Vanbrugh Castle School


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Comments by boys and relatives about their experiences at the school before WW2

I have just come across this web site for Vanbrugh Castle School and thought you might be interested in the following:-
I too went to the school in 1935 until World War Two started in 1939, my two brothers also came during that period. It is interesting (see next page) that Capt Slimming was also in charge along with his wife as matron and yes he was a cruel man, sadistic I would say. We also got caned with his walking stick even if the misdemeanours were trivial.
Capt Slimming’s son was a chorister at Canterbury cathedral and as we were part of the Royal Naval Greenwich choir we were always being ridiculed as not being as good as him.
I went to the Roan school along the road when 11 yrs old. I was in Rodney House.
One ghastly thing is recalled in that before Saturday breakfast there was always a laxative. One week senna pods and the next week was syrup of figs. The trouble was there was nowhere to spit it out.
At the outset of the war the Roan was evacuated to Wales but my mother would not let me go so that ended all contact with Vanbrugh and the Roan .
My brothers and I went to Vanbrugh because our father (a Sergeant in the RAF) was killed in the Quetta earthquake in India in may 1935.
In my time the boys were taught in the Vanbrugh school room which is where we had to do our homework. Sometimes senior RAF officers came to see how we were getting on. In fact I can remember Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding coming because he brought a tin of sweets with him and we had a handful as we finished our homework.
Now aged 83 (in 2010) I do look back with some fond memories of my time at Vanbrugh.
May 2010

I left Vanbrugh Castle on the outbreak of World War 2. Does anyone remember the headmaster, Captain Slimming? Sometimes he would regale us with stories of his experiences in the trenches in the Great War, which made quite a welcome break from his usual strict discipline. My best friends were Douglas Gibbs, from Beccles in Suffolk, and Douglas Dainty from Leicester. I wonder if either are likely to see this.
I would love to hear from anyone who was at the school at that time, and exchange stories.

Malcolm Langdon (from the web)

My father, John Maddocks, and his brother Eric were at the school before the war. John was head boy and quite liked his stay there. Eric, on the other hand, was unhappy and ran away several times.
Maeve O'Hood was a helper in the kitchen at this time and Eric, as head boy, had afternoon tea with the Matron. This was an event he enjoyed because Maeve would bring up the tea and it was an opportunity for him to see her.
They later married and John died in 2003.

Ruth McNally. She would like anybody who had connections with the school, pre-war, to get in contact with her here

Stanley E Willis was a boarder at the school from 1930 to 1938. In 1960 he wrote a letter to the Greenwich Town Clerk to try to elicit some facts for a book he was writing.
A search of the internet has failed to find a book by this author.

Click here to see the letter.