THE 1930's


“As well as Speech Day and the Carol Concert, there was always a special assembly for Remembrance Day, which must have been very poignant for many of the staff. I remember fragile Miss Kelsey getting quite strident when some particularly daft girl suggested that the whole thing was a waste of time so long after the War(!) Also commemorated was the establishment of the U.N. - one of the prefects read out the preamble to the U.N. Charter on the appropriate day in October every year.” Val Hill ’56-’61

Lord, behold us with thy blessing,
Once again assembled here:
Onwards be our footsteps pressing
In thy love and faith and fear;
Still protect us
By thy presence ever near.

So began each term of the school year. And, every day thereafter - morning assembly.

The assembly hall. Big, imposing, daunting to an eleven-year-old. Light walls, light wood floor, light coming in from high windows. Velvet curtains framing the high stage. Miss Clayton's grand piano immediately in front of the stage. On the walls, rich wood plaques with the names of former luminaries embossed in gold lettering.

Oh morning assembly! There were over six hundred girls at school; how did we all get in and out of the assembly hall so efficiently? So far as I remember, it went like this -

Everyone assembled in their classrooms with the teacher. At the appropriate time, we grabbed our hymn books from our desks and lined up at the classroom door. Depending on where our classroom was in relation to the assembly hall, we either lined up with the smallest girl at the front, or the tallest girl at the front. Then, we marched in lines towards one of the four doors into the assembly hall. Those in the classrooms overlooking the south drive went in by the front assembly hall doors (tallest girl first); those from classrooms on the north side of the building went in via the crush hall and the rear assembly hall doors (smallest girl first). Miss Clayton played something stirring on the piano.

Our class lines stretched from the front to the back of the hall, so that in front and behind of you were girls from your own class. On either side of you were girls from another class. All smallest at the front, tallest at the back (except as the year progressed, and some girls outgrew the others!)

Down either side of the hall were chairs. On one side - the left as you faced the stage - sat the teachers. On the other side were the prefects. Teachers and prefects stared along the rows of girls like line judges at Wimbledon, watching to see if they could catch anyone talking. If you were caught, the punishment was to remain standing when the other girls sat down. This always involved having the back of your knees tickled by the girl sitting behind you on the floor.

“I remember being in the 6th form and graduating from the floor to actual chairs down the side of the school auditorium - a very prestigious place to be it seemed.” Sue Kellett ’55-’62

“Morning assembly in the hall was memorable, if only for the fact that the Staff and Miss Holden sat at a light oak table on the platform, prefects sat on chairs around the edge of the hall, while the rest of us sat cross-legged on the floor. We stood up when Miss Holden and Staff walked in and up onto the platform and when they left, but apart from that no-one stood unless they were being punished - and being the only one to stand while everyone around you were sitting had a marked effect on ones ego.” Hilary Steeple ’44-’51

When all were gathered, Miss Longworth emerged from a door at the back of the stage. She stood behind a desk, flanked by the two deputy head teachers, Miss Gill and Miss Heaps (later Miss Norwood and Miss Lynes).

I don’t remember the 'order of service', but it involved a lot of standing up and sitting down. We sang hymns; we had Bible readings and prayers. At the end of the assembly there were 'notices'; messages imparting important information about such things as wearing hats when on the way to and from school, etc.

Which hymns did we sing? I remember “Onward Christian Soldiers” (of course!), “Thine For Ever God Of Love”, “ Oh Jesus I Have Promised”, “ Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus”, and many more. All good, rousing stuff.

Assembly over, and once again accompanied by Miss Clayton's stirring music, we marched out again the way we'd come, and back to our classrooms. Spiritually uplifted, we faced another day of double maths or double Latin!

If you have any memories or anecdotes about assembly, please e-mail lhs.alumnae@gmail.com

“Even up to the time I left the school I was always impressed by the way all the forms marched into assembly to Miss Clayton’s music. The lines were always perfect and the interweaving impressive.” Joan Whitaker ’46-’51

“I remember Miss Clayton telling us that she never knew what she was going to play in assembly until she sat down but ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ was one of her favourites for when Miss Longworth came in - and not just because of the music!” Jane Baxendale ’62-’69

“Miss Clayton playing for us to go in to Assembly (one of her favourites was "Nimrod" from the Enigma Variations).” Val Hill ’56-’61

“We had to be there at 8.50 and I was always late and red eyed!!! Assembly bell at 9 and I THINK 1st lesson 9.20 or was it 9.30 - know the lessons were 40 min. - apart from bloody double RI.” Janet Ball ’56-’61

“Your skirt would always have splinters on the back for the remainder of the morning.” Janet China ’65-’70

“One of my earliest memories when starting Lawnswood is of lining up for assembly and finding that myself and a girl called Maureen Ashcroft were the two shortest girls in the whole school!” Jeannie Carr ’59-’66

“At the beginning of each term a form leader was chosen and you had to go up on to the platform in assembly to receive your badge from Miss Holden. Monitors were also chosen to hold the door, clean the board and open the windows.” Irene Furze ’43-’54

“When we were in the 6th form we had more direct participation in assemblies. There was a rota among the 6th form classes for taking the whole assembly ourselves. Our class always chose the hymn 'Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord' as it was such a rousing tune. On other occasions Miss Longworth asked a 6th former to read the lesson.” Margaret Bradbrook ’59-’66

“... most of my time there was under Miss Holden. To ensure that the deputy head teachers knew that the Headmistress was on her way from her office, one girl stood in the crush hall and entered the north east door, standing until given a nod from, in my case, Miss Heap or Miss Gill — then the rest of the girls rose to await Miss Holden's entrance from the back of the stage. I believe another girl stood at the back to open the door for her!” Brenda Nichols ’55-’62

“... Miss Clayton playing various short classical pieces in assembly before Miss Holden made her entrance on to the platform.” Irene Furze ’43-’54

“When I was in the sixth form I was leader of the choir, so always led them onto the stage in assembly. It was always touch and go whether we would get the right note for the last 'Amen' or whether we would 'croak' our way through it!” Wendy Caton ’55-’62

“I also remember being in the senior choir and sitting on the front bench on the stage for assembly. We used to sing the Lord’s Prayer on certain days and on other days we used to sing an Amen - I can still remember my part.” Sarah Sharp ’64-’71

“Miss Holden had always begun assemblies with 'good morning girls’, to which we replied 'good morning Miss Holden'. When Miss Longworth first appeared in Assembly we waited with baited breath for the 'good morning' but it never came. This did not go down well with the girls who liked being greeted!” Margaret Bradbrook ’59-’66

“I remember Miss Longworth sweeping into assembly, black cloak flying; it was awe-inspiring! I only spent 3 years at Lawnswood as my family moved to the south of England in '68, but I remember those years as the best.” Anne Pash ’65-’68

“Miss L wore her gown for assemblies. It was my 'duty' to wait for her coming out of her office and to let the deputy head on the stage know she was on her way. I take it you all remember how that was done?!!!” Margaret Eastwood ’59-’66

“Susan Pickering (daughter of Mrs. Pickering the history teacher) had epilepsy and I remember her collapsing in assembly and Miss Longworth continuing with the assembly as if nothing had happened.” Janet Ball ’56-’61

“Did the people who fainted in assembly ever faint anywhere else?” Janet Ball ’56-’61

“I can remember people fainting in assembly, and NO I cannot remember them fainting in any other place or time.” Susan Rolfe ’58-’63

“I fainted in assembly.” Avril Escolme ’46-’51

“I don't think I ever fainted in Assembly at Lawnswood but I regularly did (every Friday morning) at Bennett Road.” Joyce Latto ’59-’64

“We took our O's and A's in the assembly hall. Were O's and A's taken during the same weeks or at separate times? Was assembly suspended at Exam times?” Janet Ball ’56-’61

“Assembly at exam time: as far as I can recall, sometimes we had assembly in the hall, and some lucky ones were able to sit at the desks, the rest had to sit on the floor! I think we were split. 1st to 3rd forms had to have assembly in the Gym, whilst 4th to 6th forms were able to continue having it in the hall, with Miss Longworth officiating and as I have said, with some of the privileged ones being able to sit on chairs!” Polly Peller ’59-’66

“I am sure that we took our O's in the assembly hall and totally separate from the A's.” Susan Rolfe ’58-’63

“O's and A's were at the same time, but A's were taken in the Library. There were no assemblies at exam times because the desks were out. As for fainting, who knows?” Carol Newton ’64-’70

“The only memory I can contribute is that some of our 'A' levels and a few 'O' levels, those which only involved relatively few of us, were taken in the library. When exams were taken in the library anything that might have been a help to the candidates was removed and I have a dim recollection of books being turned round on the shelves so that we could not even read the titles.” Margaret Collie ’59-’66

“I even have my old school hymn book, very tatty now but still covered in brown paper. I asked Miss Rowling if I could keep it as I had had it since the first year!” Gail Scoffin ’59-’66


And at the end of term, final assembly; held, I believe, in the afternoon.

Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing,
Thanks for mercies past received;
Pardon all, their faults confessing;
Time that's lost may all retrieve;
May thy children
Ne'er again thy Spirit grieve.

The last verse of this hymn referred to those who were leaving for good. It went -

Let thy Father-hand be shielding
All who here shall meet no more;
May their seed-time past be yielding
Year by year a richer store;
Those returning
Make more faithful than before.

Aaaahh ...

“The year I left school 1962 we did something unheard of - to put on a sort of variety show - I don't remember who thought of it but we were so cool and so witty and it was a HUGE success. I remember that we all dressed up in wild get ups - unheard of at Lawnswood. I wore my red hair (which had been a great problem to Miss Sissons, Miss Goodall and Miss Heap as it was so bright, long, curly and always looked messy) in 2 bunches stuck out on each side of my head - a sandwich board over my black stockinged legs - hiked up uniform - with “I love Yuri” on the front and “Ban the Bomb” complete with the ban the bomb sign on the back (very cool). Blue lipstick and black-lined, Egyptian-style eyes (very very cool). We did skits lampooning the teachers - the Boys Modern - the invisible dividing line - school dinners and so on. We finished up with a quasi can-can singing to the tune, "On the street where you live” from My Fair Lady with the words greatly changed. I can only remember the first 2 lines but I know the rest was brilliant -

We have often walked down these corridors
But it's always 'walk - don't run' upon the polished floors.
... “At the end we all went out onto the playing field - wild get ups and all - we hooted and hollered and some of us EVEN CROSSED THE LINE. A girl from the 4th form asked for my autograph - I had arrived - at last someone had a crush on me and I was LEAVING - story of my life. ” Sue Kellett ’55-’62

“Another memory is that once the 6th formers did an end of term concert - all to South Pacific eg. 'Lawnswood High' ('Bali Hi'), 'There Is Nothing Like The Bell' ('There Is Nothing Like A Dame'), 'Cock-Eyed Botanist' ('Optimist'). At one point they did 'Elvis Presley Is The Boy For Us' ('Bloody Mary Is The Girl For Us') and held up a big poster of EP from Valentine magazine. Some people started screaming and stamping and Miss Gill threatened to stop the concert” Janet Ball ’’56-’61

“I do remember the end of year entertainments put on by each class. When I was in Form two we did a skit on the story of Silas Marner. Miss Gothard was our form mistress and we used lots of geography lessons to rehearse it!” Carol Peacock ’55-’61

“On the occasion when a girl inadvertently threw a bucket of water over a Master at the Modern, Miss Longworth cancelled the end of term satirical show, which the older girls always put on for the whole school. The mood turned ugly. The punishment did not fit the crime. We were ushered back to our form rooms but sullen and mutinous.” Margaret Bradbrook ’59-’66

“Has anyone said anything about the sixth form entertainment? I think it only happened about three years running, maybe ’63-’65 when I was in the 1st-3rd form - about the time ‘That was The Week That Was’ and other satirical programmes were appearing on TV. I can remember enjoying it immensely, particularly a sketch about how to use paper hand towels that had replaced the old roller towels. Miss Longworth cancelled it because there was some incident with the boys on the playing fields which I was too young to understand at the time - something to do with drenching a teacher with a hose pipe I think!!!” Jane Baxendale ’62-’69

[I believe the last part refers to an incident about 1964 when Jean Howgate (and possibly Carol Jones?) led a conga line around the Mods’ part of the field on the last day of term. A person she believed to be a Prefect from the Mod approached her. Some banter ensued, and Jean threw a bucket of water over him. He turned out to be a Master - Miss Longworth was incandescent!]

“I remember clearly the day when one of your school mates emptied a bucket of water over Parker (RI) or ALP as we called him.” Richard [Max] Beyer ’57-’63

“I wonder does anyone remember the end of term review the teachers did for us? It must have been in the late ’60s. Miss Lynes had her hair down, really long hair and was Eve in the Garden of Eden and I seem to remember a pop group called Sybil and the earth worms.” Miriam Lewis ’66-’71

“It's 41 years since I left. We conga-ed up the field – ties knotted round heads. Took photos in one of the quads and outside by the open tennis courts then into room 23 for final snaps. As I got to the door to walk out for the final time I put my head on the doorframe and sobbed uncontrollably. My friends carted me to the loos — Miss Gill came out of the staff room and looked in amazement at the scene. She then turned and walked her wooden-top walk to the other staff room near Millie’s [Miss Holden’s] office.

...”When I was a bit composed we walked out for the last time the full length of the out of bounds drive — past the Mods and onto Otley Road. I cried for 3 days — my mates came round with a record player a couple of days later to cheer me up. We went and got fish and chips from the shop near the Wise Owl. Gosh how it floods back — I knew that life would never be so carefree again: IT WASN'T!!” Janet Ball ’56-’61


Every Christmas, the wonderful Carol Concert took place in the school hall. Parents and guests attended. Sadly, those of us who were not in the choir never had the chance to see the Carol Concert.

“Was there an annual Nativity play for the lower school instead of a carol service? I played one of the three wise men and Miss Lucas blacked up my face, no longer pc in these more enlightened times. It took a lot of cold cream and effort to remove it.” Sheila Galbraith ’60-’67

Thanks to Joan Whitaker we have a programme for an early ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’. Click here to see it. {The date of the Carol Service is uncertain. Joan was at school from 1946 to 1951, so the programme is from that time. The front page says ‘Thursday, December 17th’ but December 17th never fell on a Thursday between ’46 and ’51. We believe that the front page is a misprint and should have read ‘Thursday 19th December’ which would have made the year 1946. From other documents, we know that the 1946 Carol Service took place on Friday 20th December, though there is a suggestion that it was moved to this date to coincide with the last day of term. We think it was moved after the programme was printed, and, as there was still a scarcity of paper, the programme was not reprinted. Joan remembers it as being Miss Clayton’s first Carol Service at Lawnswood, which would confirm it as 1946 since Miss C joined the staff in September of that year.}

“I remember this [1946] Carol Service well. It was the service the year Miss Clayton joined the staff and she made the choir work very hard to make it a memorable service. Miss Clayton, as a new broom, decided she wanted to include lesser-known carols in the service. The tunes were unfamiliar and she was a hard taskmaster as every note had to be perfect before the night.” Joan Whitaker ’46-’51

“Do you remember the carol concerts with lanterns??” Janet Ball ’56-’61

“I wonder if anyone remembers the School Carol Services? The school hall used to be in total darkness, save the lights on the tree at the front, until the choir had processed in from the two corridors behind the hall carrying candle lanterns and singing 'O Little Town of Bethlehem'. When the words 'the dark night wakes, the morning breaks' were reached the lights were put on and the audience joined in for the last verse with the choir singing a soaring descant. A wonderful Service of Nine Lessons and Carols followed. I remember waiting in the cold corridor for Miss George to strike the tuning fork on the wall to give us our notes and praying that we would not have gone out of tune by the time we reached the hall and Agnes struck up on the piano. She had such perfect pitch, however, that she always knew if we'd gone out of tune and transposed accordingly.” Wendy Caton ’55-’62

“The Carol Concerts in the School Hall were quite spectacular. The large choir, maybe about 150-200 girls were assembled on the stage in tiers. The amazing thing was that no-one fell off the gym benches and chairs forming the tiers. The lights would be turned out and the 'Special Choir' (Agnes always had a 'Special Choir') would process carrying lanterns on long poles borrowed from St. George's Crypt. We began outside the Hall singing '0, little town of Bethlehem', and by the beginning of the last verse we were all on the platform, our lanterns skilfully removed from us by waiting staff. The Hall lights then went on and everyone joined in the last verse - the timing was perfect! ” Anne Sedgewick ’49-’56

“Being in the 6th form also got me into the ‘special girls’ (I can't remember if I also had to be in the choir - don't think so as I can't sing) who carried the lanterns at the beginning of the Carol Service. I seem to remember that we actually started off on the 2nd floor at the 2 opposite ends of the building (we were two groups) and then made our way singing “Oh little town of Bethlehem” until we arrived simultaneously at the 2 back doors into the auditorium - it was extraordinary how beautiful and moving it was - and how much we ALL - all generations of us felt the same way.” Sue Kellett ’55-’62

“I well recall the stirring concert - processing into the dark hall, carrying candles, singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. It was spell-binding. This has to be one of the most vivid memories I have. I think the Choir then sat on the stage and the rest of the girls and parents on chairs in the hall - don't know how we packed them all in.” Linda Crookes ’54-’60

“I remember singing 'O little Town of Bethlehem' at the Christmas Carol Service. The choir and the Upper 6th used to parade down the aisle with lanterns.” Polly Peller ’59-’66

“Music was the one subject I really enjoyed and especially singing in the choir at the end of the Christmas term with some girls walking in procession along the top corridor singing 'O Little Town'.” Irene Furze ’43-’54

“The Christmas Carol Service was one of my favourite events. In my last year I was fortunate enough to be in the procession. It was a magical time for me.” Beryl Midgley ’55-’60

“I shall always remember Agnes' carol services and what a joy it was to sing in them. What a pity the video camera had yet to be invented. It would be wonderful to go back in time and see and hear that, and the Gilbert & Sullivan we did, just once more.” Gilly Marshall ’55-’62

“At Christmas, as well as the carol concert, we used to host the Bramhope Party. Children from the National Children’s' Home at Bramhope would arrive in the late afternoon and after having sandwiches, jellies, cakes, lemonade etc. (no pizzas, chicken nuggets & coke in those days) we would then go back into the hall to play games. We were not allowed out of the hall under any circumstances but I was persuaded (no names mentioned) to take some of the girls on a tour of the school. We had just gone up the steps at the NW end of the building and were walking along the top corridor when we were met by a prefect walking towards us. I got off lightly with only an order mark but as Mrs. Webster told me the following morning "You, as form leader, should have known better!"” Irene Furze ’43-’54

Click here to see a review of the 'Nine Lessons and Carols' performance of 1949, and here for some newspaper cuttings of choir performances circa-1950.