall for it to revert to a private garden.

The school was closed on 8 May 1945; it was VE Day, and it was closed again on 4 October 1945 so that the children could listen to the BBC broadcast of the Children’s Thanksgiving Service at the Albert Hall. The direct effects of the war on the school were now over but the poor state of the country’s finances and things like rationing were to continue to affect the school for several years.


The Post War Years

On 14 November 1945 the school adopted the merchant ship Empire Viscount, which was a tanker that had been damaged by a U-boat torpedo in the Atlantic in 1942. The first letter from the Master of the Empire Viscount was received on 20 November 1945, then mail and charts were received on 3 May 1946 and Mr Billson the 2nd Officer of the Empire Viscount visited the school on 17 May.

During 1945 and 1946 Police Officers visited the school several times to talk about road safety – crossing the road, playing in the road etc. On 31 July 1946 a gift of dried fruit from South Africa was distributed to each family with children at the school. Then on 3 December 1946 Mrs Ruffle was absent for the day as she had gone to Buckingham Palace with the rest of her family to receive her late son’s DFC.

For three days from 21 to 23 January 1946 the school had to close because the lavatories were frozen, and when the school reopened only about half the pupils on the register attended. After the summer the heating was turned on again on 14 October 1946 and it was attempted to keep the stove lit all night to overcome the coldness of the rooms in the morning. But the stove proved inadequate to properly keep the school heated during this very cold winter with the temperature in the school rarely above 50°F during December and when the school reopened on 14 January 1947 the temperature was only 44°F at 9am. There was heavy snow from 24 to 27 January with the boys’ lavatories frozen, resulting in the boys having to share with the girls. The school bus was unable to get through on 3 February and then the following day the school closed because of the weather conditions. It reopened on 10 February and an East Sussex County Council representative visited on 18 February to determine the size of stove required to replace the existing one. The school closed again on 24 February because the lavatories were frozen, it reopened on 3 March with good attendance considering the state of the weather.

On 28 April 1947 Mrs Ruffle’s daughter-in-law, Nellie Ruffle, née Muddle, widow of Mrs Ruffle’s son, started work as Clerical & Canteen Assistant, she stayed for about eleven months until her remarriage.

There were many pupils away during May 1947 because of an outbreak of measles. Then on 12 June the vicar visited to distribute gifts from Australia to children and staff. When the school reopened after the summer holidays there were 31 children on the roll. On 5 September food parcels from children in Australia were received for the canteen, and then from 8 October 1947 the school was closed for two days so that the new stove could be installed in the main schoolroom, and 9 tables and 18 chairs were received for use in the main schoolroom.



On 20 November 1947 the school was closed for the day for Princess Elizabeth’s wedding. Heavy rain caused 14 absentees on 30 January 1948 and then heavy snow on 20 February resulted in the attendance of only 20 out of the 36 children on the register. On 26 April 1948 the school listened to the broadcast of the Silver Wedding service at St Paul’s Cathedral for the King and Queen. Then on 5 October the head teacher and top class went blackberry picking for jam making for the canteen.

During November 1948 several infants were absent because of whooping cough. Then in February 1949 attendance was poor due to an epidemic of feverish colds. An arrangement for Class 1 to play games on the Maypole Field each Thursday afternoon, weather permitting, was started on 16 June 1949. On 13 September the top class was again taken blackberry picking for canteen jam.

It was at the end of 1949, after nearly six years as headmistress at the school that Miss Pickett left, returning to Lewisham where her mother died in early 1950 at the age of 86. Miss Pickett then returned to Sussex, dying in the Hastings and Rother district in early 1981, when just on 90 years old.



On 5 January 1950 Mrs Phyllis E Margaret Greening, known as Margaret, commenced duties as headmistress. Phyllis E Margaret Surplice, whose birth had been registered in Bradfield registration district in Berkshire during the 3rd quarter of 1910, married 29-year-old John Harcourt Greening in Wokingham registration district in Berkshire during the 2nd quarter of 1938 and they had one child, daughter Jane M H Greening, who was born in Reading registration district in Berkshire during 1946.

On 9 April 1952 the Canteen Supervisor and Clerical Assistant Miss Woodhart left and Mrs Hilda Muddle was appointed in her place. When Hilda Muddle moved to East Grinstead she was replaced by Mrs Gwen Chilton on 6 February 1954.



On Coronation Day, 2 June 1953, the school was closed, but celebrations by the children were held at the school and on the playing field at the Maypole. In early 1954 there was a severe cold spell; on the 27 January the pipes in the girls’ washroom froze and were defrosted by installing a paraffin heater and then on 2 February the pipes in the boys’ washroom froze

In 1954 the canteen was converted to electrical cooking, the electric cooking stove was delivered on 17 February but was too big to go through the canteen door and was stored in the PT shed. The electricity men installed power to the canteen on 20 May then in August workmen made alterations to the canteen that were completed on 1 September with the electric cooker, hot cupboard and water heater installed.



Mrs Greening was an excellent teacher, well loved and respected by the pupils, parents and villagers. Her husband was a disillusioned woodwork teacher who had given up teaching and spent his time gardening with the result that both the school and school house had beautiful gardens.

It was probably in late 1955 that headmistress Mrs Greening left the school to take up the post of headmistress of a large school in Bexhill, and is thought to have been replaced at High Hurstwood by temporary headmistress Miss Nicholas for a few months. Miss Nicholas lodged with the Duester family at South View and had previously been teaching in Trinidad and Tobago. She wanted to stay on at the school in a permanent position but wasn’t allowed to because she was a Roman Catholic. Miss Nicholas was replaced, on 16 April 1956, by permanent headmaster, Mr Adrian S Robinson.



At the end of Mr Robinson’s first term, July 1956, infants’ teacher Mrs Ruffle retired as her teaching methods were now considered out of date. She was replaced at the start of the next term, 3 September 1956, by 20-year-old Miss Doreen Killick, who had just qualified as an Infant Teacher at Weymouth Teachers Training College, and for whom this was her first appointment as a teacher. She replaced Miss Nicholas as the lodger with the Duester family at South View until Mrs Duester became serious ill in 1958 when Miss Killick lodged with the Robinson family in the school house for about a school term until leaving the school in July 1958 to take up the post she had been offered at Goodwyns Infant School in Dorking, Surrey. This post enabled her to live at home in Shere, Surrey and gain experience in a larger all infant school. She taught there for four years until marrying Michael Durston on 4 August 1962 at Shere; their marriage being conducted by the vicar of High Hurstwood, the Rev E H Phillips. They then moved to Leicester where Michael, who was an electronics engineer, had been appointed to a good post. There they had a son and Doreen continued her teaching career in a small village school.



Doreen Killick's position at High Hurstwood School was then filled by supply teacher, Miss Merchant of Newick, until the new infants' teacher, Miss Audrey E Phillips, who lived in the Burgess Hill area and travelled to school in her bubble car, could start at the beginning of the 1959 summer term. Audrey was to remained a teacher at the school for the next ten years.

During the Second World War Mr Robinson had been in the RAF flying Lancaster Bombers over Germany and then for four years in India and Burma; returning to England in late 1945. He married in 1946 and after doing emergency teacher training, 13 months instead of 2 years; he taught at East Grinstead Blackwall School for over four years before becoming headmaster at High Hurstwood. While at the school Mr Robinson had the bottoms of the windows in the main classroom lowered by inserting another row of glass below the original windows. Before this they had been too high for children to see out, probably a deliberate feature of the original construction. He also had new flooring laid and obtained new desks and tables. The canteen, where Mrs Dadswell was still cook, was refurbished and got its first fridge and freezer.

The outside toilets continued to freeze every winter and Mr Robinson tried to raise money to have inside ones, but didn't succeed as the substantial amount required was not available. Other problems were the heating, and flooding outside whenever it rained. The children still went on nature walks picking blackberries, which Mrs Dadswell made into pies. Mr Robinson was keen that the children should learn to swim and in 1960, together with Mr Bultitude, he dug out a swimming pool in the school house garden. When it was finished his daughter and foster son were the first children in it.



When Mr Robinson got a car the Chichester Diocese gave funds for a garage to be built. The school had two pet rabbits, Snowy and Thumper, and the Robinson's Border Collie, Bouncer, would get the children to let him through into the playground at morning break time when he would go to the kitchen to get his third of a pint of milk, like all the children.

During Mr Robinson's time as headmaster the number of pupils at the school was around 30. At this time Kathy Eastwood came into the school early in the morning to clean and get the boiler going, and was assisted by Rene Watson with the heavier work. Mrs Gwen Chilton was school secretary with Mr Robinson's wife substituting when Mrs Chilton was ill. In 1960 the school had a 100% success when all four pupils who took the 11 plus exam passed; one being the headmaster daughter Wendy aged only 10. This was considered highly suspicious by the Education Authorities who sent in an Inspector of Schools to interview and check the four pupils, Wendy Robinson, Frank Thompson, Susan Bayless and Jill Gunnery, who all went on to Grammar schools.

Mr Robinson left the school on 29 July 1960, at the end of term, and moved out of the School House in August, to become headmaster of Aldrington Church of England School in Hove. Then in 1966 he became headmaster of Portland Road Junior School in Hove, the largest junior school in Sussex, until he retired in July 1982. He died in 1994 and his wife in 2002.

The next headmaster at High Hurstwood was Mr Peter W Britten who moved into the School House with his wife, Joan, a State Registered Nurse, in late August 1960. Mr Britten had been living at Lindfield and had taught at Crawley Down Church of England School since 1957. During the Second World War he had been a POW in German from May 1940 to May 1945. During part of 1962 Peter Britten was in hospital with an injured back and his place was taken by supply-teacher Mr Rouse. Peter Britten had married Joan Taylor at Croydon in 1958 and they had two sons, Andrew born in 1962 and Benjamin born in 1964, while living in the School House. In 1963 the School and School House were re-roofed, several widows enlarged and lowered, the walls plastered and a lower false ceiling put in. Then in 1965 one wall of the passage between the two classrooms, which had been used as a cloakroom, was taken down to add the passage area to the smaller classroom, and a new cloakroom was built at the northern end of the school.

At the School’s Christmas Party on 17 December 1965 the children presented Mrs Dadswell with a plant stand filled with plants, as this was her 25th Christmas with the school as its cook. Kathy Eastwood, who for many years was school caretaker and had keep the school tidy and its fires burning, resigned when she married in late 1966, and her place as caretaker was taken by Bert Dadswell, whose wife was school cook.

Peter Britten left the school at the end of 1966 to become headmaster of the much larger Maresfield School – he retired from teaching in July 1982. He was replaced on 5 January 1967 by Frederick G Lusted, known as Tim, who had trained at Maidstone and Exeter and had been Deputy Headmaster of Donington C P School, Holland, Lincolnshire. Tim was born in Kent during 1928 and married Joan Hodge at Dover in 1952; they had three children, Robert born in 1953, Nicola born in 1955 and Simon born in 1962.

In 1968 the school had its first prefabricated classroom installed which they moved into on 12 December, and teacher Miss Patricia E Johns joined the staff at the start of the Autumn Term. The school had been raising money for a new swimming pool, by means of jumble sales, whist drives, etc., for several years. Then in early 1969 with enough money and the plans drawn up, work, by men of the village, commenced in preparing the site in the garden of the School House. The pool was then delivered and installed so that its first use by the children was on 8 July 1969.

In March 1969 Mr Chalk resigned as school caretaker and was replaced by Mr D French. In July 1969 Miss Audrey E Phillips, who had been assistant teacher at the school for 10 years, left to take a course at Maria Gray’s College in London. Assistant teacher Miss Patricia E Johns married David R Crafts at St Margaret the Queen Church in Buxted on Whit Monday, 31 May 1971.



The number of children attending the school continued to increase and in late 1971 the number was nearing 80 and a second prefabricated classroom installed and Mrs M P Phillips was appointed to be the teacher of the new class in this classroom; starting on 6 January 1972. In mid-1972 Mr French resigned as caretaker and his place filled by Mr Ian MacLellan on 26 June 1972. Mrs Patricia Crafts left the school on 23 February 1973 as she was due to have a baby and her place was taken by Mrs F Bishop of Crowborough. During the 1973 Easter Holidays the School House roof and chimney stack that had been damaged in an earlier gale was repaired and a chimney stack that overlooked the playground and had looked precarious for several years was dismantled. On 4 September 1973 work started on a new kitchen, staff room etc. Meals had to be supplied by Crowborough Beacon School until the work was completed on 26 November and the first meals cooked in the new kitchen on 3 December.

In early 1974 the school achieved the objective of having one hundred pupils enrolled. Ian MacLellan resigned as caretaker in mid-1975 and was replaced by Mr Dolfe on 1 September 1975.

On Friday 19 December 1975 Mrs Kath Dadswell resigned after nearly 36 years running the school kitchen and Mrs Olive Miller also resigned the same day after working for the school for about 11 years. A party for both of them was held at the school on Wednesday, 17 December, in recognition of their long service to the school. The school children had made a collection and purchased presents for them, a silver plated rose bowl and bouquet of pink roses for Mrs Dadswell and a heat resistant tray and bouquet of chrysanthemums for Mrs Miller, together with large cards for both signed by all the children. Cheques were presented to both of them from the staff, managers and ex-pupils of the school, and the party was attended by several education officials from the area.

Mr Dolfe resigned as caretaker and was replaced on 13 February 1978 by Mr French, who had held the position before. Mrs Anne Bishop, who had started as a teacher at the school in April 1973 and had become deputy head in 1975 left the school at the end of 1982 to become headmistress at Fletching C E School. She was replaced by Mrs Anne Hughes, who had taught at the school before. In late 1982 an epidemic of Chicken Pox hit the Infant Class affecting 13 out of the class of 21 with two of them ending up in Pembury Hospital with pneumonia. After 5½ years as school caretaker Mr French resigned on 28 October 1983 and was replaced by Richard Eastwood.



Mr Lusted remained as headmaster for nearly nineteen years, until August 1986 when he was replaced by Mr Steve Hempson-Jones who stayed for three years and was replaced by Mr Norman Wood in September 1989. While Norman Wood was at the school solar heating panels were installed to heat the swimming pool but still left the pool rather chilly except on the hottest of days. During the early 1990s a lot of work by parents, teachers and children went into building the school wildlife pond which received a Queen Jubilee Award in 1993. Then in about 1994/5 the old outside toilets were finally replaced with modern indoor toilets, although the oldest children still had to cross a small outside gap to get to them. Norman Wood was headmaster for eight years, until August 1997 when he moved on to Parkside School at Heathfield. Mrs Christine Newell then become headmistress in September 1997 and stayed for nine years, leaving in August 2006 when she was replaced in September 2006 by Mrs Jane Cook.

The building of the major school extension that had started in 2003 and proceeded in two phases was finally completed and officially opened on 12 November 2009 by the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend John Hind. During this work the school's wildlife pond that would be destroyed by the extension was found to have great crested newts, a protected species that had colonised it from their original home in the ancient pond just across the road, with the result that the pond had to be replaced with a new one as a home for the newts, at considerable expense.



Head Teachers






Miss Elizabeth Windmill




Mr James William Binns Smith


4 Oct 1880

31 Jan 1913

Mrs Gertrude Finlayson


3 Feb 1913

Jul 1914?

Miss M Eleanor Johnson


28 Sep 1914

30 Sep 1921

Mrs Ella W Maber


3 Oct 1921

20 Sep 1930

Miss R A Gardener


Sep 1930?

Oct 1930?

Miss Dorothy Elston, became

Mrs Dorothy Angwyn-James


3 Nov 1930

31 Jul 1931

Mrs G L Mouat


8 Sep 1931

3 Nov 1943

Mrs F E Dodson


9 Nov 1943

Jan 1944

Miss Emmeline Alice Pickett


31 Jan 1944

Dec 1949

Mrs Phyllis E M Greening


5 Jan 1950

Late 1955?

Miss Nicholas


Jan 1956?

Apr 1956?

Mr Adrian S Robinson


16 Apr 1956

29 Jul 1960

Mr Peter W Britten


 Aug 1960

Dec 1966

Mr ‘Tim’ Frederick G Lusted


5 Jan 1967

Aug 1986

Mr Steve Hempson-Jones


Sep 1986

Aug 1989

Mr Norman D Wood


Sep 1989

Aug 1997

Mrs Christine Newell


Sep 1997

Aug 2006

Mrs Jane Cook


Sep 2006



School Reunions



It was headmaster Tim Lusted who started the school reunions of ex-pupils; he held the first on 18 July 1974 to celebrate the school's centenary that had been earlier in that school year. This reunion was such a success that everybody attending agreed that they should be held every year.



The second reunion was held on 2 July 1975, the third on 7 July 1976, the fourth on 6 July 1977, the fifth on 5 July 1978, the sixth on 4 July 1979, the seventh on 2 July 1980, the eighth on 1 July 1981, the ninth on 7 July 1882, the tenth on 6 July 1983, the eleventh on 4 July 1984, the twelfth on 3 July 1985 and the thirteenth on 2 July 1986; this being the last reunion before he Tim Lusted retired as headmaster.



For the next eleven years the school reunions were organized by ex-pupil Cecil Wood. The fourteenth on 15 July 1987, the fifteenth on 6 July 1988, the sixteenth on 5 July 1989, the seventeenth on 6 July 1990, the eighteenth on 3 July 1991, the nineteenth on 1 July 1992, the twentieth on 7 July 1993, the twenty-first on 6 July 1994, the twenty-second on5 July 1995, the twenty-third on 3 July 1996, and finally the twenty-fourth on 2 July 1997 when the attendance had got so small that the reunions were discontinued.


[1] ESRO: C/E 78/16 Saunders’ Educational Foundation for Buxted, Uckfield & High Hurstwood.


Copyright © Derek Miller 2015-2016

Last updated 14 August 2016


Top of page