Lecture Hall School - Epsom
Personal Memories


As far as we have been able to establish the The Lecture Hall School operated from 1923 to just after the end of WW2. It was run by the elderly Miss Gray who had previously run a school in her home in West Street, Epsom.

The Congregational Lecture Hall, Upper High Street
The Congregational Lecture Hall, Upper High Street
Photograhed by LR James in May 1971
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre

There were 2 main classes - each one sitting on benches around a big table. The older ones were with Miss Gray.

A School Photograph taken in the early 1940s. Click image to enlarge.
A School Photograph taken in the early 1940s.
The teacher is thought to be a Mrs Young
Image courtesy of Paula Baxter © 2013

Once a week after lunch we were tested on our tables, the dates of a set of kings and queens of England and spellings. We sat around the table from eldest to youngest. If someone didn't know the answer the next person had a go. If they were correct they moved up a seat. One day I knew how to spell "area" and went high up the line. I don't think I understood much about correct spelling when I first started school. One day the teacher put a red line through my dictation and sent me to Miss Gray - I used to spell "be" just with a "b". This disgrace must have woken me up - I started going over spelling words at home with my mother, and obviously improved.

We had an art teacher who came once a week. One picture I did was of a branch of fruit blossom - I think cherry - but perhaps it was apple. I was very happy with my result - the brown twigs, green leaves and pink flowers. But I don't know what happened to the picture.

We had craft lessons. One year I made a raffia mat for my parents. It started as a cardboard wheel with small triangular cut-outs around the edge, and a small hole out of the middle. String was woven around the wheel, through the middle and between each triangle out on the edge. Then I started weaving the red and green raffia over and under the string. Possibly I gave this to my parents for Christmas - for it was still in a drawer at the house where I found it years later. It's now in my kitchen drawer.

Alexandra Recreation Ground
Alexandra Recreation Ground
© Copyright Hugh Craddock and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The school had no playground so once a week we were marched up to Alexandra Park to play games. One day I fell whilst running and really grazed my knees. But I pretended it wasn't so sore and tried not to cry.

Lunch time we stayed in the main room. At one point we used to exchange Dandy and Beano comics, or charge a penny each - a good trade.

Beano 06 Jan 1940
The Beano 06 Jan 1940
Image source Wikipedia

We had elocution lessons and learnt to recite some of the Alice in Wonderland poems - The walrus and the carpenter for instance - "I weep for you, the walrus said..."

One year we put on a play. All I remember of that is that I played the part of a golly so had to have curly hair. My mother put rollers in my hair overnight so the next day my hair was a bit wavy.

A contemporary childrens book cover
A contemporary childrens book cover

I still have a book prize - Granny's Wonderful Chair given to me by Miss Gray - It just says inside "Paula Smith, Easter 1945"

An illustration from Granny's Wonderful Chair
An illustration from Granny's Wonderful Chair
Image source Project Gutenberg

I have 2 report forms, one for Spring term 1946 and the other, my final one, for Summer Term 1947. The subject listed and commented on were: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Elocution, Singing, Drawing, Handwork, French, Nature Study. History and Geography are also mentioned. Elocution, Singing, Drawing and French were completed by different teachers - all the rest by Miss Gray. We were given a place in class and marks out of around 1200, but I don't remember ever doing tests for these.

One of Paula's school reports - Click image to enlarge
One of Paula's school reports - Click image to enlarge
Image courtesy of Paula Baxter © 2013

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Paula Baxter
April 2013




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