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, said to be in progress at the time of the guide. The guide informed that 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.”
The above picture from the guide, photographed from a plan by local photographer Montague Cooper, is not explained, so we do not know whether it represents the original or temporary premises. We have no other evidence of this building . Below is the building in Grove Rd off the Berrow Road, towards the beach which the school occupied, together with neighbouring properties, for most of its existence. Oddly this does not appear to fit with the Mate’s Guide description of purpose-built premises.
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.
This image shows Mr Stokes, his staff and pupils from around 1921.Can you help us identify any of the other people?
[Charles Blanning has commented that this picture may be earlier than 1921. He says: “Sixth from right, sitting on the ground is Jack Harden, my father’s best friend, who looks about 9 or 10, making it 1918 or 1919. The puzzle for me is the absence of my father. He and Jack were inseparable.”]
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.
Chris Brown tells us in comments on ‘The Mount’ page: “My house in the sixties, Sandy Lodge, in Grove Road ( still very much there ) , was a large square, two storey ‘Art Deco’ house, built from a framework of reinforced concrete – using coke from S Wales I believe – with brick walls. Tough as old boots. It was built in 1919, for Countess Kairns, as a weekend golfing lodge. It was sold on to Captain and Mrs Stokes in WW2, as their home and as dormitories for St Dunstan’ s school boys. I bought it ( for £3,400) in 1967”
In 1967 the school moved to Beaufort House in The Grove, the premises occupied at one time by Gardenhurst school. Girls were admitted from 1976. It closed in 1982.
Francis Farr-Cox, who was a pupil at the school between 1959 and 1965 and who’s father taught there for nearly 40 years, has supplied us with the following plan, guide and reminiscences.
A. House occupied by Mr Martin.
B. House occupied by Mr Eric Stokes and family..
C ‘Wode (pronounced Wood) House’ – 3 classrooms and staff accommodation. Recreation hut in blue behind.
D ‘Old School House’ – 2 houses with communicating doors holding 4 classrooms, headmaster’s study, kitchen, and dormitories upstairs.
E. ‘Southleigh’ – art room, staff accommodation and dormitories (the intervening property, unlabelled, was a private residence unconnected with the school).
F. ‘New House’ – changing rooms, dormitories upstairs
G. Dining room
I. Link between ‘Old School House’ and ‘New House’, known as ‘the Air Raid Shelter’ and may have been built as such as it had a substantial concrete roof.
J. Hobby rooms downstairs and staff accommodation upstairs. At one time Evan Stokes’ house.
Francis tells us that for most of its life the school was owned by the Stokes family but latterly became an Educational Trust. During his time there it was run jointly by Mr Rupert Martin and Mr Eric Stokes. Evan Stokes and his wife Hilda had taken over the school in 1919 when it had only about 20 boys, and retired in 1952, at which time it had grown to number 80 pupils.
Francis recalls that an area of dunes between Sandy Lodge and Herbert Rd was a favourite play area of the boys in his time and was also the site of an annual Guy Fawkes bonfire and firework display to which other schools were invited.
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 : http://davidbolland.co.uk/vol1_chapter2.htm