Kennylands Boarding school, Sonning Common.

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bellringer
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Kennylands Boarding school, Sonning Common.

Post by bellringer »

I joined this site to add to a comment that had been made about the school but cannot now find it, so here goes with my contribution.

Kennylands Boarding School was located on the Kennylands Road leading to Sonning Common village. On the south-east corner of the school field is a kissing gate that leads to the Bird in the Hand pub. The post box in Kennylands road marks the boys entrance to the school. There was a tight exit onto the Henley road on the other side of the school premises.

It was operated by Essex County Council as an evacuation school for the boys of the Beal school, of Ilford in Essex (now East London). When the school re-located back to Ilford, at the end of WW2, the school was taken over by a new Headmaster, Mr. Eric Grosvenor Gibbs, (EGGY), to provide secondary age schoolchildren from Essex the experience of living in a boarding environment. These were usually one term stays, after which each child returned to his or her original school. However, in 1953, the school converted to a full time boarding school, offering four years education and a fifth year for those studying for GCE examinations.

The school buildings were of Canadian cedar wood on a brick base. There were four dormitories for boys and three for girls. dorms A, B & C were on the girls' side (the Henley road side) whilst D to G were opposite, on the Kennylands road side. Other buildings consisted of a sick bay, washroom blocks, assembly hall and administration offices, a dining hall (the epicentre of the school!), classrooms, a library, science and domestic rooms, and a woodworking room. One of the dormitories was saved and sold to a table tennis club, located somewhere in the south Reading area.

We indulged in all the usual sports, including cross country running.

Aside from the usual school curriculum, other activities included archery, scouts and guides, and various activity clubs, such as chess or music.

Food is important to teenagers. We a cooked breakfast, a full lunch (the main meal of the day), tea and supper. Lunch sometimes included liver and bacon, or toad in the hole, roast beef on a Sunday, plus a sweet course. Most of the usual puddings and custard but occasionally the dreaded tapioca was served. It had a 95% rejection rate! Afternoon tea would be something hot, like Welsh rarebit. Occasionally, we had squashed tomatoes on toast. With the bizarre teenage taste in wit, it was referred to as train smash. Such was the world of the teenager!

We were free to roam the villages and countryside, and go into Reading, provided we booked out first with the duty housemaster. A favourite area for scraping knees and trousers were the chalk pits at Peppard Common, now fenced off. We had great fun sliding down those chalk faces!

I was at the school from 1959 to 1962. On average, there were 200 - 220 pupils in the school per year.

Sadly, all good things come to an end. Essex County Council closed the school in 1980 and relocated the staff and pupils to Hopckerill school, in Essex.
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piwacket
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Re: Kennylands Boarding school, Sonning Common.

Post by piwacket »

Hi Bellringer and welcome :)

Sounds like you had an enjoyable time there, and it also sounds like a good experience.

Back then there were several schools like that. A friend’s stepson went to one similar, run by Brent Council at Tylney Hall at Hook probably about ‘63/64. The school was for children of divorced parents who wanted a settled environment for their children... her husband was a divorcee, so they qualified. I remember he loved it, and it was a settled upbringing for him and he did well. Such places don’t exist now sadly.
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bellringer
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Re: Kennylands Boarding school, Sonning Common.

Post by bellringer »

Thank you for your note of welcome.

The news about the school for the children of divorced or separating parents was a complete surprise to me but, when thinking about it, it's quite a logical move. At least it would have given those children a solid grounding, which might have been missing from a dysfunctional home. Let us hope it gave the children great comfort at a very distressing time.
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piwacket
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Re: Kennylands Boarding school, Sonning Common.

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bellringer wrote: 02 Nov 2020 22:19 Thank you for your note of welcome.

The news about the school for the children of divorced or separating parents was a complete surprise to me but, when thinking about it, it's quite a logical move. At least it would have given those children a solid grounding, which might have been missing from a dysfunctional home. Let us hope it gave the children great comfort at a very distressing time.
I think that school didn’t just limit it to divorced parents, but those who had lost their spouse, ie. one parent families. From what I gathered the discipline was good, but fair as well. Certainly the boy I mentioned was turned around from being rather unruly and a bit of a ‘handful’ - no doubt caused by his uncertainty... he always spoke highly of it later. And of course it was a lovely place too, when I visited with her once. it was subsidised in that the fees were met by that Council and to a large extent basic clothing allowance - anything else was effectively top-ups/extras. He went on to a successful life.
With so many fractured families now, it’s a shame the idea was dropped I think.
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OLDMAN
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Re: Kennylands Boarding school, Sonning Common.

Post by OLDMAN »

Welcome to the forum
Oldman........

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of the people I had to kill because they annoyed me........................

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bellringer
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Re: Kennylands Boarding school, Sonning Common.

Post by bellringer »

On the subject of the Tylney Hall school, as an invigilator at my local comprehensive school I see too often how the children of divorced parents suffer. The school does its best but, being a large comprehensive, it can only do so much. A specialist school, such as Tylney Hall, has the potential to offer so much more.

At Kennylands, we had fellow pupils who were from broken homes but also from the homes of women who were widowed in WW2. The school's admissions policy took account of such situations. It aimed for a proportion in the ratio of roughly one third of pupils from settled and financially comfortable homes, one third from settled but not so financially comfortable homes and one third from less advantaged homes. The idea being that the more fortunate would look out for, and support, the less fortunate. This was very much a post-war attitude and a necessary one given the circumstances of the war and its outcome both immediate and post war. Overall, it was a very happy place. We all missed our homes and families - especially the first few nights there - but we all worked together as a school should. Sports and outdoor activities were encouraged strongly. "A healthy mind in a healthy body" was the driving philosophy. Mind you, running the lanes and fields during cross country running on cold winter days, in shorts and sleeveless vests, that philosophy was the last thing on our minds, especially when the last part involved running through a field of dairy cows! The school motto was "Loyalty and Courtesy."
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piwacket
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Re: Kennylands Boarding school, Sonning Common.

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bellringer wrote: 04 Nov 2020 11:01 ... it was a very happy place. We all missed our homes and families - especially the first few nights there - but we all worked together as a school should. Sports and outdoor activities were encouraged strongly. "A healthy mind in a healthy body" was the driving philosophy. Mind you, running the lanes and fields during cross country running on cold winter days, in shorts and sleeveless vests, that philosophy was the last thing on our minds, especially when the last part involved running through a field of dairy cows! The school motto was "Loyalty and Courtesy."
Oh yes, going to boarding school must be really difficult to start with, especially for younger children... on the other hand providing its well run, it does give a stable ‘home’ environment in certain situations. Being an avid reader of books like Mallory Towers, oh I wished I could go to Boarding school :))

It sounds like on the whole you enjoyed Kennylands :)
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spectrum64
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Re: Kennylands Boarding school, Sonning Common.

Post by spectrum64 »

Regarding Tylney Hall I had a friend who taught there. In practice boys who went there were generally those who didn't fare well in mainstream schools in Brent, not just children of divorced parents. Next door they had a centre for groups of children to stay for a week at a time to experience the countryside. That continued after the hall was sold to become a hotel. I don't know if it is still running, but I doubt it unless some serious money has been spent on it as it was quite rundown.
bellringer
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Re: Kennylands Boarding school, Sonning Common.

Post by bellringer »

Yes indeed, I enjoyed it. We had a lot of freedom to roam the near, and not so near, countryside. A few of us even camped out in a bivouac made of natural materials. The 1st Kennylands Scout Troop also camped one weekend at the farm in Shiplake run by the actor Richard Todd. He and his wife came to our camp fire on the Saturday evening. A very nice couple - no airs and graces, just nice friendly people. Joined in the gin gan gooly-gooly, song with great gusto.
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piwacket
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Re: Kennylands Boarding school, Sonning Common.

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bellringer wrote: 05 Nov 2020 20:47 .... A very nice couple - no airs and graces, just nice friendly people. Joined in the gin gan gooly-gooly, song with great gusto.
Ah that’s nice... used to see him occasionally in Henley shopping, always said hello and a smile, if you did.
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