The Boys of Saint Hildas

A Forgotten Chapter in the Tale of a Well Known Local School

A teacher fixing a pupil's gas mask
A surviving example of a Rodex coat made by W.O. Peake Ltd, St Albans

The story of St Hilda’s School is well told in is own website. What is less remembered is that around the beginning of World War 2 the School took boys as well as girls in the Kindergarten. There were two headmistresses, Miss Hallett who was very tall, and Miss Hansen who was very short. Then there was our beloved Miss Tangye. She taught us to read, to do copybook handwriting, and to know our bible stories, and the tale of Amphibolus and Saint Alban, for whom the River Ver dried up.

She also taught us to put on our gas masks, and you might be sent home if you had left yours behind. There were regular air raid practices as well.

Prominent boy alumni included John Timbers, later to be a successful fashion photographer in partnership with Anthony Armstrong Jones (Lord Snowdon) and a guest at his wedding to HRH Princess Margaret.

There was also Robert Peake, later a mayor of Dacorum (Hemel Hempstead). The Peakes of Harpenden (no connection with the Redbourn Peakes) were a notable Harpenden family in the 1930’s and 1940’s living in Salisbury Avenue. The father (W.O. Peake) was the founder of a large business in Hatfield Road St Albans manufacturing ‘Rodex’ high quality ladies’ coats.┬áThe son (Gilbert) and father of Robert and his sisters Elizabeth and Jennifer, lived nearby in the Avenue. The Peakes were substantial benefactors to Harpenden Memorial Hospital (The Red House) in the days before the NHS.

Comments about this page

  • There were also boys in earlier days as my father Edward Wolfe was pupil there around 1911 before he went away to prep school.

    By George Wolfe (04/05/2015)

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