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News > School News > In Remembrance - Badminton School During the War

In Remembrance - Badminton School During the War

At this time of remembrance, let us take a look back to when Badminton School was 'evacuated' to Devon.
Badminton School staff at their wartime home in Devon.
Badminton School staff at their wartime home in Devon.
When war broke out in September 1939, Badminton School was as prepared as it could be for the forthcoming trials.  Miss Baker was keen to maintain the values of the school and ensured that the girls were kept abreast of current affairs.  The School also provided a haven for pupils and teachers who had been displaced from Europe, giving the school a continued sense of internationalism.  

There seemed no need to evacuate the School at the beginning of the war and things carried on as normally as was possible.  However, in June 1940, bombs fell on Bristol for the first time. meaning that several girls were removed from the school by their parents.  With the future looking bleak in Bristol the decision was made to evacuate the school to the holiday resort of Lynmouth in Devon.  The Junior remained, but after a major fire in 1941, they moved to Cote Grange where they kept a small cohort of pupils until the end of the war.

The School remained at Lynmouth until the end of the war looked inevitable, enjoying a very different location, but the same standard of education. There are many stories ofwalks in the snow, wartime deprivations and trips to the local village.  Miss Baker was determined to make the best of things and arranged many distinguished guest speakers, artists and musicians to visit.  It must have been a great relief to be able to return to Bristol in March 1945.

Below, Senior Mistress Miss Lucy J. Rendall describes the preparations to leave their war-time HQ at the clifftop Tors Hotel:

"Soon after D-Day long months of anticipation began - just airy speculation at first as we heard of the terrific struggle of our armies in Normandy and France. Then confidence in the belief that the end of the war was in sight began to be felt everywhere and for us this meant a return to our old home. Some individuals showed signs of acting on this belief. One member of the Staff was caught with an enormous suit-case on her way home for the half-term week-end and on inquiry it was discovered she was removing the main part of her wardrobe in advance. 

During the Christmas holidays before the buildings and grounds had been de-requisitioned we paid them furtive visits - each time with increasing apprehension as to the condition they would be in when finally they came into our hands again, for we were having severe frosts with fatal results to water-pipes and radiators. Then the great day came when we were in possession once more. 
Plumbers, masons and carpenters moved in and began to achieve the minimum of essential repairs. 

At Lynmouth violent preparations for the removal were plainly visible on all sides. Wooden packing cases at every shop were at a premium, brown-paper and string were soon unobtainable. Those who had special friends in the two villages - village and Urban District I should say - scored heavily. 

On March 26th the School departed en masse from Lynmouth for the last time. Some of the Staff went for a few days' holiday, others stayed to help, hoping for a few days' rest later. 

Shortly after Miss Baker departed for her headquarters at Little Grange, from which to direct the formidable task of re-habilitation. 
Miss Webb-Johnson and I were left with our good helpers, Eva, Anne, Betty and Jarvis. There was a final, hectic packing of personal belongings and the furniture vans began to arrive.

The process of removal continued slowly and surely from April 3rd to May 4th. There was cleaning-up to be done as things were removed, there was the replacing of the Tors' belongings, which had been stored in our premises at Bristol. The horrible shortage was very obvious as much of it had been destroyed by enemy action. 

Thus the departure from Lynmouth took on the air of a solemn procession, filled with a sense of the inevitable. All that month a perfect Spring smiled upon us and Lynmouth was looking its loveliest. In seeking peace and safety for the School in this remote part of North Devon there are two experiences we shall never forget - the kindness and hospitality of the people of Lynmouth and Lynton and the beauty and variety of the scenery."

Badminton School's strong sense of citizenship and shared international values served the school well, and it is a testament to all of those who worked and studied at the school during the war years that it went from strength to strength during the post-war years.  Today's Badminton has an enormous amount to be grateful for.

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