In 1939 Hinton Ampner near Alresford, Hampshire, became the war time home for Portsmouth High School for girls. In July, 75 years on, the ladies returned to their former school, to unveil a plaque and see their stories recreated in an exhibition.
Now a National Trust house, at the time it was owned by Ralph Dutton and became a boarding school during the war years. The Portsmouth High School alumnae gathered around a recently planted tree and the present Head Girl, Ellie Webb, 17, and former student, Trisha Ferris, 80, unveiled a plaque with the school’s motto, ‘Knowledge is now no more a fountain sealed’.
‘It has been a wonderful occasion to gather today with former school friends,’ said Trisha Ferris. ‘When I was six years old I went to live at Hinton Ampner and was the youngest boarder. I was always afraid that my parents would be killed so although I have happy memories they were very anxious times.’
Portsmouth High School’s Head Girl, Ellie Webb added:
‘I am so pleased to be here today to represent Portsmouth High School. Talking to these ladies I realise that the core values of a Portsmouth High School girl have changed very little in the last 75 years. These ladies showed such courage and resilience and I hope that we can take away some of their qualities as we move on through our lives.’
Headmistress, Mrs Jane Prescott, was also at the unveiling ceremony and said:
‘It is an enormous honour to be with these ladies today and to share the links with Hinton Ampner. We very much hold the same values and ethos today as we did then; a school committed to academic excellent at the same time as encouraging girls to be independent and ambitious in a caring and friendly environment.’
The exhibition at Hinton Ampner, ‘Wartime in the Dorm’ opened this week and has recreated what the dormitories looked like, along with memorabilia of the time spent in the country house.