Frieth School

Mrs G J Davies 1953 - 1960

Mrs Davies moved into the School House (Note 52) in April 1953. Her husband was a Civil Servant working in London and her only son, John, had just completed a University course.  John worked locally as a farm manager to gain practical experience before joining the Ministry of Agriculture.

In 1953 there were 35 pupils on roll, but the school was growing due to the influx of families into the small Council Estate of twelve houses and bungalows being built in Ellery Rise.

Mrs Davies was a very different person from Mrs Garrett, firstly she was Welsh and, although she had lived and taught in England for some years, English was her second language (Note 53). Teaching was much more formal than under the previous head, with a strong accent on the "three Rs", all written work had to be immaculate and every piece of work was marked carefully.

Mrs Davies was a very hardworking teacher who expected the utmost from all her pupils; her long experience enabled her to sum up a child's capabilities swiftly and she was very competent at teaching the less able children and very patient with them. Although the children were less free to express themselves, this style of teaching suited the parents at that time.

Mrs Davies's discipline was very strong and most of the pupils admit that they were afraid of incurring her displeasure. Parents were not allowed past the school gate, unless they were specifically invited, and no open days were held to view the children's work during these years,

From 1953 to 1959 I was the only assistant teacher. With an increase in numbers came extra Capitation Allowance and I was able to start building up a stock of suitable apparatus for the younger children from the purpose built collection that was beginning to appear on the post-war market.

On a personal level, Mrs Davies and I got on very well together; she had a ready wit and dry humour (Note 54), not apparent to her pupils! There is always an amusing side to school life if one chooses to find it.

The only village activities during this period were to do with the Church, Mrs Davies joined in with these and particularly with the Village Fete held on August Bank Holiday Monday in aid of Church and School funds. Mrs Davies did the clerical work and I undertook the practical details.

Each Christmas the school children gave an entertainment either in school or the Village hall. The infants usually performed a secular playlet followed by a Nativity Play given by the older children. This usually took the form of Tableaux to the accompaniment of carols. Mrs Davies was a good pianist and taught the children to sing well. One year the school performed a musical pantomime.

Mrs Davies did not agree with the May Day festivities (Note 55) which she thought to be heathen, as did Father Atkinson.

The Parsonage no longer housed the Curate and his family so the Rector, Rev W E Watts, took RI in school and school services in Church. Later he delegated these duties to Father Atkinson, a retired priest, who  had come to live in the Village. Father Atkinson conducted Mass for the older pupils and took a short service of hymns prayers and a talk for the infants at the end of the afternoon on Saints' Days.

Visits from Mrs Davies, the organiser for Primary Schools, were frequent but after Mr Hiff's retirement HMIs seldom called. The Log Book records :

September 1960 :    Mr Roberts, HMI, spent the whole morning in school. He said that he was more than satisfied with what he had seen and heard during his visit

Visits outside school and other interruptions to the school timetable were infrequent.

October 1953 :    At 4pm the children and teachers attended a short ceremony on the Village Green to watch the planting of flowering cherry trees to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II  (Note 56) [ Picture previous page ]

Each year in July the school attended the Music Festival held for schools in the district.

July 1953 :    Attended Music Festival at Lane End Village Hall. Juniors sang "Over the Hills and Far Away" and "Where are you going to my Pretty Maid"

May 1955 :    Juniors taken to High Wycombe Town Hall to see an exhibition of Aquaria

December 1960 :    Rev A V Comley from the Mission to Lepers showed two films

July 1956 :    School closed in the afternoon. Children attended the Annual Sports Afternoon (Note 57)

Every other year school photographs of each class were taken, also individual and family groups.

One Saturday afternoon we took the older children by coach to Regent's Park Open Air Theatre to see "The Tempest", but Mrs Davies did not record this in the Log Book. (I doubt the question of insurance even occurred to us!)

February 1958 :    A Police Officer gave a lecture on Road Safety (This became a regular visit)

The Diocesan Inspector still called annually.

June 1959 :    Rev A J Watts Rector of Harpsden called

Empire Day had now become Commonwealth Day and was usually marked by a talk and the singing of the National Anthem. [ 24th May - Queen Victoria's birthday.  Since 1976, the second Monday in March ]

May 1960 :    A talk given on the meaning of the word "Commonwealth"

Occasional holidays were taken on Ascension Day, for Henley Regatta and to mark success of candidates in the 11+ examinations (Note 58)

Regular visitors called as before, two well known figures were Mr Bevan (S. A. O.) and Miss Baldwin, Meals Supervisor. (Note 59)

Added to the lengthening list of regular visitors were the piano tuner and the County Audit staff to audit school dinner registers and needlework sales accounts.

Mrs Davies frequently logged the %age attendance for the week and gave reasons for a low figure. Coughs and colds were the usual cause but a series of epidemics of childish complaints swept the school.

March 1955 :    Only 25 children in school today owing to an epidemic of Measles

July 1955 :    An epidemic of German Measles

September 1955 :    Scarlet fever outbreak (Note 60)

                                Epidemic of influenza

October 1957 :    Only 12 children in school today out of 42

July 1959 :    Half the school still away suffering from chickenpox

Booster doses against diphtheria etc were given in school at the normal Medical Inspection, also protection against poliomyelitis during a countrywide outbreak of this disease.

Between 1953 and 1960 there was only one major renovation to the school building. For years the school roof had caused trouble. Whenever there had been driven snow, followed by a quick thaw, melting snow in the roof space leaked through the high ceilings. Broken tiles were numerous and a heavy rain storm necessitated buckets placed to catch drips.

In May 1956 the school was reroofed.

September 1953 :    The school yard tarred and sanded (i.e. the area inside the school railings)

November 1959 :    Telephone installed in school

At various time new furniture was delivered, desks, cupboards and later tables for use in the hall/dining room/classroom.

Mrs Davies had no trouble keeping domestic staff. When Mrs Hill the school cleaner resigned, Mr Smith a pensioner took on the job. Mrs Dean, the cook, retired and was replaced my Mrs Dutton.

In the 1950s there were no ancillary staff to mind the children during the dinner hour, but Mrs Dean assisted in this capacity, quite voluntarily, by keeping an eye on the younger children through the kitchen window. Two of the older girls were always on hand to call for help from the teachers if need arose.

The older children played on the hard surface area of the Village Green, they did not stray from it, and were not allowed to play with balls.

Frieth School 1959

When there were over 50 children on roll we were allowed a part-time teacher to take the upper infants and lower juniors, as a group, during the mornings.

September 1959 :    Mrs Austin commenced duty as a part-time teacher

During 1960 Mr Davies was transferred from London to Norfolk, so Mrs Davies applied for a headship in that area; she left Frieth School in December 1960

Unfortunately Mr Davies, who never enjoyed the best of health, died shortly afterwards. Mrs Davies gave up teaching and returned to the Swansea Valley to keep house for her elderly bachelor brother.

Click to go on to the next chapter " Mr D A E Cox 1961 - 1965"


Comments in [ square brackets ] are mine or contributed by others, the rest is my mother's original text.

(52)    When the Parmoor Estate was sold in 1946, the School House was bought by Lord Hambleden, Lord of the Manor, and leased to the Parochial Church Council for the use of a Head Teacher.

(53)    Mr Thomas, the P.E. advisor, called regularly at Frieth School and conversed with Mrs Davies in beautiful lilting Welsh.

(54)    The hymn on the first day of term was always Fight the Good Fight, which had a double meaning for us!

(55)    The Maypole was stored at The Firm by kind permission of Mr & Mrs West. Mrs Davies taught country dancing as part of the P.E. lessons.

(56)    The children sang "All things bright and beautiful"

(57)    This was organised by the Wycombe District and was a highly competitive meeting.

(58)    In November 1956 Wycombe High School moved to new premises and Lady Verney High School took over the old building. This provided about 150 more 11+ places for girls in the Wycombe area.

(59)    During these years first Mr Moss and then Mr Winter were Divisional Education Officers at High Wycombe, both visited each school in the Division at least once a year. However they were well aware of what was going on for the rest of the time - supplied with information via other school visitors!

(60)    Although this disease was not nearly so virulent as during the pre-war years, the 1955 outbreak was significant. This was the last epidemic of Scarlet Fever in this area.