A Brief History of the School 1963 - 1988

The Seventh Headteacher - Mr John Davies

Mr Davies was the Head of the school from 1963 through until 1988. In this time fell the 100th birthday of the school, as well as the Queen's silver jubilee. Both were celebrated in some style.

At the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 the school had a huge celebration with pupils past and present. All the pupils were awarded a specially commissioned Eastling School mug with a logo designed by Mr Davies himself. The logo would be the school emblem for many years to come on the Eastling school uniform!


Jubilee Thanksgiving Service in the Church.

Planting of a Jubilee Commemorative Tree, together with a Time Capsule of topical Jubilee souvenirs which will be of historic interest to future Eastling residents (in the school field).

Village Treasure Hunt, starting from the School Field.
Free Entry for all.
Please bring a pencil.
Coffee at school for the less energetic.
Lunch.
Fancy Dress Parade for all.
This will include decorated cycles, handcarts, prams etc., so please make this a success by entering into the spirit of the occasion.

It would be appreciated if all those villages living on the route from the water works to the school field would decorate their houses with flags and bunting.
Release of a flight of 25 red, 25 white and 25 blue pigeons.
Pram Race.
ORGANISED SPORTS (see separate programme)

During the afternoon there will be many and varied sideshows and contests for your entertainment. There will also be donkey and pony rides for the children, and for the very young, there will be a children's corner.
Grand Free Jubilee Tea Organised Sports continued:
These will be concluded with the TUG OF WAR.
VILLAGE DANCE for all, in school playground, where the Pink Panther Disco will be in attendance. There will be a mobile cafeteria at which hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, etc. will be on sale. Your free 20p voucher can be exchanged at this stall for any of the above-mentioned items.
BONFIRE in field at rear of school.
Impromptu sing-song.
There will be a loudspeaker system on the field to keep you informed of all activities.

Please keep Eastling tidy in jubilee year by making use of litter bags around the field.
The school toilet facilities will be available throughout the day.

The committee invites all villagers to take as many photographs as possible of the activities listed, and to submit them later to the committee, who will make a selection for inclusion in the souvenir jubilee brochure to be published later in the year.


Memories of Eastling - the 1960s and 1970s

Dear Mr. Hermon
How much we enjoyed reading your happy memories of Eastling School. This gave us the incentive to jog our memories and delve into the not-so-distant past to write of the very happy times we spent at Eastling School.

We started school in 1968 at the age of 5. Our earliest memories are of playing in the infants' class. Many hours were spent rolling out pieces of plasticine and joining them up to form a huge snake that wended its way round the small tables and chairs.

An early exciting event in our infant class days was the arrival of a new boy, Renato Pivano, whom we had the privilege of sitting next to at our table. Our offerings of "playing with the bricks" broke the barrier that might have been felt by a new little boy arriving at what, to us then, seemed like a huge school. In fact, we came to appreciate the small family-like atmosphere over the years. The infant days included reading books such as "Up and Away", having spelling games, doing basic sums and writing "news" - which our parents dreaded reading as the intimacies of family life were revealed to the teacher, Miss Waters.

The story and song at the end of the day were most relaxing after a day spent screaming round the classroom, showing off new tricks and covering ourselves in sand and milk! In truth, we were not quite that rowdy!

Having reached table 6, we were old enough to progress into the juniors. This was particularly enthralling as not only were we to have a new teacher, Mrs. Pearce, but we found ourselves in a new mobile classroom, which unnerved us when we were told that it would have to be evacuated in the event of a very strong wind! We spent many happy hours sticking pieces of paper to make impressive collages. The astounding clowns' heads we produced out of papier mache one week were incredible!

The "top" class, as it was called, was a great change. Not only were we now in Mr. Davies's class, but we were in a new building with adjoining "library" (in effect a small area cordoned off, full of encyclopaedias and Penguin books).

This modern building blended in well with the older buildings surrounding it. Once in the top class, the school took on a new outlook. We were the "big people" and were allowed to do needlework and the boys allowed to do craft.

We even indulged in country dancing, although this was not appreciated by some of the boys, who saw it as sissy! Nature walks with Mrs. Fraser were interesting, as well as being a good excuse to get away from work - unknown to Mrs. Fraser, of course! Needlework classes began with a puree. By the end of the year, our sewing skills had progressed to cushions and even rag dolls! Those not enjoying needlework bad the trick of accidentally-on-purpose tying a knot in their cotton, and spending the next hour at Miss Waters' desk!
Many "interesting" balsa wood boats and bookshelves were made and shown off by the boys.

Sport played a large part in the school curriculum. Netball, boys v girls, was always won by the boys - I wonder why football was taken quite seriously. The great triumph was when the boys won the inter-school football tournament. Quite an achievement.

The swimming pool must have been the ultimate favourite, many happy hours being spent splashing around the pool. Table tennis also was beginning to achieve a good standard.
Playtime and lunchtime were times for all children to relax. The younger ones played on the swing and bars, whilst the older children indulged in a game invented by our group, called "Spaniard". This involved capturing comrades and taking them to camps of hostages! The occasional graze or bruise resulting from a rather too boisterous struggle brought the game to a halt while Mr. Davies was brought on to the scene, medical kit in hand, ready to administer first aid.

How grateful we must be for having had the facility of music. How envious other schools must have been, knowing we had a good choir and a recorder group. The Christmas Carol Service involved all musicians and was enjoyed by all. Without the encouragement in music at Eastling, I, Caroline, wonder if I could have conceived of carrying out my intention of taking up a musical career.

"School dinners" must bring groans to many schoolchildren. In the infants, once on table 6, we had the opportunity of being rewarded with a toffee every Friday, by a dinner lady, if we ate all our meal! Tricks to hide food under potato were often carried out.
The highlight of the year was the Christmas Party. It was the time of year when there was much excitement in the air as we could all dress up in our party dresses. Everyone spent an afternoon making party hats. There were many shapes and sizes, varying from small, brightly coloured Easter bonnets decorated with tissue paper flowers, to large coronets with falling streamers which, by the end of the day, were mere shreds!

In the morning of the party we played games. Spin the plate was the favourite, especially for the boys, who could show off their skills as acrobats as they careered across the polished floor in their Sunday best, in order to snatch away the plate so as to avoid a forfeit, which might be to imitate an animal or to sing the National Anthem. But the forfeit we all looked forward to was that paid by Mr. Davies - to kiss the hand of Miss Waters!

In the afternoon were the films. We would gather round the screen, eyes fixed, ready for the usual films which were shown every year. One of them which springs to mind is the film with chimpanzees who jumped about doing silly things and who threw custard pies at each other. The films created much laughter, including the times when the projector broke down and we waited patiently, or for some, impatiently, for good old Mr. Davies to save the day with his funny jokes and stories.

Before tea, we were sent out to play while the teachers and dinner ladies prepared the long trestle tables with the food. Meanwhile, we would discuss who we were to sit next to.

We were finally called in and entered the vast hall, which was brightly decorated in tinsel, Christmas lanterns and a Christmas tree, covered in coloured lights. The tables were loaded with food. We each had a plate, holding such things as sandwiches, rolls, jam tarts, buns, cakes and biscuits. Some would swap a salmon paste sandwich for an egg roll, and there was an abundance of orange squash.

Nothing went spare, as it was set out on trays and handed out to us the following day, slightly stale, but still delicious.
The mystery of the day was, "Who would be Father Christmas?" Would it be the village policeman, the shopkeeper, the vicar, Mr. Davies, or even Father Christmas himself?? No one knew, but we all had our ideas and discussed them with fervour. Sometimes, we recognised the big voice behind the huge plastic face, red cloak and welly boots.
He would enter the hall, ringing a bell, and shout, "Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas, children! I've brought you some presents".
We would all cheer and stand mesmerised by this mystery man with a jolly laugh. Then, much to our enjoyment, be would give us all a little bag with an orange, an apple and some sweets, such as Spangles and an Aero. We would all then go home, full up, and with the feeling that Christmas was truly here. Mind you, had it not been for all the work of the teachers, dinner ladies and parents, who prepared the party, none of it could have happened.

The saddest day in the whole of the school life was the last day of the summer term, when we would say goodbye to the leavers who were going to the "big schools".
It was a sad event, handing back our old books, although I, Christine, was pleased to see the last of the maths book. It would be our last school dinner, our last playtime, our last assembly in that dearly-loved school. We would all choose a "leavers present" and these were given to us on the last day in the end-of-the-year ceremony.

Some had asked for geometry sets, felt pens, or book tokens, and the boys' favourite was a cricket bat. We would all sing the hymn, "Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing" and we all remembered to bring an extra handkerchief to school. Then Mr. Davies would give a moving speech, beginning with:

"Today is the saddest day of the year, when we say goodbye to those who are leaving us".

Well, we certainly needed the extra hankies as by the end of his speech we would all have tears streaming down our faces, including those who were not even leaving!
The leavers would also give presents to the teacher as a sign of their gratitude. There would be months of secret meetings about what we would buy, and how much we would spend.
Those happy memories of Eastling School, they would not have been possible had it not been for the teachers, and especially Mr. Davies, the headmaster, who provided us with so many hours of laughter and enjoyment, and who so rightly earned the nickname of "Daddy Davies".

As you can see, dear Mrs. Hermon, we had just as much fun at Eastling School as you did. And we, also, left with a sound knowledge of reading, writing and arithmetic, thanks to Miss Waters, Mrs. Pear. Mr. Davies, and our part-time teacher, Mrs. Fraser.

Caroline and Christine Fraser
born 15.12.63.
Attended Eastling School September 1968 to July 1975.


1977 Jubilee at Eastling

'Eastling, a hamlet of delight in the high country of the North Downs, every year at the beginning of May the shingled spire of the Church standing like a ship's mast rising from a sea of foam. All around are cherry trees'.

So wrote Arthur Mee in 1936, a visitor of yesterday. What of 1977? What of change? What of today?
The cherry trees have gone, opening up distant views and leaving open fields where the gulls fly in to follow the plough, but the ancient yew still stands hard by the Church door shading a patch of the lawn-like churchyard assured of remaining so by the late Miss Long's bequest in memory of her sister.

A returning visitor in Jubilee year would have to wait much longer for a bus in Faversham but on arrival would find little change in the Street and a recent conservation order will ensure that it remains so. The Forge, the saddlers and the shop at Orchard House have gone, and all that has come is the Telephone Exchange.
The Post Office, after a brief period in new premises at the rear, is back where it always was with Geoffrey and Hilda Worsfold celebrating their 25th year in Eastling.
Doctor Edney still pays his weekly visits as he has for the last 30 years.

Perhaps the most significant innovation has been the provision of fine food at the Carpenters Arms, which, more than anything, has put the village 'on the map' for those beyond its boundaries, whilst the pub retains its role as a popular social centre for local people.

Elsewhere in the village there has been some development. The immediate post war period saw the construction of the Glebe houses followed by the Police House and a bungalow at the Faversham end and two bungalows on the Otterden road.
In the 6Os the sale of Glebe land around the Old Rectory and part of its garden brought nineteen new dwellings into being, thirteen of them forming Meeson's Close (named after the late Mr Meeson, a much respected farmer and Churchwarden) and the rest, including a new rectory in Newnham Lane.
The Water Board Booster Station on the Faversham Road and the glasshouses in Newnham Lane also came into being at this time and are now totally accepted additions to the village scene.
At the other end of the village the erection of four Old Peoples' Bungalows provided an assured future in familiar village surroundings for several of our senior citizens.
Recent development includes a house nearing completion alongside these bungalows and the Turners' new residence in the orchard next to the Manor.

As in most villages, the spread of television and the increase in car ownership, giving access to more sophisticated attractions further afield, has caused a marked decline in traditional communal activity.
The Rat & Sparrow Club has long since ceased to meet in the pub and the cricket club with its beautiful ground at Otterden Place now bears the name of Otterden and draws its members from other parts.
The Hut, with its memories for the older people of a thriving social club, is now only fit for demolition. Its substitute, the Old School in Newnham Lane, on being sold for conversion to a private residence, deprived the WI of its only remaining meeting place and brought its activities to an end. The Sunday School, which it also housed, now has a corner in the Church.

As for the Church itself, 1977 has been a year of transition. We bid farewell to the Reverend Hudspith, who succeeded the Reverend Mountford in 1963, and welcome Peter Letford whom we shall shortly be sharing with adjoining parishes.
Mr Turner, after many years of faithful service as Churchwarden, is soon to retire, and we see the last edition of our familiar Church magazine which has finally succumbed to ever rising costs.
A review of village institutions would be incomplete without mention of the village constable. Don Eley came to us in 1964, his predecessor being Constable Fisher who was with us for a brief period following the retirement of Mr Taylor.
The introduction of radio vehicles in the early 70s ended the close official link between the village and its policeman but in the capacity of resident Don Eley has given much in terms of time and effort to community activities. We congratulate him on receiving the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal.

In contrast to what seems nothing but decline in the more traditional village institutions it is reassuring to be able to record the growth of the school under the headship of John Davies who joined us in 1963.
The closure of the Stalisfield School and the constant demand for the admission of children from parents outside the parish has doubled the roll, resulting in the addition of two new classrooms, indoor toilets and an extension of the playing field.
Plans for overall rebuilding will hopefully be implemented when funds are available and include the provision of a hall, which will double as a village recreational centre.
A much-enjoyed amenity subscribed for and erected by parents has been the swimming pool which now has its own heating system. The many activities involving parents have in fact created a new village centre where people meet and get to know each other, together with their children.
We are indeed fortunate to be included in the designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and with just one note of regret that the land between Church and pub cannot become our green we can nevertheless still find no better words to describe our Eastling than those of Arthur Mee:

'a hamlet of delight in the high country of the North Downs'.

Taken from the school's 1977 Jubilee booklet


School memories 1977

My name is Debbie Hesmondhalgh (nee Deborah Livesey) I am 34 years old.

When I was a little girl my family moved to Eastling; I and two sisters, Sharon and Susan, who are twins, were pupils at Eastling School. We moved from Leyland, Lancashire, and settled down at 1 Bankside with a family called Hobbs.
We stayed in the village for only a couple of years then we moved back to Leyland, as my mum never settled and missed our family we'd left behind. Us kids settled in straight away and loved the open countryside as it was so different to what we were used to, it was great, the whole experience was great.

We arrived in the village in May 1977, I remember having on my new dress and shoes, my sisters were allowed to go and play but I wasn't allowed. Within an hour my sister sue came running in saying Sharon had been run over. I walked down the hill at the side of where we lived and at the bottom she was lying on the road, she was in hospital a while.
In the meantime Sue and I started school. I can only remember a few names, there were Mr and Mrs Davis, Mrs Frazer, who lived next to the phone box near the shop, and a few friends names are Sarah Creed and her brother, two sisters who lived down Meeson Close; I think one was called Jackie (maybe Smith) a girl I think she was called Rachel and she lived at the vicarage, Gary Hobbs who I sat next to, his step sister Lilly Mith, was in my sisters' class, as was Christopher Bailey, and David Hobbs, I am really trying to think but can only remember faces and the places where they lived.

I remember school as being a really happy place, with Mr Davis calling his wife his pet Dragon; he was really funny.
We used to go swimming in the holidays, and the snow was really deep in the winter, I can remember having to walk through it to get to school, and walking along the tops of the piles of snow the plough had left at the sides of the road.

When we weren't at school we were out and about exploring our new-found freedom. Some of the places we'd go to were the woods just off Newnham Lane, a Dutch barn in the middle of nowhere.
There was a tree outside the church that was that old and so wide we could get inside - it is it still there? and is there a chalk pit behind the church?
There were two old air raid shelters at the other side of the field, in front of our house, and there were cherry, apple, and plum, orchards everywhere and a Christmas tree plantation. We'd walk up past Newnham to Sharsted Manor and sit outside waiting to see if we could see Virginia Wade, but never did. We walked that much I'm surprised we still had legs. We were very poor at the time but it never really mattered, it is only now when I look back just how poor we were, we had nothing like kids have today.

It all came to an end and we moved back to Leyland along with our funny accents we'd picked up, during our stay (I can still get it off to a T) and the time we spent in Eastling was just a distant memory, fondly remembered from time to time.
To this day I am determined that I will come and visit, and show my five children a wonderful and beautiful place where I once lived, and if it wasn't for those two fantastic years I would not know that such a place could exist.

Tell the children that they should be proud to be part of it, and if Eastling School is as good now as it was back then they should be proud to be part of the best school in the UK!


Where did the children come from?

The school opened with eighty pupils, and the roll has varied considerably over the years. It must be remembered that until re-organisation took place in 1948, the children remained at Eastling until they left school at the age of fourteen.
In what is now the infants' room, there were woodwork benches for the older boys, and outside there were gardens to be cultivated. Incidentally, the un-tarmacadammed playground was divided into two by a fence to separate boys and girls.
During the hundred years, the roll rose, on occasion, to 120 pupils, but in 1964 there were 54 on roll. The children were then divided into three classes, but when Mrs. J. Warwick left to have a baby, she was not replaced and Miss D. Waters and Mr Davies were the only full-time teaching staff until the school began to grow again.

At the time of Mr Davies' booklet (June 17th 1981), the roll stood at 103, and it is interesting to note the origins of the children.
Eastling: 32 pupils
Painters Forstal: 26 pupils
Faversham: 25 pupils
Stalisfield: 10 pupils
Other: 10 pupils

We began to get Painter's Forstal children when Ospringe C.E. School became very overcrowded, and the Painters Forstal children were given free bus passes to come to Eastling. These passes have long been discontinued, but the children still come to Eastling, partly, Mr Davies hoped, because they wanted to follow in their brothers', sisters' and now even their parents' footsteps, and partly because there is a bus to Eastling, but not to Ospringe, which is quite a long and dangerous walk.
The Stalisfield children started coming on the closure of the Stalisfield Village School in 1970. The closure of any village school is really regrettable, but Mr Davies tried with Miss Waters to make the Stalisfield children welcome and happy, and now Mr Davies thinks they make the mini-bus journey daily quite happily, regarding Eastling School as their school as much as anyone else's.
The Faversham and other children come because their parents choose to send them here (at considerable expense). Some families have moved to Faversham and still send their children out to Eastling because they are so happy here. It gives the staff and me great pleasure to know that the atmosphere is such as to engender loyalty and affection.

Mr Davies reported that he felt the composition and size of the school was very good for a village school in 1981. There was a varied mixture of children from differing backgrounds, each child having something to offer for the common good. The school was not too large, but was large enough to enable the children to develop socially and have a choice of friends in their own age-group. There are enough children to have proper teams for games, but we are still small enough for everybody to know everybody else and to feel a personal interest in everything that goes on.

A school can be too big and a school can be too small. Eastling is just right.



   

   From the 1997 Jubilee Programme

   

   John Davies with a proud group of
   cycling proficiency passers!
   Photograph courtesy of Simon Burchett

   

   

   Enjoying the Jubilee celebrations, 1977