STOWELL PARK SECONDARY MODERN SCHOOL

STOWELL PARK SECONDARY MODERN SCHOOL "im. Królowej Jadwigi"

 

By 1948 Polish DP camps in Africa and India were being wound down and significant numbers of children in their teens were arriving in the UK, swelling the numbers of young people in need of secondary education.  In 1949 two new Secondary Modern boarding school were opened, a co-education school in Diddington  and one just for girls in the large camp of Stowell Park, which already housed the grammar school. The secondary modern girls school was named "Królowej Jadwigi" with Mrs. Romiszowska as headmistress. This is where girls of secondary school age, with little  knowledge of the English language, would begin their integration into the English community.  The school provided a graded four-year course, the first two years were devoted to general subjects and improving the English language. After that girls could choose between domestic science or a commercial course. The programmes of study were in line with similar opportunities elsewhere and also made it possible to transfer girls between the two schools as their aptitude for either academic or vocational subjects evolved.  In 1950/51  25 of the 150 girls in the Secondary Modern school transferred to the grammar school.

 

Stasia Jamroży Stasia Kapusta, Józia Hołuj 1951

Headmistress H. Romiszowska, Professor Janina Kościałkowska and dignitaries strolling around  the school buildings.

 

My memories of Stowell Park secondary modern school "im. Królowej Jadwigi" by Zosia Grycewicz

 
Our parents lived in Doddington Park camp in Cheshire but both my younger sister Klara and I  attended Stowell Park  school  and  we only saw them when we came home during the school holidays.

I was in the home economics section of the vocational secondary school named after Queen Jadwiga (gimnazjum wydziałowe im. Królowej Jadwigi). The  head mistress was Mrs. H. Romiszowska.  

On arrival in Stowell Park I found  the huge beech trees that grow in the park most impressive, less impressive where the many barrel shaped barracks which served as  dormitories and classrooms. There were a number of girls allocated to each dormitory  or “barrels of laughs” as we called them   The beds were placed around the walls and between each bed was a wardrobe for our clothes and there was also a large table.

In the middle  was a coke burning “pot bellied” heating stove and  in the winter we took turns stoking it to make sure it didn’t go out,   We all took turns cleaning the dormitory according to a schedule set up by the dormitory supervisor.  Everything had to be shiny and  spick and span with clothes hanging in the wardrobe or neatly folded into squares, just like the army.

 
 
 

In the middle is Zosia Grycewicz, can you name the other girls?

Zosia Grycewicz, Janka Kempa

Hela Kołodziejczyk is in the middle.

 
 

On duty are Czesia Skrabacz, Janina Jeniec, Marysia Bogdaniec,  Klara Grycewicz - 1950

 

Klass 3H From the left Klara Grycewicz, Józia Hołuj, Stasia Jamroży, Stasia Kapusta, Krysia Biegus, Janian Jeniec, Marysia Grzybowska, Sitting from the left Marysia Bogdaniec, Madzia Łatonowska, Janina Radyk, Czesia Skrabacz, Janina Szlamka.

Jasia Kempka, Zosia Grycewicz, Hela Kołodziejczyk

 

 We wore school uniform of navy skirts and white blouses, hair brushed back and held in place with a navy Alice band with a bow.

 

Before leaving the dormitory for school there would be a personal inspection as well as an inspection of the dormitory, wardrobes and beds.  As well as the usual academic subjects we had 2 lessons of cutting and sewing, 2 lessons of English (taught by a native English speaking teacher), cooking and banqueting.  My sister, Klarcia, was in the business studies section.  She liked to cut her hair and was frequently in trouble with the teachers for curling her hair which she then had to straighten.  We had three meals a day but quite often felt hungry in the evening.  We had to be in bed by 9p.m. but nobody was asleep at that time, particularly in the summer. 

 

We would climb out of the windows at the back of the barrack and play “palant” a game similar to rounders.  Sometimes we would meet Fr. Gołąb strolling and saying his Breviary.  We also had a school ghost who would frighten us at night, we called him “kapelusznik” (the hatter) because he wore a large white hat.  I was a member of the Girl Guides, Crusade (a religious organisation) and a sports group.  We visited the Cheddar Gorge and went to a Guide camp,  I was an ‘Ochotniczka’ (volunteer) with the rank of ‘squad leader’.  I left the school in 1950 but continued to train in cutting and sewing with a qualified seamstress from Warsaw, Jadzia, who was well known in Doddington. My sister Klarcia continued her education until 1952 and in that time made many more friends.

 
Thank you to Zosia Puchalska (Grycewicz )for her contribution.
 

 Memories of Stowell Park school "im. Królowej Jadwigi" by Marysia Polkowska (Bogdaniec)

 

Some of the staff and pupils from my year.

Professor Kuczyński, Prof. Janina Kościałkowska, Director of our school Mrs. H. Romiszowska, Prof. Gabryś.  Of the girls I remember:- Mela Chyłek, Ludwika Świderska, Marysia Łukasiewicz

Headmistress H. Romiszowska. teacher Mr. Kuczyński, Fr. Józef Gołąb,  Some of the pupils,  Stasia Jamroży, Marysia Bogdaniec, Klara Grycewicz.

 

Stowell Park nr. Cheltenham is located in the beautiful county of Gloucestershire. During the war the Americans built Stowell Park as a military hospital for wounded American personnel, and one Nissen hut for mentally disturbed soldiers. The Committee for the Education of Poles (The Gater Committee) adapted Stowell Park for use as a boarding school for young ladies and girls.

In 1948 Polish women and children started arriving from camps in India, Africa and other places to join their men folk in England. The families were housed in camps and hostels all over England. My family, with others, were transported by train and army lorries from Daglingworth transit camp nr. Cirencester to Keevil nr. Trowbridge, Wiltshire. In 1949 young ladies and girls of secondary school age with little command of English and only sporadic education began arriving at their new school.

In a comfortable Black & White coach we travelled from Trowbridge to Cheltenham where we changed buses to Northleach, then walked a short distance to the school. Actually there were two schools: the Grammar School named "Ignacy Paderewski" and the Secondary Modern School "Queen Jadwiga". Soon the local people knew who we were and often gave us a lift in their cars. Stowell Park was located between Northleach and a small village with a brook flowing under a stone bridge, called Fossbridge.

 

Entrance Class:- 1950  Ala Cabut, Gienia Kumorek, Stasia Maćków, Marysia Bogdaniec, Stasia Kapusta, Lala Bortkiewicz with Fr. Józef Gołąb.

The bridge in Fossbridge:- Janina Jeniec, Marysia Grzybowska, Klara Grycewicz Marysia Bogdaniec, Stasia Jamroży with teacher Mr. Szydzik.

 

The school was surrounded by a high stone wall with two entrance gates from the road. On the other side of the wall grew huge leafy beeches providing pleasant shade from the hot sun. To the left was a tennis court which also served for gymnastic displays. The pupils, depending on their age and knowledge, were soon allocated to their schools. The girls from Keevil were mainly in the Secondary Modern School, they were: Weronika Czerniecka, Wanda Czerniecka, Maria Bogdaniec, Janina Jeniec, Bronisława Stefko, Ludwika Świderska, Felicja Przyboś, in the Grammar School were: Krystyna Lipińska, Krystyna Dębek, Danuta Kalinowska. The Secondary Modern School offered two broad subjects groups, Commercial or Domestic studies and we were able to choose which to follow. I chose commercial subjects and joined class 3H (Handlówka).

 

CLASS 3H 1951

Fr. Józef Gołąb, Czesia Skrabacz, Halina Staniaszek, Janka Jeniec, Marysia Bogdaniec Klara Grycewicz, Staśia Kapusta, Halina Śliwińska Józia Hołuj, Janka Szlamka, Janka Radyk, Marysia Grzybowska.

Our dormitory was in a Nissen hut with lights high-up in the ceiling still covered by dense wire mesh, similarly two heating stoves were protected by metal mesh panels securely affixed to metal posts and bars. Eventually the mesh panels were removed from the lights and stoves. The strong posts sunk into the concrete floor remained. Our Nissen hut was partitioned into a dormitory for us girls and living quarters for our headmistress and her family Mrs H. Romiszowska. Entering the dormitory, on both sides of a short corridor were communal wash-rooms and bathroom, coal store and a large room for the dormitory teacher. Our dormitory mistress was Mrs. Zawalnicka, a motherly figure, kind but firm. We had an excellent professor an eldery lady Mrs. J. Kościołkowska and there were two priests, Fr. Borowicz and Fr. Józef Gołąb, both instructed us in religious subjects. Close by was our chapel.

 

The dormitories were furnished with iron beds, mattresses, pillows and blankets and by each bed was a cupboard/wardrobe for personal possessions. There were also two large tables and chairs for communal use. The bed linen was changed every two weeks and we had to pick it up from a central store. We polished the black floor until it glistened. We did our own washing and ironing.

 

No drip dry in those days! On fine days Klara and I would vigorously shake out our blankets hoping to remove all the dust and what we morbidly imagined to be the smell of dead bodies. It was impossible.

The classes were held in pre-fab huts; the recreation rooms, small library and theatre with a stage, were in Nissen huts. Close by were kitchen and dining rooms for both schools. In the spring I enjoyed, through the window of my class, fantastic views of copses and green meadows which a profusion of dandelions turned into a yellow carpet. There was also Stowell Manor which belonged to Lord Vesty. In the spring some of us would climb over the barbed wire and explore the woods and gasp at the beauty of bluebells. It was magic!

 

Soon we made friends with girls from other hostels. In our dormitory was Klara Grycewicz with whom I became firm friends, other girls were; Stasia Jamroży, Czesia Skrabacz, Stasia Kapusta, Janka Jeniec, Małgosia Latanowska, Józia Hołuj, Janka Radyk, Janka Szlamka, Marysia Grzybowska, Stasia Maćków, Stasia Otawiec Halina Staniaszek and Krysia Biegus, who had a good soprano voice,  Krysia and I also became friends.

 

SOME OF MY FRIENDS.

Klara Grycewicz amd Marysia Bogdaniec.

 Marysia Bogdaniec and Krysia Biegus.

Krysia Biegus.

Janka Fijałkowska Stasia Madrys- Frania Pakuła

 

Marysia Bogdaniec, Janka Matulis, Lala Bortkiewicz and friends in front of their dormitories.

Class 3H - 1951 Felka Jełł, Stasia Maćków, Janka Matulis, Klara Grycewicz, Stasia Kapusta, Ala Cabut, Janka Radyk, Madzia Latanowska, Marysia Bogdaniec, Danusia Wysocka, Stasia Jamroży Wiesia Rytwińska, Halina Batory.

 

Although we were in a commercial class, once a week we attended cooking lessons with Mrs. Urbańska. I must admit I was not good at it at all. Preparing the dough for biscuits we were instructed to throw the lump onto the table in order to expel the air. My dough somehow always landed on the floor! Every Wednesday was an English Day, which we observed only when teachers were passing by when we would say "Good morning" in English.

 

Trip to the Roman Villa

Beside occasional shopping trips to Northleach or if we were very lucky, to Cheltenham many educational trips were laid on by the school.

 
 

Girls who belonged to the English club run by Mrs. Gorgolewska on a  visit to Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire 

 

Janka Szlamka, Janka Jeniec, Marysia Bogdaniec, Madzia Latanowska, Klara Grycewicz, Czesia Skrabacz, Janka Radyk, Stasia Jamroży, Stasia Orawiec, and Józia Hołuj.

 
 

Below girls in their uniforms on a visit to the zoo.

Krysia Biegus and Marysia Bogdaniec with a baby elephant.

Trip to Bristol Zoo

 

Class 4G decided to celebrate their last 100 days (studniowka) at school by sneaking out of school and walking all the way to Cirencester. My friend, who was responsible for ringing the school bell, walked into my class, dumped the heavy bell and clock on my desk whispering not to ask questions nor tell anyone, just ring the bell as required and in a flash was gone. I had no idea what was afoot. When the matter came to light I was reprimanded for not disclosing their plans to teachers but I could not break my promise nor was I aware of their plans. As it happened, that day we had a visit by two British Inspectors from the Ministry of Education in London. Accompanied by our headmistress Mrs. Romiszowska they walked into our class, stayed a while and when the door was opened to class G4 they were confronted with a blackboard on which was written: "Studniowka! Hurray" and something else which I no longer remember. The whole class was punished after they returned. Tired, hungry and thirsty they were sent to bed without supper. We smuggled slices of bread under our blazers and passed them through the window to the hungry students. We heard that on the way back some cars stopped and gave them a lift, many girls were not so lucky.

 

Sport, physical exercise,  music and Polish culture played a major role in our school life.  The end of the academic year was an occasion for gymnastic displays, singing and national dancing to which parents and distinguished visitors were invited.

 
 

Photo in the middle is of Klara Grycewicz demonstrating her skills in archery.

 

 

People recognized us by our dark navy uniforms and berets. The initial intake of students were given  berets, leather shoes and appropriate lengths of beautiful woollen fabric from which our uniforms were made. In these uniforms I think we looked very smart. The years sped by. Everybody came to the farewell party. There was poetry, singing, promises to keep in touch after leaving school, ending the meeting by singing "Upływa szybko życie" (Life flows quickly by). Our cheeks were wet with tears but we didn’t care. We were friends, belonging to a "club", a family. This friendship lasts to this day, often evoking happy times in the Polish Boarding School for Girls in Stowell Park.

 

Class IV G on a trip to Bath

 

The girl's spiritual well being and religious devotion were carefully nurtured through active membership of religious organisations.

 
 
  Page 1 "I. Padarewski" Grammar School
  Page 2 Current "Królowej Jadwigi" Secondary Modern School
  Page 3  LIST of girls attending Stowell Park and Grendon Hall schools 1951 to follow
 

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