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Friday, 25 April 2008
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”.