The Story of St Stephen's College
by Jenny Balston
The story begins in 1863 when Sister Emily, a young member of the Anglican Community of St John the Baptist at Clewer, invited a reluctant group of seven unwashed, unkempt street urchins into a poor and barely furnished hovel in the slums of Clewer Fields - and began their education.
Within a few years, this 'school' had been transformed into a respectable College for the 'Daughters of Gentlemen' - the SSC which we all remember with a certain amount of affection and nostalgia today.
Within the 473 pages of the book, illustrated by eight pages of photographs, we meet many of the girls themselves and share with them their own particular memories and impressions of their respective schooldays.
We encounter the Sisters and some of the staff - including those legendary unforgettable figures of Jam, as formidable in stature as she was in personality - or Fido, the tiny French mam'zelle who inspired terror into her classes - and got brilliant results - or EP, who hit St Stephen's like a whirlwind and with tireless energy transformed the life of the school…
We taste the delights of an Ascension Day river picnic in the 'dear old Amo' at Clewer, of paddling at Dymchurch on St John the Baptist's Day with the Folkestone girls, of gathering bluebells and rolling in the hay at Sarah's Farm…
We travel with the College from its first dearly loved home amongst the Sisters at Clewer, to the breezy cliff tops high above the sea at Folkestone, to the romantically turreted Gothic mansion at Taplow, where wartime schoolgirls shared their premises inside with lifelike tigers and giraffes and their 'gamesfield' outside with a prize herd of dairy cows, and finally we come to settle at Broadstairs where only the sea separated the College on the Foreland from the North Pole.
A compelling read? Or just something to dip into from time to time for a nostalgic browse? Buy a copy and find out.
Copies of The Story of St Stephen's College can be obtained from:
Veronica Colin, 3 Craigton Cottages, Milngavie East Dunbartonshire, G62 7HQ
The book now costs £10.00 including postage and packing. Please make cheques payable to OSSS. There is an additional charge for overseas postage; please ask.
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