|FEATURING - THE PRIORY|
| Mrs Dominuque Reilly of The Priory did some work on researching the researching the history of the school. She collated information from the Banstead History Research Group, the Banstead History Centre, Paul Heaton, whose ancestors rented the building, Mr Michael Shackel who was at school from 1935 to 1941 and remembers the bombing and other lovely anecdotes about life at school, as well as various other sources. This feature documents some of the findings.
If you have any knowledge of the school, perhaps you attended The Priory or you have some old photographs etc please mail the Webmaster with any contributions.
The newspaper article says that the Reid family later moved to Walton Heath and the house was let to the Lightbody family, who were peppermint manufacturers [Note: recent (2019) research by BHRG indicates that the newspaper may be in error as the Lightbodies were stockbrokers].
First letter from Paul Heaton:
Dear Mrs. Reilly,
My grandfather Malcolm Russell Lightbody lived at the Red House, Banstead as boy. I believe that would be in the late nineteenth century. He was I believe born in Belvedere, Kent in 1877. He was educated possibly at Colet Court and certainly at St.Paul’s School, London. He graduated from Keble College Oxford and became a lawyer.In the 1901 census, he was living in Courtfield Gardens, London.
Later in his life he moved to Alexandria, Egypt and lived most of his life there. His father was a stockbroker in London. I believe my father still has a picture outside the Red House showing the family on horses. I would really appreciate the opportunity to visit the house with my cousin who has compiled a family tree perhaps one Saturday or Sunday, and would be pleased to tell you more about the family.
Paul sent in the photograph below which shows The Red House, as it was then known, in the background.
Paul says 'Malcolm Russell Lightbody (my grandfather) is second from the right in the picture and was the oldest brother at 23 in 1901.'
The two fir trees are still there today, only considerably taller, and the field is now The Horseshoe car park - rather well named perhaps!
Paul continues 'My grandfather and his brothers, were as follows, the children of Charles Russell Lightbody:.
Malcolm Rupert Russell Lighbody
Bernard Alexander Lightbody
Leonard Jocelyn Lightbody
Barbara Lightbody and
The photograph below was taken in 1938 as part of a set of pictures taken by a local photographer. Mrs Reilly is attempting to trace the school sign which she believes is till held at the school.
This is a letter received from Mike Shackel who was at the school from 1935 to 1941.
Dear Mrs Reilly,
Thank you for the pictures – the original house has barely changed.
You ask about where classes were held during alerts. The answer is, they weren't! I can only remember boring old general knowledge quizzes in the basement while exciting things were happening in the skies above us. But the girls, as is their way, were making themselves useful by doing needlework and knitting while the boys were all squashed together, scuffing their shoes and generally trying to avoid doing anything productive either with hand or mind.
The basement 'shelter' was minute but I seem to remember that our numbers were also quite small due to some evacuations;the boys used to look up through the only window trying to spot planes flying overhead.
'Leave of absence' was not uncommon. Dads and brothers were home on leave, relatives in Bexhill or Bognor were keeping their grandchildren away from the nasty Heinkels and Dorniers on an ad hoc basis, and of course the occasional complete family had temporarily upped roots and gone to some rural spot. So although your rolls for the early '40s may look reasonable, the actual attendance day-to-day might have been quite different.
Seeing the 1938 photograph of the front of the house reminds me that the school always gathered around the flagpole on the front lawn just prior to 11am every 11 November. The cue for the start of the two minutes silence was All Saints clock and the conclusion was marked by the single gunshot from Hyde Park which (in those days of little traffic and 100% observation of the silence) could be clearly heard. I am sure we all knew why we were there as our parents (mostly) had been involved in The Great War, as WWI was then called, in one way or another.
|Mrs Reilly enthusiastically showing Mr and Mrs Shackel around the School.
The picture on the right was found in the school storeroom and clearly shows the porch which has remained unchanged over the years.
The white double doors shown above are part of the extension to the original building.