General Articles

Brighton 1904-1920

Hassocks 1920-1940

Lichfield 1940-1944

Nassau 1940-1944

Hassocks 1944-1954

Hassocks 1954-1972

Post Closure 1972-

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HISTORY: Hassocks, 1944-1954

The reunited school returned to the Clayton Wickham site at Hassocks, which had been used by the military, in October 1944. There were 55 boys in the School.

In 1945 Mr J retired. He continued to record the achievements of Old Boys, until his death in 1965.

Nilla Burr won the World Ladies' Archery Championships in Prague in 1946 and at Dulwich in 1948, breaking nine records. She was also British Champion in 1947 and 1948.

There were 79 boys in the school for the Easter term 1947. This was the coldest winter of the century and the grounds were frozen from January to March, testing the imagination of Max Burr and the staff. Endless walks through Danny Park were alleviated by games of “pirates” and “strategy”.

Archery continued to be popular. Metalwork was extended by the purchase of a lathe. Among many other creations, a model of the “skylon” was made to celebrate the Festival of Britain in 1951.

The choir, trained by Mrs Burr, made the transition from Lichfield Cathedral to the little chapel at Hassocks. If anything, the Lichfield experience seems to have raised the profile of Chapel: apart from the choir, boys and parents were constantly adding to and upgrading the chapel furniture. One is struck by the large number of boys of this period that went on to be ordained in the church; it seems likely that many had their grounding in the Christian faith at Belmont .

Although no longer digging for victory, the chapel garden was cultivated by the boys and every Belmont boy of that era will remember “the dams”.

As at other prep schools, boys' destination schools were influenced by the Headmaster's personal connections. For example, several boys went to Malvern where Harvey Chadder, a Housemaster, was married to Nilla Burr's sister; others went to Harrow where Kenneth Snell was a mathematical associate of Max Burr. In spite of the distance, the Lichfield relationships continued with Repton being the most popular choice of public school for Belmont parents in the decade after the war. Of course, many boys went on to the local schools, Eastbourne and Lancing, but very few to Brighton, Ardingly or Hurstpierpoint.

Games opponents in this decade were Brunswick (Haywards Heath), Ashfold (Horsham), Newells (Handcross), Sompting Abbots, Cottesmore (Buchan Hill), Normansal and Hurstpierpoint Junior School. A particularly memorable match was 1st XI soccer v St Paul's Choir School. For the away match, the team travelled up by train from Hassocks, watched the Lord Mayor's Show from the steps of the Cathedral, had lunch at the Choir School (after listening to them singing grace); then went by train again to the ground which seemed to be some way out of town.

Belmont's first television set arrived during 1953.

Max Burr, whose mood swings, temper and intemperate use of the cane, later caused comment from pupils at the time, died suddenly in 1954, aged 47

Max Burr's Funeral: as described in the diary of David Hill (Belmont X1935-E1938) -
Wednesday 27 January 1954

“Drove down to Hassocks via Burgess Hill with Grannie Ogle for the funeral of Max Burr. We lunched poorly at Downs Hotel. Met the aged Nettletons on the way to Keymer Church, who had driven from Tunbridge Wells. The building was packed, chiefly with contemporary parents I imagine.

I could only see one Old Boy I knew – John Hahn – and he did not recognise me! Joined him in car for internment at Clayton Churchyard beneath Downs (& near tunnel entrance). On my arm was his guest Mrs Evans – the ancient widow of previous Headmaster, circa 1934! Nilla bore up wonderfully. With her were Mr J., Peter Phillip, Sec. Anne Dodgson, and Rev Allan Burr, whom I would not have recognised.

We wonder what will become of the School and Nilla. Rejoined Evo at Hotel & drove home on main road. Gloriously sunny & without cold wind.”


Mr & Mrs Nettleton and Mrs V Ogle were representing archery's Royal Toxophilite Society (as was David Hill, but also as an Old Boy and friend). JL Hahn went on to King’s Canterbury after Belmont and at this time was an engineer with the Southern Electricity Board.

The Downs Hotel was demolished many years ago.

An Outsider's View of Belmont
Click here for a fascinating look at Belmont from Bill Lovell, who grew up on an estate near Belmont in the late 40s and early 50s, and was, with his friends, a frequent eves-dropper on the secret world of Belmont ...