CHARTERS PART one
1945-1969 page 2
During their final days at Felden the parents and students were simply told to present themselves at the new larger premises to begin the new school term. "I don't remember much about the actual move," writes Judith Jenkins, "except we were moving to a proper school and were very excited at the idea of having a uniform - grey and plum, from Selfridges." The uniform was for the Juniors under 12 years and Tweenies, as they were called, between 12 and 15 years; the Seniors could wear sensible dress. "As a Tweenie in 1951," Heather Mann recalls, "we looked like a large maroon sack of potatoes! However," she continues, "uniform became more glamorous later on. In summer, pink-striped dresses and white berets, and in winter, grey skirts and blazers, white blouse with grey hat. We felt very proud." This combination changed little over the coming years.
Charters Towers had been secured with a mortgage of about £12,000, Paul thinks, but did not include Cromwell Barn: this was purchased a few years later to provide staff accommodation and, eventually, to become the medical centre. The previous proprietor, the headmaster of the boys' school, had been kept in HM custody and was looking for a quick sale! The estate, with some 22 acres of partly wooded pasture, included Main House which provided the accommodation, catering and dining facilities and studios: The Lodge and a separate cottage with sitting tenants: and a wooden schoolroom with attached hand-laundry facilities. A new studio, with the junior's dormitory atop, was built some seven years later. This adjoined a series of outbuildings which became annexes known as Ballyhoo, Ivy Dive, Cottage, Allegro and, a private home for Noreen and Victor, The Folly. Paul recalls, "I lived in the Cottage whilst attending The Royal College of Music in London. I must have been 18 at the time and commuted each day. I remember joining in the midnight feasts with the other students which was a bit risky, but fun. They would sometimes climb
in through my window, clamber over my bed which was underneath it, to get to their piano lessons with Leslie Chasey who lived in Allegro. My father did catch us once and things had to quieten down for a while. It was all very innocent!" Later occupants of the annexes will remember iron-bars being fixed into the window-frames to deter intruders! Heather Mann, again writes, "Students slept in the annexe, but one term the school was over-booked and Valerie Jenner and I were put in Miss Bush's caravan in the field beyond the tennis court - it was soon sorted though!" In her autobiography, Judy Carne, aged 14 describes, a little over-elaborately perhaps, making an impromptu visit to Paul's Cottage one night and being reported to Miss Bush by a vigilant prefect. "I was stripped of all privileges and forbidden to see my parents who were visiting that weekend." In her book, Judy, originally Joyce Botterill, writes fairly generously about her training at the school and about, "the love-hate relationship I had with Miss Bush." Lyndall Thomas writes, "She was a very talented student and went straight into the business aged only 16, I think. She took the lead in nearly all the pantomimes at the school as she was the perfect soubrette, a natural." She eventually became famous as the 'Sock It To Me' girl with Goldie Hawn in the hit Rowan and Martin television comedy show, 'Laugh-In'. This diversion reminds us of another student who made it 'big' in Hollywood : Jane Leeves trained at Charters for about six years. She was a day-student living in East Grinstead. Sadly, injury precluded her preferred career in ballet but, after television and cabaret work she landed the plum role as Daphne in the long-running hit comedy, 'Frasier'.
Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Next