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Dorothy Hardman (nee Hollobon)

founder member 1913

Dorothy Annie Hollobon arrived in the world on 3rd August 1898 and left it twenty days after her 101st birthday, sadly just failing to make it into her third century!

She was born in Eastbourne where her handsome young father, Francis Joshua, worked as a paper hanger. The family moved to Five Ash Down when Dorothy was six and there, Francis Joshua started his own builders business. He also ran a taxi service (using coach and horse) and a small holding. Milk, butter, cheese, eggs, pork, ham, bread, soft and tree fruits and vegetables were all home produced. The family 'car' was a donkey and trap. Dorothy attended the village school and, when she was about twelve she applied for a scholarship to Lewes. This involved a whole day's examination at the Henry Firmar school in Crowborough and tested everything including history, geography, drawing. As her teacher lived in Crowborough, that day they had a picnic in her garden. The teacher lived next door to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Once over this hurdle Dorothy went to the Pupil Teachers' Training Centre which was near the Little Theatre in Lewes. She then moved to 'our' school when it opened in 1913. She travelled to school from Five Ash Down by bicycle as far as Uckfield and then on the train to Lewes. Cycling home at night, she had to pass a pub in Uckfield which was frequented by Canadian soldiers who would shout at her saying 'Look at her lovely legs'. On one occasion she travelled in the same carriage as Mr Charles Dawson, of Piltdown Man fame, and overheard him talking about his discovery. He was not apparently responsible for the forgery.

She became both the netball and the tennis captain of the school; in those days the ladies served underhand!

Memories of Teachers

The Head Mistress, Miss Lillian Vobes taught English and Scripture. Miss Vobes left teaching when her sister died and she then looked after the children in the family.

Miss Irene Henry taught Science, including Astronomy. Dorothy kept in touch with Miss Henry, who was an absolutely superb teacher, until she died in the late 1960's. Miss Henry taught at Lewes till she retired, just before her daughter Elizabeth went there. She lived in a cottage near the bridge over the Winterbourne with her mother after her fierce German father died. She visited Dorothy and Elizabeth in about 1943, when Dorothy had the school in Laughton and she wore an orange dress she had made out of four pretty teacloths! Clothes were only available on coupons then. At that time she had a little house near the railway but latterly she lived in a council flat in a rough part of Lewes. Dorothy was heartbroken to see the flat but Miss Henry had befriended the children in the area and on one wall she had drawn round their hands to make a pattern.

Both Miss Vobes and Miss Henry had both been at the Pupil Teachers' School and from there they used to travel to Haywards Heath for two days a week to teach. Miss Greenwood taught geography and had a young sister, Lorna, who was in the same class as Dorothy. Lorna was a very naughty girl and on one occasion passed a jar of perfumed vanishing cream around the room producing an interesting aroma when Miss Vobes entered the classroom and causing her to comment 'Curious smell in here girls.' Once Dorothy received an order mark from her beloved Miss Greenwood for wearing a blouse with a stripe in it. She broke down in tears and Miss Greenwood said ' You wouldn't like me to take it away, would you?' ' No' said Dorothy.

At the start of a lesson with Miss Vobes she gave the girls a two minute question on the previous week's lesson. Often Lorna was asked the answer and Miss Vobes would say 'What utter nonsense Lorna. Please sit down!' Miss Finis taught English. She was there when Elizabeth started. Miss Biles was another teacher. Elizabeth doesn't know what she taught, but Dorothy didn't like her.

On the first floor of the main school building there was the art room to the left and to the right was the laboratory. In between there was a shelf which held the fresh wild flower collection with labels. Dorothy, who was the main contributor to this display, would take her long suffering father out every Sunday afternoon collecting flowers

Memories of a Friend

Dorothy's special friend was Maud Ventham who lived at Offham. Maud was at both schools with her and then at college. Maud was very musical and played the piano at prayers. She was very keen on boys and became engaged to many! She eventually married Reg Smith who was, she said, too good for her and that he should have married Dorothy. Maud's father was first a coachman and then a chauffeur and Maud was car mad. Nearly every letter to Dorothy had something in it about cars. Maud later had a niece, Wanda Ventham, who used to be an actress on television. In the early sixties, Aunty Maud went to stay with Elizabeth who gave her a lift in her A30 car and Maud claimed to be terrified for the whole journey.

Life after School

On leaving school in 1917, both Dorothy and Maud went to the Diocesan Training College in Brighton for two years where Dorothy specialised in geography and Maud in music. She then became a supply teacher until her marriage in the 1930s to John Hardman. She travelled around East Sussex on a motorbike, working in more than fifty schools.

Written by Dorothy's daughter Elizabeth Hardman who attended the grammar school between 1942 and 1950.