Monday, January 11, 2010

Nevill Holt prep school - stranger than Bonkers Hall

Because it is the most important model for Bonkers Hall, I have long taken an interest in Nevill Holt Hall. It has latterly been the home of David Ross, founder of the Carphone Warehouse and prominent supporter of David Cameron, but it has had a long and colourful history.

It was for centuries the home of the prominent Catholic Nevill family and belonged to the Cunard family between 1876 and 1912. Sir Bache Cunard, who devoted his time to hunting and metalwork rather than the family shipping line, is one of the models for Lord Bonkers whom I discovered long after I started writing his diaries, while his daughter Nancy Cunard was quite a girl.

But for most of the 20th century Nevill Holt was known as a boys' prep school which had strong connections with the public school at Uppingham. Wikipedia will tell you that the school closed in 1998 "because of falling rolls", but it doesn't tell you why those rolls were falling.

Because Nevill Holt school was the scene of a child abuse scandal. An article from the Birmingham Post dated 23 June 1998 tells the story:

A former preparatory school teacher who subjected six schoolboys in his care to a catalogue of "degrading and perverted" sexual abuse was yesterday jailed for 10 years.

Edmund Clements (59) abused the boys, then aged between eight and 12, from 1974 to 1984, Leicester Crown Court was told.

The abuse took place while he was a geography master at the Nevill Holt Prep School, near Market Harborough, Leicestershire.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter De Mille told Clements, a married man, of Hove, Sussex, that he had committed a "gross breach of trust" and selected at least two of his victims because they were particularly vulnerable.

The judge added that Clements, who admitted 33 sex offences against the six boys, had subjected his victims to "what any right-minded person would regard as degrading and perverted behaviour".

A second master who faced charges took his own life, but that story seems to have disappeared from the net. (Later. I have now found the story. Note that coroner was a Symington - presumbaly one of the local soup and corset dynasty.)

There is, however, a posting (#115) on a Facebook group devoted to "Your Boarding School's Best Scandal" which describes events at Nevill Holt (perhaps a little colourfully):
1. Police storm the school one morning with cars, vans and even helicopters.
2. Teacher jumps out the window of breakfast when he's told they have arrived.
3. Hangs himself in the school grounds.
4. School shuts down the following and the manager of the Carphone Warehouse buys it.
5. Coffins found behind the panelling in the girls' dormitories.

This was obviously the biggest scandal, but there were hundreds of others.
All very remarkable, but my real reason for writing this post is another recent discovery. Because for most of its history the school was owned and run by the Phillips family.

Which makes this 2003 article from the Times Educational Supplement intriguing:

A headteacher who faked his name, age and qualifications to run a boarding school in Leicestershire for 40 years has been exposed as a fraud by his son.

Frederick Phillips cheated parents, pupils and his bank manager into believing he was a qualified French teacher and aristocrat with military honours in order to buy and run Nevill Holt preparatory school in Market Harborough. He died in 1982 ...

Swansea-born Frederick Phillips changed his accent and pretended he was a graduate from the Sorbonne to get a job teaching French at Nevill Holt.

He had, in fact, only attended summer school at Besancon university, France.

In 1927 he adopted the double-barrelled name Serille-Phillips and claimed he was the son of a gentleman (his father was a wheelwright) to secure a bank loan of £12,000 to buy the Grade I listed 13th century school building.

He said he was 30, to substantiate a lie that he was a former squadron leader, secret service agent and medal-winner in the First World War. In fact, he had only just completed his military training at Uxbridge.

And Phillips' daughter

recalls her father giving her the answers in advance of a scholarship entrance exam for a girls' school in Oxford.

She said: "I have no proof but I wonder if he did this for other pupils.

Bonkers Hall has enjoyed a colourful history, but it is not a patch on the real thing.


Simon Titley said...

Did Nevill Holt have its own railway station? If so, was it called Nevill Holt Halt?

Chris said...

There is no station, but if you visit the farm shop in Market Harborough you can purchase a fine whisky, Nevill Holt Malt.

Simon Titley said...

Presumably this whisky is matured in the Nevill Holt Vault.

Chris said...

Indeed it is.

Unknown said...

Only now I learn that I was cheated out of a proper education by Frederick Serille-Phillips. I was at Nevill Holt from 1956 to 1961 (or thereabouts). I don't know where he got some the masters from, but they were not all competent teachers. I am staggered to learn that Phillips was such a fraudster.

Anonymous said...

Who are you Jonathan Calder? Reading this article makes me think you're a very strange person who has very odd thoughts and views! Perhaps you should take a moment to think of those people that had a very happy childhood at Nevill Holt and who would rather not have some random man commenting like this. Do you have nothing better to do?

Ginase said...

Hmmmmm. I was there up to 1960 and never got my confiscated knives back.
I remember E.E.C. coming down in the evenings. He always seemed to stagger a bit at that time of day.
Matron with her starched uniforms left me with a permanently trained ear for that rustle. F.S.P. was a nasty piece of work and his kids outed him!!!
My life became better when I left.

Matty Weir said...

I was at NH '71-'78. I was taught by Clements & Copas (who killed himself); I remember Copas as a kindly Christan man, and Clements as a short-tempered atheist (who conveniently "found God" after his arrest) who was a b*****d to the kids, though not actually violent. It was an odd place, though really not unpleasant.

Anonymous said...

I was at Neville Holt from 1989-1994 and I loved the place,!.. i cant believe the teacher in the scandal hung him self, i never thought of some one with his teaching skills and personality would be involved in such a thing, I new him very very well and spent allot of time with him and had no sense of funny goings on at all!!, he was so helpful in life, I still use his skills to this day that he tougt me. As for all the other fraud scandals I just been reading about, they have just cracked me up, the Phillips blagging his way through to be a teacher, I always thought these so called hight and mighty ponce had some thing going on in there past hahah!, that made my day ! Amazing. As for Clemants why only ten years the sick bastard!! I remember him total dick, if I'd known then I would have given him even more shit then than I did, prick!.... But all in all I had some of the best memories of my life at that place, I still keep in touch with people to this day form there. Shame its not still a school it could have given allot of kids good opportunities.

Anonymous said...

I was at NH between 76' and 81, i think Matty Weir must have a selective memory if he thinks Clements was never violent. I remember boys getting seven bells knocked out of them in geography lessons, thrown down staircases etc on one occasion a boy in the year above me got a standing ovation after Clements had left the room having knocked him senseless but not made him cry !! Never really got on with Copas so wouldn't comment. Hilarious about Phillips family, always thought they were frauds !!

Anonymous said...

I was a pupil there from 1966 -71. It was such a different world back then. Archaic rules, rather frightening and forbidding architecture, eccentric characters, very male dominated except for some very sweet young female art teachers and (for a brief interlude), a pretty Irish nurse. Looking back, the quality of the education was very good but much of it was lost on me at the time. I was too 'immature' to appreciate it then. But I certainly remember Mr Copas as a very inspiring English teacher. From what I can gather many of the pupils, including myself went on to achieve good things in their lives.
Although it may or may not have been a particularly ideal school for me personally I am grateful for the experience and the many opportunities it gave me.

Anonymous said...

For all of your information, Edmund Clemants is now living in a flat in EASTBOURNE town centre! He is a physco and has lost the plot completely.

Anonymous said...

I worked at Nevill Holt between 1990 & 92. I remember all the staff - David Phillips and his rags to riches wife Nina. I also remember the Woolies who took over running the school in 1991. Mr Wooley always gave me the creeps with his suggestive comments. Im not suprised by the scandal really about the perverts there, I just feel sorry for the children that suffered unbeknown to anyone. However, its a beautiful place and I have fond memories too. Why do you have such an interest JOnathan

Anonymous said...

I was there 74-77 remember Clements was bad tempered and shifty in extreme i got on with Copas remember going on school skiing trip with him and Deaso Where does Bonkers Hall come into it?

Jonathan Calder said...

As I say at the start, I have come to regard Nevill Holt as the model for Bonkers Hall. So I take an interest in its history - the Cunards and David Ross as well as the school.

More on Lords Bonkers and his home here and here.

Anonymous said...

This was a school which would be impossible to imagine these days. Clements was a split personality type who could be pleasant one minute and violent the next. Fortunately I was warned not to accept any invitations for special tuition... Copas - I don't have the same rosy memories as others as he raped me. I'd also condemn anyone who taught there during that period since in a school that size they must have known what was going on. Nevill Holt is a place best forgotten.

Anonymous said...

I was at Nevill Holt from 86-92 and I have nothing but fond memories of the school. Whilst there were a few teachers who scared me a little I always found the Phillips's and Mr Copas to be really nice people. Whilst there may have been scandals at the school (I certainly wasn't aware of any at the time), most of the teachers were very good and a lot of us left there with a very good education.

Anonymous said...

I was a pupil at Nevill Holt from 1994-98 when it closed down and I witnessed first hand the horrific ending. I clearly remember the day the police came and Mr Copas ran out of breakfast and when they found his body hung in the nearby forest. I even had to go to his funeral in the chapel. This was horrific for all children involved, I was 8 at the time and was so confused and upset I was excused from class for the rest of the day.
The terrible things that went on at that school truely disturbed me and still haunt me now. I was incredibly unhappy at that school. I was sexually abused by my music teacher and when my parents complained, nothing was done about it. A school that size (only 100 pupils at the end) everyone must have been aware of what was going utterly disgusts me I had to go through that and others did before me.

Anonymous said...

Mr Copas' funeral wasn't in the chapel... I should know, I was also a student in the final years of the school.

Since the dead cannot defend themselves, I have to wonder about the validity of the claim that he took part in the abuse.

You see, the Copas I remember was very much the heart of that school - unlike several of his colleagues who could have done with some anger management classes, however efficient they were in their fields. Mr Copas was a leader, a mentor and great English teacher - a source of comfort to many students in a rather gothic and isolated climate.

It's surreal to identify him with the darker aspects of that place, since he lives on in my memory with some of the most positive and inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Like 'Anonymous' who posted on 16 March last year, I was also a pupil at NH from '86 - '91. Overall, I enjoyed my time there, but as I get older I have to think that much of that was down to age and naivety, and not knowing anything different. I don't believe it would be possible for a school to be run that way today, and that's undoubtedly a good thing. It was a pretty mercilees environment for some, particularly the more vulnerable puils (of which, fortunately, I wasn't one). David Philips either chose to ignore the behaviour of some of his staff or otherwise didn't know it was occuring. Either way, he's guilty of a gross abuse of trust in my opinion. If I was ever to cross paths with him, I would say the same to his face. As for Clements and Copas, Clements was a violent and spiteful man, full stop. I was lucky not to be on the end of his temper but I remember plenty who were. He would regularly reduce classmates to tears and would do the same at night time when doing the dorm rounds with an equally mean spirited and vindictive matron called Miss Macdonald (remember her..?). Sadly, it didn't surprise me at all when he was later outed as a paedophile (one of the boys he abused was in my year and the police rang me to ask if I could provide corroborating evidence).
I find it very hard to reconcile the Copas I remember (kindly, caring, pretty much everything that was good about the school came from him) with some of the comments/innuendo I've read. My guess is that he wasn't a participant in any of the abuse but was aware of it and said nothing, as a (wholly misguided) way of protecting the school's reputation. For those who did suffer abuse, I have the utmost sympathy. Hopefully the rest of us can continue to use our experiences there (good and bad) to shape the way we live our lives, and to ensure we protect our own children in a way our parents perhaps didn't us.

Anonymous said...

Even after reading some of the comments posted quite a while after the one I made, I still think NH and the education it provided was very good. From today's perspective life there as it was back in the sixties/early seventies is bound to seem rather odd and peculiar. But there's never been any doubt in my own mind that the headmaster and the overwhelming majority of the staff were decent and caring people.

As Stephen Fry would say: "autre temps autres mœurs."

But for the tragic events described, combined with the ever present economic pressures, I believe the school would have continued with the process of modernization that similar prep schools have been doing since.

Anonymous said...

Me again! I also think it very unfair to blame the head, other staff, parents etc. They were all let down it seems by just one particular individual who had betrayed the trust bestowed upon him. In the end he was punished for it.

Anonymous said...

I went to Nevill Holt between 1966 and 1971, a strange transition time between old Mr Phillips and young Mr Phillips.

Old Mr Phillips was a stickler for discipline and rules, in my 1st term at school I remember the school rules being read out on our 1st evening. There were over 100, and more were added each term. There were very specific, including things like 'no running on the gravel', 'no throwing tennis balls onto the roof'. When young Mr Phillips took over the rules were altered and we ended up with 10 or 12, the last of which was "No anti-social behaviour' - which had to be explained to us.

I remember Mr Copas arriving at the school, but there wasn't any trouble with him from what I knew, unlike the geography teacher, who was made to leave the school after an incident.

There was Mr Cooke with his wooden leg (a limp!) Mr Lanyon with his external bag for wee, Mr Moorhouse and his treats for boys - CDMs given out to the quieter, prettier ones...

I remember the pretty female art teacher and also the irish nurse. I think she was the sister of a Man United footballer - at least that was the rumour. One of my friends tried the trick of putting a mirror on the floor to see up her skirt whilst we were having our malt extracts.

In the first years we used to go on walks - in a crocodile down the country roads, all in uniform. One year the queen was visiting many areas of the country and we all got dressed up in our white, blue and purple blazers and crocodiled off to the main road to Uppingham to see her. The cars shot past at about 50 so that was a glorious waste of time!

Anonymous said...

Iwas a pupil at this school from about 70 to 75.
It was a bastard of a place. Phillips was a real piece of work, and that French bastard Draggy abused me for years.
I always found Coppas to be quite nice, and Deaso was OK with me.
As for all the others it was completely mad.
Recently had a look on facebbok, and found a site about old schools, with a couple of familiar names talk about history!

a twisted wheel said...

I was a pupil at NH from 84-88. It was probably the best school I ever went to - although at the time i used to do as much as possible to break the rules and thus was caned almost every week!! Thankfully all the paedo stuff that happened, passed me by without a thought. I did however receive several phone calls from the police when this all went public asking if i had been abused as apparently my name 'kept coming up' in the investigation. Anyway, Clements was a total cunt...he threw me across the room a couple of times and was generally very unpleasant, and very glad he got punished, although in my opinion he should have been castrated and had his knees blown away!!! Copas however, seemed like a total gent. Can't believe he was actually involved in the abuse personally!!! My sympathy goes out to all the kids who were abused, and trust that they have not let a total scumbag ruin their lives completely. Live long. Peace.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else remember when someone ran away (he managed to get about ten miles before being picked up) then told Griz why he ran away and a couple of days later Griz had the all the boarders line up in the Old Library while the local plod came round to tell us all off. I think it would have been early 80s.

Seems even more odd now than it did then!

Ben C said...

I find it fascinating that comments are still being left on this piece, two years after its writing.

Another former pupil, '89-'94, and I'd like to add my voice to those speaking up for Peter Copas (or Griz, as he's been referred to above; suspect this was due to his extensive facial hair, but never did discover for sure). I recall him as a patient and affable man, fair in his dealings with pupils, and a great teacher of English and director of school plays. I was hugely saddened to learn about his death and could not credit the things which were said of him. I cannot recall a Clements at all, and suspect I (luckily) never encountered him.

I too greatly enjoyed my time at Nevill Holt, and now tend to describe it envious friends as akin to attending Hogwarts. The teachers I encountered I remember fondly to this day, and would want them to know that they provided me with an education that has enabled me to go far and become a leader in my small field.

To name a few (apologies for wrong spellings/first names): Claire Pearce-Smith, David Hopper, Geoff Hancock, Ron Deas, the Grodetskis, Mr. Coon and his tall tales of international espionage, Mr. Foreshaw (willingly) dressed in drag to entertain at Christmas (?) dinner, Mr. Hollingsworth who (quite reasonably) threw me out of his carpentry lesson for throwing sawdust around, several very patient matrons including Miss Webb, and one other amazing Maths teacher whose name I apologetically cannot recall, but who has my eternal gratitude for introducing me to the idea of Dungeons & Dragons (which I should not have pursued in his Maths lessons).

I wonder if the current owner would allow guests at his opera events to wander the halls...?

DerekT said...

Fascinated and horrified by previous posts. I was a pupil 43-48. Serille Phillips was a remote, frightening figure who tyrannised parents as well as boys. He hated sport so many boring walks. A super snob, he promoted a newly arrived sixthformer to headboy because he was the Honourable Leith. We prefects went on strike against this, a pretty daring act in the 40s! But the education was good thanks to some very gifted teachers. My Wyld taught English and played classical music after lights out to entertain and educate us. The incomparable Mr Cooke - he of the limp? was an outstanding teacher of Maths and much else besides and took us to very high levels. For two years I was top of the form in maths at Winchester till I finally had to learn something new - and promptly sank to the bottom. I was not aware of any sexual abuse; Phillips used the cane quite frequently but that was normal for the time but it was a repressive atmosphere. Best of all was the wonderful historic architecture which has given me a lifelong interest in history and architecture especially medieval.

I met the later head Woolley, after he had fallen out with IAPS and departed the school, teaching A-level economics during an inspection of a prestigious girls's school plausibly but entirely erroneously. His departure preceded that of the inspection team. So misrepresentation, to use a mild word, seems to have been a hallmark of those running the school.

As to Ben C's final question; the answer is 'perhaps'
I wrote to the current owner asking just this and received a very courteous reply directing me to his mother who lives on the estate. Sadly on the day we went to an opera production, the house was full of sponsors so the tour was not possible, but I did peek in to as many windows as possible! The present-day gardens are beautiful, just large vegetable patches in the 40s.

Anonymous said...

My god what a terrible shock - i was looking for some old pictures for the school online when I came across this acticle - I was at the school mid to late 70's along with my brother Adam - I read the article with somewhat removed interest and then down in the comments realised the teacher who took his life apparently was Copas (he got the nickname Griz when he first arrived during my time there and yes it was because of his beard) - a wonderful man - great teacher kind and patient - partuiculaly with us non acacdemic types - also I recall the infamous Mr Cooke - Lanyon and of course Deaso who was a such a kind person and an inspiraiton - I utterly refuse to believe Copas was involved directly in anything that happened there - it may well be that he was aware of it and he couldnt live with the shame of the fact he did nothing about it - I just dont know - no question there were some classic bully type teachers but he was not one of them

Anonymous said...

After all these years, and the vague stories I had heard, it shocks me to read about Griz. I went back to the school in 2005, and tried to look around but couldn't. Also was there in the 80's looking around and couldn't believe the size of the kids going on an away rugby game, but that was e back in the 70's. Griz worked with me when I did the reading at the church in Melbourne for the BBC christmas concert. Was in the choir with him, and never did I see or suspect anything. Dragescue, well everyone knew he was groping, but always felt the kids he had sitting in his lap didn't seem to object. Sad way to look at it now. Very sad and Griz must have felt responsible, cant think he was involved.

Anonymous said...

I mostly agree with you and remember attending your fathers funeral but spare a thought for those many fellow boys less fortunate than us who have had their lives ruined. For it to go on so long before one person actually had the confidence to do something about it I believe 20 years beggars belief.
You and others were the shield behind which they could operate and continue to do so spare a thought for what went on around us

Anonymous said...

I was at NH from 1979 until 1982. Those were some of my best years in education despite, looking back on it, the pretty harsh environment. I would like, for the sake of their reputations, to add that Mr Phillips and Griz were - in my experience - very caring indivduals. Griz lived part time right amongst the dorms and there was never the slightest hint of any unsavory interest. Clements however, was a brutal and sadistic individual. I, it seems, had a very narrow escape, being invited to his house (while his wife was out - whatever became of her?) to 'learn how to body-build'. For whatever reason, it didn't develop into anything nasty. But the daily bullying was relentless - freezing cold showers, bending fingers back to inspect nails, pulling by the ears etc. The matron mentioned above, by the way, was called MacRonald and remember the weirdest thing about her?... she insisted on being called Sir! Her and Clements used to love bed inspection. Does anyone remember how strict they were - the tiniest wrinkle on your bottom sheet usually meant the whole lot was tossed onto the floor and you had to remake it - those two loved the power. Ultimately, it's sad that individuals like this can cause the downfall of a very well-intentioned, valuable institution.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. When you get separated from your mother aged 8 and someone like Miss MacRonald becomes your principle female contact, it's bound to leave its marks. Meanwhile, I remember the general atmosphere of the school as being a happy one (I was there 82-87). No doubt a lot of the practices of the time would be unthinkable nowadays (not being allowed to call home, having your letters home read and moderated by the headmaster?), but I remember getting used to it pretty quickly and enjoying myself after that.
I remember Edmund Clements as a rather menacing and unpredictable character, although I was possibly more afraid of his wife, perhaps on account of the dobermanns constantly by her side... Meanwhile, I have very good memories of Peter Copas. All-round, he was probably the best teacher I ever had.
I don't think I approve any more of that kind of boarding education for children at such a young age. I think even (perhaps especially!) if you thrive, it is at the expense of some part of your personality that would be better served by remaining with your family. But being the person I am, I look back at that formative time with a lot of nostalgia....
I say all this, not having been abused. I can't imagine how damaging that must have been for those involved. And it does seem a dreadful oversight to have let Edmund Clements remain for so long without being found out.

David P said...

I was at Nevill Holt from 1962 to 1968. I remember little about FSP other than his ever-handy cane and his propensity to trot off to the White Hart in Uppingham for a snorter before dinner. I had great respect for DCSP and felt sorry for him with his terrible stammer.

EEC (he with the wooden leg and the terrible old jokes) was an outstanding teacher and was basically the sole reason I gained a Maths scholarship to Uppingham. He had me doing calculus but when I got to Uppingham it was all about modern maths which I really didn't grab and my academic career went into freefall!

I have fond memories of Nevill Holt and even find myself humming the School Song on occasions!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 74-79

On the whole I agree with most of the above. Had a great time at NH and would do it all again. Received the cane on many occasions along with the slipper, gym shoe, hockey stick and others...did not do me any harm. Just taught me not to get caught!!
Copas (griz) outstanding teacher who I can not believe could have been involved.
Clements on the other hand missed his time , should have been a member of the SS in Germany during WW2. I never suffered at his hand but he had a temper and a half.
Deas, Cooke all very good teachers I have them to thank for the success I've enjoyed since leaving.

Anonymous said...

I am JB and was at NH from 1964-69 and my brother followed me from about 1970-75, so we have continuity across 10 years of arguably the most notorious era. Much here about Clements who was clearly a frightening paedo shit after my time there, but probably equally as dangerous and psychotic as Eric Wraight who taught French & Geography in the 60's. He had apparently been shot in the gut on an MTB during the war (probably not true) - and fuelled by morphine and vodka (kept in his tan coloured brief-case - that matched his always shiny tan coloured shoes) to dull the stomach pains, proceeded to creep around taking 'prep'- often sporting bleeding knuckles after punching out classroom door panels, splitting desk-tops and pencil boxes or even karate-chopping the top of the grand piano (played by puffy-fingered music-master, the oily Mr Moorhouse (mentioned by someone earlier) who offered me 10 shillings to come round to his thatched cottage in the grounds for tea. Fortunately didn't go, or accept the CDM's also always on favour offer to prettier boys from Eric Wraight, (remember invitations to his private little Model Aircraft club?!) but have always felt for those of my era who did accept from either of them and what they went through. Wraight used to tell all the boys to watch out when he was in "dramatics" as he called it, (ie completely out of it) and we were all totally terrified. He threw a heavy brass school-bell at one of my friends that smashed a glass-fronted bookcase in the library and I was once despatched on an errand by Wraight to see a bemused and red-faced Ernie Cooke (in his little room filled with Dubonnet bottles) with the message 'Go and tell Mr Cooke that he's a little clockwork bastard and I'm going to knock his head off'. Ernie was a decent teacher, a shy little man with a funny walk who, although I was crap at his Maths at least gave me a lifelong interest in cricket. As for Wraight he died in a car crash and in pre-seat belt days flew through the windscreen of his VW Dormobile and landed in a hedge tangled in barbed wire. A rather appropriate end. My brother tells me the boys cheered when his death was announced to the school. Remember the cute nurse too who used to kiss you goodnight if you were lucky. Better than being bathed by the formidably ugly kitchen server Miss Crombie! Disturbing days for far too many young boys and seriously scarring for some. Yes, it is simply unbelievable than nobody adult knew what was going on there. As an 8-year-old I thought everyone had to go to a school like this.

Anonymous said...

Mr Clements is still living in Eastbourne. And still a freak

PM said...

I was was there between 1986 and 1990. I can believe everything here about Clements. Luckily I was not a victim but I remember him taking rugby and his methods were very much sexualised on the field and was very blatant. I hated him taking rugby. As for copas. It is very difficult to believe. I spoke to Ron deas about a year before the school closed. Ron was very open about his hatred for Clements. He never approved of Clements strict way and I even remembered walking into a classroom with Ron and Clements going at it about a punishment which Clements had handed out to a pupil. Having said that, mr deas indicated to me that Clements was forced to leave as a result of his strict nature and inappropriate punishments including pulling by the ears and physically throwing people around. I just wish he had been thrown out sooner

Anonymous said...

I was there till about 1971 so did know Clements. Remember Copas though, was a good teacher.... and his Hillman Imp. Nothing but the best for old Deeso and his order of the boot. Old man Phillips was like Captain Blythe, punish and ask questions later.

Anonymous said...

JB. I remember Wraight had a car crash during the holidays (in a Jag he had) and appeared some months later back at school with scars and a changed personality. Remember him chasing poor old Ernie up the stairs shouting something like clockwork man and spitting in the library? Scared us all.

Anonymous said...

I Worked at Neville holt as a assistant Matron in 1988,I was in charge of the younger boys and the girls dorm. I am shocked at the abuse that went on. I can honestly say I never witnessed any abuse that went on, I certainly would of reported any concerns I had.
Neville Holt is a beautiful place and I enjoyed my working time there so sorry to the victims of abuse.

Anonymous said...

I was the one that mentioned Mr Moorhouse first. (24th Jan 2012) I've returned to the page because of the recent publicity about abuse at prep schools and the mentions of Mr Wright.
Somewhere I have a photo of him and the airplane modelling club, with the plane called 'Bobby' that had a twin cylinder engine. Much fun for us boys, along with his stomach injury ability to burp "Arhbishop of Canterbury" and fart relentlessly.

He told a story of his car crash on the M1. He had left the longest skid marks on record there, as he had to avoid a car turning onto the road (palpable nonsense, I realised later) and apparently he was found by a policeman with his eye hanging down on his cheek.

He had a briefcase in which he had several Schweppes bottles of milk and alcohol and during Prep he'd disappear off into the Staff loo (near the Bims classroom) and obviously drink what was in these bottles. He'd then get more aggressive and outrageous. One boy brought his pet mouse into prep and it escaped. Wright stamped on it. He'd bash doors, slam them, and so on.

On another occasion when he was out of it - we weren't quiet enough in Prayers in the Library, so he flung the little brass bell across the room, narrowly missing a boy. Then he went to the Geography Library (just a few shelves in the corner) and went off on a terrifying rant about how we didn't treat the books right. It ended with us having to say a prayer for the Geography Library.

Finally he abused a friend of mine. We reported it to DCSP and Mr Wright disappeared from school. I wouldn't be surprised if his 'death' was made up to appease us.

Anonymous said...

I was also there during those years. 'Bobby' was an amazing remote controlled monoplane built by a boy called Wallace. The model club, of which Mr Wraight (Ratty) was supervising master used to fly this and other craft around the Warren. I remember 'Ratty' used to go "...Yabba-dabba-doo!" when he burped. He also made everyone use Chambers Dictionary alongside whichever book they were reading to learn new words each week. After his accident he returned to school somewhat scarred and slightly disfigured. Perhaps he ought not to have done that. He had been a good teacher of English, having amongst other things started up a short-lived newspaper/reporters club in and around the estate. But I can certainly vouch for some of the scary antics he was later responsible for, especially during evening prep - surely a direct result of the crash he was in.

Nevill Holt was a good school, especially in the years after 1968. But it was a very different world back then and one in which channels of communication and concern were quite restricted compared to what is now the case in similar establishments. Mixed in to the mundane there were plenty of comic moments that still make me laugh and there were a few tragedies along the way too.

As someone else recently observed, the collective experience was about as good a preparation for life as anyone might hope for.

Graham Walker said...

I was at NH from ’71 – ’74. I was saddened when I found out that Griz had hung himself. He was a good teacher and an excellent athletics coach. I had every NH record from 100 – 1500 Long Jump & High Jump and won the County Championships all under his tutelage. He took me to the National Trials where I placed 2nd in the 100, 200 and Long Jump.

I would also describe Mr Copas as a gentleman and refuse to believe he was involved in any abuse. He was never inappropriate with me and I spent a lot of time with him alone. His dog did bite me once though :-)

I agree that Clements was not pleasant

Anonymous said...

I was a pupil at this school from 1964-1969 and remember many of these characters well. Old Serrill Phillips used to beat selected children at whim, and beat them again if they cried. Miss Harbottle, who during class used to seize a handful of hair and walk around the desk until the child, contorted and screaming, blurted out the right answer. Being beaten behind the knees which the sharp edge of a ruler. Wraight was a vicious psychotic whose taste for small boys was legendary. I remember the bell hurling incident to this day and also recall him punching holes in the oak panels that lined the passageways. The coincidence of having two geography masters exhibiting the same tendencies, one after the other is extraordinary. One wonders how the role was advertised. I recall our letters home were censored, and Ernest Cooke was an excellent teacher who was relentlessly bullied by the monstrous Wraight. I shudder to think how that man coped. When David Serrill Philips took over, the school changed emphatically for the better. Proper teachers such as Deas were a credit to their profession.

I loathed the place and after passing my common Entrance exams to Uppingham was expelled after three further miserable years. I thought Gormenghast was a documentary until recently.

Anonymous said...

A couple of further memories from the sixties - Miss Graham, the scary housekeeper who wielded more influence over old Serrill Philips than any of the teaching staff. The pretty nurse called Miss Morgan and the story that she was Willie Morgan's sister was a joke put about by the young english master with whom she was having a fling. Mr Westlake, whose bizarre rants about the "rotten core of this school" we always supposed were directed at us. With hindsight I suspect they weren't.

Anonymous said...

My children went to NH - 87 - 89 (my son and daughter). I lived locally and visited the school regularly and def every Sunday (illegal Tuck day). I knew both teachers involved and the Phillips'. I never saw a child who was afraid of Griz, and the children all skipped happily around him. However Mr Clements had a fierce reputation, however it always seemed he was 'just strict'. I know he threw a lot of chalk at boys (like bullets). I kept a close eye on my children, but if I had known what was happening at the time I would have certainly have removed them and alerted all the relevant bodies. My heart breaks and I am haunted what I might have subjected my dear children to and indeed all the children in their care. I cannot change the past I know, but I will always feel …….. Mr Clements if you ever read any of these posts, 10 years was not nearly adequate for what you did and I hope and pray you are punished every day of your miserable life.

Richard Clegg said...

Rubbish! Clearly, NH sadly became a tainted place, but in my day ('53 - '58), it was brilliant. FSP beat the living daylights out of me, 13x my 1st term, but it straightened me out. I excelled in class, on the playing fields & went on to a successful public school life & career. DCSP was a brilliant athlete, great rugby coach & a great Latin teacher. Needless to say, Latin & Rugby were my two best subjects (along with 2 Victor Ludorum Juniorum & 2 Seniorum cups, & several colours). Sad for those affected, but fond memories of Ne Vile Velis. Check out, & 'Like' FB's "Survivors of Nevill Holt"!

Anonymous said...

" was brilliant. FSP beat the living daylights out of me." The tragedy of this rose-tinted view is that it implies the notion that excessive violence is or has been an acceptable means to exert power over vulnerable people, in particular children unable to articulate the real reasons for their lack of concentration in the classroom or apparent 'bad behaviour'. There is a slight suspicion nagging in the back of my mind that the author of the above comment has not quite forgotten the fear and the pain that at the time would have been very much a part of the regime in those days. It is true to say there are very good things about the quality of the education that was provided and the character forming activities such as games and competition. But to beat the spirit and natural exuberance out of young people in order to get them to conform instead of looking to nurture and channel their positive talents towards a successful outcome must surely be wrong.

Anonymous said...

I was at Nevill Holt 63-69 and its been fantastic reading some of the names from the past. Here are my memories:
FSP - drunken bully. Favourite canning time was evening after his early evening snorters he took in Uppingham (White Horse I think it was). He drove a big Humber. When I went back to NH after leaving (I must have been about 19) and went to see Fred and Miss Graham in their pad built in the walled garden he scared me then! piercing pale blue drunken eyes!)
DCSP - great teacher, I excelled at Latin and he was a brilliant rugby and cricket coach. His Simon was in my class as well.
Moorhouse - an old version of Billy Bunter but not funny. I was not a musician (thank goodness) Beatles and Stones were new and great! But in hindsight you realise he was bent.
Mr Perry. Anyone remember him? Took history, balding ginger hair and a temper. Had the unfortunate experience of him taking our class for swimming and him changing with all us young lads. We thought it hilarious when he stood there with a stonker on! I am not aware he that went any further!
Wraite - I used to like is geography lessons and thought his ranting was brilliant.
Miss Harbottle - rotund woman who smelt of mothballs.
Mr Westlake - almost normal!
EEC - I couldn't stand maths but he got me through CE in the 3 maths papers with flying colours. Problem was the school I went onto was doing new maths - Venn diagrams etc. I failed O level 6 times!
Miss Peacock (not sure if that is correct but it did begin with P) - she took art and we all had a crush on her. Like an earlier post we used to do the rubber (eraser) trick on the floor as she walked between the desks - pick up and look up the skirt. It was brilliant when a lad from Lancashire (no names but he went to Giggleswick after) was caught looking up when she turned round!
Mr Burg - not sure if that is the spelling he took games and possibly French. Smoked like hell and we all reckoned he was having a good time with Miss Peacock.
I also remember a kindly young nurse - I think she was Irish.
Some one mentioned earlier Miss Crombie. I had totally forgotten about her but what a dreadful women to have preparing our food, I have never eaten swede since as I could have sworn her fingernails were always in it!

All in all a mixed bag and, in hindsight some real weird individuals and I have no doubt they could not survive in today's environment. Time often does a good job in removing unpleasant memories but on balance I think I came out with a positive view of the school.
I do know several parents whose children went there in the latter days and they were positive about the place, especially Mr Copas.

Anonymous said...

Wow I've just come to this blog.

I'm the one who set in motion the chain of events closing the school. It's a long story which I won't bore you with but when the police began investigating that nasty shit Clements they turned up a whole load of other stuff. In fact, they found a school with a culture of turning a blind eye to abuse.

I remember the day Drageascu was busted for fondling boys in the modelling room and he was crying at the school gates. So Philips gave him a good reference to go and work in another nearby prep school. Unbelievable really when you think about it, but that was Philips and that was the culture.

Aside from the quirky, weird and pervy teachers (anyone remember the Druid who also got sacked for fondling?), there were some even darker characters.

Re Copas. If someone says they have been raped by him it's not right for others to say he was fine. I liked him (remember his black lab called Sally?) but I'm afraid when the police were making their enquiries about Clements they turned up real, yes real, evidence against Copas. I remember a friend at the school describing Copas as queer as a coot and I was surprised but thought there must have been some reason for the comment. That boy was taken down to Copas's place in the village to 'decorate' for him. Anyway, the coppers found Copas to be a pedophile, hence why he shot out the breakfast and hung himself. Busted.

As for Clements, an evil man with a sadistic streak that ran to how he wanted to torture women. He was a systematic, violent, sex abuser who inflicted considerable pain on me whilst he violated me. He sexually abused a significant number of pupils. Outside of his sex abuse 'extra tuition' classes he had a bad temper. I remember him slapping one boy so hard across the face he nearly knocked him out. If I ever bump into him in Eastbourne I won't wish him a good day.

Because of the abuse I suffered I can't look back with any fondness for the place and I'm glad it was forced to shut.

Unknown said...

S reminisces

I am now very old, but I do have memories of NH between 1962-1966

I remember EEC, who had a room at the end of a corridor. He was a kind man, who was probably wounded in the Great War. He would let us listen to Your 100 Best Tunes and Semprini Serenade of a Sunday evening in the dorm next door

I remember blackberrying, and being forced to eat tapioca and sago pudding (which I have detested ever since)

There were majors and minor;, standing in front of the bell; crocodile walks to Medbourne; pirate radio; rugs; the tuck shop and sanatorium, letters home being read and censored

DCSP, now I believe 88, was a v good rugby player (did he play for Cambridge University?) and Latin teacher. He used to stutter, sometimes terribly...probably due to nerves (FSP) a tall good looking man with a v attractive wife. I wish them both well

Sports day with mother and son egg and spoon race, cricket against a professional side? every year, who batted with specially reduced width bats;
FSP's green Bentley and the other one with the NH no plate

The gravel being raked every Saturday morning and the smoke of Corby in the distance. The cloister clock chiming every b.....hour throughout the night. Until a recent visit, I didn't realise there was a walled vegetable garden behind the church and believe it or not the same telephone box is still there in the lane to the right of the estate

Mr P/F? the carpentry master, who used to slam the top of a bench with the flat of a saw if he wanted quite; the snooker and billiard room; the swimming pool with the mangle; outdoor swedish exercises in the quad; the rifle range; catching moles and skinning them

Films, at the end of which we had to say "Thank you very much sir"

Just thumbing thru' the brochure I still have of that era..... there appears to be an absence of a list of teachers which is v odd. In regard to discipline (oft mentioned on this blog) it states:
"While the boys are happy and always treated kindly, the discipline is firm and consistent" omits to mention regular! It also states that "corporal punishment is rare and never severe"....not true. I remember 2pm as the dreaded hour each day

I have to say I don't recall anything untoward in the behaviour of the teachers during my sentence....stay, but I do remember Mr Moorhouse (he of the jam making company?) threatening to tell the headmaster that I had a 4" fruit knife (it didn't cut fruit never mind cause harm to a human being)...I enjoyed his music sessions though when he played gramophone records.

I do remember FSP would open the window of his private quarters often when we were on the gravel and shout a boy's name......I also remember my parents having to visit the school in person just to ask FSP if I could have a Saturday off to go to a wedding....did half term exist in those days?

All in all a not unpleasant time was spent in beautiful surroundings. Unfortunately I missed out on DCSP at the helm, with hindsight his father was not really a suitable headmaster of a boys school...he also should have retired much earlier

Matt Ratcliffe said...

Blimey! I was, like others before me it seems, just googling for old images of the school. I was a quiet and timid child - father in the navy - who attended during the mid 80s. I was only there for a few years but it seemed like much longer and has had a profound effect on my character and life since.
Yes, there were good times and some "rose tinted" memories. In hindsight though it was thoroughly Dickensian. I ran into an old boy in London who had also attended (but was several decades my senior)and our stories of the place where virtually the was clearly in a time of its own.
I think I would have been too young to understand much about the types of abuse that happened but I was terrified by Clements and recall being hit by the black board rubber or being hauled out infront of a class and whacked across my rump or the backs or my legs - not great in the summer term with shorts on. I was truly scared and grateful for other teachers like Deso, who probably saved me from going completely mad. Griz was always kind to me but I worry in hindsight when I remember him taking a box or Roses chocolates I had been sent for my birthday from me but then allowing me to go to his room to take one whenever I wanted one....I always managed to go when he was out, so the most dangerous thing that happened was a good slobbering from his lovely (Irish?)setter.

I was in Goths, Romans and Greeks - that I can remember and possibly Vikings....the one up the spiral staircase at the back of sickbay?? My favourite was Greeks with the woodpanelled walls at the back of the stage. I remember tuck shop on the weekends, sledging in the snow in winter, singing in the choir, great puddings and kippers for breakfast, "manners maketh man", Ms Webb and her VW, getting hit in the head (splitting it open) with a golf club and being "patched up" by matron (no x-ray or scan back then), Corby in the distance and imagining escaping somewhere, school sports days and the caravan, music nights, a lecture about harpsicords, TV (which consisted of A-Team, Blockbusters then bed), reading before bed (a habit I cannot shake), setting off the fire alarm ( as a dare to see who could make the largest crack on the glass) and Mr P. doing the rounds that night stopping at the foot of my bed and making a point of saying what a wonderful fire practice it was as "even the Masters didn't know it was happening" was a while before I breathed out under the blankets, Cub Scouts and fencing, Walks around Rutland Water with Mr P, Orange slices for the colts, so many Abimbolas I couldn't keep up with the majors, minors and so on, getting the train with others back to St Pancras (it really was like Hogwarts) but most of all I remember waiting for exiats looking out the lead-lined windows and praying for the next car to be my Mum and Dad/Grandparents coming to take me away to another place...even for a brief time. It was a part of my life and, like it or not, it shaped me. I'm sorry for the people who were abused. I've been back once or twice and stopped at the gates. The place haunts me to this day....when saxon kings held sway - honestly!

Anonymous said...

I started in 78 and remember my first roll call taken by Clements. He picked up one of the older boys and threw him over the top of piano. Welcome to Nevill Holt!! All done for effect i'm sure. I also remember his split personality. He could be very supportive and I still remember him being a very good history and geography teacher. However, get on his wrong side and you really knew it!! Pushing pupils down the stairs from his classroom, getting smacked round the head during lessons or grabbed by the ear and pulled around.
As far as Copas is concerned - I was in Venetians dorm (fire escape practice out of the window!) One night I remember Griz arriving late at night and going into his room opposite. He then quietly walked into our dorm and checked to see if anyone was awake (I was awake but pretended to be asleep). He walked over to the other side of the dorm (backing on to Florentine dorm) and spent sometime at one of the boys bed then left for his room. I remember distinctly the quiet sobbing that came from that bed for sometime after. I feel like a complete coward even now for not having said anything.
Copas cheated those he abused out of justice and closure by his cowardly death. Please don't deny his guilt, it insults those few who had their innocence stolen.

Anonymous said...

I was there from 76-80 and was abused by Clements. I am sure there are many others like me who have not been part of a formal investigation. My abiding memories of the school though are of freezing temperatures (it was a blessing that there was a fire in the Great Hall, which also served to help melt our air gun pellets as well as warm our chilblain-ed toes), a beautiful building (was the ceiling in one of the dorms really by Robert Adam?), and good drama (remember the Hamlet in the Great Hall?). The quality of the teaching I think though was high - Cook, and Copas, particularly stick in my mind. And I had no bother from Copas, although in retrospect perhaps a chap who lives half the week in a room next to the dorms and the other half in the village to which he would sometimes invite a group of boys for musical evenings (records - they were quite good!) might have been subject to a bit more scrutiny. The place was certainly not health and safety central - the swimming pool was a death trap and some of the higher dorms would have been very difficult to exit in a fire, even with the harnesses. Could say much more - it's a real mixture of fond memories and some terrible times... Finally though does anyone remember seeing Nancy Cunard's signature in the attics? Or have I dreamt that one?

Someone really should write a book about the place...!

Anonymous said...

There seems to be much innuendo in these comments about Mr Copas but nothing substantial. I can only say that my (and I believe my friends' at the time, 80s) experience of him was a fine one. It makes me sad for this to be his legacy, when I think what a great teacher he was and how committed he was to the school.

Anonymous said...

I heard, sadly, that DCSP died a few weeks ago. I cannot find any corroboration for this, but being in his late 80s, it is not unlikely.

Anonymous said...

I can confirm that DCSP died. There was a memorial service for him at Medbourne church. Funeral notice here:

To anyone affected by the events alluded to above: I was a pupil at Nevill Holt in the 1980s and am compiling the recollections of former pupils of all ages, to better understand my own experience there, and possibly with a view to writing something in the future. I would welcome contact from anyone who has anything to offer, anonymously or otherwise, relevant to the abuse claims or not. I will treat any information received in confidence.

You can reach me at holtnevill [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

I thank you for being the whistle blower as others do but why did it take 20 years forany of us to pluck up courage ? That so many of us have hidden this is incredible and many more had a good education. What about mr lanyon hypnotising us asleep on his large stained bladder sack whilst our parents thought they were paying for extra music not perverted gratification.
What about dragescu what happened to that pervert why is he not castrated or imprisoned
What happened to the bent modelling teacher that touched you up what was his name and why has he not been to prison also
I don't buy the excuse clements has found religion as though that will make it ok well it hasn't and never will. clements you have affected many young lives and should be punished far more than you have been.
I feel sad the school is no longer as many good teachers good pupils have been affected by these gross acts

Andrew-Paul said...

I was one of those boys, not sexually abused but routinely physically abused, primarily by Mr Clements, for whom I have no sympathy whatever, but also by others.

No, we did not have a happy childhood. It was horrible. My strongest memory has always been the sound of the dormitories, the first night of term -- the sound of little boys crying for their mothers has stayed with me my whole life.

Abuses that I experienced, not solely those of Clements', included being lifted up bodily and thrown across a grand piano, being dragged around a rugby field by my hair, and being threatened with a golf club. And that was just my experience.

I doubt the falling rolls had so much to do with Clemo's sexual abuse. More likely that a new generation looked upon their seven-year-old children, and recoiled in horror at the prospect of subjecting them to such an institution.

Oakey said...

I was sent earlier than most (aged 5 ) to Nevill Holt as my junior school went bankrupt. I remember Miss Autry as the school secretary and a WONDERFUL teacher Miss Barge. English was taught by a Mr Ryder and French by a Miss Robinette. I remember Mr. moorehouse and Ernest Cooke (Friday Night is Music Night...and A Hundred Best it brings it all back).
I remember DAVID Phillips meeting his wife to be and how glamorous she looked . Mr. Serille Phillips was still married to his first wife who had a serious drink problem.
I can recall Miss Harbottle but that must have been at the end of my stay there in 1962. I was told , on leaving, by S.P. That according to his punishment ledger I'd been caned more than any other boy in the history of the school !!
I'm still in touch with some of my contemporaries there who mostly have happy memories, with a couple of exceptions. At no time was there any abuse such has been described here. How very sad for it to end in such a way. I returned when it was empty and for sale . How S,all it looked, but still beautiful. I remember films in The Oak Gallery . In my day The Great Hall was out of bounds.

Anonymous said...

I was at NH from 79-82 and remember exactly the same details as the chap who posted in October 2012. Miss MacRonald insisting on being called 'Sir'! It is truly shocking to read the few posts which reveal Peter Copas' dark side. Like the contributor mentioned above (we must have known one another), I was invited - and went - to Clements' house, while his wife was out, to learn how to body-build. He gave me challenges in dorm to do press-ups, and awarded me one of those hand clenching exercise gadgets for doing 40. I've chucked it away now. He was a real moster. He'd bend your fingers back do far to inspect nails that some boys would cry. A single spec of mud could result in being dragged to the sinks and having your hands scrubbed raw with those rock hard brushes. Does anyone remember Miss McRonald's two assistant matrons? Mrs Beynon & Miss Cutts? They were such an antidote to that witch. I remember Cutts letting the dorm captains (in the junior dorms) stay up with her watching TV and playing top-trumps.

Despite some good memories, I have every sympathy with those who sound angry. It is appalling that these things went on.

Anonymous said...

I was at NH 90-93 and remember it being mean and unforgiving; some fun times but whilst I was not always successful, survival strategy was to keep your head down. The teachers were largely self-interested and two-faced to uncertain and scared kids. The building by the early 90s was deteriorating quickly, I remember one particularly bad storm had water gushing through several window frames and everyone had to decamp to the library to sleep. Not a chance it would pass an OFSTEAD inspection these days!

In reading most comments here, there is obvious vilification and mostly justified (I missed Clements thankfully!). I wasn't sexually abused and only latterly heard of these horrors but I recall being physically threatened but worst being told my parents had said to the teachers it was okay for me to be hit to teach me; at that age, you believe the adults; took me a long time to retrust my parents! Aside, there were some good times for a childhood and I learnt to fish and shoot at the school but in reality I wouldn't have subjected my kids to NH if it were still open.

Some teachers who stand out 25 years on:
Deaso who is largely credited by alumni was a self-proclaimed "Superman" was simply a bully who wielded a golf club with swift swipes and stings for innocuous 11/12 year old behaviour. Whilst he may have had good intentions, he was vindictive and a mean SOB when he wanted to be.

Copas was an odd-ball who invited boys to his house to listen to music and not surprising he hung himself outside his English classroom. He had a temper on him which I saw rather than experienced thankfully!

Headmaster Wooley was a smiley weirdo who always seemed to be going off to seminars or such like. Turned out he was having an affair with one of the junior nursery staff at some point. Felt sorry for his kids as he was clearly mean to them but was fine with the pupils.

Jeff Hancock - fiery red head Geordie who taught science and rode a harley. Temper I have never since seen matched but had some self-control. To be fair, you always knew where you stood with him and remember him throwing, with force, a chalk board cleaner and hitting a boy on the head.

Mrs Pearce-Smith was a really nice lady, seemed to care about the pupils but bizarrely seemed to be close to Copas which never made sense to me.

Mr Wrobleski taught history and Geography was a decent guy. possibly the only male teacher who I remember genuinely wanted to do right by the pupils.

Anonymous said...

I was at Nevill Holt in 1957 ,when Oakey was there. David Phillips taught me cricket ,rugby and soccer very well . I liked him as a person , but found him a bit scary . His Father was a sadistical tyrant . I remember being beaten many times on the hands and the bottom .His Secretary was always in the office I believe . Mr Moorehouse was eccentric and had me beaten for pulling a chair away from somebody about to sit down .Mr Waite was my favourite teacher ,he drove a Sprite I believe . He also sent me a letter when I scored a 100 against Shrewsbury . Mr Ridings was ok and had a very attractive wife .Miss Barge was great and also one of the Matrons .Fortunately there wasn't any abuse that I can recall .Ernie Cooke was a nice man . I think he was pretty old when I was there .In an odd way I enjoyed being there and it certainly taught you how to survive .

Anonymous said...

Anonymous from December 2011. You are very brave to share such a horrid experience. I read your comment many years after my time at NH and now understand how what was once a strong loyal memory is shaded by the release of my sub conscious memory through hypnotherapy. But not sure what to do and only think I'll truly accept this memory if im in any way able to talk to someone from the same time I attended NH.

Anonymous said...

I was at NH during those years and always had fond memories of matrons who looked after the girls dorm.

Anonymous said...

(RB) I was an inmate, from 1964 until I fought my last battle at the school after morning prayers at the end of year, 1969. That fight, against a boy I perceived as a particular bully. Actually, he was just a traumatised victim of the system, as most certainly was I.
I never suffered any sexual abuse, though reflecting with a better understanding of crude life when a little older, I was upset to realise that many more 'handsome' boys had been its victims. What I actually saw was restricted as my spectacles were more or less always broken. Boys for some reason often sitting on knees, is, though, a strong recollection. I did though suffer extreme physical abuse, usually by cane to the hand, from the old headmaster and others, supplemented perhaps once every couple of weeks by the whipping of my arse, often protected by a layer of writing paper in my short trousers. Worst was, from what I now understand were a couple of perverted individuals, to the naked arse, and once when completely sans vêtements.
Being severely dyslexic, not that the school would have then recognised the word, let alone the condition, I received a stroke or two of the cane on my hands most days in my first couple of years. This became less frequent as the years went by and the will of the younger, enlightened, Latin teaching with a terrible lisp, Mr. Philips was increasingly felt in the corridors.
Good staff at the school were, a female art teacher, and the young nurse, the sister of a Man. United footballer. Most frightening teachers were, Mr. Wraight, previous comments suggest that that was Ratty’s proper name, who fortunately took his worst tempers out on the beautiful oak panelling, and for me a sadistic French teacher, replaced during my time, well, I think he was trying to teach me French, who I thought might actual kill me. However, the worst of all those to me; the first -year teacher, a female of short, round, stature whom literally rendered me unconscious on one occasion. I was felled by a wooden blackboard duster for not standing still enough in the corner. Out of desperation for our lives, we actually set the events in motion that led to her death, by sabotaging the legs of the chair she always stood on to clean the blackboard. We didn't kill her, I hasten to add, but complications from her subsequent leg injury did eventually see her off.
I could write a book about that place. I am very aware that many pupils had far better experiences than me at the school even during those years. And yes, I have happy memories as well. In the early years, before I believe young Philips stopped it because of a high rate of injury, playing British Bull Dog on the road behind the wrought iron front gates, was a highlight for me. A year making 'tanks' out of cotton-reals, elastic bands and pencils is fondly remembered. I was greatly influenced by a school trip to Stratford to see Taming of the Shrew, um- the event rather than the play itself. Oh- and I still have my treasured tuck box. Did anyone else actually see the ghost walking through the wall in Goths dormitory, towards the chapel, or was that always just the terrifying Miss. Crombe.

Anonymous said...

I just read the above (RB) comment with much interest, not least because I was a pupil there during some of the years described. Miss Pickering was the art teacher that belongs in the 'good staff' category. Ratty (Mr Wraight) was in a car crash during one school holiday period and it was after that he turned violent towards the fabric of the school building and instilled fear into boys like myself who dreaded his approach to evening homework forms during prep. (The silence was shattered by the awful splintering sound of wood as he karate chopped yet another door or wood panel. He died in 1970. Miss Crombie was a bit like Miss Danvers in the Daphne du Maurier novel/film; 'Rebecca'. Her rock cakes were most likely made from ingredients that included gravel from the front of the building. I remember one of the older teachers frequently putting me over his knees and gently smacking my bum, apparently as punishment for whatever it was I was meant to have done. I now realise it was probably for other reasons. There were good, professional teachers whose dedication and integrity were faultless and they certainly made learning interesting and fun. It is great to see old friends who are now on the school survivor's fb page and I keep hoping that one, who so far has not yet joined, will do so because I still miss him after all these years.

Anonymous said...

I was there from 1978 -1980. One of the few girls admitted to th school, from what I can remember so that Phillip's daughter could legitimately attend the school. I hated it, though took two years to pluck up the courage to tell my parents about the harsh treatment of pupils, the way girls were stripped of their female gender and referred to as boys, the ethos of bullying and beating any perceived weakness out to build a strong character. I remember spending my break and lunchtimes hiding round the back near the stables where I made friends with other sensitive types. I only had one friend, as the rest of the girls bar one (there were 11 of us there) flicked around the daughter, hoping to find favor and be incorporated into the group of golden children that were in her gang. There was one girl, K who was lovely but obviously didn't gave the confidence yo stand up to the other girls and so took part in the bullying just to avoid becoming a victim themselves. Mr P of bourse denied it all, specially as it involved his precious daughter. My fond memory is of my one friend, Mr BA as Ge would be now, who suffered himself dye to his differences and who used to hang out behind the stables with me too. I wonder if he remembers me?

Anonymous said...

I was at NH from 1977-80 and luckily had a good time there. I feel for those that suffered at the hands of Clements/ Copas. I don't remember to much of Clements except that he was an unpleasant character.

Anonymous said...

The Truth Project was set up for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experiences in a supportive and confidential setting.

It’s part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) which was set up in 2015 to investigate organisations and institutions that have failed to protect children from sexual abuse. We need to understand the past to help protect children now and in the future.

By sharing their experiences, victims and survivors make an important contribution to the work of the Inquiry and their experiences will feed into and influence our findings and recommendations.

Anonymous said...

More on Nevill Holt Preparatory School here:

Pappa Clegg said...

Shakespeare - you are to be pitied. Back in the early '50s, through my leaving in 1958, it was an exceptional school (FSP excepted), which got great academic & sporting results - envied by our peer schools. Perhaps you were all unmanageable, in latter years. Ne Vile Bells.

Pappa Clegg said...

I recall that name, Oakey! How are you? Think we overlapped. Loved the place, except for my 2x weekly thrashings from FSP. Probably why I always dropped my first rugby passes (hands ripped apart by FSP ��)!

Anonymous said...

To all the Griz defenders - If Griz was not 'involved' I'm not sure why, on catching me talking after lights-out, he found it necessary to order me to lean over the side of the cast-iron Bath in his bathroom next to Venetians and tell me to drop my pyjamas so he could beat me with his gym shoe (nicknamed The Jemima) on my bare backside - maybe he thought it'd be more character-building

Anonymous said...

I was looking for the Latin translation of “manners makers man” when I found this site and comments.

Good god.

My brother and I were there 70-71, as Day Students. My parents pulled us from the school when they were told we would have to board, the following year. (We lived in Lyddington at the time).

Some fond memories: the Civil War hiding spots; the tuck shop; some great friends; building swords and shields in carpentry to play at being knights; Guy Fawkes night; playing conkers (overrated though it was). Good lord, the food was awful, though - still cannot look at boiled cabbage to this day.

Some very odd staff - I certainly remember Dragescue. Another teacher - older,ex-army? played the piano, may have taught Latin? Or geography? - told us off one day with the line “Winston Churchill never wasted a day of his life” (hah!).

Returned to look around the school in the early 2000s. It had just been sold to Mr. Cellphone.

It all seemed so much, much smaller than I ever remembered.

Lucky to have gotten out when we did, apparently.

Deepest sympathies to the victims of the abuse. Unquestionably monstrous. May there be a special place in hell for those that would take advantage of children.

Anonymous said...

I was at the school in the mid nineties at was in fact myself whonohonwd the police on the way down to the breakfast hall. The police entered the breakfast hall and shortly after my copas ran out, shortly after the school was covered with police, dogs and helicopters. I seem to have done the world a favor and ridded it of one less peado

Tony Shakespeare said...

Does any one else remember Clements' dogs? He had couple of black and tan things and if he said "speak" to them they start barking. I remember distinctly him getting them to do this to a couple of younger pupils in the boot hut. Terrifying stuff if you are 7 years old. I remember Copas as being a man of great christian kindness. Clements as a violent psycho. I also remember Wilson who taught history and inspired me to study history still, some 50 years later.

Graham Walker said...

Copas dog bit me once,  was putting high jump bar up. I liked Copas a lot we went to athletics Nationals after I had won Leics county at 100/200/long jump

LB said...

I was at NH from 58-64 and remember P Oakey very well and more distantly Pappa Clegg as he calls himself. It was extremely hard to believe all these grim facts when they first emerged some 20+ years ago and it seems that one totally repellent individual managed to taint the entire school. Clearly Clements was not the only bad apple but he seemed - from a reading of these postings - to be the catalyst for the meltdown.

My memories resonate with those of my contemporaries in that NH was a very good prep school back in the 50s and 60s with outstanding academic results. I also remember rather good food and that FSP always ate with the boys. It was also typical of the rather harsh “character forming” establishments that defined prep schools in those days and my contemporaries at other schools told similar stories of corporal punishment and other privations.

I have very positive memories of David Philips, a great classics teacher and EEC whose maths teaching was the best. Miss Barge was unforgettable, as were the tea cosies she had us make in our first year. I remember she lived with her mother in a chocolate box cottage behind the church. I have sometimes wondered how hard it must have been to attract staff to work in such a remote location - and it was a very odd set up. I remember a few “one year wonders” who joined the staff with great promise but failed to reappear the following year. Mr Bellinger? Mr Winter - a very good history teacher who got outed for being an agnostic.

I think there was quite a drinking culture at the top and it was clear that FSP and “Miss Graham” who became FSP’s second wife were part of a serious drinking club that included EEC at weekends. My parents, coincidentally became friendly with FSP’s first wife. I would disagree with my contemporary Piers on FSP’s wife and the drinking but I defer to his better memory. However, the wonderfully named Miss Robinette taught art and not french and was there as a short term replacement for Miss Barge who was having cancer therapy. French was taught (not well) by a Mr Thomas aka Tommy. Mr Waite taught history from a text book and you felt was only a couple of pages ahead of the class. A contemporary mentioned that he drove a Sprite.

I remember woodwork being taught by the likeable Mr Bakewell who doubled as the school handyman, PE in the stable yard - now the site of the new opera house. I remember a kindly old vicar who came and took the Sunday service about once a month - does anyone remember his name?

Also I clearly recall Robin Peverett - whose previous role had been in the Pestalozzi Children’s Village - who I believe came to replace Mr Ridings and lived in a gatehouse. He hugely impressed us by bringing his collection of ancient firearms into class. He subsequently got into huge trouble at Dulwich Prep resulting in a (miraculously) suspended sentence. Interestingly he has airbrushed his NH employment from his cv - he has his own Wikipedia entry, lucky man.

Anonymous said...

I feel I have to put on record what happened to me.
I was at NH from 1968 to 1975. Like Graham Walker I spent a lot of time with Copas and I liked him a lot.
On a walking holiday when sharing a dorm with him in bunk beds, in the middle of the night he asked me to get into his bed. I made an excuse that I would not be able to because of the YHA bed sheets.
That was that for a while but I felt horrible and betrayed.
The following term he started putting me under pressure to come to his room and masturbate together. I made some excuse but he put me under pressure over the course of a few days.
After a few days Deas took me to one side and told me that he was aware of what had happened, that Copas felt terrible about it and it would not happen again. He also told me not to tell a soul not until I was on my death bed. I did not tell anyone until I met my wife - some 13 years later.
When Copas hung himself the police came to see me and they were already aware of what had happened. They also told me that Phillips also knew. They were given my name by a contemporary so there was at least one other person who knew about this.
So those are the facts. Deas and Phillips covered this up for years. They knew that Copas was a paedophile but did nothing. He did not abuse me but given that he committed suicide it is hard to believe he did not abuse others.
As others have commented he was a very nice guy and inspirational is correct. I even saw him for several years after leaving NH.

AP said...

Have read all this with astonishment as I had no idea what had happened at the school. I feel I should make my contribution. I taught art at NH for one term in 1968, covering for maternity leave I think. I also taught the first form more or less everything they learned. I did my best but was only 18 myself and totally unqualified. That's what you got at fee paying IAPS schools then. I thought NH was a very strange place and wondered if all boys prep schools were like that. I was told on arrival I had to be called Sir because I was on the teaching staff not a matron! I shared a cottage with Mr Lanyon and an under matron whose name I have forgotten (maybe the Miss Morgan someone mentioned?) - we became friendly and one weekend when a little boy called Christopher Ogle was actually forgotten and left behind at half term! (poor little lad was only 6) she and I looked after him for the weekend and tried to give him as much fun as we could. Other memories include reading to the Bimms dormitories and going round and tucking them all, some with their teddies - they were almost babies I thought, should never have been at boarding school! Also having to take nets wearing huge pads on my legs while the boys bowled as hard as they could at any totally unprotected areas - lots of bruises. Also one art lesson when some bright spark in form 4 asked where babies came from, so I said if if you all keep painting and stop being silly I'll tell you. I went though it all, including diagrams from my Biology O level, after which I went and confessed what I'd done to Mr Phillips (David, always very kind to me). I said I hope you don't mind Mr Phillips but I've just told form 4 the facts of life. I thought I might be sacked but he said thank for telling me Miss Viney, I'm sure the parents will be very grateful. I remember Mr Deas (bit Like Joe Wicks very hearty and bossy), and a very fussy little man who used to steal tuck from the boys, not quite sure why. I was worried by the amount of planned corporal punishment that went on - a miserable little queue every day lining up outside the headmasters study. And there were some very peculiar men on the staff though I was unaware of sexual abuse. But I had a close shave myself when doing inspection of the upper sixth dorm, who fuelled by pubescent lust had clearly been planning an assault for some time. After that DP took me off late night dorm inspections, so I left the school more or less in one piece. I am truly shocked by what some of you went through at this school. AP

Unknown said...

Hi AP,
You may find this hard to believe but I read this and I am Chris Ogle. Am I right in thinking you are Miss Pickering?
If so I remember you well and fondly. You rescued me when I was accused of stealing a 'nozzle' from a drinking fountain (why would I ??). The whole school chanted my name and I was marched down to see the headmaster, crying my eyes out - still aged 6. Still traumatised by that!

AP said...

Hi Chris, how extraordinary that you saw my post! No I wasn't Miss Pickering I was Miss Viney but I was only there for one term in your first year, so you may not remember me. Do you remember that half term though? I think it was your aunt who forgot to collect you so I and the under matron looked after you. I think we went to a village fete, and I can't remember whether she ever turned up!
Best wishes to you, AP

Unknown said...

Hi Ap,
Yes I could not believe it when I saw your post and amazed that you have remembered my name and all that detail after 52 years, especially as you were only there for one term. My first term was September to December 1968 - was that when you were there?
Yes it would have been my Aunt. I can remember there were a few week-ends where she could not collect me for whatever reason and I went to stay with some other boys. I don't remember the fete and not sure if she eventually turned up to collect me.
I do remember your name and a picture comes into my head - but it may be wrong! Strange times.
Very best,


Anonymous said...

I am appalled to read these accounts of what happened in the 80s and 90s, and I feel very sorry for those involved.
Luckily for me, I missed all that, since I was at NH in the early/mid 60s, when it was, I think, a good school - although the food was revolting, and, as others have said, FSP was a vicious bully. I remember his once humiliating Mr Bellinger in front of the whole school for leaving a bit of baked potato on his plate.
On the other hand, I have fond memories of DCSP, who was a good, kind and talented man, but my real hero, apart from his terrible jokes, was Mr Cooke. He was an inspirational maths teacher, and his mantra of being methodical and breaking problems down into their component parts saw me through O-level and A-level maths.
We were amazingly lucky to be surrounded by such beautiful buildings. Just about every architectural style and century, from the 14th onwards, was represented. More could, I think, have been made of this, and it was only later that I began to appreciate it.
Does anyone still have their copies of Condescend? I'm afraid mine went years ago.

Unknown said...

You obviously didn't go there. I did. It was a death camp

Unknown said...

I was also there tortured childhood caned on the back of my legs chalk board rubber thrown at my head dragged around wasnt the best school by any means things as a adult would never forget

70 to 75 said...

70 to 75,

I have some very mixed memories. Going away to school at 8 is tough. I chose not to put my daughter through the same; that gives a flavour of my general experiences! I too remember boys crying as their parents left and crying themselves to sleep on the first days of term.

There were some real positives and fond memories. Mr Wilson, who taught me History was a superb teacher. I loved the visits to local historical sites. He has left me with a passion for history. Mr Cooke was an excellent maths teacher and I took Maths to A level. I also remember with fondness him umpiring cricket matches covered in jumpers. Mr Bakewell's woodwork sessions were also a fond memory. I loved building dens along the side of the games pitches. Fights with homemade wooden swords and shields. I remember sharing a den with W..... who used to make his own radios - at prep school - love to know what he is doing now!

I did not have any untoward experiences with either Mr Copas or Clements. Clements was undoubtedly strange and unpredictable. I steered clear whenever he was around; he did make me feel uncomfortable. Today, the way Copas behaved would create alarm. Invites to his house to listen to audio books and plays, albeit this was always done as part of a group did not feel inappropriate at the time, but today it would be. I am sad to hear that he was an abuser. Whilst Clements oozed deviance, Copas didn't.

I did however find Mr Lanyon's behaviour very odd. I used to have piano lessons with him; which I dreaded. He used to stroke my forehead and hold my leg; under the pretence that he was trying to calm me. Needless to say it stressed me beyond belief. I gave up music as soon as I could. I did not manage to leave the choir, but was at least never left alone with him. Never wanted to discuss this until I saw everyone else's memories.

Whilst many, but not all, really liked Mr Deas. I personally did not like him. He had his favourites, be charming, but also mean and and spiteful. After passing my Common Entrance, my parents got permission to take me to France for a week on business, as a reward. When I returned he publicly humiliated me for being absent in front of the sixth form and took it upon himself to make my last months at the school a misery. It is not a shock that he may have known about the abuse and tried to cover it up.

David Phillips was good to me. Only caned once, but deservedly so after getting into a fight.

If, as people allude, David Phillips and Ron Deas did know of abuse and covered it up/facilitated moves of abusers to other schools, then I am appalled. How the abuse remained undealt with for so long should shame David Phillips, Ron Deas and the Police.

As a bit of honour: Any school with wooden knitted polo neck Rugby shirts does not deserve to remain open!

Andy Hawkins said...

Very sorry to hear what happened to you and others. Reading some of these posts - and also recently the book English Monsters - is horrific.
I was there 86-90. Nostalgia has long since given way to anger. I count my blessings to have emerged unscathed.

Anonymous said...

Was chatting to someone recently about NH. I posted on this thread some years ago and don't want to repeat myself but it has been so interesting, and often terribly sad, to read these posts.

Hopefully whoever questioned the Copas story has now been duly corrected. When the police were gathering evidence against Clements, they turned up evidence on Copas. Irrefutable evidence. That's why they went to the school to confront him with it. Which is why he hung himself.

Anyway, everything written about Clements above is right. A really nasty sadistic piece of work. As he made me masturbate him over pornographic hard core images (I was 11 and 12 at the time) he would play out his sadistic fantasies of how he wanted to torture women. He boasted to me that he had had over 70 boys during his teaching profession and he was glad that girls were about to come to the school because he wanted to see them naked.

Three other things I recall from the above.

One was when he leathered his two Doberman dogs with his dog walking chain in the warren. We all just stopped and stared as the dogs were yelping in pain. He was absolutely belting them with the chain.

Another was Maurice Lanyon. I remember him 'cleansing' me on his lap.

And then, unrelated to any of the above, the time when we all decided to scale the HP (the highest point) by getting into the roof space and out onto the apex of the roof. It involved straddling the apex and shuffling along to the tower. Goodness knows how high it was but a long, long, way above the ground. We got in a lot of trouble over that.

Man alive, that school was so screwed up.

Anonymous said...

I was there at the same time, Copas was an inspiration but Clements taught me at an early age to be street wise...the caning every week was a badge of honour, handled that. Good School for me.

Anonymous said...

My life was ruined by my experiences at NH.unfortunately I did not fare well.i believe having arrived already abused at home my vulnerability make me an easy target.i spent too much time contemplating how to end it all. I got too much attention from both copas and clement, but both were vastly different.clement was a monster.sadistic, violent brutal individual.copas was the opposite.compassion,kind and warm.But unfortunately both attention was inappropriate although helped me to deal with domes of my ghosts while he was dealing with some of his.On the other hand clement gave me nothing in exchange for what he took from me, My regret was I did not have any safe place or person to go to,it would have helped me knowing I did something to bring clement to justice.i believe karma is powerful enough and in some way although his punishment was inadequate in my view, it helps some ways knowing that he got caught.i have thought many times if I should find him and confront him over the years what would do or say .but I knew my torment from my childhood was multiple and complex&my struggles to heal and survive the years over took everything else.i pray those who never got to share their stories like me who suffer will find the strength within themselves to heal and forgive themselves as I am striving and struggling to do each day.To survive sadly I find is not sufficiently good to claim one has overcome.I never seem to be able to forget how brutally unkind and desperately miserable those formative years were for me, and the fact I survived is undeniably something that’s admirable. I often wish there is a support group for victims like myself so I may be able to see if by opening up and sharing those ghastly experiences will help me move beyond the pain.

Anonymous said...

I didn't attend Nevill Holt, but I am appalled to read about Clements, who I distinctly remember from my days at Ashdown House, where I boarded between 1968 and 1972. Clements was a style-styled spiv, a pseudo-butch phoney with a mean streak trying to be something between Burt Reynolds and Dennis Hopper. It didn't fool anyone. I remember we were amazed when Miss Calvert-Smith married him. Why?! With the blackness of the cloud he left under, she could not claim to have not known what he was accused of, and after all, she left with him! We all knew to steer clear of him and his proclivities for slender, susceptible and innocent boys. And to think she had the high-powered background with her ever-present mother Stella in charge of child protection at the International Social Service and her frequently mentioned brother David, London's go-to 1970s criminal barrister, always in the newspapers, and who later became DPP and a high court judge no less! The mind boggles, or should that be bogles? Ho.

L Connelly said...

Hi. Wondering if anyone remembers my brother John Orton.. also John Cresswell and Christopher Pratt. I have some Neville Holt memorabilia - letters written by staff to my brother who was at Neville Holt from 1965 age 8 to 1969. Feel free to contact me on lconnellycos at gmail dot com I am pretty certain my brother was an abuse victim, but he wouldn’t talk about it.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah was bullied and abused at NH
Remember Lanyon, Miss fisher doing elocution lessons Dragee french teacher then he left then was mr potter if I recall with his trousers belted to his chest , immaculately dressed Clements had two dobermans and RBI’s wife Ruth . Lived near the sports ground . Cooke live in the cottage stone house and had dormitory . Would loved to have been in that dorm. Unfortunately I started in adams and the other two dorms near Phillips bedroom and living quarters. Was in Venetians Romans panels Greeks . Panels form was nice as had carpet and windows that shut properly. Mr Annette I think his name was who taught in form 3 he was very eccentric mr benyon vicar who had 2 sons there .
Mr Thompson maths teacher in form 1 who would throw chalk and board rubbers , used to pick on me an swanny because we were the thickest in the class . You climbed up the class in number rotation took me a while to progress to form two . Remember the bathroom near form one. Forms 2 and 4 you had to walk through form 2 to get to form 4 and had to wait to leave form 4 until form 2 had finished. Form 5 in the lab lower upper sixth upstairs in stables
Lots of memories
Still in touch with a few from those days - so who am I well my last name was a colour

Anonymous said...

I did say mr potter but stand corrected after thinking about it
He was mr rutter
Remember the stationary cupboard ran by deaso near form 3 and the fire exit

Tim Williams said...

I was at NH from 68 to 72 and share a lot of your memories. Timw9999 at Gmail dot com if you want to make contact.

Anonymous said...

I was at NH from 1968 (the term that the school was handed from Old Serille to DCSP) until the summer of 1972. So many memories.
If it helps to jog anyone else’s memories, I recall:

– Ron “Deaso” Deas whose son Ken was in the same year as me. I believe Ken went to New Zealand as a policeman.
– Maurice Lanyon who taught Latin and Music.
– Ernest “EEC” Cooke who has a room opposite to my dorm, Florentines, and played the radio as a treat for us. He was a brilliant maths teacher. I attribute directly to him my liking for maths and ultimately my career in Finance.
– Roger Willson who taught history brilliantly, taking us to local sites of interest including the Battle of Naseby (1645)
– John “Scott” Cooper who taught French and took us on walking holidays in the Lake District.
– John Cantrell who taught geography.
– Eric Wraight (much discussed in this blog) who was frankly insane and cruel. I think he had had some kind of head injury earlier in life.
– David Phillips, of course, who taught Latin and Biology. His awful stammer was said to be caused by the brutal bullying he experienced from his father. Sadly, DCSP continued the physical abuse with regular canings. I remember one occasion where I was caned by snooker cue. When the cue hit my hand it broke in two. I was quite a celebrity for a while. I remember when Nina Phillips came home from hospital having given birth to Annabelle. We decorated the school gates. That must have been 1970 or 1971. DCSP’s son from a previous marriage, Simon Phillips, was before my time.
– Bernard Jean-Francois Frederic Dragescu, who taught French, of course. I believe he later inherited an aristocratic estate in northern France.
– Peter Copas, who was an inspirational teacher of English. I was saddened to hear of his suicide some years after I left. I liked him.
– Leslie Moorhouse who taught music.
– Miss Viney who taught art.

I never personally experienced or even heard of any sexual abuse of the boys by the masters, but I was at NH before the era of Clements.

Pupils in and around my year:
– Andrew Harland
– John Renner, whose family lived at “Whare Koa” farm in Normanton
– William Hawthorne, who had an elder brother. I think William went on to Stowe.
– Minto Lohoar, whose family were farmers in King’s Lynn
– Neil Sims
– Chris Ashton
– Jonathan and David Bennett-Baggs
– Jonathan Buxton whose father ran a furniture business in Nottingham.
– Jeremy Canham
– John Orton
– David Lapham
– Nicolas Matthias, whose father I recall worked at Mars Confectionary
– Brian Harrison, whose father was quite a lot older than other dads and who was some kind of engineer. I met Brian at an old boys’ reunion a few years after I left and he turned up in a Healey 3000. I played cricket with shaved down bats against the school.
– Nick Turley, who went on to be a water colourist. He did some lovely paintings of the school.
– The Spurrier brothers who were twins, I think.
– A pair of brothers called Thompson. I recall they were the “min” and mi” of four Thompsons at the school at the same time, the other two being “ma” and max”. The older Thompson brother was a loathsome boy. A terrible bully and very fat. He was (inevitably) knows as “Tommy Fat”. It came as no surprise to me that he had apparently been murdered in turf wars in Leicester where he ran a hamburger van. Or so I vaguely recall.

Despite the horror stories described by others about NH, for whom I have huge sympathy, I have fond memories.

Happy to engage with anyone: timw9999 (at) gmail (dot) com is my email address.

Tim Williams

Anonymous said...

I was at NH from 1966 to 1971. What you say about Eric Wraight ("Ratty") is absolutely true. He groomed me with CDMs and Mars Bars while working on the school newspaper that he started up. It culminated in a horrible incident where he had me sitting on his knee with his hand in my pocket. This happened in the modelling room where Ratty made his remote-controlled aeroplanes. Someone came up the wooden stairs at that point (probably Mr Lanyon going to the music room) and nothing further happened. Whoever it was who came up those stairs saved me from a lifetime of therapy!

Piers Oakey said...

I did comment on this site years ago (2017).. I was at N.H. from 1955 to 1963. Does anyone remember The Model Railway Club overseen by Miss Barge in a room up some stairs in the quadrangle opposite the Greek Classroom ?
….and The Boxing Club, up some other stairs there opposite Mr.Moorehouse’s music room ?
I can quite clearly remember sitting in the bay window of the dormitory on my last summer night there and thinking how happy I’d been for so many years at the place… and slightly dreading the future (only to discover that Public School was even better and more challenging).
I have to admit actually liking the food , or most of it, enormously.. we ate well at home but didn’t go in for puddings at all , so Nevill Holt’s “Queen of Puddings” “Apple Pudding” and even the semolina puddings (‘Death In The Alps’ when it had a spoonful of jam over it) were all welcome new experiences.
The camaraderie, complete absence of bullying, calm, reassuring organisation of our daily lives, all was fine with me (and I was beaten often in Mr. Phillips’ dreaded ‘study’. All to no avail when it came to curbing my behaviour..(talking in the dormitories, running on the gravel, wearing ‘indoor shoes’ whilst outside etc etc. )
There was no evidence during my time there of any abuse which seems so terrible and unforgivable on reading about it now. How lucky we were at that time.
Even Mr. Wraight’s idiosyncratic behaviours was of a noisy nature rather than creepy. It was felt that his explosions were for dramatic effect and caused much entertainment .
Perhaps David Phillips was a poor judge of character on picking teaching staff and obviously failed shamefully in overseeing their appallingly dangerous behaviour. My heart goes out to those subject to such abuse, particularly when I think of the wonderful years that I experienced there.. what years of innocence and fun they lost,

Kaye McGann said...

My first husband, David Winterbottom, was master at Nevill Holt for two years, from 1968 to 1970. We lived in a dreadful old farmhouse in the grounds, which belonged to the school, and which was cold, draughty, and utterly miserable, as were we, as we both disliked everything about the place, We had one child when we went, and two when we left. Peter Coppas arrived during our time there, and occasionally babysat for us, together with another young master who was having an affair with a young matron called Eleanor. I remember Eric Wraight, and that he actually killed himself. It was all coming out that he was a paedophile, which was a shock to us. Ron and Norma Deas lived nearby in another school house, and another master, Scott Cooper, and his wife Jenifer, became our friends. The Phillips family were dreadful snobs. Heather MacRonald was their nanny when we were there. I did a term's Art teaching to help out, and the boys were told to call me sir, even though I objected. They were the unhappiest two years of my life, and began the downward path of my marriage.