Newells Preparatory School

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Posted by Simon Stewart on January 12, 2019 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Thank you so much for the updates. I recall some very happy times at Newells (Lower Beeding) although, not being a notable academic or sportsman and a frequent recipient of the cane, my memories of playing and working in the woods are vivid. Thank you. Simon Stewart.

Newells revisited

Posted by newells on June 7, 2018 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (2)
I visited Newells and the area around on Monday 4th June, and met up with a lady who lives In the grounds and also the owner of Newells with whom , by prior arrangement, I had tea. My report : There is nothing at all left of the original main school . It was levelled to the ground and a large modern house built on the site. The grounds ,as we knew them ,have over the years disappeared completely. The terraces have all been levelled, all the great trees have either been cut down or destroyed by storms or lightning. I saw only two large trees which I was told have survived from our time. The present owner has constructed a magnificent private garden, the like of which I have never seen. The new trees and exotic bushes/flowers etc. , block out the view across to the South downs and Lancing chapel on the ridge. There are numerous statues and water features spread around the area , with neatly trimmed lawns leading from area to area. The old beech ,we used to climb, was struck by lightning and destroyed several years ago. The drive is now bordered by a very smart avenue of trees ending at an automatic security gate approximately 100 yards from the house. The road to the stables now cuts across to the left immediately inside the main gate by the Lodge ( Original ) The stables block is the same except it is painted white and is a private house. The kitchen gardens and surrounding wall no longer exist. There is in fact a bungalow built on the area. The concrete construction which in my time was a general store for the Boy scouts troop , a theatre, a gymnasium and was situated just the other side of the stable block on the way to the daffodil fields, has been converted into a very fine bungalow The upper playing fields are now just ordinary agricultural land, with the swimming pool destroyed and overgrown by scrub and trees. The owner mentioned that over the years there has been the odd visitor ( ex Newells) found wandering in the garden with whom he chatted, but it is private property and I don't think we would be over pleased to find strangers wandering about in our garden. The garden is never open to the public . There is of course a public footpath across the very bottom by Newells rough, which leads from Newells farm ( Still there +lake) to South Lodge Hotel, where I stayed the night. The hotel was a private house, owned by a Lady Edith Godman. I remembered it quite well. We were all occasionally taken to the house when she opened the grounds for the annual village fete. The entrance is right over from the Crab tree Inn ( Still there). I also took a trip down to Lower beeding and had a look around the church. At least twice a term, we were marched down to the church for the Sunday service. In fact the Vicar , the Rev Hunter used to come to the school and teach scripture during the week. As it is the 50th anniversary of the fire I took the time to light a candle in memory of Parker. To sum up, there really isn't anything to see of our Newells school, neither the buildings nor the grounds remain People planning a visit I would suggest take a trip to the new school at Handcross park, where the headmaster seems willing to have a chat and look at the remaining Newells records etc. They can of course take a walk along the public footpath across Newells rough as previously mentioned, between the private gardens and where the .22 range was situated. Now a pond. I didn't take any photos of the Private house or gardens, but a few of the outer area and South Lodge, which I will eventually sort out and forward. I hope this has been of interest. Tony Kendal

50 year anniversary of the fire at Newells

Posted by newells on May 29, 2018 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)
January 2018 marked the 50 year anniversary of the fire at Newells, that transformed so many lives and lead to a new chapter of the school at Handcross park. Although the actual date has passed, it would be nice to mark this occasion ? I invite members to make a small remark /comment here and perhaps a group could actually visit the former site and document it here? Alas, I now reside in the U.S. and cannot, this year, make the trip "across the pond". I hope that some wider recognition can be made. Chris Matthews ([email protected]

After the fire

Posted by newells on May 1, 2018 at 6:50 AM Comments comments (1)
Here are two excerpts from newsletters written after the fire which indicate that the plan was to rebuild and re-open Newells at Lower Beeding: Nr.71 - January 1968 ... Due to a fire at Newells at the commencement of the Spring Term, the school has been evacuated for a time to Handcross Park, five miles away, whilst repairs to Newells are being carried out... . Nr.72 - April 1968 ... Many people are interested in what is happening at Newells; we had originally hopedto have rebuilt the inside of the centre portion which had been so badly damaged ; this would have been considered a repair and would not have required planning consent so that the work could have been carried out with little delay. Unfortunately the outer wall of this section was found by engineers to have deteriorated to such an extent that it would have to be demolished and rebuilt; this has meant that planning consent has to be obtained and further delays involved. The plans have now been produced for this section, which have redesigned the lay-out of the dormitories which have been concentrated upon the first floor and extending through the old classroom block to the Sick Wing, giving access to the whole of the first floor. There will be staff rooms on this floor, and then on the second floor only one large dormitory and our private rooms. In order to take advantage of the setting at Newells and the wonderful view, large oriel windows will be incorporated in the new building which will give it plenty of light and air. The drawing of the detailed plans, the submission to the Planning committee, and the obtaining of tenders for the building is likely to take until September, when it is planned that the rebuilding should commence ; it is hoped to be a nine month project so that we can move back again in the Summer holidays of next year, restarting in September 1969.... Since a visit to Newells on June 4th 2018, I have found out that the school was very under insured, thus after the fire there would not have been finance available to rebuild.

How can I visit/tour school

Posted by Michael Cenicola Farah on April 22, 2018 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (1)
Michael Cenicola now Michael Farah (Viking) 1968-1973. Newell???s and Desmoor. Great info. Thanks for the memories. The major was tough but col weford/Redford was my nemisis. Lol I believe I got Extra (attention) because I was American. It didn???t help that my mom was a 70???s version of Kim Kardashian In a school where everything is strict and proper. I think the Col fought in the boar war. I live in Florida and possibly going to London this summer. Is it possible to get a school tour with my family. I believe my years at nd shaped my life. Everything seemed to be bigger than life. Best friends : Moore,chater,Miller (last names) and Alexander(alex) Hunn or now Walker who I named 2nd son after. he moved to Bermuda in 1974? Memories: the water tower (round haunted brick building ) , a cemetery in the woods, an abandoned glass building in the woods. Large creaters in woods. Giant ant mounds, My first crush.- Ann Poad who the boys made fun of but I got dizzy when she was near me. Lol. Vikings dominance,sports day. Harrods , Brighton Pier, school entrance. Bell ringing to wake up in dormitories. Cold pool, ???the cane??? the slipper and the colonels hand/crop/stick and me getting angry that he only threatened the girls. Hahaha. Corporal punishment was a badge of courage. Fun, loneliness, wishing new kids would stop crying and go to sleep. My mom embarrassing me in front of staff when she visited. Gardening, my love for geography,history and scripture. Getting My British humor that my kids love and wife doesn???t understand. Greatest accomplishment: being the only American to last more than 4 years. Hahaha

Memories of staff

Posted by Chris Matthews on April 5, 2018 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Age and sport has caught up with me and I am currently convalescing after a knee replacement , so though it was about time to delve into the memories of Handcross Park.


In no particular order some of the staff that left a lasting impression.


Mrs Vellacott who taught Scriptures ,( alas we were not that kind to her). Her face would glow and she wriggled her body onto the hard wooden seat before she would illuminate the room with a biblical story. We would often, before her entrance, rub chalk on the seat and she would leave with the tell tale signs on her skirt. She never queried how this had occurred!

After the move to Handcross, she gave each of us a bible to replace the burnt ones at Newells. I still have mind and it was dated late 19 century. I was also part of the boys who carved a map of the British Isles in the grass, near the swimming pool at Newells. . A nice woman, think she may have been a missionary in China?


Captain Stokes RN, was a great pipe smoking maths teacher. He was calm and patient and only occasionally alluded to his wartime experience. I was captivated, (and still am, as I know can fully comprehend the magnitude of the event) of his description of the torpedoing of the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle in the Mediterranean in 1942, which he served with . He recounted that as it had a wooden deck, the crew that slid down as it keeled over, received huge amounts of splinters. Very evocative. Does anybody know of his military career and which ship he became Captain of?


Colonel Wreford was one of my favourite masters. He appeared on the outside to be somewhat gruff, but really had a heart of gold. He gave me a love of Geography, which I continued to A levels. He also gave me a love for carpentry and I was fortunate that my parents "paid extra" so I could attend his cold workshop one evening a week. He taught you how to plane and cut wood. You started by making a bench support to hold wood as you cut it. I also made a locked box, book shelf and a shoe box, all I still have!! I do believe that Nader Salour was in the same class and recall he was always beaming and smiling. Do seem to recall that he planed a piece of wood so far down, that Wreford exclaimed "For God's sake Nasser, what are you doing!" It is a credit to Nader how he survived and has commented how much he liked the school, can't have been easy being sent to a foreign country not knowing the language.


I also believe Wreford supervised the shooting, but can't be sure? Remember well going to a small hut in central woods, where in the winter an oil stove blasted out heat. I think there were 3 portholes to this .22 rifle range. Recall that all the rifles had names, Savage is the only one I now recall. This was a bolt action rifle that as a lefty was awkward to handle. Thankfully he had some "Martini" action rifles, (reminiscent of the "wild west") where your pulled down a lever to reveal the chamber, much easier!

I continued shooting at Hurstpierpoint "graduating" to ,303 ex WW2 rifles, with a huge kick!

Believe he was in the Indian army during WW2, again would anybody know his military history?


Mr Bean, the music master always wore a black suit and chain smoked! I believe he also taught at Sandhurst? Gave me a love of classical music as we would sit and listen to vinyl from a small stereo set up.


Mr Coombes I believe, used to captivate us with stories he would read in class, always looked forward to this?



Mr Hoskins participated at sports day. He coached the tug of war teams and wore a mask of glasses, nose and moustache.


Charlie always seemed to wear a brown coat, was totally bald, small in height and immensely strong. A gentle person. I think he may have been in the artillery in WW2, possibly in North Africa and may have served under the Headmaster, hence him being here. Always loved going to his shed and talking to him. I recall that a group of us wanted to try to play golf so got permission to make 3 or 4 holes near the perimeter.

I spoke to Charlie and he let me take his ride on lawn mower to make each of the putting holes!! Remember will glee riding it to the location and being careful as the undulating ground would force the bar of the mower to press down on your knees. Mad the required putting holes and returned the machine and myself intact! Didn't have a safety helmet, ear plugs or gloves, just common sense at the age of 12!! Can't imagine being allowed to do that know, without cotton wool!! ( I believe the current pupils aren't allowed pen knives!! I valued my Swiss army knife, still have it!)




Major Gamon, who in my opinion, was sadistic and liked to beat boys at the slightest excuse. You knew that if he took morning assembly, anybody with a "stripe" would be beaten by him. He also. I believe used the dreaded night cane, whereas Headmaster Hope Lang would use your slipper. I remember when it was time to buy new slippers I would "try out" to see which was less painful, as knew I would succumb! I recall one day as you waited on the raised step of the shower at Newells for Matron to confirm you were clean, I looked back and saw what I thought was dirt on my bottom. I quickly went back to the shower to try to wash it of. It was in fact bruising from being slippered the night before!! Surprisingly it didn't hurt, whereas my current bruising form my knee operation does indeed!


Thankfully after the move to Handcross Park he did not follow and the frequency of corporal punishment almost ceased. When Iwas fortunate to become head boy, never had to enter in a bound book, the crime and punishment metered out, which was the responsibility of my predecessors at Newells.


Mrs Clifford I believed taught piano at Newells. Remember she travelled on a Honda 50 scooter, which in those days was not common for a woman to do!


Other memories was the flags of the houses at Newells that were daily flown, think the prefects were responsible for?


Remember the weekly letter writing time. My parents were in Kuwait when I was at Newells so they welcomed the weekly letter, as I did from them and others. Always a joy to receive mail, shame it is a lost art! On a side note found my old Parker fountain pen and some kind person has restored it to it’s former glory!


Interesting to note that I believe it was only 2 weeks from the tragic fire at Newells to finding the current Handcross Park, a remarkable achievement. At the start there was a separate classroom block adjacent to the main building. My father on seeing the classrooms commented that he though it had been a Jewish school as there were Jewish signs above the door. would be interesting to know the history before we occupied it?


Would welcome other views of the staff and corrections to my faded memory?


Chris Matthews


Letter from Liam McKeown 14.11.2017

Posted by newells on November 15, 2017 at 5:55 AM Comments comments (1)
I was at Newells; Newells and Desmoor and Handcross park in the 1960's. I was in the fire at Newells which I remember vividly: I can remember : Crawling along the wooden floor under the smoke, going through the fire doors and descending the outside iron fire escape ladders. Watching suitcases and trunks being thrown out of the dormitory windows by firemen, some of which opened in mid flight. The roll call in the car park, when one boy's name was repeatedly called out with no response. I think his name was Parker and he had reputedly gone back into the building to retrieve his watch, from what I can recall. Spending the night in, what I think was, the school cinema/theatre and the matron belting me with a torch for being too boisterous ! The torch broke and we ended up struggling for light. Wearing ill fitting clothes issued to us by the WI, I think, the following morning as we were all in our pyjamas ! When I was collected to go back home I was disappointed to find that my father had enrolled me in the local comprehensive, at or near, Lee-on-Solent. My father was a serving officer in the Royal Navy. My lasting memory of Handcross Park, was the first moon landing ('69), which we watched on a black and white TV on a high wooden stand. Liam McKeown

Mini reunion July 2016 & September 2017

Posted by newells on July 22, 2016 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Jeremy Varcoe and I , Tony Potts ,(Both Seafield Park at Endsleigh and Newells) met up at Endsleigh on Monday 4th July 2016.

Had a great day wandering down memory lane .   We were well received by the Staff and , as ex pupils of Endsleigh, were given a 20% rebate on an excellent lunch.   On Sunday 10th September 2017 we both met up again at Endsleigh, this time accompanied by Nigel Osborn (Endsleigh & Newells) who had travelled all the way from Australia. The staff very kindly gave us a guided tour and we were able to recognise the dormitories and classrooms etc. We had an excellent lunch ( No rebate this time). I have added some photos both of Endsleigh and us from both occasions in the relevant sections.

A continued good summer to all.   Best wishes Tony Potts.


Posted by newells on May 23, 2015 at 3:35 AM Comments comments (0)
I have had several direct contacts with Old Newellians in the years since I put the site out. 

It has been especially pleasing to be able to have contact with the present Headmaster of Handcross Park school resulting in a successful reunion for Old Newellians held at Handcross Park school on the 23rd of May 2012. After the meeting at Handcross Park some participants were able to visit the grounds of Newells farm. 

I have also had contact with the present owner of the house standing on the Newells site. 

A special 'Thank you' to Chris Mathews for his piece on Alexander Parker and the tragic fire. In reference to the fire, it was also interesting to read the 'Blog' by John Harrison and his memories of it,  not as a pupil but a neighbour to Newells. 

To those who wish to contribute any of their memories of Newells or Seafield Park please add your comments to this blog, open your own blog or add photos to the relevant section . You can contact me direct at [email protected] , send me your contribution and I will put it on the site for you. 

Michael French has commented on the Swimming Pool situated at the far end of the Sports pitch. I recall it was a converted concrete Fire Service water tank. Before this conversion took place Mr Lang had acquired for use as a swimming pool a canvas affair filled with water . I found out later that it was called an ' S tank' and was originally designed for use by the Military to temporarily store fresh water. I would actually call it a rather small pond and it was situated by the Sand pit. 

The freedom we had playing in the woods, climbing trees, building dams, sploshing about in the stream, cycling and creating roads on the terrace banks for Dinky toys, all bring back very happy memories. 

I would like to conclude by saying that I originally started work on and published this site in order that people who attended Newells and Seafield Park would have a forum where they could refresh memories, add comments to the blog section or publish photos of their time at the school. However,  although I am delighted to be contacted by them, I did not mean that ex pupils who only attended the school at Handcross Park should add their photos and comments . To include their input would take up much more space than I have available. These ex-pupils have the excellent Handcross Park school website to cater for their needs. http/  

 I have recently moved this blog to the top and amended it slightly. There were several comments added to the original and they are still available to be read in the original position at the end. 

My thanks to all for your help and contributions .

Tony Kendal

(Updated 10th August 2016)


The 1968 Fire

Posted by newells on August 22, 2013 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (1)


I've just been looking at Ad Perpetuam Memorium regarding the tragic death of Alex Parker.

My name is John Harrison and I thought,  you would be interested to learn that I have a very clear memory of that dreadful night in January 1968.

At that time, I was seven years old - living with my parents and grandparents in a very grand house called Cisswood (virtually opposite Newells school).

I was woken up by my parents who told me they were going to see if they could help out in any way by offering our home as a sanctuary for all the boys and staff. Of course, I had to stay in bed - but I distinctly recall blue lights flashing around my bedroom ( I thought this was rather exciting !)

In the event, it would seem that alternative accommodation arrangements had been made - and my family's help wasn't required.

The final outcome had a dramatic effect on my childhood. I'd grown up at Cisswood - and even at the tender age of seven - had formed a very strong attachment to the place. However - my mother was horrified that the ashes from the blaze had blown across our grounds and (because of the tragic death)refused to live in the house any more. It was subsequently sold in April 1968.

Since then it has become a rather tawdry Hotel / Spa. To this day - I resolutely refuse to set foot inside it - so tarnished has my memory become.

I have never forgotten the tragedy of that night - and I'm sure that those who were close to poor Alex will have even more poignant memories than my own.


John S Harrison.