A selection of memories: 1980s

Mr Adrian Beney (Grafton 80)

Dressing George I statue as Father Christmas in December 1980.

Mr Patrick Lloyd (Chatham 80)

Night fishing trip expeditions stand out. Few fish were caught but a great time was had.

Mr Charlie Wadsworth (Lyttelton 80)

The word which will always stay with me is “Avarice”, which we learnt from Chaucer’s pilgrim tales as meaning “The Love of money is the root of all evil”

The enthusiasm that was installed in me for Geology and Physical Geography by Mike Waldham and Chris Atkinson during my A-Levels.

Mr Ian Dutton (Chatham 81)

I remember the Sunday that Mr Longhurst’s Mini managed to drive from outside Chatham to the top of the Chapel roof with huge affection.

Mr James Fenner (Grenville 81)

Clarinet practice in the Queen’s Temple: I realise now how privileged I was to be able to play music in such a beautiful setting!

Dr Ian Keith (Chandos 81)

One of my colleagues blowing a hole through the brickwork of the Chandos games room in Plug Street with a scale model Napoleon cannon made in the workshops!

Mrs Gabi Kennedy (née Zoghbi, Stanhope 81)

I was in one of the first girls’ years. We had 30 girls and 500 boys! My Stoic friends are like my family almost 40 years later. The freedom that Stowe gave us to be ourselves is so magical. I remember two years of great fun and freedom. And with fun and freedom as your core pillars you evolve and grow- as your confidence is nurtured and respected. Now that’s money well spent!

Mrs Sparrow Morgan-Grenville (née Sparrow, Stanhope 81)

Sneaking out of the Bursar’s house and going to wake friends in the dormitories to go and bathe in the May dew at dawn on the South Front.

Mr Nigel Rossiter (Cobham 81)

Christopher Turner’s first day in 1980. Having got rid of corporal punishment in favour of fines, he was handed a cheque for £500 by a certain pupil and was told: “Let me know when it runs out Sir.”

Mr Adrian Dangar (Temple 81)

Being described by my Headmaster, Mr Turner as “the Patron Saint of Ferreting” in my final report.

Mr Guy Hemsley (Chatham 81)

Walking the entire pack of Beagles down the middle of the 11-acre lake when it was frozen over.

Mr Stephen Morrish (Grenville 81)

The whole of Grenville Third Form on their hands and knees outside the Housemaster’s flat picking up feathers from a burst pillow after a pillow fight.

Mr Nicholas Walley (Grenville 81)

Some terrible, some bad, some good and some wonderful, that is how I would describe my memories of my time at Stowe. I would like to detail to you the most wonderful part of Stowe for me, always was, always will be! These memories are of walking in the grounds with friends, and usually a pouch of Old Holborn, a packet of Rizzlas and my trusty Zippo lighter. These walks would usually start somewhere between midnight and 1am and I can’t really say how long they would last for; it depended on what happened.

There were certain nights, the solstices were the main ones, where a lot of us were out in the grounds and they were quite sociable and fun in their way, usually a bit dangerous and a bit exciting, because the authorities knew we were out there and maybe they tried to stop us, or maybe it was our imaginations, and they didn’t.

The really wonderful nights were when there weren’t many people out, but you had arranged to meet up with a couple of friends and just sort of drifted around the grounds. We usually went towards the lakes, sometimes there were people fishing, there were a couple of people that would go hunting Muntjacs and we occasionally bumped into them. Sometimes, you would bump into people that you wouldn’t dream of speaking to during the day, but in the middle of the night, we were all comrades. I won’t attempt to describe what we saw because my language won’t do it justice, but most Old Stoics can imagine the moon behind the Palladian Bridge, the silhouette of the Gothic Temple, the quietness of the Worthies and the Elysium Fields or the noise of the cascades, the only noise in the quietness of these beautiful grounds. These experiences have set a standard of beauty and peacefulness that has very rarely been matched in my life since Stowe. To those night walkers, greetings, we were very fortunate!

Mr Toby Sparrow (Temple 81)

In 1981, I climbed onto the top of the Doric arch to find a golf ball and discovered that it was hollow and accessible through a broken plank on the roof.  For me and a couple of my friends, it became our best kept secret. It was my secret den where I revised for Oxbridge in the summer of 1981.

Mr Paul Briggs (Lyttelton 82)

Humphrey Carter and I put a Union Jack flag up one of the big cedar trees on South Front for Speech Day.

Mr Marcel Ivison (Grenville 82)

I’ll never forget the time I played in a Grenville Senior House cricket match and opened the batting, the bowling and for 3/4 of the match was the wicket keeper too. It goes without saying we lost the house match by a considerable margin!

Mr Alistair Morten (Bruce 82)

I look back with concern at the time we crossed the North Front colonnade roof ridgeline in the middle of the night wearing just pyjamas and slippers, exploring the interior of the Marble Saloon dome and climbing up crumbling follies at sunrise – ah, the folly (and fortune) of youth.

Mr Roddy Duff (Grafton 82)

On ordering our second pint at a local pub, we saw, through the window behind the bar, Mr Freddie Fox’s (Maths Teacher) car pulling into the pub car park. We all scarpered and I left my jacket behind – name tag included! Apparently, we were well behaved at the pub but forgot to pay in our hurry to leaved!

We were resigned to the fact that we were done for and handed ourselves in, resulting in 6 of the best from Turner.

Mr Nick Macleod-Ash (Chandos 83)

Weekend canoeing expeditions, when the responsibility for planning and safety were ours, and we were encouraged to do so by Teachers, Tutors, Housemasters and Parents. Having set the club up and made our own canoes, we canoed down the Spey for DofE Gold, which we earned, and were anchored by the Duke himself at St James’ Palace.

The Rt Revd Ric Thorpe (Walpole 83)

Running around the golf course with a 9 iron with James Clayton, completing all 9 holes in under 30 minutes before Chapel on Sunday mornings, then walking in and leaving the clubs in the umbrella stand in order to start Chapel on time.

Mrs Vanessa Johnson (née Morison, Stanhope 84)

Scoring a try for the wrong team when the girls took on the boys (boys were three-legged) at rugby. The Head Boy at the time, Rick Thorpe was the referee in top hat and tails as far as I can recollect!

I was the first girl to play for a Stowe cricket team.

Being the first OS granddaughter to be Head Girl.

Being the first girl in Mr Pedder’s A-Level Chemistry Set.

Mr Guy Mander (Lyttelton 84)

Too many to mention (or recall now!) but Stowe was an incredible experience with great camaraderie and pranks galore; most importantly it provided a grounding to enable me (and many others) to be independent and have the confidence to flourish and back ourselves.

Mrs Belinda McCrea (née Evison, Stanhope 84)

I particularly remember when Marillion played on the evening of Speech Day in the marquee.

Mr James Rawcliffe (Walpole 84)

My defining moment at Stowe was in January 1983 and becoming a Christian – along with 15 others in my year. At that time Stowe’s Christian community was growing and one could not help noticing how lives were being impacted around me, including those peers who wished me ill.

Mr Guy Foster (Grenville 84)

Appearing on Japanese television when they filmed a documentary on Stowe.

Mrs Sarah Heaton (née Mounsey, Stanhope 84)

I suspect that the grounds at Stowe, designed by Capability Brown, were in part an inspiration for my second career in garden design.

The Baroness Fraser of Craigmaddie (née Struthers, Stanhope 86)

The Highlights of my Stowe career included falling and breaking my wrist in the Marble Hall at a House Dance, falling into a tarn whilst studying glaciation on a Geography field trip in the Lake District (with all the packed lunches in my backpack), appearing in School and House plays and being supported to get into Cambridge.

Mr Guy Harvey (Cobham 86)

March 1983, I got embarrassingly drunk at Silverstone and was caught being carried into Cobham Court. It was bad enough, but I had also invited my family to watch a School play. The timing was bad and I was rightfully punished by the School and parents as they stopped me going skiing with the school. Not my finest hour.

Mrs Amanda Ransom (née Wyatt, Stanhope 87)

Trying to get a Cello case full of beer up the steps in Chatham and being stopped by the Housemaster because it looked so heavy – he even offered to carry it for me!

Mr David Matthews (Cobham 87)

I have a confession of sorts! On the Saturday after the last exams most Houses held (hold?) a Sixth Form gathering – typically these involved getting the Middle and Lower Sixth together at a location in the grounds for a last hurrah before departing the School for the last time. Being in Cobham we always held ours at the Bourbon Tower. Cobham did have a reputation for holding the most memorable gatherings and I wanted to share some insight into how it all worked.

Weeks before we would ask each invitee what drink/cigarettes they wanted to create a shopping list (together with payment of course). This would then be sent to a carefully groomed parent who would shop for us and dump it all in a field next to the road in the field behind the Bourbon Tower. During the week running up to the gathering, a schedule would be devised so each person had a time when they would leave their dorm and start the walk to the Tower – this avoided having too many people walking about in the middle of night and reduce chance of detection. Unknown to us was that our Housemaster knew full well what was going on and had already spoke to the Head of House to make sure it was all kept “within limits”.

For any last-minute additions to the refreshments, we would engage the services of a local taxi company who would acquire the goods and leave them in the ditch that ran by Stowe Avenue – pick up would then be arranged. I remember asking my parents to stop the car when coming back from a weekend and I ran out to come back with a bag from a ditch and just asked them to keep driving as it was something someone had “dropped” the day before. Back to the night in question – everyone gathered at the Tower and we proceeded to form a line down to the secret stash and passed the copious amount of bottles etc up the line to the Tower where the merriment began. After lighting a fire everyone got down to the serious business of reminiscing about the last five years we had spent together ending in a competition as to who could hit the fire with a clay pigeon thus creating our own firework display. As we all walked back (getting light now) to our dorms we were probably seen by many people, but nothing was ever said.

Large piles of dirt, smelly and wet clothes were dumped in the washing and we got showered and walked over for a well-earned breakfast – happy days!

Mr David Matthews (Cobham 87)

We built a smoking “room” behind the swimming pool – we somehow managed to get a sofa and chair in there and hung pictures on the trees along with ashtrays. It was a small clearing which remained undiscovered for most of the term!

Mr Alastair Harris (Walpole 88)

One night, in the Fourth Form, I inadvertently called Walpole Matron Miss Pratt a “fat ****”, after mistaking her for Anthony Fullbrook as she stood silhouetted in the dormitory doorway. In my defence, their body shapes were pretty similar back then. She never forgave me and a few weeks later my cherished collection of rare posters and concert tickets mysteriously vanished…

Mr Rob Pumfrey (Chandos 88)

In my first Latin lesson my teacher asked me my name and he immediately said he remembered my father who he had been Housemaster to over 40 years previously. At the Leavers’ Ball in 1988, a photo was taken with my father, Peter Pumfrey (Chandos 47) alongside his Housemaster, Bertie Stefan, with myself and my Housemaster, John Dobinson.

Mr Mark Reed (Cobham 88)

I think I’m the only person to have been made Deputy Head Boy twice! A little infraction of the rules at the end of the Lower Sixth with my fellow Cobhamites meant the Headmaster removed my appointment. A few days later he re-instated me (I don’t think anyone else wanted the job!).

Mr Adam Veale (Chandos 88)

Being told to get my haircut by my Headmaster Mr Turner as it was “unbecoming of a monitor”.