The prosperity enjoyed by the school at the end of the Victorian period could not be taken for granted. During the early years of the twentieth-century much depended upon the personality of the headmaster in office, together with other practical considerations.

Use the scrollbar below to move from left to right to read this selection of reminiscences describing life at the school during the Edwardian era.

Cornwell Robertson, headmaster, and his staff Cornwell Robertson and staff
L Enlarged image

When my father had been given the headship at the meeting, Mr Houghton, the previous headmaster, said that he was taking so many boarders away with him. Well, my father daren't come back and tell my mother that he had refused the headship, she was so keen for him to have it.
 
To get a family you had to take them on less fees, if you had two brothers or three brothers. And a lot, I know, were there on reduced fees.

Joyce Brierley, daughter of Cornwell Robertson who was headmaster from 1902-1914, speaking in 1976

Gymnasium, c1912

Gymnasium, c1912
L Enlarged image

There were four scholarships for day boys and the sons of burgesses in Stratford and three became vacant in the summer of 1904. I received one of these. When you tried for a scholarship you took an exam in Big School and then the governors approved your appointment. The scholarships were for three years. If, at the end of the three years, the head recommended that you continue they gave you an extension. The boarders and day boys had to pay. I think it was £2 per term for a day boy.

Edgar Cranmer, pupil 1904-1908, speaking in 1983

My favourite subject was maths. The head, the Rev Cornwell Robertson, had been a wrangler at Cambridge and he took maths throughout the school. The exams were Oxford senior and Oxford junior. I liked the headmaster very much. I got on wonderfully well with him - everyone did. He was fair, if you worked. He knew what your capabilities were and, if you kept up to them, it was all right. If any maths question came up and you couldn't cope, he would go back over it again.

Edgar Cranmer, pupil 1904-1908, speaking in 1983

Carpenter's Shop, c1912

Carpenter's Shop, c1912
L Enlarged image

Daddy took the boys down to the river every morning - six o'clock - in the summer. And they had to swim that… I don't know how many times, to get on the boating list, because there was a list of boats. And to go on the canoe list they had to swim that six times.

Joyce Brierley, daughter of Cornwell Robertson who was headmaster from 1902-1914, speaking in 1976

Chemistry laboratory, c1912

Chemistry laboratory, c1912
L Enlarged image

The science laboratory of those days was treated with much suspicion by all except the science master, and indeed the block was put in a somewhat isolated position from the other buildings. It was well known by the boys, but apparently remained a mystery to the master, that by blowing down one of the Bunsen burners all the others in the laboratory could be made to flare up and extinguish themselves!

Gerald Jaggard, pupil 1913-1920

Cricket field, c1912

Cricket field, c1912
L Enlarged image

The rugby field was at the top of the Welcombe Road and there was an old cow shed in the corner - no facilities whatever. You either walked or cycled home and you were covered in heavy clay, so you can imagine what it was like. Boarders had to go to School House for a bath. At the cricket field there was just a hut, near the town cricket field, where all the kit was stored. Then after I left, Jaggard's father started raising a fund to build a pavilion.

Edgar Cranmer, pupil 1904-1908, speaking in 1983

Other resources on the Edwardian Era

Edgar Cranmer, 1908

When I was in the fourth form, they started a prep school but it didn't last for more than twelve months, I don't think, because the mistress who took it and the master she was engaged to fell out with the head's wife and they left.
Read more of Edgar Cranmer's memories of his schooldays



Or return to the Edwardian Era contents page

> > >   next gallery - The Boarding School 1914-1945
< < <   return to beginning of this gallery