Tuesday 11 September 2007

The matrons

These ladies of various ages were posted around the school and the dormitories as overseers. In most cases I'm afraid I don't remember their names; maybe in some cases I never knew their names.

Richard remembers...

Nicola Nelson ("the beautiful under matron," as Molesworth would have called her). She was, I believe, a friend of the Angus family, and worked at the school for a year or two. She was perhaps 17, very attractive, tall, and inspired boys to carry sprigs of mistletoe in their pockets close to Christmas with which to ambush her. I also remember, one of the off-site dormitories was run by a matron called Joan, who at perhaps 35, seemed terribly old to us, but looking back, was actually quite good-looking.

Julian remembers Nicola/Nikki leaving after his first year, so I suppose she was gone by the time I arrived.

Jonathan Marler also remembers her...

... leaning over the bathtub in the bathroom outside Long Dorm and someone whispering “I saw her nipples.” She smiled and no one was sent for a caning.

In 1966/67 there was a young matron at South Bend for a short time, perhaps still in her teens; I remember her as a rather shy girl, possibly named Georgina or something like that. She slept in a room with a coloured-glass window overlooking the stairs, and some of us sat on the stairs once or twice hoping that she might appear undressed behind the window; but it didn't happen.

The matron who stayed longer at South Bend I remember as being short, plump, no longer young, and bossy. Someone was caned for calling her a gorilla in the course of an argument. She confiscated The Bishop's Jaegers (Thorne Smith, 1932) from me, although I protested truthfully that it was given to me by my parents. Later someone pinched it from her room and gave it back to me; though I don't know what happened to the book as I don't have it now. Her room wasn't the one above the stairs; I wonder if she took one look at the window and rejected it.

I do remember Joan, but Julian remembers her at Beech House whereas I remember her operating in the main building with the younger boys. I also seem to remember her being present at meals. Evidently she got around a bit.

Digby Macpherson remembers on Friends Reunited a young matron called Melanie, whose surname was apparently Felton.


Julian Williams said...

Joan worked during the day in the main school and was at Beech House at night. I was never resident at Beech House

Michael D. Walker said...

Hi Jonathan,

Just stumbled upon this blog about your old school and skinned my knee. Guess I should watch more closely where I step when wandering about the Internet.

I'm enjoying the stories very much and mighty tempted to do something similar about one of my old schools. In particular, was especially amused by the confiscation of your Thorne Smith novel. Glad to know someone snuck it back to you!

Always good to find other Thorne Smith fans out and about.



Jonathan said...

Thanks for the comment, Michael. See also David Langford's Thorne Smith page.

Anonymous said...

The reason that I became a pupil at Stouts Hill in the first place was the fact that my mother started a new job as a Matron, She was known as Matron Davis and, what a surprise, that became my nickname too (until I started wearing glasses and then it changed to Joe 90).
She was based in Old Wing with us little 'uns with initially Sister Pinder, then Sister Arkell, Matron Brooke and then later by a Mrs Savage.
I spent a few sessions in sick bay with flu etc, but remember in the Spring or Summer of 1976 there being an outbreak of chickpox. There were so many casualties that you just had to stay in your own bed and infect everybody else.
I also recall that the 1 gallon tubs that the ice cream came in for the kitchens were retained for use as recepticals to vomit into, especially if many boys had gone down with a bug.
It was up to 'Sister' to post a daily note on the Games board as to who was to stay 'Indoors' or be 'Off Games' due to illness. As someone who hated games I always milked any ailment for all it was worth just to get on that list!
Alan Davis

Jonathan said...

Thanks, Alan. Sister Pinder rings a bell, I think she was there in my time (1963-67).

Julian Williams said...

Sister Pinder rings a bell for me too, but the sister I remember vividly was Sister Kirk who had a son at the school, Graham Kirk. In her room she had pictures of Napoleon who she greatly admired and at night she would place a tape recorder between Blue and Green and play South Pacific (and The King and I?) to send us to sleep.

Sister Kirk had a room next to the sick bay, she was dressed like a nurse and would provide some boys with "malt" as an extra at night. She also used to check we had cleaned our teeth properly.

One boy had had an operation after his gut got tangled, after that Sister Kirk appeared before lights out with a roll call to ask us if we had done number 1 or number 2 during the day. She kept a record how often we had been to the toilet and if she was worried we had not been to the loo often enough we were given a laxative.

Anonymous said...

What about Sue Waterstone? Matey to end all Mateys. AND SHE LEFT!! And after public outcry and a reign of terror from her successor, she returned. She had a son/nephew? Mark at the school at the same time as our group.
Sister Pinder was very good news. Does anyone remember her son, David, Royal Navy, who occasionally, (once only, perhaps) gave gym classes, and fell through the platform in the Gym?

Anonymous said...

Top of the Pops and The Man from UNCLE on Thursdays in Matey's sitting room.

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad someone was there to look after sick kids.
My medical report says I had Measles, mumps, chicken pox, German measles, got bitten by a stray cat and one holiday on the day school started again I was found to have meningitis.

After getting off on the wrong foot with a large Norwegian lady who was matron in my last terms we ended up getting on fine after I apologised to her for saying the wrong thing. (was that Mrs Brooke?)
I really only remember Sister Pinder, Mrs Frapwell and Doctor Wootton from the village. And Jane Angus of course acted as assistant matron for ages.

Anonymous said...

I should add that my parents sent for the doctor and the meningitis was diagnosed before I set off for the school! Ten days in hospital and ten days convalescing, then I was back in cold damp Gloucestershire.

jonathan Hely-Hutchinson said...

i was at stoutshill for part of 1968 and 1969. at which time we emigrated to South Africa. I remember watching Batman in Matrons room. It was quite an event!

Richard Darell 1964 - 69 said...

I remember Sister Pinder very well, her son was one of my good friends Johen. I also remember talking to his elder brother on the cricket pitch. We had a long chat about his career in the navy and I am pretty sure he was a bucanneer pilot and I recall this conversation reasonably well. My birthday is the 6th Sept and I remember John's being the 8th or 9th.

I remember one of the boys with a big crush on one of the matrons when we moved to the new buildings, always sitting on her knee, but cannot recall her name, the boy was Perks if anyone can recall. I remember being jealous as she was really nice but did not last long at the school.

I remember the man from uncle and still have my U.N.C.L.E card somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I heard yesterday from a friend in Dursley that Sister Pinder died last week aged 92. She was very kind to me and I would have loved to have kept in touch.