www.belmontschool-hassocks.org.uk

 

HISTORY: Hassocks, 1920-1940

The School moved to the Clayton Wickham Estate at Hassocks in 1920.

There were 47 boys in the school for the summer term 1925.

The Swimming Pool was built in 1924. Later building additions were the South Wing and Gymnasium (1925), the West Wing (1935), the Chapel (dedicated 9 December 1936); the Rifle Range (1938); the New South Wing and Sick Bay (1939) and the Air Raid Shelter (1940).

Mr Max de Wharton Burr (Brighton College and Jesus College, Cambridge) became Headmaster in 1934, Mr J becoming a partner. (See 1942 photo of Mr J)

In Summer Term 1934 there were 34 boys in the School; increasing to 43 for Michaelmas Term 1935.

On taking over the Headmastership, Max Burr initiated a School magazine at an annual subscription of 4s 6d; the first issue was Summer Term 1934; it seems to have stopped in 1947


Danny Revels (see photo in ' PUPILS up to 1953' section on photos page):

These took place in the grounds of Danny House, home of Sir William and Lady Campion on 19, 20 June 1935. It was in the Great Hall of the house that Lloyd George and the War Cabinet had met to consider the Armistice Terms in October 1918. The object of the Revels was to raise £2000 for the rebuilding of the church schools in Hurstpierpoint.

The entertainment consisted of a pageant, an ‘Historical Episode’ in which the performers presented scenes of events of 1702 when Barbara, the last surviving daughter of Peter Courthope was betrothed to Henry Campion. The marriage brought the house into the possession of the Campion family. There were also court dances, country dances, solo dances and the singing of madrigals and folk songs. Max Burr and Cuthbert Jeffries played the parts of two lawyers in the pageant and Belmont boys provided the choir.  In addition there were various stalls and sideshows. A good time seems to have been had by all

It was a week after this that the parents were informed that Madge minor and Attlee major had contracted scarlet fever! There were two Madge twins and I think Ken was mi; Don Attlee was ma. So, if I am not mistaken, these two were lunching with us last week, just over 70 years later!


Max Burr was an innovative Headmaster. Archery was started in 1936 and handicrafts took on increasing importance: the boys made several stained glass windows for the Chapel. Metalwork, particularly ashtrays, napkin rings, cufflinks and other more original creations in pewter, copper and silver featured strongly in extra curricular activities. Max Burr had very little interest in games - but he did not like losing matches!

See photo of the Burrs setting off for Ascot

Max Burr also designed the OB tie (which was available to magazine subscribers who went straight from Belmont to their Public School). The pattern was described as Eton Blue Belmont crosses on a black background. The price was 4s 9d

Jack Nye, the Sussex cricketer, visited Belmont three times a week to coach the boys in 1934 & 1935

AG Powell (OB) won a Cricket Blue at Cambridge, the first OB to get a Blue


Walter Harris  (1934-1939) writes about Robinson Crusoe and rabbits! - - -

I am fortunate in having an excellent memory and health to match, and my first published novel, CLOVIS, featured Belmont and Haileybury, to which I went consequently, under thinly disguised invented names.

My only physical memento of Belmont is a copy of Robinson Crusoe, which I won as a prize--normally was condemned to a copy of either The Water Babies (I loathed Charles Kingsley) or
Eric or Little by Little. It was a wonderful change at Haileybury to be able to choose your own book.

I think Burr was as mad as any head-master. Complementing his pathological hatred of rabbits and a carefully nurtured  charm to counterbalance his undoubted sadism was his belief that he was handy with a shotgun. The weapon was propped up against his chair during supper, which he  would seize when a rabbit, invariably gifted with immortality, peered out from the roots of the rhodedendron bush in front of the window and fired. The window was usually open, the noise in any circumstances extreme--we all jumped together when Burr pulled the trigger.

- - - and about Alan de Wharton Burr, soapy door handles and Jerome Kern! -

When Max de Wharton Burr wanted the money to build a chapel, he extracted it, I understand, from his brother Alan, a mild, rather unworldly man who was a cleric. Part of the deal was that Alan should be made Assistant Head Master, a post actually executed for years by Cuthbert Stanton Jeffries, who wore brothel-creepers and rather sinister glasses and was severe, but reasonably sane for a Belmont master.

We used to bully Alan by soaping our dormitory door handle and door when he came to put out the lights, or expressing our childish malice in other ways via drawing-pins or buckets of water on top of the door. He inaugurated music nights, when we would gather in the library and he would crank up his portable gramophone. His choice of music was not always suitable, and I have an imperishable vignette of a cluster of puzzled pre-pubic ten-year-olds staring at each other as we listened to Jerome Kern's The Way You Look Tonight.

"Never never change because I love you, and the way you look tonight ". You could almost hear Jeffrey Farnol's cape swirling on the book shelves in disgust. I doubt if the matron, Miss Cookson, had ever heard of either romance or Kern. She wore a lamb cutlet bonnet and enjoyed nothing as much as pulling out a milk tooth by tying one end of a piece of cotton to it and the other to a door-handle, and slamming the door . Getting her hands on to a rhinocerous horn and similarly removing it would have pleased her even more.


The old cricket pavilion was built in 1934 at a cost of £100, which was borne by parents OBs and friends of the School. Games opponents were Claremont, Great Walstead, Springfield Park (Horsham), St Peter's Court (Burgess Hill), Sompting Abbots and Prestonville (Brighton)

Epidemics especially measles were a constant problem during this decade and the school seemed to be in quarantine for most of the time.

The Chapel, designed by JL Denman, was completed and dedicated by the Bishop of Lewes on 9 Dec 1936 . Max's brother, The Rev Alan Burr, who was expected to take an especial interest in the Chapel, joined the staff as partner - but he only stayed two terms.

There were 54 boys in the school summer term 1937. Christmas Term 1937: what was thought to be the first inter-school Archery match to have been held in England took place: Belmont v Hillcrest. There were photographs and articles in more than 20 newspapers and a news reel shown all over the world. MdeWB seems to have been instrumental in founding the Prep Schools Archery Association.

New soccer fixtures: v Hillcrest, Normansal ( Seaford ) and Ashampstead. Miniature rifle range planned for the Goose Field; shooting under Mr J. Belmont took part in (and won) a correspondence Archery match v Shortenhills, Felsted Prep and St Cuthbert's, Malvern.

Easter 1938: new rugby fixture v Cottesmore. There were 58 boys in the School. Summer term: Belmont wins Prep Schools Archery Championship Shield. 62 boys in the School.