The hats were part of the uniform. They were some kind of brushed wool that had a velvety finish. I am pretty sure they were grey with a blue and white band, the same blue they use still. The picture was probably taken in 1941. Penny and I both started at Chesham Prep that year, when I was four and she was six. It is the winter uniform so I am pretty sure that is correct.
At that time the government was afraid that the Germans would use mustard gas on the civilian population so everyone was issued with a gas mask and supposed to take it everywhere. I can still remember the smell of mine. It was red and blue with a kind of tongue hanging off the front. Grown ups had black ones and for Dan, who was an infant, there was a large one you were supposed to put the whole baby into.
I am not sure if the coats were part of the uniform or that we just had nice coats. Uniform requirements were a bit more relaxed during the war because clothing was rationed.
I seem to remember that a couple of times we had an air-raid ,drill where we all had to put on our gas masks and go to another building. People tried hard not to scare children too much so it was all made fairly light-hearted.
Above is a note from Niamh’s great Auntie Hannah (her nannys sister) who now lives in Alabama in the USA. Who was in the photo below. Penny was Hannah’s sister who died over 25 years ago now…..
Dear Chesham Prep,
“Both my sister and I had attended Chesham Prep up until year 6. My sister- Rosie Campion left to Pipers Corner School in Great Kingshill, and I left to Berkhamsted School.
The reason I am writing this email is because a parent recently came up to me at school and said she had remembered my sister and I from Chesham Prep and she spoke about there being updates at Chesham about past pupils achievements later in life.
So here goes: This is what my sister wrote about Chesham Prep when I asked her to put pen to paper- I left Chesham Prep in year 5 to join Pipers Corner School where I would stay until taking my GCSE’s. Now I am attending Repton Boarding School to do my A-Levels. If I had to sum up my time at CPS, it would be unforgettable, unbeatable and inspiring. Joining reception was a daunting experience for me as I did not know my place in the world, but Chesham Prep helped to bring out my strengths and most importantly it helped massively in the areas I was weakest in. My earliest memory was racing around the playground having a fantastic time with people that would become lifelong friends- Friends of which I am still in contact with today, four of which I continued to play hockey with until 2014!
I was first properly introduced into sport when I was sent running around the field for cross-country with Mrs Dixen shouting encouragement and helping me to create personal bests and to strive for that ‘faster time’. Whilst competing in cross-country we all began to learn about hockey- It clicked immediately with me as it combined fitness with an ever changing environment. It not only created a passion that I still have today, but it also helped me to focus more in the classroom on my studies, thus achieving the perfect balance for myself.
In September 2015 I decided to make a large step by moving to a boarding school in Derbyshire. They have a fantastic hockey team, and to help me improve even more I moved clubs from Wycombe Hockey Club (Which will always have a place in my heart) to Beeston Hockey Club. I have so far managed to reach Hipac (close to the england squad) and I know with my school and clubs help I aim to go that step further in the future. I now take Biology, Geography, P.E, and Photography A levels and I am doing the ASSE programme at Repton.
In the future I am aspiring to become a professional hockey player, possibly even coach! Finally, I have recently heard that ‘Mrs E’ has now moved onto Pipers Corner, where I hope she can help to inspire the pupils at the school to make sport more prominent there and to wish her good luck!
I would lastly like to say Thank You- Without you I wouldn’t be half the person I am today- and thank you for igniting my passion in sport, in particular with Hockey thanks to Mrs E.
Sport has been a constant in my life right from the very start thanks to you it has helped me with my studies enormously.”
Rosie Campion (age 17)
“I do hope some of this email is useful for you as I know both of us are extremely proud of going to CPS and wanted to send this to thank you for helping us both!
Right, onto myself- I am currently the Head Boy of Berkhamsted School- something I don’t normally like going round and telling people but I feel my old school would like to know!
I competed at Birmingham nationals in my final year at CPS coming joint 4th in the Hurdles! However shortly after I suffered M.E. chronic fatigue syndrome- Not very helpful for my first year at Berkhamsted! Joining a (what seemed at the time) HUGE school and missing half the year, wasn’t what you would call a perfect start. I was then ill again in year 8 for another 6 months. Surprisingly this didn’t help my sport or academic studies at the school and I soon found myself behind in (school) life. But at the end of year 9 I had seemed to conquer my M.E. and I could finally get on with school and sport. I completed my GCSEs and was playing sport to a high level in school once again, I am now doing Maths, Chemistry, Economics and Politics as my A-Levels which keeps me busy- along with playing for the first XV! Sport, similarly to my sister, has always played a prominent role in my life, and learning from Mr Small at a very young age- now a premiership referee, probably helped a lot! Also Mr Bateson helped me in my few final few years at the school as well.
In the future I aim to study PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) at University, and after that I have no idea!
– Hopefully, this email has some useful news about how my sister and I are doing at the moment, and if I can do anything else for CPS I would love to do so!”
James Campion 18, Headboy at Berkhamsted School 2015/16
James with the Queen at Berkhamsted School – May 6th 2016
“When I came to the school our first classroom was the summerhouse,an absolutely beautiful place in which to learn,and later I remember doing Art and Needlework here. I still have the eggcosy and coathanger Mrs Stangroom helped us make!.Other pictures that stay with me are Shandy, Mr Adlingtons Golden Retriever, standing outside the kitchen door and the big tin baths full of Golden Rod and Michaelmas Daisy on the verandah at Harvest Festival Time. Maypole dancing was a joy as was having all the beautiful gardens to play in. In the top year we were asked to do a project-my chosen subject was Nursing-which set me on track for a lifelong career, though I am now retired from the N.H.S.”
Valerie Walker (Cunnington) 1957
“I have very fond memories of CPS: I remember Mr and Mrs Adlington, their grandson Simon was in my class, and the building of Adlington Hall; Mrs Shirley the cook with her wonderful white/blond hair; Miss Nunnerly who left after teaching my class in reception to become a missionary in Africa (I don’t think the 2 events are connected!); the ‘white line’ that no one dared to cross; Mrs Edwards and her times tables tests and pressed flower project; Mrs Brash and the goose egg that exploded the morning of Parents Day; setting off the fire extinguisher in the girls cloakroom; Mrs Dickenson and the trips to France; Friday moring swimming in Amersham under the watchful eye (and loud voice) of Mrs Williams; helping to set up for the parents Cheese and Wine parties (how very 1970s) as my father was the chair of the PTA and oh so very many more!
The ‘white line’ was painted on the drive from the corner of the old stable classrooms and Mr Ford’s house and was the outer limit of where we could play…. or else! As we were all such good children, no one ever did cross it so no one knows what the “or else” would have been! ”
Helen O’Reilly (nee Purdy) 1971-1978
Whilst on holiday in my mother’s Cornish home I met a family who had children in CPS. We lived in London at the time and wanted to move out to Bucks. We had a baby son and this family were so full of praise of CPS that they advised me to put my son’s name down as the waiting list was so long. This was in 1958!
We moved to Chesham and I wrote to Christina Adlington to request a place for my son Dominic. She replied in the affirmative and asked me whether I was an art teacher as she admired my italic writing. Unknown to me the School had a tradition of teaching italic writing and hte art teacher was shortly going to retire.
Well, I got the job eventually in 1966 with two sons now, Dominic and Rupert, both pupils. Then I was asked to teach swimming, so I got my qualifications and began to teach both subjects. In those days we swam in Chesham Open Air (unheated) pool, Summer only. My ‘Art Room’ was the old Summer House with no running water and very basic heating.
My years there were the happiest days of my life.
Shirley Williams (Art Teacher 1966-1995)
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