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A New Book about our School Chapel

The book described below has now been published.

To buy a copy, just Click Here to be taken to the sales page of the chapel website

After some deliberation the Chapel Trustees are taking up a remarkable offer from David Arnold, a Lewes author and Sussex Express local history columnist, to write a book about the fascinating stories of heroism and dedication which led to the building of our former School Chapel.

This unique building, believed by the Trustees to be the only chapel in the UK built and funded by a state school since the 1944 Education Act, is now an officially registered War Memorial to the fifty-five former pupils who gave their lives for their country during the Second World War.

Whilst David Arnold and OLO member Alan Pett are researching the stories and data of the fifty-five, your help will be invaluable in providing your own recollections of these Old Lewesians and their families.

Those of you who were at the school in its early days from 1930 to the end of the War will, we are sure, have stories to tell of those lost and be able to help commemorate them.

Please stir your collective memories and send your personal accounts by whichever means you are able to :-

David Arnold, 14 John Street, LEWES, East Sussex BN7 2QE

Email. :

Telephone : 07845 954805

We have two press cuttings from David Arnold's column in the Sussex Express which you might like to read :-

His initial Introduction to the subject
A follow up article the following week.

Also Another 'Yarn' mentioning Chapel Fund and also Harry Pett
David Arnold is also interested in hearing from anyone with tales to tell about the School and the activities it undertook between 1942 - 60 to raise the funds and eventually get the Chapel built.

Book publication is planned to be in time for the next OL reunion in September 2017. More details regarding the book and opportunities to purchase it will be shared in due course.

Alan Pett
David Carter
on behalf of The Chapel Trustees

The photo and notes below are taken from an existing page on the OLO website.

Memorial Tablet in Chapel

For each name (except that of Denis Peter Will) brief details were recorded in 'The Barbican'

Click on any name below to see his Barbican notes.

Archer, Donald W. --- RAF
Baker, Eric Godfrey --- Army
Baker, Thomas --- Army
Barnes, Jack A. --- Army
Barnes, Robert Walter --- Army
Batten, Charles --- RAF
Beck, Walter Raymond --- RN
Blackman, Harry Edwin --- Army
Blythe Ronald Charles --- RAF
Boulton, John Eric --- RAF
Bradbury, Thomas X. --- RAF
Brown, Roy Ernest --- RAF
Burtenshaw, Dennis Frederick --- RAF
Calwell, John Anthony --- Army
Cornwall, Brian --- RAC
Crosthwaite, Miles --- RN
Dowden, Donald John --- RAF
Duke, Peter Francis --- RN
Eager, Sidney Alexander --- RN
Edwards, Frank Bernard --- Army
Gabbitas, Robert --- RAF
Grevett, Charles F. --- RAF
Hanaghan, J. V. --- RAF
Hancock, Gordon William --- RAF
Harvey, F. F. --- RN
Hayward, Thomas A. --- Army
Holford, Ronald Franklin --- RN
Holmans, Harry C. --- RAF
Humphries, Peter Leslie --- RAF
Ketchell, Brian John --- RAF
Knowles, Edwin J. --- RAF
Lawrence, Keith Gilbert --- RAF
Mackie, Ronald Stanley --- RAF
Moon, Geoffrey --- RAF
Moore, Frederick Martin --- Army
Moppett, Dennis G. --- RAF
Oliver, Basil Cyril --- RAF
Oliver, Douglas --- RAF
Orchard, Alan Frederick --- FAA
Parker, Sidney William --- Army
Pillinger, Arthur --- Army
Pryke, Henry Ivan --- RAF
Ruffle, Frederick --- RAF
Simmons, John --- RAF
Simpson, George Richard --- RAF
Stevens, J. E. --- RAF
Stevens, Vernon Arkwright --- RAF
Stone, Donald Castleman --- RAF
Tindale, Bruce --- MN
Tomley, Maurice John --- RAF
Towner, Jack --- RAF
Turner, Barry O'Brien --- Army
Wilson, L. J. --- RAF
Winton, John K. --- Army  

Responses up to 12th Jan 2017

I have produced the following edited highlights from a number of responses to Eric's mail-out concerning the proposed book. All of those received directly by me have been acknowledged and in some cases further memories were forthcoming. I'm also sure that Eric responded to those that he received direct (No. I just forwarded them unless they needed a response from me - EM ). I am delighted with what has come in so far; I am more convinced than ever that we will be spoilt for choice for the book content. In three instances, that of Jacqueline Bodle, Daniel Hirst and Peter Fellows it looks as though we have promising access to further information and illustrations.


Ted Dixon: I was at the school 1955 - 60 and of course well remember collecting for the Chapel fund (in Kingston where I lived) and the building of the Chapel. When I first looked at the OLO website I was very pleased to see that my late father is among the audience in the dedication. A very good photo of him as well as of masters I remember well such as Bill Euston and Harry Hoggins.

Dad was very amused by the story of the architect arriving late for whatever function it was and when he introduced himself saying "I'm Maufe" the host replied, "But my dear chap, you've only just arrived". For "I'm Maufe" read "I'm Orff"!

I recall how much easier it was collecting for the Chapel fund than doing bob-a-jobs for the Boy Scouts. With the Chapel, all I had to do was knock on doors and say what I was collecting for to mostly get warm words and generous donations. With bob-a job, if people didn't pretend not to be in when I knocked, I sometimes had to really earn my shilling or two doing all sorts of tedious chores. Or not earn it in one case - when I declined the offer of a job from a man on Kingston Ridge to wring the neck of one of his chickens!

Jenny Money: Kind offer to help with proof-reading of book.

Christopher Allan: Attended 1950-54. My own memories are purely in the planning and fund-collecting phase. I do know that Mr Bradshaw would tell us how costs were rising all the time. I believe the figures varied between £10,000 and £12,000. I guess my own contributions were pretty trivial (though it seemed a lot then!). I do recall school visits (once or twice a term) to Southover Church where Mr Bradshaw used to give a sermon to boys of the 4th year, 5th year or whatever. It was a kind of extra RE lesson. Needless to say, not all the boys looked forward to it! I believe the BBC once made a radio recording of one of these church services. It would have been early 1950s, but I do not know the date.

Peter Mockford: I was a pupil from 1953 to 1960. I clearly remember that after the decision was made to build a Chapel, when we were placed in detention, which in my case was not infrequently, after school we were sent to the site and dug foundation trenches with picks and shovels. There was no Health and Safety in those days and I must say I quite enjoyed it. I certainly did not find it a deterrent.

Jacqueline Bodle: I am the niece of Jack Towner whose name appears in the Chapel. Jack lived in St Martin's Lane prior to his RAF service. His Sister (my Mum) is Doris Windless, now aged 95, wife of George, Farrier from Southover Forge. In 2015 I had to clear Mum's flat after she moved into a Home. The memorabilia, medals, certificates, photos etc have been deposited in The Keep for safekeeping. Let me know if you wish to access them.

Comment from DA: Jacque sent her best wishes to my wife Barbara. The two had worked together at LDC Environmental Health Dept!

Denis Richard (Dick) Coote of Ontario, Canada: My earliest memory of the Chapel was when I visited the school on sports days, probably between 1954 and 1956, while my older brothers were pupils there. The foundations had been dug earlier by the sixth form boys as a project, and had been left as trenches overgrown with weeds. Regrettably, though they made a grea playground, these trenches were never used for the final Chapel construction. This got underway when I was a pupil myself from 1956 to 1961. I was one of the first to enter the finished Chapel, and sang with the school choir to test the acoustics. I took part in daily services, even before the dedication, as a member of the choir. My voice had just broken, and I was one of the few boy basses (the rest were staff members). I recall the dedication as a grand occasion, presided over by the Bishop and by Mr Bradshaw himself. I believe Brian Richards was the Choir Master, but can't be sure of that.
Following school I went to college in London and later graduated from Cornell University in the USA. I became a scientist in Ottawa and have been a Canadian citizen for 40 years. I still sing - as a baritone in our local community choir. I consider my good fortune in my career to be in no small way due to the grounding I received at Lewes Grammar - something for which I shall be forever grateful.

Clive Turrell: I raised funds for the Chapel by selling "bricks" during the holiday periods. One of the fathers made turned oak balustrading; I don't have his name but it would be worth researching. Charles Batten, noted on the honours list, came from Alfriston. I recall my Mother telling the story that he once flew a Spitfire low along the Cuckmere valley whilst performing a victory roll.

Comment from DA: An evocative image: A former grammar schoolboy beating up the Cuckmere Valley! I was a friend of the late Virginia Wootton, widow of the famous aviation artist, Frank Wootton. By coincidence the couple lived just north of Alfriston. She gave me permission to reproduce a number of Frank's paintings in my book "Seventy Years On" and I think a Wootton Spitfire over Sussex would be an appropriate illustration for our book.

Brigadier Jim Parker CBE wrote from South Africa: Eric's circular was heartening, particularly through its re-publication of the 1946 Barbican school journal and the wonderful news that you've undertaken to write a book about the 55. As a pupil from 1956-64 I can recall the frenzy that surrounded the final bricks-and-mortar stage of completion and the early morning Chapel services.

There's no doubt that 'Plonk' Bradshaw built a non-fee-paying public school in all but name in Lewes. The impressive extra-mural pursuits (skiing, Glyndebourne, CCF) and high-powered sporting achievements with Blues and international caps aplenty, all pointed one way - academic excellence. The scholarships awarded matched those of neighbouring public schools. Somehow it seemed unremarkable that a grammar school, drawing pupils from a vast rural/small town watershed area decided to build a huge commemorative Chapel. And yet the truth was that half the boys had poor or modestly placed families and left at 16 without absorbing the projected ethos.

In the final years, sponsorship took on a cruder aspect. We were issued with coupons divided into sections to give to our parents. Each section was a brick, each coupon was part of a wall, each wall a positive stride to completing the building. I think a brick cost £5. To be fair, contributions remained private but I remember feeling the pressure: if my parents did not give generously, if I was not able to take back several completed coupons, if others were resentful - well, we would not have a Chapel, would we?

I remember those final agonising months as the scarlet liquid rose in the sponsorship thermometer glass. Much more fun to us were the early Chapel mornings when suddenly only certain masters were deemed fit to conduct the service. Before, we had assembled in a sprawling but closely-controlled mass in the school hall where it seemed that the morning prayers were taken by roster. But now in the Chapel, only Godly chaps wearing resuscitated academic hoods - purples and occasional yellows, I think - were on parade. Easily the best organist was the boy who went on to win a music scholarship. But best of all were the elite sloggers who could sky a six over the chapel roof during the inter-house cricket championship - a prodigious clout by boys who would have flourished at today's T20, but failed to make the more conservative First X1. I can still name two: Cann and Webb, both of Lewes House and if they're around now, I raise my glass, 60 years on.

Doug Kilborn: The book is a great idea. Unfortunately I have only sketchy memories of the Chapel as I left before it was built. I do remember the fundraising scheme where we sold bricks. I think each brick cost 3d (seems very cheap even for then). My other abiding memory is being directed to the digging party excavating the trenches for the footings when I would far rather have been spending the PE lesson out on the rugby field.

Ken Achard: What a tremendous idea. I started at the school in 1955 when the fundraising was becoming frenzied in its efforts in the "home straight". I have vivid memories of Mr Bradshaw and his exhortations for friends and families to buy bricks and of course I remember watching the construction and the splendid opening and consecration. I recall George Austin and his dexterity on the organ and many happy times singing Floreat Lewesia to raise the roof.

Heather Partington: Sounds a very good idea but what about the old girls from Lewes Grammar?

Daniel Hirst: I have a reasonably good copy of a poster announcing the laying of the foundation stone of the school chapel followed by an Autumn sale. My parents had the Landport Stores and were asked to display the poster in the shop window. The poster doesn't give the year but it gives the date as Saturday, 18th October. I think it was 1958 (confirmed - EM). I would be happy to donate the poster to the OLO if you are interested.


Peter Fellows JP posted a letter: I am an Old Lewesian and have an Uncle's name, Fred Moore, on the Chapel memorial. I have written to Fred's only living brother, Raymond, now aged 90, to ask him to submit any information that he can concerning Fred. Ray is also an Old Lewesian and was at the school in the war. Can I also refer you to the excellent book, "Men of Southover" by Alison M Benton. Pages 220-225 feature Fred.
Peter modestly overlooked his own mini-biog : "Fred Moore" available from the OLO Chapel index