The tradition of our school goes back over three hundred years
1556 - 1845
The below excerpt is from the original School Log Book;
"By the wills of Robert Hammond and Edward Pigeon, bearing the dates 7th day of March 1556 and the 20th day of October 1597, money comprised in the deeds dated 19th and 20th April 1697, money from rents and profits was given to provide instruction for the children of all persons resident in the Parish of Hampton in reading, writing and other elementary learning and in the knowledge of the Church Catechism."
Children of Hampton Wick made the long walk between the local parks to a shed used as a school near the old church of Hampton and later to a school near Garrick House. In 1830, a Parish Church was built and eventually, following agitation by the growing local population, the Endowed School for Boys was opened in 1845.
A special room was provided in the school as a library for the district, to the cost of which Queen Victoria donated £5.
Donations were then obtained; including gifts from the Dowager Queen and £10 from the Bishop of London, which provided a school for girls. After many years of effort and ungrudging support from the London Diocesan Board for Schools, we now have an excellent modern school for boys and girls set in beautiful surroundings with an ethos reflecting the Christian principles upon which it is founded.
1845 - 1965
We are delighted to be able to share a letter, written to us in December 2020, from former pupil Mr Ray Stone. Mr Stone was the recipient of the Craigie Award in 1952, an award we still give to two outgoing Year 6 pupils each year. He captures what life was like as a pupil at our school before it became St John the Baptist Junior School and moved into the buildings we have now inhabited since 1965. Our great thanks to Mr Stone for such a special insight.
Here is a summary of my four years' experiences and impressions as a pupil of Hampton Wick Endowed School for Boys from 1948 until July 1952.
The architectural style of the exterior and interior was already over one hundred years old when I attended and looking back I am reminded of at least a chapter or two from Oliver Twist as both were dark and spartan. Post wartime austerity was still present in Britain and everything was in short supply and was reflected in conditions at the school. Power outages on occasion resulted in no heat or light in classrooms which had high pitched wooden beamed roofs so heating was challenging. We were required to recycle used exam papers to do our lessons as paper, petrol, food, coal and electricity were in short supply. Even the BBC television service had daytime programme restrictions and unplanned interruptions.
The interior consisted of two rooms the larger of which could be converted into two classrooms by a floor to ceiling partition on rollers that was drawn across each morning after assembly. Four teachers plus on occasion student teachers taught at most one hundred and twenty boys. The colour scheme was dark green paint on brick and wood. The Headmaster at that time was Mr. Orchard and was assisted by Mr. Redston, Mr. Turner and Mr. Wise.
The classrooms were on the second level and were accessed from a corridor leading to stairs from the playground which was partially beneath the building itself. The underground portion was very dark and airless but didn't stop us from playing table tennis. The underground play area had iron posts set in concrete supporting the building above. An older gentleman named Mr. Hoad was employed to patrol the area at lunch time to keep order. Mr. Hoad had an authoritarian bearing which was effective as on one occasion he confiscated banned Crime Comic magazines being read by boys who had obtained them from American soldiers stationed in Bushy Park.
On some days as part of our education, Headmaster Orchard would pipe into our classroom BBC educational programmes from radio and television. On Friday afternoons, he would show black and white eight millimetre films usually on industrial or geographical subjects. The only school outing I remember was a day visit to the nineteen fifty-one Festival of Britain exhibition in London which promoted Britain's struggle to recover economically from the war. It was an exhibition of British inventions and technological accomplishment and was housed partially in what was called the Dome Of Discovery. The exhibition lasted several months and was very successful and designed to fire interest in boys and girls to consider careers in technology.
School lunches were provided each day for those whose parents could afford the nominal cost and were held in the lunch room of the girls' school next door. Four or five "dinner ladies" would ladle meals from iron pots on to steel trays and we would eat from them on tables for ten or twelve trusting boys. To illustrate the quality of the food in times of austerity, I remember a boy named Williams who told me he frequently hid some of the meat inside his Wellington boot for disposal later as the teachers would not allow us to throw uneaten food away. I tried it once and was successful as I wondered myself if whether what was on my plate had run unsuccessfully the previous week in the Derby at Epsom. Cheers to Williams though.
Football in the King's Field adjacent to Park Road or Sandy Lane was refereed by either Mr. Redston or Mr. Wise. Few of us had the correct equipment at that time to play properly but it didn't seem to matter much except to our mothers who had to clean mud off our shoes or short trousers. We also used the King's Field for athletics practice.
The final year at the school was designed to channel as many as possible in to grammar schools upon successfully passing what was known as the "eleven plus" examination. Few were successful including me. I always thought it unfair to expect all children at age eleven to be equally mature enough to pass a test which on a particular date determined what they would qualify to do for the rest of their working lives. My understanding is, since I do not live in Britain, that this is not necessarily the case now.
Looking back on my time at Hampton Wick Endowed School, I am honoured to have received the Craigie Award in 1952 and appreciate the life lessons learned there taught by the teaching staff although at the time I didn't understand why. Such things as taking responsibility for one's actions and non actions as well as honest dealings with others only become obvious in later life.
I hope all the boys and girls who have and are attending st John's school will also benefit from their experiences similar to what I had at the Endowed School and have and will put to good use the principles learned there.
Best regards to all
1965 - Today
Narrative theology looks at story. Much of Jesus’ teaching is in the form of parable or story and is not in the form of rules. It means that we sometimes need to look at the past to understand the underlying themes of the stories that are told today. How do those stories and themes connect with our faith as Christians? How does the history of St John’s school affect its present?
St John the Baptist Junior School is not a typical church school. Most church Aided Schools were formed out of the church provision for the education of children of the parish going back hundreds of years. With the 16th century reformation it was important that children learnt to read so that they could read the Bible. This desire to educate got another push in the 19th century as people moved from the villages to the towns and new churches with new schools were set up in new town parishes.
This didn’t happen in Hampton Wick. When you look into the history of the village you find that it was largely ignored by the church. It was essentially the back door, the servant’s entrance to Hampton Court. The villagers who unloaded the supplies for the palace from the boats on the Thames had to walk all the way to Hampton or Teddington to attend church services.
It was only in the 1870s that St John’s Church was built in the village and unusually for the time no school was constructed. It was left to a hotch-potch of board schools, dame schools and academies to educate the local children. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that St John’s School was built in School Lane in Hampton Wick and it was a National School run by local government and not by the church. At that time Hampton Wick was a poor area and local records tell of slums being cleared to make space for the new school building.
In the 1960s St John the Baptist Junior School moved to our current site on Lower Teddington Road. It was only at this point that the school became a church Aided school. Perhaps if we imagined the school to be a disciple of Jesus it would be Paul rather than Peter as we came late to the church family. Maybe this gives us the insight of the outsider as we are aware of our context and the choice we have made to follow Jesus.
The other feature of our life as an aided school that is unusual is that we do not have a faith criteria in our admissions process. Many church schools in West London insist on up to five year’s church attendance to get a reception place. This is sometimes known as ‘on your knees; avoid the fees.’ We cannot assume that parents and children will have picked up some of the basic stories of the Christian faith by attending church to secure a place here.
The theme of exile is one that emerges from the school’s history. We are not the same as the culture around us. That was true as a secular school in the 19th century and as a church school in the 21st.
Our history as outsiders to our cultural context means that as a school we are intentional about singing the Lord’s song in a strange land (Psalm 137:4). Our values of living life in all its fullness (John 10;10) and the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5 22-23) are overt. We cannot assume that they are known by the children, parents or staff when they come into school so they are displayed on the walls and on the website. We reflect on them in assemblies, in class and in staff and governor meetings. We cannot assume that these values are known or understood. Teaching them and living them is what makes us different.
Revd Karen Wellman - former Vicar of St Mark's, Teddington and former Chair of Governors