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Hurst Court

Hurst Court
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Hurst Court

The Ridge, Hastings, East Sussex - Circa 1906
Image from the Geoff Wolfe Collection, copyright 1066online

  • Jeremy plumptre on 06 Apr 2019 Jeremy plumptre said

    I was there mid cities,as a school boy.
    Does anyone remember curty,the headmaster? Or Mr Robson who lived with his sister in a cottage? I was there with Rupert keenliside,Garnier,sandbach et al. Remember miss wardlaw who read us stories at night?or Mr farrar?
    Get in touch if still alive.!!?
  • Jeremy plumptre on 06 Apr 2019 Jeremy plumptre said

    Sorry meant to say mid fifties
  • Simon Mitchell on 23 Apr 2019 Simon Mitchell said

    I attended Hurst Court aged 8-years in 1964. Mr Thwaites was Headmaster and remember Mr Robson well as a kindly gentle teacher, wonderful artist, greatly versed in nature and kept bees. I have good memories of a lovely well run school with old fashioned values and elements of ‘Tom Brown’ schooldays. I would be pleased to contact fellow boarders at the time as made many friends but sadly lost touch over the years. I went to Aldenham School after the joining with Belmont School in Hassocks.
  • Bruce on 30 Jul 2019 Bruce said

    I was there in 1966 when my parents were in the UK. Thwaites was HM and I remember Mr Robson plus Major Bowen and Easty the maths teacher.
    The food was terrible. I’ve never complained about food since!
  • jeremy plumptre on 02 Dec 2019 jeremy plumptre said

    the food was ok but occasionally got burnt.we still had to eat it! |Mr Robson had this fantastic collection of vinyl LPs and we thought it great to play frisbee with some of them.Someone had a tranny and we listened to "theme for a dream" by cliff richard.
    I am writing a murder story based in Hurst Court if anyone is inteested.
  • Jeremy McLaughlin on 20 Dec 2019 Jeremy McLaughlin said

    Hullo everyone. I was there 52-58. I believe the building has been knocked down and replaced with houses, although I can't confirm definitely. I could drive over and check (about an hour away). In the 52-58 period there were 3 Wagstaff brothers, and Michael was headmaster of Dulwich College Prep School (Exeter and a cricket blue with his PGCE)(I know because we sent a son there!). I also retain a link to Alan Boyd (Westminster and art).

    I have memories of HC, not sure whether 'fond' would describe it. It wasn't quite 'cold baths and beatings', but close. I did pass top into public school, so education was probably OK!

    Jeremy McLaughlin, Babylon Farm TN12 0EG
  • Kemp on 28 Dec 2019 Kemp said

    I remember John Farrar "Dick Curtis (Head M) Miss Gopp whom became John Farrars wife (lovely people), "Winny " Wardlaw, lovely lady, Robson who lived down the road with his sister, Mr Socket,
  • Brian Dickie on 31 Mar 2020 Brian Dickie said

    Oh my goodness how odd to come across this! I was there 1949-1954. My son lives in Battle and is Head Master of Claremont Senior School. Some weeks ago I drove past the site of Hurst Court (it's been deloished) past St Helens church and down Stonestile Lane where John Farrar and Miss Gopp lived! So weird after 65 years!! Such happy years.
  • Brian Dickie on 31 Mar 2020 Brian Dickie said

    Demolished of course!!
  • david on 07 Apr 2020 david said

    Hi. I was there 1957-63, with Richard Curtis headmaster for 3? years and Mr Thwaites after that. I remember most of those mentioned (Robson - music/choir, Mrs Crimp as matron, Farrar - games) but also Mr Marshall - classics - inspirational teacher, and one whose name I have forgotten but was a chess champion and started my love for that! Was Winny the French teacher (Miss Wardlaw rings a bell)?
    I remember playing against Claremont- nice to know it's still going.
    Jeremy, I would be interested in your murder mystery to bring back memories!
  • david on 07 Apr 2020 david said

    Brian, Could you post details of where the site was as you went there recently? I only have a vague memory, but it would be nice to go past it sometime
  • Christopher T Mather on 07 Apr 2020 Christopher T Mather said

    I was at Hurst Court 1952-57, with you, Jeremy McClaughlin! Would love to catch up. I moved to the US in 1974 and now live in the Princeton NJ area, married, with 4 boys. My details:
    I would like to know more from Jeremy Plumtre about his murder mystery story!
  • Piers Nash-Williams on 10 Apr 2020 Piers Nash-Williams said

    I don't know if any of you remember me—Piers Nash-Williams: I taught Latin (I suspect very badly!) at Hurst Court from 1966 until it closed at the end of 1968.
    A lot of familiar names here: I was only there under Graham Thwaites, but I got to know Dick and Mollie Curtis—in fact it was Dick who suggested that I should apply for the post.
    Sinclair Robson ('Robs' to his friends) was a great friend of mine, and was godfather to one of my children. He went on to teach at Westerleigh when HC closed; he died in 1971. We're still in touch with a niece of his (who lives in France, and is now in her 90s).
    I also remember 'Easty' (Peter Eastwood) who taught Maths, and Michael Porter, who taught English. There was also a young South African called Martin—I don't remember his surname. I think he was there for the same years as I.
    Best wishes to all of you, especially if you remember me.
  • Alison Doig on 17 Apr 2020 Alison Doig said

    I was interested to come across this thread. John and Mavis Farrar were my parents and we lived in Stonestile Lane just down from Hurst Court until we left in 1964 when my father became headmaster at Claremont . Many of the names here bring back memories. Win Wardlaw was my brother’s godmother. The teacher who was a chess champion was probably Arthur Hall. My father died in 2002, but my mother Mavis ( Miss Gopp) is still alive, though quite frail at the age of 97.
  • Ike Bee on 21 Apr 2020 Ike Bee said

    Any body know what this building was used for during the last war. My mother in law got married in 1940 when she was 19 and her address at that time is shown as Hurst Court. Hastings although she was a Canterbury girl
  • Jeremy McLaughlin on 23 Apr 2020 Jeremy McLaughlin said

    Hi Alison. Hope you and family are coping with C19. Your mum was my first teacher at HC, then not married to John. I still remember them both very well! I was at you Dad's funeral, which was the last time I saw your mum. She has done well to make 97! I've just put up a lot of notes about contemporaries on the flikrr stream. Alan Boyd I am still in touch with, but he's not been well. Michael Wagstaffe was HM of Dulwich College Prep, now retired (there were 2 other brothers). AngusWall I have lost touch with. Say Hi to your mum for me. My email for anyone who would like to make contact.
  • Alison Doig on 02 May 2020 Alison Doig said

    Hi Jeremy Yes I remember you at my Dad’s funeral. My Mum is doing very well for her age. She lived with us for over 17 years, but we had to move her into a care home in February as it was getting impossible to manage at home. It’s obviously very difficult at the moment as we can’t visit her. I have some photos of Hurst Court/ Westdene. Will email a couple over to you- not sure if you’re in any of them.
  • Peter Kerr-Dineen on 10 May 2020 Peter Kerr-Dineen said

    I have been thinking of Hurst Court for the first time in years as my wife has just been reading Gavin Maxwell's very gentle memoire which includes mention of his time at Hurst Court (his third prep school!) and of his continuing relationship with the Curtis family. This is why,on a whim, I googled the history of the school and found this thread. Dick Curtis acted as tutor to Maxwell's family in there holidays as Gavin's mother was widowed in the Great War. My elder brother Michael and I went to Hurst Court (1960-67) as the Curtis family were old family friends, but very soon thereafter Dick Curtis retired and Thwaites succeeded him. My memories of the school are of some precious friendships with my contemporaries, but otherwise of a miserable and cold environment; the food was simply ghastly, and I remember crying with hunger; but above all I remember the atmosphere of fear and sadism engendered by Thwaites, and the relish with which he administered my canings. Perhaps nothing was worse that the whole school assembly in March 1966 when he callously announced the death during the night of my great friend Mark Collis. The previous evening Mark had tripped when running along the big corridor between the 'cubicles' and hit his head on the knob handle of. chest of drawers. That night he developed a bad headache. I remember trying to find Matron after lights out to tell her Mark was in real pain. It was a long time before anyone took any notice. Eventually Mark was taken to the San and int he early hours the doctor was called. He was taken to hospital... but too late to save him from the effects of his haemorrhage.The shock and grief of the public announcement of Mark's death was searing ... and Thwaites finished off by saying that all CE candidates should now go immediately to the Examination Room because the first papers had to be sat that morning. I remember so clearly being left at my desk, in floods of tears, and unable to write anything on my tear soaked paper. I don't think Thwaites gave it a second thought . How strange to suddenly confront these memories again ...
  • Nigel Jackson on 10 May 2020 Nigel Jackson said

    I was sentenced to nineteen terms servitude at Hurst Court from 1959- 65. It seemed a bright airy place on arrival but the natives were not friendly. Had I been well versed in Lord of the Flies Instead of Winnie the Pooh I would have been wiser and refused to be abandoned .I clearly remember trying to be repatriated there and then with loud wails reverberating round the whole building. Academic progress was put on hold for at least three years as was any real desire to retaliate to the treatment administered .Although the brain was in lock down my fists eventually sprang into action with a modicum of success . From then on the Character building process was put in motion , the odd poem published in the Record and the vocal cords became more melodic
    I liked Mr Curtis although my bottom did not . John Part was brilliant as was Bill Yeats and Mr Robson instilled in me a life long love of music . Life there certainly improved as time went on and there were a number of fellows I am pleased to have known. Jonathan Marshall , George Royce, Barney Green , Richard Potts, Robert Jacques, William Gething, Michael Kerr-Dineen And Michael Whylie . Colin Griffith , Andrew Soesan ,Digs Skinner and I all went on to St Lawrence Ramsgate. The complete opposite to Hurst Court for me where academic advancement finally bore fruit.
    A murder novel based on Hurst Court sounds fantastic . Very happy to suggest victims.
  • david harris on 23 Jul 2020 david harris said

    Peter, I remember your surname, but perhaps it was your brother who was there when I was (I left in 1963)? I only had one year of Thwaites (not for nothing known as Thwacker!), nd rather agree that he wasn't wonderful. My father chose Hurst Court for me as he was so impressed with Dick Curtis (despite the permanent cigarettes).

    Thanks, it was indeed Arthur Hall, who sparked my interest in chess. I remember he took some of us to Bognor Regis in 1963 for the Sussex championships! I remember your father well - a wonderful games master - though I never stayed in their house. I would love to see your photos if you would be happy to email them? My brother lives in Lewes so I thought I wold drive pasts the old site next time I am down from London.
  • David Harris on 23 Jul 2020 David Harris said

    Alison, forgot to add my email!
  • Stephen Bell on 18 Aug 2020 Stephen Bell said

    Hi, all Old Hurst Courtiers. I was at Hurst Court from 1953 to 1957. I can still recall the names of many of my fellow pupils that have come up on this site: MacLaughlin (2 of them), Plumptre (2 of them), Keenliside....
    In general, I did not have a good time there. The food was disgust pigswill, which we were compelled to eat to the very last mouthful (To this day - almost 70 years later- I am unable to eat even the smallest mouthful of rice pudding, and even the very sight of it makes me want to heave!!)
  • Stephen Bell on 18 Aug 2020 Stephen Bell said

    Hi again, it's me continuing....
    My life at Hurst Court was, as I have said, generally miserable. Coming there, at the age of 8, after a life of almost total and unrestrained freedom in Africa, it was like being suddenly plunged into an ice-cold bath. Not least in all this was the was the liberal (if that's the right word) administration of the cane as punishment, even over fairly minor refractions. I did however form many friendships, none of which endured (Does anyone from Hurst Court reading this have any memory of me?)
    On a more positive note, insofar as I was personally concerned, the quality of teaching was outstanding: Miss Wardlaw (French), Mr Marshall (Latin), Mr Eastwood (Maths), Mr Yates (Yeats?) (Latin, English, including Shakespeare, and an inspiring if at times intimidating person of much life experience) and many others, not least the great man Mr Curtis himself.
    I left Hurst Court prematurely, at the age of 12, and taken out by my parents to their posting in Australia. My Hurst Court-induced education, particularly in Latin and French, placed me in a class in which I was the youngest by far (some 2 years at least). This was disastrous, in that it instilled in me a laziness and complacency that was to serve me ill when I returned as a boarder to an English public school at the age of13. All things considered, I think I would in the long run have been better off if I had stayed at Hurst Court for the last 2 or so years before moving on, as normally, under the public school system. However, in the final analysis (and many years after the end of my formal education, including university), I was able to acquire a measure of academic status based upon my own researches and writings, and which to some extent I was able to pass on to my son.
    It would be great (of course) to hear back from any fellow HC pupils.
  • Stephen Bell on 18 Aug 2020 Stephen Bell said

    PS: Most importantly, I neglected to include the great, multi-talented (including musically) and
    kindly Mr Robson, as well as the similarly inspiring Mr Farrar in my tributes to the Hurst Court staff above.
  • Stephen Bell on 18 Aug 2020 Stephen Bell said

    And it's me yet again!!!
    Whilst thus reminiscing of times at Hurst Court some 65 years ago, another memory has just come back to me, this time concerning the truly disgusting food which we were all forced to finish off to the last mouthful. As I recall the cook's name was Mabel, and it seems she was never in the habit - as most chefs should, and indeed do - of wearing headwear whilst cooking. In consequence, the first thing to do was to search through the pigswill on the plates in front of us and extract the hair embedded therein. Sometimes there was even a general competition around the table to see who could claim the most. UGH!!
  • Stephen Bell on 18 Aug 2020 Stephen Bell said

    And it's me yet again!!!
    Whilst thus reminiscing of times at Hurst Court some 65 years ago, another memory has just come back to me, this time concerning the truly disgusting food which we were all forced to finish off to the last mouthful. As I recall the cook's name was Mabel, and it seems she was never in the habit - as most chefs should, and indeed do - of wearing headwear whilst cooking. In consequence, the first thing to do was to search through the pigswill on the plates in front of us and extract the hair embedded therein. Sometimes there was even a general competition around the table to see who could claim the most. UGH!!
  • Jeremy McLaughlin on 17 Nov 2020 Jeremy McLaughlin said

    Hi all. I wrote a few lines in December and then didn't carry on reading! Good to see many names mentioned of staff and co-students. We don't appear to have a web site and I am up for creating one this winter. I believe it should be possible to locate all attendees from 1950 on and it would be good to create a database and collect histories, pictures, recollections (with sensible confidentiality regime).

    It would be good to have a half side A4 (in confidence) with news of you and any others you know and can contact to be going on with (my details below).

    Hi to Alison, Chris Mather - we spent a summer in one of 2X cubicles opposite Wardlaw I recollect.

    Regards to all, Jeremy

    My contact details: Jeremy McLaughlin,, mob: 07729 522294
  • Jeremy McLaughlin on 19 Nov 2020 Jeremy McLaughlin said

    I now have the bones of a web site created courtesy of WIX and bad weather discouraging me from outdoor pursuits!

    Good to read the back and forth of the Thwaites era people of which I know little (my brother Michael did 4 of his 5 years with Thwaites but he's not as yet been very forthcoming!)

    I have a data base of c60 from my time and the message trail here c27. I am trying to cover 1950-68, which with 10 new students a year suggests c180 in all. I would be particularly interested in names of pupils from the Thwaites era, earlier would have a place confirming my pre Thwaites list. Cheers Jeremy
    My contact details: Jeremy McLaughlin mobile 07729522294
  • Stephen Bell on 21 Nov 2020 Stephen Bell said

    Does anyone recall the Hurst Court school motto: GRADATIM VINCIMUS ("Step By Step We Conquer")? There was a large and impressive plaque fixed to the wall of the huge assembly room (very much the focal point of the entire school and known as "Big School"). Upon the plaque this motto was inscribed in bold letters above a further Latin text just below. I left Hurst Court, of which I have very mixed memories prematurely in 1957 (see my message above) and happened to back in Hastings nearly 20 years later (1966). I drove up the hill to the site. The building was empty and seemed to be slowly crumbling away. I happened to run into Len, the school handyman (anyone remember him?: very friendly and cheerful - he used also to clean all our shoes), and still there after all those years as the sole custodian of the huge, sprawling and empty site. He told me that the local council now possessed the site and that its future was very uncertain. He kindly let me enter the building and I wandered around it entirely on my own for a long time. A weird experience, every room empty and all furniture gone, each with its own echoing and ghostly memories. The large and impressive plaque was still there, firmly attached as ever to the wall of Big School. I wander what happened to it when the building was completely demolished not long after. I hope it is still preserved somewhere as an abiding relic probably dating back to the the foundation and buil
  • Stephen Bell on 21 Nov 2020 Stephen Bell said

    ..and the building of the school in the mid-19th century.
  • Jeremy McLaughlin on 26 Nov 2020 Jeremy McLaughlin said

    Hi everyone again! I have now created a basic web site and am looking for content. I have created a non disclosing list of alumni names (i.e. only names and dates at HC), which is now close on 100*. BUT I do need help, which would be best provided by sending me contact email addresses which I will keep confidential.

    Down the line I propose a password controlled 'members area' where possibly CVs, and photos could be lodged, but there are Data Protection issues which I am working through.

    On an initiative of John Farrah I kept a "Pepys" like diary for nearly 2 years. I note on Saturday 5/5/56: House matches - out first ball off spin. Caught Boyd bowled Durnford. MOTOR CYCLE CRASH

    Regards to all, Jeremy

    MY CONTACT DETAILS email: mobile: 07729 522294

    Regards to all
  • P A L Winter on 01 Dec 2020 P A L Winter said

    Well, well well. I was simply looking for something to add more detail about my utterly miserable time at HC, '56-62, and came across this. Well done for creating this page, the memories, not all by any means, pleasant, come flooding back. I'd been sent there from my early years in Trinidad as my father had been sent by his company to the far east. It was a a miserable six years at HC for me and I never settled.

    Many, many names familiar as comtenpory to my time there. Mr Curtis with his glass eye, "Thwacker" Thwaites who loved his cane collection and dishing out punishment no matter how trivial the offence. The casual cruelty and his enthusiasm for beating small boys of still rankles.

    But yes, Mr Robinson, a most gifted, inspiring teacher of music and nature, Miss Wardlaw, who ground French into me in a way that means I'm still surprisingly fluent, John Farrah for history and sports. He often wore his Sussex martlets cricket jumper from his county team days in class. Mr Eastwood for maths, not my strongest subject, Mr Marshall for Latin and, more interestingly, Roman history which I still study today. The school moto "Gradatim Vincimus'. I found my old HC tie recently in a trunk, I thought I'd never see again.

    The appalling inedible food, Mabel the cook and her unhygienic ways with food. She put me off rhubarb for life. The early morning pre breakfast walks down the hill towards Westfield (?) whatever the weather.

    I left in '62 to go to Kings Canterbury leaving behind memories still haunting with me now. It wasn't a happy place or time but I'm glad do many contemporaries are still active and contributing their recollections too.
  • P A L Winter on 02 Dec 2020 P A L Winter said

    I meant Mr Robson not Robinson. Names I remember include David Norris, Merrick brothers, Simon Boxall (now, I believe an eminent marine biologist), Vane -Tempest, amongst others.
  • Jeremy McLaughlin on 04 Jan 2021 Jeremy McLaughlin said

    Web site is up My dedicated email for this My dedicated phone number 07729 5222294

    Stephen Bell - please try again. I dropped the phone as you rang and lost your number!

    Jeremy McLaughlin
  • Stephen Bell on 07 Jan 2021 Stephen Bell said

    Hi Jeremy McLaughlin
    My landline telephone is 01522-778552. My mobile (with sometimes iffy reception) is 07591579785.
    One thing I'm curious about: do you yourself remember me? I remember both you and your younger brother.
  • Hope Manuel on 12 Jan 2021 Hope Manuel said

    Came upon this site, Allison, hope you are well, I was a Canadian who taught for 4 years at Claremont, met Roger Manuel, married him, reception, at Claremont. John Farrar Headmaster, Beasty Easty , math, Roger Westwood 6th form, Major Varian science, Major Harris English. Remember Tony Webster, Chris Beckinsale, Timmy Vincent and many other boys. We are in Canada, taught in Alberta, both retired. Love to hear from anyone who remembers us.
  • Jeremy McLaughlin on 14 Jan 2021 Jeremy McLaughlin said

    Stephen (Bell) I will call you later this morning. Folks, I don't read these posts on a daily basis (perhaps I should! ). My contact details are on the web site but I will add them at the end of this comment. The web site is up and functioning. I have identified c350 alumni (see web site) and I estimate half of those are alive today! Because the school was a proprietary business (which it was), it basically went bankrupt and records are hard to come by. Any help gratefully received!

    My dedicated HC contact details email:, Mobile: 07792 522294 (For HC only, I try to have it with me at all times), web site:

    John Farrar and Claremont I know little about, but Alison (Doig) may have more information information.

    Regards to all, Jeremy
  • Dr Bruce J Watson on 24 Jan 2021 Dr Bruce J Watson said

    I do remember you although I would have been 11 at the time. And Easty , Mr Robson and Porter (who lived on site and was like me, an Australian). I do recall a young teacher known only as Walker who one evening on the weekend returned with a black stocking around his neck after some sort of adventure of which we can only speculate, and envy. Maybe this is the surnameless Martin?
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