Friday, 25 April 2008

History of the school

This is largely based on information from Nicholas Barton's A history of Stouts Hill (2006, 128 pages), as mentioned by Alan Davis, which I bought in 2007 from the Stouts Hill Cotswold Timeshare.

The Stouts Hill site was occupied in the 13th century by a family called Stut or Stout; hence the name. However, Timothy Gyde inherited the place from his father in 1743 and built the main building that we know now, perhaps using some parts of whatever building had been there before.

Timothy Gyde had expensive tastes and died insolvent; the place was bought by William Lloyd Baker in 1786. A descendant of his, Olive Lloyd-Baker, was still in possession in 1935 when Robert Angus was looking for a place to start a school. At that time the property “had been empty for two years and had no electricity or main drainage (only septic tanks)”, so Miss Olive Lloyd-Baker asked a modest rent for it.

Stouts Hill School thus started in 1935 with 12 pupils, Mr and Mrs Angus, two other teachers, and a matron. By 1939 it had 60 pupils. At that point war broke out and Mr Angus joined the Army. He was released from the Army to return to the school “at the request of influential parents”, upon which he joined the Uley Home Guard.

By the 1960s, the school had about 120 pupils aged from 6 to 13; some boys stayed on an extra year, reaching 14.

Barton reports that Mr Angus bought the property from Miss Lloyd-Baker in the early 1970s and made it into a charitable trust. In fact the 1964 Stouts Hill Magazine reports that the school was already a charitable trust at that time; it seems to have happened during the 1963/64 academic year.

The Angus Wing or New Wing was added to the school in 1968 (after I left), containing classrooms, dormitories, and staff bedrooms. Beech House and South Bend in Uley were no longer needed.

Mr Angus retired in 1969 and moved into a new bungalow constructed in the grounds; Mr Cromie took over as headmaster. Later, a new assembly hall was built (now used for badminton and other games).

The school closed after the first term of 1979, and the property was taken over by the present owners, the Stouts Hill Cotswold Timeshare. Barton reports that the number of pupils had declined to 80 because times were changing and the school hadn't changed with them sufficiently. In particular, he thinks that parents were becoming unhappy with single-sex education and felt somewhat less need for boarding schools. (I was sent to boarding schools because my parents lived in Nigeria and didn't think I'd get an adequate education there.)

I've heard rumours of some kind of financial scandal around the time that the school closed, but I don't know the details.

The Angus Wing was demolished in 2000 as it was “always considered an eyesore by visitors to the timeshare”.

8 comments:

paul reynolds said...

On the financial scandal, it must have been c.78/79. We came back from the [Christmas?] holiday to be told that the school would close at Easter. There then followed a frantic period of finding places in other schools, and I went on to Beaudesert but many went to Deans Close, Rose Hill, St Johns, Tockington, the Downs etc. My memory too is hazy but the sensation is that the school (and parents in particular) raised a staggering £400k for a new theatre but the shell of the building only having been completed, the not inconsiderable balance of the funds "disappeared". I'm probbaly wrong........

Jonathan said...

Thanks, Paul. According to David Richards, writing on Friends Reunited, the school closed at the end of the spring term 1979.

Alan Davis said...

There has been a book published by one of the shareholders of the timeshare about Stouts Hill.
Called 'A History of Stouts Hill' by Nicholas Barton, it runs to 128 pages. The vast majority of the book covers the history of the site, who owned it and when, who built what and when and so on. Probably very interesting if you're into local history in a big way.
The chapter about it's time as school covers only 14 pages and is generally accurate. There are some photos too. One of Mr and Mrs Angus holding a baby (Sue?), one of Mr Kemp teaching a class and one of a snowball fight between boys next to the swimming pool.
It was advertised in the local paper so I went along to buy a copy and they kindly let me have a stroll around the building, apart from the occupied apartments.
Not too bad for a tenner.
Alan Davis

Jonathan said...

Thanks, Alan. I contacted Stouts Hill today: the book is still available and they'll send me a copy. Perhaps of only marginal interest, but it seems worth a try.

Alan Davis said...

Seeing this Blog has inspired me to search out a file of 'piffle' that was kept, generally in perfect condition, of paperwork from school. There is a glossy prospectus with some good photos around the school (early '70's I should imagine), all my Matrons reports, school fees 1975, school term dates including when and at what times parents could take their offspring on Sundays because of church services etc (see other thread), inventory of clothes and other items required and a very interesting list of the exam results for each term I was there, listing the names and ages of all pupils.
Also there are my school reports...we shan't go there!
Another find was a slightly dog eared copy of 'Colditz Calling or the Voice of Stouts Hill' which was compiled by Mr Bruce (Billy Whizz) and is a collection of short articles lifted from boys English Exercise Books. There are lots of photos but the quality is very poor as he probably used a fossilised printing press or copier.
Alan Davis

Jonathan said...

Thanks, Alan. Any information you can get to me in some form or other, I can try to add to the Web. Anything that doesn't fit well into the blog can be added to Flickr (photos) or to my own Web site (other things), and linked to from the blog.

I'm rather busy with work at the moment, but there will probably be time sooner or later.

Jonathan said...

I seem to remember hearing of Colditz Calling at some time in the past, but I don't think I've ever seen it.

Anonymous said...

John M
I have a newspaper cutting from the Sunday Times from 1979 which reading between the lines bizarrely seems to be suggetsing that pupil numbers dropped off because Mark Phillips went to Stouts Hill!
But I do remember by father being a little, shall we say, annoyed about what might or mnight not have happened to his donation towards the new buidlings!
I've also got a "Colditz calling" somewhere and all my old reports and stuff. I must have another look.
I've also got an address list of Old Boys complied by Jeremy Lee Browne when the school was closed down and the Kingfisher Scoiety along with it!