St Dunstan’s School

The Mate’s Guide to Burnham of 1903 tells us that St Dunstan’s School was established in 1897 as a preparatory school for the Public Schools and the Royal Navy. Increasing enrolment necessitated a move to temporary accommodation in 1898 pending the completion of a purpose built schoolhouse, in progress at the time of the guide. The new building stood in over 5 acres of grounds and was to include a gym, laboratory and carpentry facilities. “Every care is being taken to render the new premises perfect in accordance with modern ideas, with respect to sanitation, and everything which affects the health and comfort of the pupils.”

Above is the building the school occupied at the time of the guide, photographed from a plan by local photographer Montague Cooper . Below is the new building  in Grove Rd off the Berrow Road, towards the beach.

If you have photos or a member of your family has recorded memories of this school please get in touch with us. Thank you.

The following images are from the school’s prospectus from   c1930- Thanks to John Mackie for the use of these images. 





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This image shows Mr Stokes, his staff and pupils from around 1921.Can you help us identify any of the other people?

The ‘New House’  was built in Allandale Rd, behind the main school building. David Bolland recalls that this was in 1930 and that the building contained two classrooms, a laboratory, and dormitories. He also informs us that Sandy Lodge was the headmaster’s house but also contained a small senior dormitory

In the picture below Sandy Lodge can be seen at left just behind the beach. Behind it can be seen  the front elevation of the main school building. St Margaret’s school can also be seen just left of centre.

In 1967 the school moved to the premises previously occupied by Gardenhurst school. It closed in 1982.

There is an interesting account of the school in Vol 1 chapter 2 of David Bolland’s autobiographical website ‘The Life and Times of David Bolland’ which can be found here :

25 thoughts on “St Dunstan’s School”

  1. A number of former pupils from St Dunstan’s have recently got together on Facebook and we are hoping to have a reunion later this year( 2015). further details about the group and the reunion can be found on our website which has been created to collate as much information as we have about St Dunstan’s which can be found at

  2. Oh lordy, I remember St Dunstans. I was there from winter 1973 to winter 1975, transferring to Kings College, Taunton for Spring 1976. I had a fair amount of fun there actually. Walks on the beach and exploring the dunes and the ruined house there. Trying not to freeze to death in the pool at the house behind the school during the first swim in spring. Keeping the Guy Fawkes fire going for about 2 weeks on the north half of the west lawn as it gradually hollowed out the stump at the center of the fire. The chestnut trees along the south end of the west lawn. Digging that attempted decorative pond out front of the main buiding. Watching World At War in the TV room. Sitting in the corridor on the top floor as a prefect during my last term reading borrowed comics for half an hour after lights out. Firing an actual small brass cannon (off one of those fancy sailing ship models) in the dorm room I shared with Sharda and Paul Land on the top floor, putting a neat hole through Land’s model Lancaster. Sharda got a bloody nose from being hit by the recoiling cannon. Nobody seemed to notice. Setting off a fountain firework in that same dorm room, scorching the cieling, melting the linoleum under it and filling the entire top floor with smoke 10 minutes before the master who lived on that floor (I forget his name, guy loved to give people lines) came up. Entire top floor of kids running up and down with all the windows open flapping smoke out and one kid emptying half the masters aerosol deoderiser along the hall, and STILL none of them asked what the hell happened. We got away with it too, god knows how. 😛 Coming back a couple of hours after lights-out from a late excursion to Weston-Super-Mare to watch a piano recital and surprising the assistant headmaster tending a burning barrel of paper just around the corner (from the point of view of upstairs) on the halfway landing of the dorm stairs to make people think the surprise fire drill they were just starting was real. (the light and shadows of dancing flames was very good actually, but I have no recollection of what happened with the smoke that must have been there too.) Spending my last couple of weeks there after exams before moving to Kings College sorting through all the paper in the assistant headmasters garage from the paper drive and collecting about Eleventy-billion Page 3’s from all the copies of The Sun.

    So much more to, especially since I was an american kid up till that point so actual English culture was all new to me, AND never having lived in a first-world country till then all the music was new too. All that and puberty too.

    Tony Heath
    Vancouver, BC

  3. I am currently researching my relative, Charles Herbert Strong, who was a Proprietor & School principal of St Dunstan’s School from the early 1900 to I presume about 1917, when he joined the Royal Flying Core aged 59 years. ( ref London Gazette) Which seems a bit unusual to say the least. So any detail you may have on the change of ownership such as exact dates etc would be very useful.
    Incidentally I enjoyed looking over your site which is very well set out

    1. Hello Bryan,
      Sorry for the delay in my posting your question. Fingers crossed you get an answer.

  4. Tony Heath! A contemporary of mine at both St Dunstan’s and at King’s College, Taunton! Hi, Tony! I think we were both in the first ever “S1” in 1975/76, the class introduced to start the School’s expansion from preparatory school towards O-Levels at the time when the earlier influx of pupils from the closed St Peter’s School in Weston-super-Mare a few years before had worked their way through the School and left, with a consequent adverse impact on pupil numbers.

    Random memories:
    – cross-country runs along the beach to Berrow.
    – walking along The Grove past the tennis club to and from the playing fields in Stoddens Road.
    – endless hours hunting for cricket balls in the rhynes (a good Somerset word) that bordered the cricket pitches.
    – the open air swimming pool at Gardenhurst.
    – the Airfix model competitions.
    – “dot cricket”.
    – house sports (Go, Brue!).
    – in addition to the classes numbered from 1 to 6, classes called (IIRC) Remove, Transition and Shell (a pupil once took the “S” off the name plate of the latter classroom, which caused a lot of trouble).
    – Round-the-table table tennis using books or hands because there weren’t enough bats.
    – shooting club at the rifle range at King Alfred’s School.
    – the dinner bell outside the main classroom block.
    – the language lab in the attic with sling-type fire evacuation equipment which you were supposed to lower through the dormer window onto some sort of slide on the pitched roof.
    – Crazes including “clackers” and a period when everyone was using small hypodermic plastic syringes as miniature water pistols (until the day when prefects confiscated the lot and stamped on them before the owners’ eyes).
    – the varied and memorable staff (it is probably not appropriate to comment on individuals in a public forum!) led by Eric Stokes.
    – feeding the locusts in the Science Lab at lunchtimes and “accidentally” releasing a pair in the hope of starting a plague of locusts in Burnham-on-Sea.
    – and a timely memory: Geoff Cox (now Attorney General) starring in school plays!

  5. Tim Synge,

    G. Cox famously and amusingly forgot his lines in the 1972 Christmas play.
    Who, back in the day, at St Dunstan’s did not have a small tin containing the ‘Owzthat’ cricket game? No batteries required.


    1. Thanks for sharing your memories at the school. We would love to hear more about your time there if you wish.

  6. I was at St Dunstan’s from 1946 to 1952, when i went on to Sherborne School. I remember:
    The annual outing to Brean Down, which became a cycle race
    The annual outing to the top of Brent Knoll
    Mr and Mrs Stokes and a second headmaster whose name I have forgotten
    Maths teacher with a pre war Austin 7.
    English and Latin teacher who struggled with diabetes (Mr. Broker?)
    Playing in the sand opposite the school, digging caves and making channels for marbles to run down
    Going for shooting lessons in town.
    Occasional swims in the sea at the end of the lane
    Fresh bread and marmalade for breakfast every day
    Any other readers who were there at this time???????????

    1. I was there from 1948-53, after which I also went to Sherborne (Westcott House). I do remember the name Evered. My parents lived in Burnham at one of the cottages attached to the Lighthouse. I also remember the items mentioned by Simon. The ‘other’ headmaster was Rupert Martin. He had an unusual cough which sounded like ‘oo-hoom’; naturally he was sometimes called this. The maths teacher was Mr Farr-Cox. It was Bruce Broker who had diabetes; he subsequently married one of the undermatrons, whose name I’ve forgotten but she was beautiful and adored by the boys. Going for shooting lessons in town at the local indoor range was an opportunity to shop for sweets which were rationed; you couldn’t actually get sweets as such, but we bought acceptable alternatives like Horlicks tablets and aniseed balls.
      For some reason I lost all my school photos, but was recently given one for the year 1950 by a fellow pupil whose name I’ve temporarily forgotten. What I do remember is that poliomyelitis was a health scare at the time. He was taken off to hospital with a stiff neck, but fortunately it was a false alarm.
      As for the photo, I found I could remember most of boys but in most cases only their surnames.

  7. Was at St Dunstan 1960-63. Remember cycling to games ground, runs to the lighthouse on the beach, and picnics at Break Down. R Brimblecombe, H Morris, R. Frost, A Broad & brother, Coward Brothers, ?Van ded Woerd ? Yeates, . Rupert Martin was headmaster.

    1. Hello Stewart and thank you for sharing your school days at St Dunstan. We would be interested in hearing more about this time and especially where the games ground was?
      Thanks again,

    2. Stewart Flemming! I remember you well: we were fairly friendly when at St Dunstan’s but you, being a year older, went up to King’s School Bruton a year before me. The year was significant and at Bruton we no longer hung out with one another. I do remember that you invited me to join you on a day out one weekend and I went to spend the day (I think not the whole weekend??) at your home in Bristol. I have a couple of pics of you – one in the rugby team (I had guessed the year to be in ’64/65 but maybe not if the dates you give are right!). Also a pic of you with Peter Flaws, Robin Frost and Tony Copeland, and another of you on your bike at the playing fields! The playing fields were a bit of a way from the School (a ten minute walk?). They entrance to the playing fields was next to number 23 Stoddens Road (I know the number as when younger I had lived there). I believe the playing fields were sold off and a housing estate built there.
      I also recall the Brean Down picnics which were a reward for someone getting a scholarship of some sort! The picnics were great fun as was bonfire night! Remember the dance classes with Gardenhurst? Hahaha – great fun!!

    3. Good evening,Stewart.Charles Broad was the younger.His elder brother was killed at the age of 16 in a motorcycle crash.I am Hugh Morris(then known as Morris ii as Tom Morris was still on board-we are not related)and I remember you very well.My e-mail is my name followed by 227,lower register,no gaps,at

  8. I actually live in one of the flats that the building is now occupied as and although it’s not memories I have of the place it would be great if there are any photos of it that anyone could possibly send. The building has 4 flats and it seems hard to imagine it as a school.

    1. Hello Paul and thank you for your interest and posting. I hope you get some images. I will also check and send you any I may have.

  9. Hello.

    I started a Facebook group for St Dunstans a few years ago and there are a number of pictures on it.

    I was there from 1960 to 64

    1. Hello Nick and thanks for your information. As there is now a link here to your group so would you be kind enough to reciprocate and put a link to this site .
      Thanks for your comment.

  10. I attended St Dunstan’s from 1954-1959 with Eric Stokes and Rupert Martin as joint headmasters. I followed in the footsteps of my cousin Valentine Webster who was a few years older than me. His brother Rory Webster and my younger brother Nick Woodhead were also there. I returned in 1963 and taught there for two years. My salary was the princely sum of £50 per term. Brian Barnes, the golfer, was a good friend and a pretty good fast bowler. Bruce Broker taught me English and cricket and never washed his car in the belief that it would be better preserved if left unpolished.

    1. Hello Richard and thank you for sharing this memory. It’s lovely that so many past students and teachers are sharing times past here.

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