GSA Girls' Boarding & Day School 11–18

Priorsfield Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 2RH

Tel: +44 (0)1483 810551

PF In My Time

Old Girls' memories reflect how education and daily life at Prior's Field progressed over generations. Their individual experiences complement and reflect the history of the school. Although much has changed over decades, the friendship, love and strong bond among Old Girls remains.

Some memories of PF pupils extracted from archives, letters and interviews:

Enid Bagnold (1904-1907) remembering the shivering excitement when Mrs Huxley announced the winner of the Poetry competition:

"There was a poem, she said, so far exceeding the others ....

You can't have a stroke at sixteen. Or can you? I lost the end of the sentence but I heard "Stand up, Enid Bagnold." The gasp of amazement and disbelief as heads turned from the forms in front of me has never been forgotten. I was utter fame, naked and eaten young. It could never come again. ..

There was an aftermath. Mrs Huxley wrote to Yeats (W.B. Yeats) and sent him the poem. She took me up to his flat in Tavistock Square to an evening party. Ezra Pound was there. I wore a wool-taffeta dress of squashed strawberry, with boned lace neck and black boots. Yeats said: "If you want to write poetry never touch politics". His walls were papered with brown paper and the early William Nicholsons were framed in black".

Norah Pitt (née Jacomb-Hood) (1912-1916) remembers her days in PF looking through a box of photographs she took as a PF girl:

"I now see, according to my photographs, that on Old Girls' Day the Old Girls really did look as strange as we critical young things used to think they did!

How so-and-so has 'gone off' since she left!" we used to whisper, not very quietly, to each other. Or "so-and-so" seems quite improved!

And when I went back to PF as a very Old Girl, and timidly rang the front door bell, half expecting the ghost of Hezel to let me in with decorum and discretion, leading me to the Oak Hall, I wondered how many inquisitive young eyes, peeping from the many windows, were wondering who the Old Girl was who still felt like a nervous new girl as she waited for the front door to be opened.

They were, to me, very Happy Days"

Isaline B. Horner (1912-1914) pointing out how different and liberal Prior's Field School was from its contemporaries:

"There was much freedom: freedom to read any books chosen from Mrs. Burton-Brown's study or drawing room; freedom to choose which games you would play, ... and of course freedom of speech and expression, for the society was a democracy and the mistresses not regarded as beings apart. There was also, subject to one's parents approbation, freedom not to go to Church, and for non-Churchgoers there was always reading loud by Mrs Burton-Brown, often from Plato. Thus was some measure of tolerance and reliability and of understanding of human achievement and human weaknesses, made possible to us".

Mai Aspaas (née Furst) (1941-1945) Norwegian pupil reflects on her experience as a foreign student in an English boarding school:

"I don't know who was most surprised, Joan or I, when I understood the first four words she said to me: "This is the garden!" I only remember sending belated thanks to my English teacher at primary school in Oslo who had, it seems, managed to instil a small vocabulary into my mind, despite all my inattention. After this successful start, however, my knowledge of English language, English table manners, the English school system, lacrosse, the plimsoll line, turning out the light when leaving the room, how to tie a girdle, and other thousand and one things, which were strange, new, odd, amusing, and some of them seemingly mad to me! I was so tired of hearing and trying to talk English all day that I lay in bed at night babbling Norwegian to myself at top speed.

After some time, however, I began to feel more part of what was going on around me, and began to feel less need to cling to all things Norwegian. My last years at school I thought less and less of being foreign and, in fact, when I came home after the war, I felt that I was starting on what nearly amounted to my second period abroad! Now it was I who was surprised, even shocked, at Norwegian habits, the un-English table manners, the waste of electricity, the pushing in the bus queues, the strange ideas people had of life in England (as once I had been amused at the ideas English school girls had of life in Norway!)".

What did our 2012 Leavers say?

PF encouraged me to be myself and to work hard and play hard: it taught me to stay true to myself. Being Deputy Head Girl was hard work, good fun and a privilege. Planning this year's leavers' day events day was a real highlight!

Alicia Collyear (Deputy Head Girl) 2005- 2012 - taking a gap year.

 

My time at PF has been a wonderful rollercoaster! I will treasure all of my memories: Tuesday night Chinese takeaways, the malteser football game and snow days in boarding, and the many drama productions. Thank you PF.

Taylor Barnett 2005 - 2012- planning to take up a place at Kings College London, to read philosophy.

 

Prior's Field taught me to take every opportunity offered and to make good use of them. The school friends I made are like my family: I will miss seeing them every day, but know that they will be there for life.

Jo Scott 2005 - 2012 - planning to take up a place at Bristol University, to read early childhood studies.

 

I will miss my boarding years, my friends, my teachers and the food! Coming to Prior's Field for the sixth form has been an amazing opportunity and the school has allowed me to grow and blossom.

Phoebe Wong 2010 - 2012 - planning to take up a place at Surrey University, to read accountancy.