|23 May 2019|
Recollections of Windlesham House School
by Malcolm McVittie
I entered Windlesham House School 64 years ago and thus my recollections are not complete and may be somewhat random. I was a pupil at Windlesham for five years, until being driven down the drive on my last day and I was able to pull my OW tie up to my neck as we left the gates at the bottom of the drive. I was not totally unfamiliar with Windlesham when I arrived, as my father had been there as a boy from 1916 until 1921 and my brother from 1948 until 1953.
I have lovely memories of Windlesham. Somehow the weather was always bright and warm even in the winter. The grounds were very commodious and the playing fields stretched down to the gate on the A24. There were orchards and rose gardens and sufficient room for several football or rugby pitches in the winter and two cricket pitches in the summer. I particularly remember the football pitch because I was goalkeeper for the 1st XI and we were beaten 10-0 by Brambletye. The centre forward, who scored most of the goals, I later discovered was called Hugh Whitlock and I met him again the following year when he was the head of our houseroom at Haileybury.
During the summer term the sports ground accommodated an athletics track. One year, 1959 I think, we had a magnificent school sports day during which many records were beaten. So many records were beaten that suspicions were aroused and it was found that 440 yards circuit was somewhat shorter than it should have been. All previous records were reinstated. [Photo: Me finishing the 220 yards somewhat behind the leaders but it gives a good view of the school as it was then.]
Behind the school were a set of stables where Mrs Roger Malden kept her horse Stella. Stella was also often kept in the paddock adjacent to the playing fields. Several of us were keen on riding and we frequently rode out on Stella. When Seaford School closed some of the staff and many of the pupils joined Windlesham including the Marshall brothers who also brought horses to Windlesham.
Within the school we had a marvellous indoor swimming pool which was heated throughout the year. One of the many tests we had to achieve was to swim a length under water. Above the swimming pool was the main school room which I recall was named Harrow and could accommodate the whole school. On Saturday mornings there was a gathering and boys who had under-performed would be called out and had to stand at the front of the gathering in repentance. On most Saturday evenings there were cinema shows and occasionally plays were put on. I remember being one of a trio of little boys who sang “Three Little boys from school are we” to the tune from the Mikado. I can’t remember the rest of the words but they were satirical.
I remember Pevensey and the full-size billiards table which was a bit of a challenge for some of the smaller boys. I also remember in that room there were four shelves one for each house on which were kept the cups and trophies that each house had won. The houses at that time were Scott,
Grenville, Drake and Raleigh, suitably nautical names reflecting the Malden heritage and I was a member of Scott House. Curiously, I do not remember “houses” featuring very much during my time at Windlesham.
I still remember the chapel as being a very poignant place. It had splendid stained-glass windows which remarkably had survived several moves. Three of the windows depicted saints but I can not remember which saints. On one particularly sunny summer Sunday evening the preacher referred to the windows by saying that it was the saints through which God’s light shone.
[Afternote: In 1976 when I was an instructor at Sandhurst we were doing a forced march along the South Downs but once we paused at Chanctonbury Ring I and a Naval Lt Cdr also and OWL took the opportunity to pop down and visit our old school. As a highland officer I was wearing my kilt, boots and puttees, an whilst nosing around I found a naughty little boy facing the corner in the upper corridor of the form block. It turned out that the boy concerned was none other than my nephew Nigel, one of my brother Ian’s twin sons.]
[Another memory I have was the arrival of Charles and Elizabeth Ann and the extraordinary effect that Elizabeth Ann had on the testosterone of those of us who were reaching that age. Charles and Elizabeth Ann gave an extraordinary level of Service to the School over some 55 years or more]