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Hastingleigh and Elmsted School / now known as Bodsham School.

Has its own school website at http://www.bodsham.kent.sch.uk/index.html

The various old records for the school were held at the East Kent Records Office at Whitfield, Dover
they have since been re-archived at Maidstone Kent History Archive. and at the National Archives at Kew, as well as in private hands.

If you have old pictures of the school (pre 1960) and of school outings or activities, please consider

contributing them to the school gallery on this website.
I would also like to acknowledge the late Arthur Marsh for use of some of the pictures, which he published in his book  
A Time to Remember - Some Recollections of a Kentish Village, which is worth getting hold of, to read more about the school.


I have been graciously granted permission to use the following 1982 article written by Roz Bacon (nee Gooderham) to illustrate a brief history of the school.

My own additions are in [ ] brackets.

Any child living in or around Hastingleigh between 1872 and 1910 will remember Walter Wetherell for he was the first headmaster of Bodsham School.

[Born in 1950, in Baltonsborough, Somerset. He was the eldest son of Robert Higgins Wetherell

and his wife Caroline Chappell. Both were from families of Tailors. Walter was a school master

by the age of 21 and was teaching in Leicester, his wife to be Esther Paxton (daughter of Thomas

Paxton a gardener from Scotland & wife his Elizabeth)was a school mistress from

Wolverhampton that had taken up a teaching post in Walters home village of Baltonsborough

 in 1871. They married in 1872 in Kingston, Surrey and moved to Bodsham School jointly as

Headmaster and Mistress soon after their marriage, and lived in the School House throughout

their near 40 years of teaching at Bodsham. Their son Walter H. Wetherell also became a

schoolmaster in Kent. All their children were born and raised in Elmsted.The Wetherells retired

and lived in Hastingleigh till their deaths. They are buried in Elmsted Churchyard.]

Excitements in those early years recorded in the school log books are:- Garlanding on May Day, the general holiday for Wye races, the two visits to

Evington House early in the summer and then for the Christmas party there; Fetes in Evington Park, Jubilee Days in 1887 and 1897 and Coronations

in 1902 [Edward VII on 9 August] and again in 1911 [George V on 22 June]. Other individual absences from school were for beating at the shoots in

Evington Park for which Will Langford received a chunk of bread and cheese, a shilling and a rabbit!

Sometimes a week was given for haymaking in June or July, of children were away stone picking in the fields, or helping to get up the fodder of

sheep shearing. There was also time-off for harvesting and hopping, and a weeks holiday at Christmas and Easter.

But school was there for learning and the principal subjects arithmetic, grammar, geography, religious instruction, hand writing, spelling, reading,

dictation, needle work and home lessons filled the day. Grants were given for each subject taught and if the inspectors thought that the subject

was not being well taught, they could threaten the removal of the grant for that subject. Ages were divided by standards: Vth [5th]or VIth [6th] being

the highest for 14 year olds.

Attendance was important and medals were awarded for regular attendance, and good conduct. The log book records that on June 16th 1902

Alfred Southen 13 years of age left school having made over 350 attendances each year for 5 years.

The school roll varied from 62 children in 1880, to 87 children in 1887 and by 1892 a large classroom and cloakroom had been added. The usual

time for labourers to change jobs was at Michaelmas, so there was a fluctuation in the numbers at this time of year as some families moved

away from the village and new families moved in.

All the children walked to school. In very bad weather it was quite a struggle for the children to get there as the great majority live 1 ½ -3 miles

away from school. Emmie Young [Emily Young nee Hayward] recalls walking in boots and high stockings from Folly Town through the village and

down through the park. Often children had jobs to do on the way. Eleven year old George Bartlett walked from Slip Hill to Crabtree Farm,

collected the milk and delivered it to Bodsham. In the afternoon he collected the cans and returned them, all for 3p a week.

Children admitted to the school were usually aged 5 and upwards. In 1912 Kathleen Langford the first under 5 was admitted. In standard V [5]

some boys took labour certificates and girls went into service. However in 1916 a free place at Ashford Grammar School was awarded to

Granville Horrox [son of William Naylor Horrox see WW1 Roll of Honour] and in 1921 Peggy Kerr (now Wiseman)

 [this needs checking as I think she married George Newport] gained a free place scholarship at Ashford.

Illness is well recorded in the log. 1882 was a bad year with a mumps epidemic followed by measles and then whooping cough, but scarlet fever

was the most feared, and in 1893 school was closed for 2 months. There were also cases of diphtheria, in 1894 typhoid, a boy with gatherings in

the head and in 1893 a number of children away with bad breakings out on their hands and bodies.

There were inspections for dirty heads and ringworm was a recurrent problem.

The schoolroom was used for village functions also Whist Drives, dances and concerts. Mrs Miskin was heartily thanked in 1920 for training the girls

for a concert. Mr Marsh recalls

One evening there was a whist drive and dance in the schoolroom. Dancing was about to commence when

someone noticed that a hanging paraffin lamp was smoking. A female schoolteacher ran to the centre of the room with a chair and on reaching up

 with both hands to adjust the wick, had the misfortune to break the elastic in her knickers which fell to the seat of the chair causing a big laugh.

Help arrived or she could not have got down from the chair.

During the 2nd World War there were a number of staff changes. 36 children came from London during the first years of the War but were then

re-evacuated to the West Country leaving only 30 local children. By May 1941 the Air Raid Shelter was finished and blackout (gas proof) curtains

were put up.


In 1944 flying bombs caused much damage to the school ceilings and the children were taught in the vicarage [across the road], whilst they were

 repaired. None of the local children were evacuated out of the area and the school roll does not recall much disruption. However there must

have been much relief on May 7th - 8th 1945 during the two days of celebrations for Victory in Europe.

[Emily Hayward did voluntarily leave Hastingleigh with the first 5 of her 8 children for the summer months of 1943. Her 3 eldest children would have

been pupils at Bodsham School during the War. Emily moved in with her sister Eva Chapman (nee Webb) and family in Dorset.]

The 1944 Education Act meant re-organization and from 1945 the seniors (over 11) attended Ashford North County Secondary Modern. By 1960

several children were getting into the Grammar Schools each year and the Towers School at Kennington provided more secondary school places.

 In 1972 the Ashford Schools were reorganised under the comprehensive system, the 11+ system was abolished and all children from Bodsham

were to go to the Towers School. However by 1980 children living in Shepway District were able to take the 11+ into Folkestone Grammar Schools

and some went to Canterbury Grammar Schools. The confidence given to the children at Bodsham enables them to do well at their secondary

schools and many go on to represent their schools.

The 1950s saw a lot of sanitary improvements under the headmastership of Mr Richard Puttock and local school managers who had been appointed.

The school grounds, cottage, store rooms and playground were improved and central heating was installed in 1959 (the infamous tortoise stoves

having been removed in 1957). Electricity arrived in 1958.

In 1952 the school was renamed Bodsham Church of England Primary School.  It had been known as Elmsted and Hastingleigh C of E School.

Two outings in 1953, which must have given much pleasure to children without television, were to Folkestone Odeon Theatre to see a colour film,

A Queen Is Crowned, and to the Central cinema to see a colour film of the Royal Tour. In 1954 the children visited places of interest in London

for the first time and this has since been an annual event.

Mr John Nancollas took over as headmaster on January 11th 1955, under his direction and with the help of his wife Freda, the school has gone from

strength to strength. The number on the roll in 1955 was 41 and by 1982 there were 60 pupils. In 1964 new classrooms were built to accommodate

the growing numbers and in 1973 Mrs Saar joined the staff. There are also part time teachers of needlework and French.

The headmaster spent one year doing a Diploma in Child Development at London University, and is now particularly interested in the very gifted child and education in general. He has been on the board of Governors of Christchurch Teacher Training College, Canterbury and some students from there spend time in the school. Many teachers from home and abroad have visited Bodsham to see an excellent little country primary school at work.

Project work has been encouraged alongside the usual subjects and many local people will remember working on either The Observer Yacht Race, Life in the Holy Land, New Towns in 1975, The Last Run of the Orient Express or Gothic Architecture. The name of Driver Alfred Perfect is still recalled with affection.

An Open Day was introduced in the late 1950s when parents and friends could see the work of pupils, and every other year there has been a

delightful concert in Evington Hall (built in the early 1960s). For a while the Evington Boys Club (founded 1956) met on Friday nights at the school but

since the Evington Hall was built, most village activities have been held there. The library moved from the school in 1973. The children have also done

country dancing at various local events over the years.

In 1971 swimming was introduced with a group going to Kingsmead Pool in Canterbury once a week. Athletics on the school field is enjoyed during the

summer with a sports meeting with Stowting School at the end of term; also football or shinty in the winter. The school has the usual modern

equipment,  typewriters tape recorders duplicators a radio and record player- What next? - A computer?

The log books recall much better attendance during the 1970s and 1980s due to much milder winters with less snow. Some children travel on a minibus

 from the shop in the village. There is also less absence due to infectious diseases as many of the children have been vaccinated against measles and

whooping cough. Head lice became prevalent again in 1980. A mobile dental clinic visited until the late 1970s, and there is still a medical inspection for

the new pupils. The log books have been a fascinating insight into a small rural school for over 100 years. National events like the advent of decimal

currency in 1971; the day the two American Astronauts walked on the surface of the moon in 1969; a Queens Jubilee or Silver Wedding; the state of

National Debt in 1918, are recorded.

Something unrecorded which may be of interest to present pupils is that in 1899 to commemorate the siege of Mafeking (Boer War) Mr Alf Southen,

who until recently could be seen walking to the shop, and made record attendances in 1902, planted the conker tree which now stands proudly 70ft

high in the middle of the playground.  

[Author = Roz Gooderham 1982]