Headington history: Reminiscences

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Kathleen Stone (Mrs Eastes) (born 1925)

Kathleen Eastes is the granddaughter of William Stone (who built many Headington houses) & Kate Stone (who ran the grocery shop in Pitts Road at about the time of the First World War). She also is the great-granddaughter of Edwin and Ellen Stone, who ran the Royal Standard pub from 1876 to 1898.

Miss Edney’s School in Old Headington [84 Old High Street]

My brother Edwin was born in 1923 and I was born in 1925. Edwin started attending Miss Edney’s school whilst we lived in Pitts Road and I started when we moved to Bickerton Road in 1929. I believe the school was more than just a nursery school because in 1929 my brother was still attending the school but he would have been old enough to be eligible to attend the Council school.

We attended the school all day and went to my grandparents’ house in Old High Street for lunch, my brother being entrusted to take care of me.

The school was run by two sisters who were the aunts of Alan Edney who in the 1950s and 1960s had a gentlemen’s outfitters shop on the London Road near to its junction with Old High Street. Only one of the Miss Edney sisters taught, and I do not recollect any other teachers at the school. The other Miss Edney undertook all the other tasks in running the school and the two sisters seemed to make a very good team. They were both strict but very kind. As far as I recollect there were only a dozen or so children attending the school.

My brother Edwin, who started at the school before me, learnt much more than I did. I think my learning, towards the end of my time at the school, was hampered by the deteriorating health of the Miss Edney who taught us. We learnt simple addition and subtraction and I particularly remember drawing and painting which were a particular delight to me. I remember on one occasion painting a card for my mother and running home and putting it through the letter box.

The school was a grey building with steep steps leading up to the front door. Inside was a large schoolroom with sash windows and window seats. The school was situated in Old High Street almost opposite to the Black Boy public house. It was there that the hunt regularly met and it was with great excitement that we were allowed to stand on our chairs and watch the red coated huntsmen with the hounds barking and impatient to get started.

I only attended the school for about a year because the health of the Miss Edney who taught us deteriorated and her sister was not able to take over the role of teacher. In consequence the school closed and my brother and I moved to the Field School (also known as St. Andrew’s School).

Mr and Mrs Ward’s School in Old Headington [33 Old High Street]

Mrs Ward taught me to play the piano. I went to her house regularly up to the age of fourteen after which I was taught by Mr Wyeth, a blind piano teacher from Summertown. My brother Edwin was initially taught the violin by Mr Wing in the Windmill Road but in due course came with me to Mrs Ward and we played together. Edwin was very competent on the violin and I progressed very well with the piano. I always considered playing the piano was one of my strengths and I eventually became a piano teacher myself. Whilst still receiving tuition from Mrs Ward I used to accompany the violin pupils for their examinations which they took in a room at Taphouses, the music shop in the High Street, Oxford.

Mrs Ward also ran a small school at her house, which was only a “two up, two down” property. One of the pupils was Diana Stow, either daughter or granddaughter of the blacksmith on the corner of the road leading from Old High Street into Bury Knowle Park.

Mrs Ward looked rather like a witch, or maybe how one would imagine a witch to look. She was very clever. If you were one of her music pupils, you were expected to live and breathe music. When I started attending the School of Technology, Art and Commerce in St. Ebbe’s, Mrs Ward did not like the fact that I could not devote so much time and attention to playing the piano and in consequence I stopped attending lessons with her. However she continually wanted me to return even after I was married and lived in Windmill Road. I did play in concerts for her: she held some very good ones for which we worked very hard. The last concert I remember was held in the Holyoake Hall on the London Road, with music, dancing etc. She even paid for me to have dancing lessons.

Mr Ward did not teach and spent his time painting. He was a very talented artist. Being a near neighbour and friend of my grandparents, he gave (or perhaps sold) them some of his paintings. Two of these paintings were given in due course to my brother Edwin and are now owned by one of my nieces. Mr W. Matthison, another talented artist, lived next door to my grandparents, so this part of Old High Street was well blessed with talented people.

Mr and Mrs Ward were two very clever people, painter and musician. Money was of no interest to them and material goods were of no importance.

Kathleen Eastes, 21 February 2005

© Stephanie Jenkins

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