Archive for the ‘Perins School story’ Category

A childhood in 1940s Alresford

John Fisher writes:

I was born at Redlands, a house in Grange Road in September 1942, and lived in Alresford until 1950. The day we moved was the worst day of my life, I lost all my friends in the process: my memories of Alresford are limited. My mother was a teacher at Perins school until we moved, and father was a beat policeman after the end of the war. There was a nursery by the railway line where Grange Road met the Cheriton road (run by Mr Fairhead and then Mr Wells). A lot of my time was spent there, couldn’t do a lot, but at that age, I do remember it so well. My other hobby was the Winchester to Alton train line. I was always down at the station, and I remember the staff were very friendly.

I went to the Dean School where my Auntie was the head-mistress: I also remember the flaming cold loos. At the old Gas works further down the Dean I got chased off because it was dangerous. In the Summertime after school all my friends and myself lived down at the swimming pool by the river, and had great fun. As a kid, I didn’t have a bike so had to walk around the area. I missed my childhood days in Alresford very much, after moving away. Although I was only seven when I left, it has surprised me how much I remember about those days, and there’s a lot more I think.

From John Fisher, now an old timer, and enjoying life to the full!

The Gospel Oak

One of the photos shown at the “Nostalgia with Old Photographs” day, organized by the Alresford Museum in January 2013, was a picture of a very old oak tree stump, behind metal railings, said to be “The Gospel Oak” and located at Avington Park. While no-one present could shed any light on the story behind this tree, or advise on its location, a short account on the history of the Gospel Oak was found in a small booklet entitled “Round About Alresford” published in 1958 by the Art Department of Alresford County Secondary School (Perins). The account is attributed to “W.E.Pearce” and is reproduced below.

The Gospel Oak

The Gospel Oak in Avington Park - maybe in around 1900?

The Gospel Oak in Avington Park – maybe in around 1920?

“William the Conqueror appointed Walkelin Bishop of Winchester, and he, in 1079, began building the largest mediaeval cathedral in Europe. It is often claimed that this mighty structure was completed within fourteen years. When we consider the conditions under which this was done, it is difficult to believe that it was completed in so comparatively short a time. However, when the stone structure was nearing completion, wood for the roof became urgently necessary.

Bishop Walkelin the approached William and expressed his needs. The Conqueror, an enthusiastic hunter, eventually agreed to let Walkelin have as much wood as he could cut in four days and nights from Hampage Wood. It was typical of the spirit and enterprise of Walkelin that he assembled every available man and marched his army to the wood.

Within the allotted time the wood was as bare as if a swarm of locusts had settled on a field of young corn.

It is on record that when William rode out to his delectable wood, he swore profusely. One tree was left standing, an aged oak under which Saint Augustine, to whom the coming of Christianity to this country is credited, was said to have preached the Gospel.”

W.E. Pearce.

If you have a more modern photo, please let us see it!

The Nostalgia day photos can be accessed on this page on the museum website:

Modern web-based information:

1) The Hampshire Library and Information Service adds the following picture from 1908, and the comment:

The hollow shell of a tree, kept together by iron bands and protected by an iron fence, still (1908) stands in the wood and is known locally as Hampage or Gospel Oak. The tree stands today (2004). The caption to the print shown gives a slight variant of the legend. Here, it was a petition of the neighbouring Priory of Yavington which saved the oak from the Bishop.

1908 sketch and newspaper story from Hampshire

1908 sketch and newspaper story from Hampshire LIS

2) Hantsweb gives the location as SU 542 311 2620 90, and has a TPO, but other modern reports suggest the tree is in poor condition, and dead.

News of past students: 1955

Keeping in touch – with the Alresford County Secondary School

The editors of the Alresford County Secondary School (aka, or later to become, Perin’s) magazine, Volume 4, in 1955, recorded that it was the second time that they had been able to publish news of previous pupils, following a circular sent out requesting this. They write:

“A number of you, like Alan Watmore, have found that leaving school hasn’t meant goodbye to books, blackboards and lessons. He is in the Royal Artillery band, and besides playing the violin and learning to play the clarinet, he is hoping to take the General Certificate of Education. Christopher Robinson is serving with the Royal Air Force near Wolverhampton.

Sheila Kirby, who is a secretary working in Basingstoke, writes:- “Just recently I was chosen by the firm to be on our Lansing Bagnall Ltd exhibition stand at Earls Court – at the largest mechanical and agricultural show in the world. It was great fun,” Valerie Hamilton, working at the Winchester Commercial School, has gained her Royal Society of Arts Advanced 1st class certificate for typing, so now takes a class of pupils in typing. Ann Springer is a shorthand typist in the Hampshire Executive Council, National Health Office, Winchester. She may correspond with you if you have any complaints to make about your false teeth or spectacles!

Also engaged in office work are Shirley King, Ann Tee, Ann Bennett, Iris Giles. Ann Bennett enjoys her work and adds: “The days seem to fly by, but it seems rather strange not having so many holidays.” Shirley King’s first impression of an office was not a favourable one, but she has settled down to it now, and can recommend it to any boy or girl. Ann Tee is awaiting the result of a typing exam, so good luck Ann!

Pamela Hurn writes that she is a shorthand typist at the Alton Urban District Council, and she enjoys the work tremendously. She is now taking the advanced typing exam of the Royal Society of Arts. Good luck Pam!

Working on the land

We have heard from a number of people who are working on the land. Wilfred Joyce is farming. James Smith is a tractor driver. Roger Earp is a gamekeeper. Raymond White writes: “I shall always remember my first day on the farm, getting up at 6am, waiting for my first order – stone pickling. I was at that job all the first week and didn’t my back ache!”

Kenneth Stribling has put his comments about farming in verse, which we had to cut short:

I get up every morning

When mother gives the warning,

Then off to work I have to go

Just as the cocks begin to crow.

The spuds are all growing

The mangolds need hoeing,

There’s the harvest to be done,

So we’re hoping for more sun.

John Etheridge tells us: “In the eighteen months since I left school I have reared nearly 200 claves and I have just achieved my ambition by winning two prizes at the Royal Counties Show.” Diana Forcey looks after 18-30 calves. Stephen Simmons is doing agricultural engineering.

Most of us think that a bad egg is just a bad egg, but Ann Buckman knows that twenty-one different things can be wrong with it. She is an egg packer and candler and adds: “Candling is a process where the egg is held against a bright light, and this enables any fault to be detected.”

Other occupations

Margaret Shaw has now completed nine months of nursing experience. Now she is in the children’s ward, and finds herself reading stories to her patients from morning till night. Maureen Giles too, is at Alton Hospital. Mary Jennings is completing her last term at the pre-nursing department of the Technical College in Southampton. Evelyn and Margaret Underwood are working at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

Maud Cain finds interest and variety in dismantling old vehicles and steam engines. She is a metal sorter. Noel Trimmer is at Vickers-Armstrong. He is serving an apprenticeship as an aircraft fitter. Gerald Cornforth is an apprentice painter and decorator.

Owen Philpott has a thirst quenching job bottling beer in the Courage brewery. Raymond Davis is an estate carpenter, Yvonne Read hopes to begin her training in hairdressing at Christmas. Ann Laidlaw is still at the Winchester School of Art. We have also news from Shirley Brown, who is doing domestic work, Alexander Meek, and Alan Harmer. Alan is a bricklayer’s improver.

Best wishes to all old students!

River Life

River Life – From a Water Bailiff’s Notebook.

The river is a very interesting study. First there are the fish. In the Itchen there are trout. Fishermen from all over the country come to try to catch them on dry fly, for the Itchen is a dry fly river. Then there are pike which eat the trout and have to be kept down by the riverkeeper. There are also minnows, sticklebacks and bull-heads which boys and girls love to catch with jam jars on the end of a piece of string.

There are several kinds of river weeds: water celery, water crowfoot and starwort. The water crowfoot and water celery are the two best weeds for trout and fly, they make good cover for trout and good feeding for the fly larvae. Starwort holds plenty of shrimp. Some of the fly on the Upper Itchen are olive, iron blue, sherry spinners, red sedge, silver sedge, alders and black gnat. The olive is the most common of these fly, and most trout are caught on them. The commonest of birds on the river are the moorhen, coot, dabchick, duck, water rail and heron. The coot is black with a white bill. It eats river weed and insects. It makes its nest out of dry reeds and lays eight or nine greyish eggs with black spots on them. The young ones have a white breast until they are full grown. The mother will fight to defend her young. They have a short length of the river, and if any other birds come onto it, the coot will drive them away. The coot is not a very good flier and only flies at mating time.

The dabchick is a dark grey bird with legs set well back. It cannot walk on land, but is a good swimmer, and can stay under water for a long time. If it is on the surface when it sees you, it will dive under and you may not see it again. It makes its nest of river weed. The nest looks like a small pile of weed, with most of it under water, and only a little above. It lays its eggs on top of the pile and when it hears you coming, it will cover its eggs and dive under the water. The eggs are white when laid, but in time they get stained by the weed and turn a dark grey. The dabchick will drive the coot away from its nest by attacking it from underwater.

The water rail is dark brown in colour. It is a very shy bird and not seen as often as other water birds. The water rail’s nest is made of dry reeds, and is not often found. It feeds on river insects. Its call is not unlike a rabbit when a stoat has caught it.

The otter is found living in the Itchen. It is brown with a few grey hairs around its throat and mouth. It has webbed feet, very short legs, a long body and tail. It lives on trout, eels, crayfish and any other kind of fish in the river. It is a shy animal in its wild state, and if it sees you it will not be seen again. It leaves a tiny row of bubbles in its wake when underwater. The otter always uses the same places for coming ashore. If you see a place where it crosses over from one stream to another, you have only to look each morning and you will be able to tell whether there is one about, because it leaves its footprints on the path.

….by Rodney Norgate, Class 2.

Published first in the Alresford County Secondary School (later to become Perin’s school) magazine, Volume 4, of 1955.

Flour in Alresford and Tichborne

From the Alresford County Secondary School (later to become known as Perin’s) magazine, Volume 4, of 1955.

The Tichborne Dole

…..By Roy Clarke, Class 10

On Sunday March 25th at Tichborne House, the annual distribution of the Tichborne Dole took place. The story started about 300 years ago, when Lady Mabella Tichborne, who liked to help the poor, was taken ill and she wished her work to be carried on after she died.

Sir Roger Tichborne did not take much notice, but said that she could have all the land which she could walk round. Sir Roger thought that she would not get very far, so he did not worry. Lady Tichborne then got from her bed and started to walk. She had not gone far before she fell to the ground, because she was so weak. She started to crawl, but she had to keep stopping to get her breath. In the end she had to give in. The land she covered amounted to 23 acres. This land is called “The Tichborne Crawls”. It was to be planted with corn, which, when ground down to flour, is given to the inhabitants of Tichborne, Cheriton, and Lane End each year. Just before she died, she placed a curse on the house, to the effect that if ever the flour distribution were stopped, the house would sink into the ground. Every year, one and a half tons of flour is distributed.


Alresford Mill

….By Celia Beck, Class 7

Alresford Mill is situated in Mill Hill, Broad Street. It was originally built in Bishop de Lucy’s time when Alresford Pond was made, and was driven by water, to grind wheat which eventually became flour.

It was rebuilt and modernised in 1891-2 and now it is the only working water mill in Alresford. It has four floors. On the ground floor is most of the machinery. The first floor is used mostly for serving customers. The second and third floors are used for storing the wheat. Mr Childs, the present owner, has recently put in an electric grinder and electric lights.


Perin’s School Miscellany

There follow several miscellaneous items from the Alresford County Secondary School (later to become known as Perin’s) magazine, Volume 4, of 1955.

MESSMATES  ….a poem by Sylvia Cousens and Jean Blake.

Said Sylvia to Jean,

“Where have you been?

You look quite battered,

Ill and shattered,

Your hair is a mess;

You’ve torn your dress,

I think that you might

Have been in a fight.”

Jean fell to the ground

With a low, moaning sound.

She lifted her head,

And tearfully said,

“Never again can iI stand such a noise,

I’ve been into dinner with all of the boys!”



The school canteen serves 73,105 dinners last year. In those dinners were 5120 pints of milk, 3010 lbs of sugar, 5375 lbs of flour and 48160 lbs of potatoes! Altogether, over £2436.16s.8d was collected in dinner money.


ALRESFORD POACHER ….a story by Sally Bentley

One day I asked my younger brother, who was five, how to poach an egg. He thought about it for a few moments and this was what he said:

“First, I should find out if any farms nearby had chickens that laid eggs daily. Then before I went to bed I should lay all my clothes tidily and set the alarm clock for 6 o’clock. When I awoke, I would dress, then set out for the nearest farm. Very silently I should creep through the hedge, hold up the wire and crawl through. I should pick my way carefully towards the hen house, put my hand in the laying box, and pick out a big egg. Then I’d run like mad back home.”

When he had finished his story, my other brother and I were roaring with laughter. He asked us why we were doing so, and I told him I meant an egg that we eat for breakfast. He answered, “Well, you could easily eat it for breakfast.” This made us laugh even more, for it was a very funny mistake.


HORSE CHESTNUT ….a poem by June Perkins, Class 10

I have a horse called Chestnut

He’s sixteen hands or more,

And when I pass his stable,

He rushes to the door.

He has his usual titbit,

A sugar lump or such,

And though I see him often

He mustn’t have too much.

He has his daily grooming

When I come home from school,

And when I have finished grooming him,

I ride him, as a rule.

A dog’s a man’s best friend they say,

I believe in that of course,

But as for me, I’d rather have

My own, beloved horse


The Dean School in the 30’s

Len Strong writes about schools in Alresford in around 1930:

In the 1930’s, initial education in Alresford was at the primary school, located in the Dean – or on the other hand, if your parents could afford to pay, you went to Miss Curtis’s Alresford Preparatory School in one of the Mews off at the north side of West Street. This was known as A.P.S., or as we boys dubbed it, the “Alf Pound Sausage” school. I started school in the Dean at five years old under the watchful eye of a plump little lady, Miss Wiggins. When she noticed I was left-handed, she said, ‘We can’t have that Lennie, try and use your right hand’ but when I declined she tied my left hand to the chair with a scarf. I guess this would not be allowed today. Anyway, as a result of this treatment, I became ambidextrous.

We had mixed classes of boys and girls, although at ‘play-time’ we had separate play areas. We boys had our whips and tops, and played leap-frog and football: the girls had their hop-scotch and skipping ropes. As we progressed through the years, in different classes, under various teachers learning the three ‘R’s (reading, riting and rithmatic), we had periodic examinations – ie those by the visiting ‘nit-nurse’ to see if we had head lice.

I finally reached class six, which was taken by the head-master, Mr Jesty. He was a tall Cornish man and used to tell us of his plans to return to the West country when he retired. I don’t know if he made it, but a local road is named after him, in his memory. He was a good teacher and helped us to prepare for our 11-plus exams, with a view to going to college in Winchester. I passed OK but my parents couldn’t afford to send me. So I ‘progressed’ to Perins Senior Council school, which is another story.

The Dean school was closed when the new Sun Hill school was built and a development of bungalows is now on the site of the old Dean School, which is now known as ‘Mallard Close’.