A selection of memories: 1970s

Mr Robin Bell-Irving (Chatham 70)

As soon as I arrived as a new boy at Stowe, I went down to the Beagles kennels, where I was given such a great welcome that I felt brave enough to carry on.

Mr Robert Carter (Bruce/Lyttelton 70)

A couple of practical jokes by myself and my friend and co-conspirator Mike Wolfe (Grafton/Lyttelton 71)

Adding a nosebag stuffed with hay on George’s horse statue c.1968.

During the Enzo Plazzotta sculpture exhibition in 1970, we added a bath on a plinth in Chapel Court from the Temple refurbishment.

Mr Peter Comber (Grenville 70)

I shared a study with Stewart NcNair and Nigel Rendall in Grenville. Stewart was a very good golfer – one summer evening, for a bet, Stewart hit a golf ball over the South Front to the North Front. Nigel, a lesser golfer, then tried but his ball ricocheted around the top steps. We ran!

Mr Brian Scholfield (Grenville 70)

I passed my Maths O-Level a year early and took 10 more the next year. I received a telegram saying I had passed them all. When I returned to Stowe, I was a little surprised when George Clarke, my Housemaster, asked how I had managed to fail all my exams – as indeed I had. I took all 10 again and passed them – I’m still not sure what happened!

Mr Stewart McNair (Grenville 71)

The MCC coming to play cricket against the 1st XI on the North Front. Great excitement and anticipation with a huge crowd assembled on the boundary line. The previous night some boys steeled onto the North Front with a drill hole pipe and crock. A hole was made in George’s head and another in the Horse’s appendage. Cork secured (with a hidden piece of string) and the structure filled with water. As the two opening batsmen for MCC walked out the following day the cork was discreetly pulled out and the Horse peed for the next six hours.

Mr Nick Rice (Lyttelton 71)

Dropping Admiral Sir Charles Henderson in the 11-acre lake (in full Military Regalia) during a failed jackstay demonstration on CCF Annual General Inspection Day in 1970. I was leading the demo.

Mr Christopher Rooke (Chandos 71)

I do remember with affection the times we climbed to the top of the cedar of Lebanon and smoked cheroots at the top.

Mr Jeremy Spanton (Temple 71)

One of my claims to fame was in a golf competition when my partner and I beat the Captain of Golf and the Headmaster.

Mr David Wright (Temple 71)

Removing all the hymn books in Chapel and the placing of a Mini on the roof of the front facade!

Mr Simon Shneerson (Temple 72)

Stowe Community Service and making a real difference to lots of very hard-up local pensioners – especially WW1 widows.

Mr David Luddington (Cobham 72)

I’m not sure that I wish to own up. However, one thing which has played on my conscience is an incident that occurred when travelling in an army truck to CCF Summer Camp in 1970. A carelessly discarded cigarette set fire to bedding which was piled on top of boxes of ammunition. On noticing that what we were sitting on was on fire we threw the blankets out of the back. I can remember the exact spot on the A30. After our arrival in Plymouth and unloading, the RSM expressed dismay at having left ‘some stores’ behind. We never owned up.

Another misdemeanour which I regret is having been poaching the night before, we were sat in a hedge watching a shoot. The beaters went in one end of a wood and emerged the other end without a single pheasant flying out. Our activities had obviously so disturbed the birds that they had all flown off during our night-time visit. The keeper did get his revenge as some nights later we were out again close to his pens, it was November and the fields were newly ploughed. I suppose it was about one in the morning when a dog barked no more than about thirty yards away from us. We turned and ran for our lives. I’ve never run so fast or been so frightened.

Mr Geoff Macleod-Smith (Walpole 72)

Water fights after lights out in Walpole after the boys in authority had left the dormitory. An umbrella was a necessity to take to bed!

Mr John Riddick (Walpole 72)

Sculling at Henley on Thames, with TJ Brandwin and having a couple of ciders on the way home; needless to say, we were soundly thrashed, (by the opposition!) but enjoyed the day at Henley.

Mr Nick Staib (Walpole 72)

Launching a canoe that I had built myself in woodworking lessons onto the 11-acre lake and it staying afloat.

Mr Tim Bagnall (Chandos 73)

Genesis supported by Supertramp performing – we never thought they would do as well as they did.

Mr Michael Jackson (Cobham 73)

After one of the early Corkscrew events tasting champagne, having to carry the Master supervising us back to his bed – no names!

Mr Graham Clarke (Lyttelton 74)

I was caught at night by the Housemaster of Lyttleton crawling over the golf course with a head lamp gathering lobworms for fishing.

Mr Donald Lancaster (Chatham 74)

Homework evenings in Chatham’s Common Room by candle-light during the Miners’ Strike and a three-day week!

Mr Mark Samuelson (Chatham 74)

The Chatham House photograph in 1972 when Andrew Falcon’s pet Jackdaws, suspended from a tuck box out of his study window above us all, started squawking loudly. Roger Rawcliffe couldn’t comprehend why the entire House was in fits of laughter.

Mr Philip Allen (Grenville 74)

1973: Having Rodney Cottier (Fencing Captain and Head of Grenville) on Upper School Club bar duty giving extended drinking limits after Sunday Chapel to his fellow Grenville teammates. It was a shame that he was expelled a week before he finished at Stowe, after holding an end of show party in his Study with Gin and cigs in abundance!

Mr Andrew Mackay (Temple 74)

The sudden appearance overnight of female underwear on a number of statues in an important summer exhibition in Chapel Court.

Mr Richard Neufeld (Chandos 74)

Helping ourselves to the full-size human skeleton in the old Biology labs and hanging it on the single wire, which used to run across the top of the Marble Saloon – All in time for the School Assembly that morning.

Mr Paul Rolland (Grafton 74)

The Speech Day prank. Someone, who will remain nameless, filled the statue of George on the North Front with water. The plug in a certain part of the horse’s anatomy was then pulled with appropriate release running for most of the day!

Mr Justin Shingles (Grenville 74)

I recall the 50th Anniversary Speech Day in 1973 where there was a huge exhibition of Enzo Plazzotta’s wonderful bronze sculptures in Chapel Court. During the night before, some boys swapped one of them for an old bathtub. Very amusing.

Mr Daniel Kinahan (Temple 75)

Playing football on the lakes on the ice with a rugby ball

Mr Neill Orr (Grenville 75)

Escaping the grounds on an old Triumph Motorcycle (From the MOT Shed) to Oxford for the day. I ran out of petrol on the way back (a lot of pushing to find a petrol pump) plus the final stretch was on a torch battery to keep the engine running as the generator had packed in. I have no idea how we didn’t got caught, but it was pretty dark when we finally snuck back in!

Mr William Tyser (Walpole 75)

“If you get caught smoking or drinking here you are a fool” was Ronnie Adams opening advice to new boys at Walpole

Mr James Penrose (Temple 75)

The dismounting of Temple Housemaster, Andrew Vinen’s Mini (or was it a Morris 1000) and it being reassembled by the alter in Chapel.

Mr Mike Porter (Bruce 75)

Matron’s Mini on top of the altar!

Mr Peter Rose (Walpole 76)

Unfortunately, what stands out is Drayson explaining to me why I wasn’t going to get my Rep Colours despite having qualified. It still irks me to this day.

Mr Jonathan Hayward (Grafton 76)

Receiving the Latin Bene prize at prize giving when the work was actually done by my future brother-in- law!

Mr Andrew Clarke (Bruce 77)

Stowe was a great supporter of individual enterprise, so my suggestions that I produce, edit and publish a new edition of the (previously banned) Epicurean, and that I take on the role of directing ‘The Birthday Party’ by Harold Pinter, were both welcomed and supported by the School. These were great character-building moments for me, which I have never forgotten.

Mr Frank Egerton (Temple 77)

I loved being Stage Manager. My finest hour was designing and building the set for Ibsen’s ‘An Enemy of the People’. This enabled me to excel at something practical. I had a team, managed a budget and achieved things. It gave me tremendous, and much needed, self-confidence.

Mr Paddy Ward (Walpole 77)

I loved the Art Department. One day, I was working along in the sculpture department about to do a large plaster casting. Bill Dady, the wonderful Art Master, passed the glass door into the sculpture studio on his way home with his coat and briefcase. He looked at me and turned around. Five minutes later he was lying on the floor of the studio rolling the cast so that the new wet plaster would reach all the nooks and crannies: real engagement – real teaching.

Mr Philip Graves (Grafton 77)

Mr Viner’s Afghan Wolfhound approaching a pupil from behind in the dark and wrapping its hairy paws around the startled boy’s neck!

Mr Bruce Bowley (Temple 78)

Strolling past “”Smoothie”” Morris on the way back from purchasing an extensive supply of illicit booze for my study block’s end of term party, hoping that a cheery “Afternoon Sir” might both allay suspicion and drown out any incriminating “clinking”. It worked on both counts.

Mr David Guest (Bruce 78)

Ferreting with Lionel the groundsman and then boiling the rabbits to eat in the absence of any culinary skills.

Going into the cricket pavilion at night, switching on the lights and seeing how many cockroaches we could stamp on.

Mr Nicholas Luddington (Chatham 78)

Telling a future GOC London District (the “Major General”) to f*** off! (Sir) Bill Cubitt insisted on unreasonably beating my section into excessive crawling practice outside Chapel when it was bloody freezing and snow was thick on the ground.

Mr Robert Horrocks (Grafton 78)

To have been there when the School went co-ed. At that time there were only 5-10 girls at the School, it was a HUGE deal to have one come for coffee or tea in study.

Mr Mark Berger (Grafton 79)

PRIOR (1974): My father’s sending off: “”The dormitories in Grafton are so cold clouds come into them.” He bought me an enormous towelling dressing gown which I still have!

My most enduring influence is Chris Atkinson (Master of Room 19 Vanbrugh Block used for rock band practice, informal gigs and occasional geography lessons; Stowe contemporary of my father) whose selfless enthusiasm, values and generosity of time, heart and pocket – whether sporting or promoting Stowe – or love for his family (as an aside, his son Adam joined my Regiment and was attached to my tank troop) provided a goal of decency to which I still aspire.

Ms Louise Bryan (Stanhope 79)

Illicitly delivering various friends back to Stowe late on Saturday nights after punk concerts at Friars in Aylesbury.

Sir Richard Kleinwort (Grenville 79)

Plug Street. Break (11am). I wore spectacles as did one Headmaster, R. Drayson. He was floating alone to his coffee break and I was waiting outside the famous door. He remarked “Kleinwort, those glasses suit you.” I replied, “and so do yours Headmaster.” He didn’t break step but had a smile from corner to corner.

Lady Suffield (née Emma Williams, Stanhope 79)

During my first winter the lakes froze over and we were allowed to go skating – it was terrifying!

Mr Seamus Wylie (Chandos 79)

I had five really enjoyable years at Stowe back in the 1970’s. I didn’t work hard enough but made some great friends! I am sure my love and interest in property and architecture was influenced by living for those five years in such a magnificent setting as Stowe.