Sarah Evason

Memories of Ullenhall School

School, for me, was not far from home as I lived in the School House. To get there I could have climbed through the beech hedge in our back garden or over the wall at the front but, instead, like everyone else, I went through the school gate. The infant cloakroom window looked out onto our back yard and, as part of our house was above the school, the people below could be heard talking.

When I started in 1979 Mr Barlow was headmaster while Mrs Latham taught the infants. She drove a white camper van which she would park at the side of the school. Mrs Ashby assisted her in the classroom.

There were not many girls in the infants at one point, just me, Jacqui Taylor and Kate Tisor. This was probably why in 1981 for the Royal Wedding celebrations I was Lady Diana (the others did not have blonde hair). Katie (the bridesmaid) and I had to sing ‘Lavender Blue, lavender green, when you are king, I shall be queen’ etc . . .

As well as English, Maths, Art and Scripture, one afternoon a week would be spent learning how to knit and sew – we made toys, collages and knitted a green dishcloth. We would watch educational programmes on the television – Frog and Toad in the infants and Picture Box in the juniors. I also remember that one afternoon we had a conker competition. When PE lessons were outside we would play games such as rounders either on the field or playground. Sometimes the ball would be hit into the garage next door or our garden and someone would have to fetch it.

At Christmas Mrs Latham gave us little presents and we did plays for the parents. I remember being in the infant classroom (probably in the evening) with some mums trying to get us all dressed as shepherds and angels etc, and then walking in procession along the corridor to the junior classroom carrying candles.

At Easter we all received a Thornton’s Easter Egg with our names iced on them. On special occasions, such as Mothering Sunday, the school would perform in Church. We would have to practice the songs so that we knew the words and I’m fairly sure that one time we sang ‘O Lord all the world belongs to you’ and another time, ‘When God made the garden of creation’ – that was probably at harvest. The Church was quite full when the school had to attend.

When Mr Barlow retired Miss Keen was appointed so she taught me in the juniors. Mrs Allday would have the class on a Friday. Miss Keen often seemed to be away in hospital having operations on her wrist and Mrs Clarke would fill in as supply teacher.

At playtime we played on the playground, the juniors in the top half and infants in the bottom, but we were not allowed to play at the front of the school. Katie and I would pretend we were in a rocket – there were two bits of metal on the infant classroom wall which would twist round so we pretended these were controls, and the drain was the lift. We played many games such as tig, trains, what’s the time Mr Wolf and made daisy chains and caterpillars. In the infants, before going out to play, we would have milk, in triangular cartons, to drink. During the summer we played on the field and there was a lovely tree outside the junior classroom door which would have snowdrops and other flowers beneath it. The builders had to chop this down to fit the new houses on and I remember watching this happen – it was on my birthday.

I spent a year in the juniors before leaving at the end of the 1983 summer term. My sister, Rachel, was entering her last year of primary school as the only girl in her year. In fact the next group of girls were my age – some three years younger. We moved to Henley J and I School where Dad was Deputy Head. We were not the only ones to leave around this time and when we went to Henley there were a number of ex-Ullenhall pupils.

It was quite strange after the school closed in 1987. There was no longer the sound of children playing at playtime or mothers gathered at the gate at the end of the day. With the garage closing as well, the centre of the village became much quieter.

All the equipment was either taken away or thrown out so we no longer went to Sunday School in the school (had been held in the Infant classroom) as there were no tables, chairs or hymn books. Katie and I would go through the beech hedge in my back garden to look through the school windows and we could see it slowly deteriorating.

Originally the infant toilets and cloakroom had been part of the School House (before the alterations in 1960) hence our bathroom and bedroom were above them. It was decided that it would be simpler if these were rejoined to the house. This meant that the doorways in the school had to be blocked up and doors knocked through to our house. For one night, whilst the building work was being done, it was possible to walk right through from our house to the school.

Though the corridor and junior classroom (extensions in 1960) were not particularly beautiful buildings to look at they were a familiar part of my back garden and I used to enjoy retrieving my football off their flat roofs by climbing on to our coal bunker, shed roof and then the school. However they were knocked down by the builders who worked on the site for about three years.