Settling in Princethorpe, School in Stretton

Stretton on Dunsmore school and children. 1900s
IMAGE LOCATION: (Warwickshire County Record Office)
Reference: PH, 352/173/11, img: 2803
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I first arrived in the village of Princethorpe in the summer of 1954 as a seven year old.  My Late father had just finished his career in the Royal Navy after 25 years service and we had been allocated a new property in the village – one of 30 new properties known as Fosse Crescent situated on the Fosse Way, an old Roman road I was to learn more about at school and by picking up knowledge from the locals.

School in Stretton

At that time Stretton was linked with Princethorpe, which had its huge tower signifying the Catholic Church and girls boarding school run by the local nuns, and even today can be seen for miles around and is now known a Princethorpe College. So it was in the September of 1954 that I commenced my new school at Stretton on Dunsmore Church of England School. Princethorpe had its own junior school but as my mother was a staunch C of E I was sent to Stretton. The Headmaster was Mr Austin and other teachers I can remember Mrs Thorpe, Mr Maude, Mr Smith, and Mrs Sensicle.

At that time most children went to school at five years of age and would stay at the same school until they were 15 so it was quite a wide age range. It was a time when lots of new schools were being built in around the Coventry, Rugby, and Leamington area and within two years of me starting, pupils would sit the 11+ examination to see if they were to go to a Grammar or Secondary Modern School. In most years I believe only about 2.3 children per school achieved that and over the years it’s been considered that many who were academically bright enough to pass… failed.

I was one of them!

Following a similar path

Over the next few years I settled down often walking the mile or so to Stretton along the twisty road on the Fosse or sometimes going through the spinneys and fields and the footpath named Coffin Walk when entering the village via the old Shoulder of Mutton pub. The lovely babbling brook (famous now for its duck racing) that runs through the centre of the village under the road by the Post Office and then winding its way out of the village ..and overlooked high on the hill by All Saints Church. Even now 60+ years on I often pass through the village on my racing bike…sometimes calling to see friends or sometimes sitting in the middle of the village and letting my mind wander. It really gives me the opportunity to appreciate what a lovely village Stretton on Dunsmore really is and the memories

Just before I left Junior School at 11 to attend the new Wolston High, in another village about three miles away, the current headmaster retired and was replaced by Tom Gullick who lived in the old school house within the school grounds. Of course the old school and the house have been gone for many years now.

Lunch at the village hall

I still can recall though many things about that time and particularly going for lunch every day in the village hall. We would all walk in pairs from the school and around past the grocer Borsley’s Stores and into the village hall for lunch. The lunch would have been pre cooked by the district council and delivered in containers – simple really – and we would all line up like Oliver Twist to be fed. I think the cost in those days were pre decimal about one old shilling.(5p in decimal), maybe less!

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