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Babington House School Letters to Sally

Mildred Nasmith (Miss), North London

Dear Mrs Mean
I have just come across the website for Babington House and wonder if I am the oldest Old Girl around. I attended from 1934-1940 when my parents thought it was too dangerous for me to travel from Chislehurst because of air raids and other wartime hazards. It is strange to see that BHS has now moved to Elmstead, next to Chislehurst.

The school rules seem unchanged from my time and the introduction by Mrs Odysseas-Bailey shows the same ideals as those of Miss Perkins in the 1930s. The joint principals then were Miss Muriel L. Perkins and Miss A.G.N. Berry, who specialised in the music education. Miss Perkins was the best teacher I have every come across – and she only had to stand at the foot of the stairs to bring complete silence! Oh, and there were two dogs – an Irish setter called Rufus belonging to Miss Perkins, and a Scottie called Mack belonging to Miss Berry.

In those days the houses were called French (yellow and mine), Haig (green), Kitchener (red) and Jellicoe (purple); very odd names for a girls' school. I'm glad to see that they have changed.

The rule was that no class should have more than twelve pupils. There was a policy to include children with some disablement and this taught us to sympathise and understand their problems and include them properly in the group. The music was very strong there and we had a more than passable orchestra. There were small boys but older boys went to Cannock House School next door behind a high fence and never the twain met.

Once a year we entertained a bus-load of old people from the East End who, poor things, had to sit through an exhibition of dancing and poetry reading by the pupils, each of whom had been ordered to bring 1lb tea, 1lb of sugar and 1lb of jam to give to the visitors. Speech day was a day of celebration. It started with marching in crocodile, dressed in white dresses and panama hats, to the Eltham Parish Church and followed by a prize-giving and concert back at the school. I still have a collection of plaster busts of composers as a reward for my efforts with the violin and piano.

I believe the original buildings in North Park, Eltham were bombed in the war, but you will know this better than I. They really were happy days and none of my subsequent schools (they kept closing down because of the war) quite lived up to Babington House.

Mildred Nasmith (Miss)

North London

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