373 Enfield Grammar School, part 2

This has been a long time coming. It has been eight months since I wrote Part One, and I can see a similar apology, or excuse, at the start of that. I can only repeat that recounting a string of anecdotes in chronological order is difficult when there are so few anecdotes to recount.

Faced with that dilemma, the best I can do is to work my way through the subjects that were taught, and some that were not taught. I have to acknowledge a debt to a near-contemporary at the Grammar School, David Richardson, who has revived many long-lost memories in a series of e-mails.

First, though, as I did in the first part, I must set the scene. At this point I have to warn you against the Google Maps representation of Enfield town centre (for example, if you search on Holly Walk, which will feature prominently in what follows). The building adjoining Parsonage Lane and marked as “Enfield Grammar School” is in fact the Lower School. Immediately next to that is a large green area, which is in fact two playing fields, one belonging to the Grammar School, the other to the County School. The demarcation between these was far from clear, though if this offered any opportunities I doubt that they were often taken.

The Upper School is at the point labelled “Middle Flat Uvedale House”. The item labelled “Enfield Grammar School Sports Hall” is unknown to me. It seems to correspond to the old Rialto Cinema, where I once failed to see Duane Eddy, but that’s another story. The Market Place does not appear at all; it is immediately north of the bit of road labelled “The Town”. Enfield County School is correctly positioned and labelled.

Holly Walk and Church Walk are crucial to the geography of things. Holly Walk is a footpath that runs from Gentleman’s Row, in the west (a few yards of it appear on the Google map), eastwards between the Grammar School and the County School. It continues past the back of the churchyard and eventually comes out to Church Lane. It is thus important because it formed the Iron Curtain between the Grammar School (boys) and the County School (girls). Church Walk runs along the east side of the Grammar School and links Holly Walk to the Market Place.

So now that we know where we are, let’s go in. The rather splendid main entrance to the school was in Holly Walk, not quite opposite the entrance to the girls’ school. For most of us this was not the most useful way in. There was a smaller entrance in Church Walk, very near the market place. There was also an entrance into the playground from the Rialto carpark, but this was strictly forbidden. The Church Walk entrance also had a Forbidden Door which led straight into the building. If I remember correctly, only Sixth Formers could use this, or perhaps even staff only. I think people did occasionally come out that way, as there was a fair chance of not being observed. The main deterrent to this was the need to go past one of the rowdier Third Form classrooms.

So having gone in through the Church Walk gateway, a tiny jink to the left brought a person to the long walk down into the main part of the playground, and eventually to the hoi polloi entrance to the main building. At the start of school and after break times a handbell summoned us through this doorway into the building —

— at this point I must mention Bedfield Primary School, where a similar handbell is used to call the children in from their break time. Hearing this is very nostalgic —

This doorway brought you to a long straight corridor. Given the shape of the buildings, there must have been other corridors going off at right angles from this, but I can’t remember them, except that I think the one at the north end led to the stairs up to the Staff Room. To the left of the corridor was the School Hall; I can remember notice boards and suchlike along the right-hand wall.

— another interjection. There were various school clubs, for example the Chess Club, which met after school. Also a Gramphone Club. One of these was somehow literary; and on one occasion the announcement for one of its gatherings, as displayed on the corridor wall, proclaimed that, among other things, Mr. Taylor will rend some Shakespeare. This solecism even got into the School Magazine —

Where were we? Oh yes, in the main corridor. If you continued down the corridor you came, unsurprisingly, to the other end, which was a useful but prosaic doorway. It was useful by virtue of being the way in from the Holly Walk entrance, though that’s not very important; but it was also the way out to the Biology Lab, as also the School Kitchen pigbins and the toilets, which, though likewise outdoors, were an improvement on the Lower School ones. I suppose all these three places had some amount of biology in them.

I should mention that though most things were taught in our own Form rooms, there were specialised rooms for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Music, and Art, as these had equipment that couldn’t be moved about. The Music Room was the stage of the School Hall; the Art Room was upstairs above the Biology Lab, and so looked out on Holly Walk. I think one of the others was at the Lower School (possibly Chemistry), and the Phyics Lab appears below; but I can’t be more precise.

The School Hall was “specialised in everything”. It was used for School Assembly, for the School Play, for school dinners, for Parents’ Evenings, and for somewhere to spend break time if it was raining. I don’t know what we did if it rained at lunch time; got wet, I suppose.

Most of the rest of the building consisted of perfectly ordinary classrooms just like any other. There was also a very special place called the School House; all being well, I’ll describe that when I get to the teaching of Latin.

This is the only photo of the main buildings that I have. It is taken looking east (parallel to Holly Walk) from the north end of the playground

I think the steps on the right went up the the Gallery at the back of the School Hall. Under them is the back entrance to the school kitchen. Under the archway there is (left) the entrance to the Biology Lab and (right) the doorway into the main corridor. Over the archway is the corridor into the Art Room. Beyond the archway, on the right, you can just see the wall of the Physics Lab. Out of sight, left after the archway, was the exit to Holly Walk, and, on the left, so opposite the Physics Lab, further physicality in the shape of the toilets.

The photo was taken in 1965 on my last day at the school.

So that’s the geography lesson; I’ll come to some biography in part 3.


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