Toothpaste sandwiches; an octogenarian’s visit to Portsmouth High School

Toothpaste sandwiches; tales from an octogenarian’s visit to Portsmouth High School

trisha ferris visit cropped

Portsmouth High School warmly welcomed back alumna Mrs Trisha Ferris to share stories of her wartime school days at Hinton Ampner.

In 1939 Hinton Ampner near Alresford, Hampshire, became the war time home for Portsmouth High School for girls. Now a National Trust house, at the time it was owned by Ralph Dutton and became a boarding school during the war years.

‘I was at school in Portsmouth and one morning arrived at my school and it was a pile of rubble because it had been bombed,’ said Mrs Ferris.

‘My father persuaded the then Headmistress, Miss Thorne, to let me go to Portsmouth High School, based at Hinton Ampner, although I was the youngest boarder there aged just 6 years old.

‘I was incredibly homesick and my biggest fear that my parents would die whilst I was at school. I used to pray each night, “Please don’t let my parents die. Please wait until the holidays when we can all die together.”

‘Once I had got over the initial homesickness, and missing my 8 cats,’ continued Mrs Ferris, ‘they were very happy days at school. I enjoyed natural history so loved walking and running in the grounds. We had to go to bed at 6.00pm though and were punished for talking after lights out. Punishments included peeling all the potatoes for the next day or polishing shoes in the cellars. 

‘Our biggest treats were Horlicks tablets and cough sweets and we made toothpaste sandwiches for midnight feasts!

‘My advice to all of you is to go through every door. Live life to the full and have no regrets. Life is very short and you young women can do anything you set your minds to.’