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Reunion of The Old Girls of The Central Foundation School in Spital Sq

July 7, 2013
by the gentle author

Click to enlarge

When Beryl Happe of the Old Girls of the Central Foundation School (which was in Spital Sq from 1892 until 1975) contacted me to write about them, I asked if I could come to one of their gatherings. When Beryl explained that the Old Girls existed only as a group on the internet, I suggested we collaborate to stage a reunion.

Thus it was that Beryl and I went along to Spital Sq to speak with the management of the Galvin Restaurant, which now occupies the building that was once the school assembly hall, and we organised a joyous reunion of more than seventy Old Girls which took place recently – where Spitalfields Life Contributing Photographer Patricia Niven took the portraits published here today.

Senior guest of honour was Zena Yorke who had been a pupil in the thirties and returned as a teacher of Domestic Science in the post-war era. “What is it like returning to your old school after all these years?” I ventured tentatively. “Whenever I’ve got a lot of money I come here for lunch,” she declared, gazing around the swanky restaurant with bright-eyed enthusiasm, “The food is excellent.”

I could not resist savouring a certain irony in the occasion, discovering that the school cultivated an Eliza Doolittle tendency in its pupils, teaching deportment, elocution and which fork to use for fish. A prophecy was being fulfilled before my eyes as these pupils, once from modest backgrounds, were now shown to be supremely comfortable in such elevated surroundings – especially as they all appeared to have done rather well in life, thanks to the classy education they received at the Central Foundation School.

“Do you remember Jesse Cash?” enquired Zena of the assembled throng, “She did very well, she sang the Queen of the Night at the Royal Opera House. They wouldn’t give her a grant to train as a singer, only as a teacher of singing. But now she has retired and teaches singing.”

Zena nodded to herself in private acknowledgement at the poetry of life. She and a few other Old Girls still live in the East End, but for most it was an emotional return. As the top grammar school for girls in the territory, Central Foundation School encouraged class mobility and very few of the Old Girls would consider themselves East Enders anymore.

There was plenty of laughter and a few tears too. One Old Girl told me how they were permitted to choose the hymns they sang on their last day at school, half a century ago in that very room, yet they were unable to sing because they cried so much – and, subsequently, she and her friends all had the same hymns at their weddings.

There were differing opinions on whether the school encouraged enough ambition or imposed limitations upon girls’ expectations, though Mrs Dunford, the progressive head mistress, was remembered fondly by everyone. In particular, her introduction of sex education was applauded, as was her court appearance defending the “little red book’ that was used to teach the ‘facts of life’ to girls.

The guest speaker was Fiona Skrine, one of those brave individuals who locked themselves into the hall to stop its demolition in 1981, speaking with eloquent passion and startling everyone with the tale of how Dan Cruickshank fought to stop  a workman who wanted to strip the architectural features for salvage.

In sum, there was a collective sense of euphoria engendered by the discovery that something which had been lost could so elegantly be restored to life, simply by gathering the Old Girls in the former school hall for a fancy tea party – and it was generally agreed that an annual reunion had been inaugurated.

Central Foundation School for Girls, Spital Sq

Zena Yorke, pupil in the thirties and Domestic Science teacher in the post-war era – “Whenever I’ve got a lot of money, I come here for lunch! It was a brilliant school and many of us were East End girls who came from poverty. I was born in the East End, but people say to me, ‘You don’t talk like a cockney.’ I say, ‘I’ve been educated to speak correctly, not everyone in E1 is ignorant!’ I’ve always lived in the East End, it’s such a friendly place to be.”

Beryl Happe – inspired organiser of the reunion.

Beverley Marling (1968-74) – “I’m from Stepney and I had a very good education here, learning loads of languages, French, Spanish, German, Russian, and sciences, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. We were taught that whatever you wanted to do it was possible. If you had ideas, Mrs Dunford was always interested, I’ve swapped careers several times, I worked for the Bank Of England for a while, I had my children and I ran a pub, and now I’m managing Chelmsford City Football Club.”

Beverly as a pupil

Sheila Norman (1948-56) – “We were all East End girls from deprived backgrounds and this school was the making of us. They had a box of knives and taught us how to eat properly if we were taken out. I’m in the school livery, we used to wear all green – even our knickers!”

Barbara Marling (1965-72) – “Miss Idison had a go at me for not being good at Maths, but then I went to the London College of Fashion and worked in the rag trade for thirteen years.”

Mary Hanbidge, Head Mistress, 1898 – 1929

Barbara Jezewska (1965- 72) – “I was very happy here.”

Barbara as a pupil

Valerie Noble (1967-74) – “I grew up in Shoreditch and people said it was deprived but I never felt deprived. There were no black girls at the school when I arrived. When I came for my interview, my mother showed me the roll of honour with names of pupils on it and said, ‘If you work hard you can go to university and get your name on this board.’ And I went to the school and I did get my name on that board. Years later, I showed my daughter and, last week, she got her own degree. I’ve been a teacher for thirty years and a head for six.”

Lisa Jarvis (1962-68) – “I found it difficult coming from a poor East End background, though it was a fantastic school and I still have some of the knowledge I acquired here – Miss Yorke taught me to cook, and I passed it onto my son and now he does all the cooking! But it was the sixties and we all wanted to be out enjoying ourselves.”

Pinning the corsage on the Lady Mayoress.

Carol Green (1965-72) – “We were all poor East End girls who managed to pass our Eleven Plus exam. We all came here and did well. We all got in to University. My seven years here were the best years of my life,  just saying it makes me cry! It was the camaraderie of the girls, we became friends for life and still see each other regularly nearly fifty years later.”

Josette Hill (1968-73) – “Looking back, it was a lot of fun – but I didn’t think so at the time.”

Textbook used from 1913 to 1962

Josephine Collins (1968-73) – “We were considered special, but there was a limit to what was expected of us – either a nurse, or a teacher or secretary to an important man in the City.”

Josephine as a pupil

Francs Robertson (1951-57) – “I wasn’t the best student but I loved being a City of London girl, and it gave me a sense of purpose. We always used to clap for anyone who achieved something good, when girls got into teacher training, or nursing, or Oxford & Cambridge.”

Miss Roberts says goodbye.

Susan Goldman (1968-73) – “I’m from Roman Rd. It was a really good school and I got a career at Lloyds, before I married and had four daughters.”

Susan as a pupil

Susan Brencher – “We used to go out at lunchtime down the market and visit Bert’s Photography Studio in Wentworth St, when we probably shouldn’t have. We were supposed to be nice girls. At school dances, we were told not to sit on the boys’ laps but we weren’t interested in those spotty kids. I lived near the ‘Ready Steady Go’ studio and afterwards we’d wait for the stars like Freddie & the Dreamers to come out.”

Susan as a pupil

“We were all boy mad. One of our friends got pregnant and married the school coach driver”

“All the porters used to whistle as we walked through the market.”

Sheree Ashley (1969-75) – “I grew up in Whitechapel and it was quite a prestigious thing being here. It was a bit too academic for me, I spent all my time in the Art Room. I wanted to do Art but Mrs Dunsford said, ‘Not as a career?’ I tried to give up Chemistry to do Art but Mrs Dunsford said, ‘As an artist, you’ll need Chemistry to mix pigments.’ I went to Chelsea School of Art and I became a textile designer, and my parents were very supportive, but Chemistry never figured.”

Netta Bloomfield (1948-53) – “I worked hard and liked school. I used to come on the bus with my friend Sheila. I remember, when it arrived, people going to work used to elbow us schoolgirls out of the way.”

Rosemary Hoffman (1956-62) – “Subsequently, I’ve become a food technologist.”

Rosemary as a pupil, stands central in this photograph

Verinda Osborne (1965-72) -“Mrs Dunford was very progressive and she encouraged me to have confidence in myself.”

Form IIX, 1960 submitted by Jane Hart (née Silvester)

Portraits copyright © Patricia Niven

The Bishopsgate Institute is collecting a digital archive of memorabilia from Central Foundation School for Girls. If you have photographs, reports, magazines or any other material that the Institute can copy for the archive, please contact the Archivist

You my also like to read about

The Return of Parmiters School

The Ceremony of the Lilies & the Roses

Colin O’Brien Goes Back to School

96 Responses leave one →
  1. Vivian Archer permalink
    July 7, 2013

    Wonderful piece, made me feel very nostalgic.

  2. July 7, 2013

    Such great stories and beautiful portraits. Lovely reading. Thanks for posting.

  3. July 7, 2013

    What a wonderful day it was, and I have just re-lived it through your excellent blog.

    Next years gathering is already on the drawing board, Thank you Gentle Author.


  4. July 7, 2013

    Oh, this takes me back! Thanks, Gentle Author.

  5. Carol permalink
    July 7, 2013

    What beautiful women they have become! Their spirit shines from the photographs radiantly. And the memorabilia interleaving the portraits is both amusing and moving. A lovely post, Gentle Author. Thank you for celebrating women as they are.

  6. Annie permalink
    July 7, 2013

    This is a wonderful entry. As a teacher, it just reinforces my view that high expectations should be every child’s right – and every teacher’s basic aim. I wish I could write those old-fashioned reports too. Save me literally weeks….

  7. Susan Goldman permalink
    July 7, 2013

    Reading this almost makes me feel that our school still exists. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I’m very glad I was privileged enough to attend the Central Foundation school in Spital Square. They were happy years and I would do it all again if I could. Thank you gentle author for this lovely post. I can’t wait for next year and an even bigger reunion. Oh, and if any old girls are out there, you can find us on the Facebook group entitled Central Foundation Grammar for Girls.

  8. July 7, 2013

    she has impressed us due to their hard work. she has realy lagend for me and role model for all of the new generation.

  9. Lisa Sutherland (was Jarvis) permalink
    July 7, 2013

    Thank you for the article, I was at the reunion and it has brought back memories os a wonderful afternoon!

  10. Peter hill permalink
    July 7, 2013

    I went to a similar all boys grammar school in late 1950’s in west London. Looking at the report cards brought it all back .Thanks for great posts.(ex Londoner!). A shame that other children coming in later years never had similar opportunities.

  11. Jacky Glasgow permalink
    July 7, 2013

    This is lovely. Unfortunately I wasnt able to attend due to a hip operation but it looks as though everyone enjoyed themselves. A great nostalgic trip back. xxx

  12. July 7, 2013

    What a wonderful day, captured so beautifully in pictures and words. So looking forward to the

    next reunion.

    Thankyou Gentle Author and Patricia Niven

  13. Adele Schlazer Lester permalink
    July 7, 2013

    I live in New York now, but was traveling during the time of the reunion and missed being in London by one day. The Gentle Author’s article and pictures made me feel I was there though. Wonderful seeing photos of old (and new) friends. Hopefully Mrs Dunford will see this and know how much we all still think about her and for many of us how she influenced our lives.
    Spe Labore Fide.

  14. Heather Rohrer (nee McLaren) permalink
    July 7, 2013

    My Mum was an east-ender, but she sent me to Grammar School in Hampstead….
    I wish she’d sent me to The Central Foundation School instead. After reading
    all of your stories….I know I would have loved it there.

  15. Eileen Withrington permalink
    July 7, 2013

    Thank you Beryl and Susan for making such a wonderful reunion possible. Thanks especially to some dedicated strangers who ensured at least part of our school was saved from demolition and made it all possible. Thank you too Gentle Author for your enthusiasm and support for Spitalfields history and for our old School.

  16. July 7, 2013

    I had been following this reunion for some time per computer. I attended the school from 1958 until 1964 and Miss York was my domestic science teacher. It was lovely to see her again on the photos. I belong to the CFS site on FB . I wish I could have been there, but I have been living in Switzerland for the past 46 years and only return once a year to England in October to see my father. Thank you so much for the photos and words and the work involved, they meant so much to me being so far away. It brought a lot of memories back.

  17. Elaine Napier permalink
    July 7, 2013

    I used to work with a girl called Linda Green who lived near Victoria Park and I’m sure she was a former pupil. We worked at Queen Mary College and she married one of the lecturers. I think her name is Shaw now. Does anyone know her perhaps? I was Elaine Appleby when she knew me.

  18. Sandra Smith (nee Foster) permalink
    July 7, 2013

    Fantastic write up. Wish I had been able to make the day. Fond memories of my years at the school 1971-1977. Hope to be with you all next year.

  19. Jennie Langley Thomas permalink
    July 7, 2013

    I really enjoyed the article and the pictures. It was a great place to go to school and I enjoyed my time there from 1960-67. Miss Yorke never counted me as her most successful pupil, I never did finish that first year skirt. I certainly want to join the reunion next year.

  20. Cherub permalink
    July 8, 2013

    Wonderful to read about girls who were encouraged to aspire to greater things. And don’t they all look fantastic!

  21. Clare Stevens permalink
    July 8, 2013

    I’m a regular reader of the Spitalfields Life blog and also a music journalist. I’ve done a short singing course with Jessica Cash, the old girl of the Central Foundation school mentioned towards the beginning of this post. She was a very successful soprano but even better known as a teacher of some very famous younger singers, notably Emma Kirkby and Lesley Garrett. Here’s more about her:

  22. Fay Cattini permalink
    July 8, 2013

    Underneath the photo of Netta Bloomfield is a photo of a group of prefects. My sister in law, Edith Watson (nee Snellin) is in the front row, first on the left. I would love to have a copy of this photo please.

  23. July 9, 2013

    So much of this article reminds me of my own school days at Grey Coat Hospital, Westminster, in the late ’50’s and 60’s. Yes, we too had that odd mix of high expectations being placed on us, but then few real career options being discussed. University – teaching, maybe doctor or dentist. Or Teacher Training College – teaching. As a last resort, nursing. No further of higher education? Not an option! But I loved my schooldays. I caught the tail end of the generation of teachers who had remained unmarried, and devoted their lives to teaching. By the time I finished school, this generation had largely retired.

  24. Shirley Fullarton permalink
    July 11, 2013

    My husband and I are about to emigrate to New Zealand, we have our visas. This re-union,the article and photos will give me many very happy memories of my days at CFS and the wonderful cameraderie of old those old girls at the re-union to take with me, as I guess I may not make another event of this kind. I was close to Miss Roberts, writing to her until her death, I still have all those wonderful letters. Her close companion Miss Stapleton inspired me to become a geography teacher, a career I adored. Many thanks to all those involved in making this possible.

  25. Dixie Lee permalink
    July 11, 2013

    I attended a Girls’ Grammar School in the USA; the comments on these report cards were the same as on ours; “talks too much” “has ability if she chooses to use it.” Amazing! Thanks.

  26. Rosemary Hoffman permalink
    July 14, 2013

    how nice itwsa yesterday to have tea in what ws ouir school hall in Spital Sq sitting in the area where all the gym equipment was held . Not quite lost in Spitalfields but was astonishd by all the changes

  27. July 15, 2013

    Reading the post made me cry as I remembered the good old days. It was great to see Miss York. and like every one else, she also taught me Home economics. at times she put the fear of God into me. I remember running out of time and hiding the washing up in the cupboard, but of course she found it.
    I only wish I had known about the reunion as I would love to have been there. Maybe next time

  28. July 19, 2013

    Sheree Ashley
    could you tell me are you janine Ashley’s sister i was very good friends with Janine and would love to know how she is .

  29. August 5, 2013

    So glad to see Miss York still thriving. I was particularly poor at needlework at school and my mother finished everything I started! I fondly remember my gingham work apron with the furry rabbits on the front! However, I would like Miss York to know that something must have stuck as I now run a business which includes my making handstitched, accurate replicas of period costumes which are on display in museums throughout Britain and abroad. This includes several accurate copies of Nelson’s uniform for the HMS Victory and in the USA. I think I must have been a late developer!!!!!!!!

  30. August 11, 2013

    Found this site today and disappointed not to have known about the reunion. Can I be kept posted of any future dates please (1953-1959)?

  31. August 17, 2013

    I was thrilled to read of your reunion, having been up to Spital Square myself (and, yes – had a meal in the restaurant!)for the first time last Autumn ‘on the trail’ of my great aunt, Mary Hanbidge, and the school she was Head Mistress of for thirty years. My research into her life, and your school, has been fascinating and everything I have read here suggests a sort of magic about the place. My very best wishes to you. And thank you for the photo of my aunt on your page here!

  32. Jocille Read (nee Jacobs) permalink
    August 22, 2013

    I attended Central Foundation School for Girls from 1953 to 1956, leaving at fifteen when Miss Roberts was headmistress and Mrs. Dunford English teacher. I lived in East London, and my ambition was to be a hairdresser. What a waste of a privileged education. I did go on to get at B.A. in Cultural and Historical studies at Brighton University, but not until I was sixty! I still live in Brighton, where I ran a pub until retirement, six years ago, when my daughter, Lara, picked up the reins.

    I have eaten in the restaurant on the old school site.

    Please let me know of the next reunion. Anyone out there recognise my name?

  33. Anne Chauveau permalink
    October 11, 2013

    I enjoyed the tea we had at school!

    I understand the Book from A gentle writer has been published ! There is a date of Friday evening 18th October, BUT I don’t have the the details!

    I have not been well, so I have not caught up recently.

    Please can you send me the details for the coming evening?

    Sincerely, Anne Chauveau

  34. Julie Wassmer permalink
    November 18, 2013

    Superb photos Patricia! I absolutely loved the lighting you chose. Also I was very interested to read of this reunion and see photos of Miss Yorke as I, too, was at Central Foundation too from 64 – 69. Very formative years so memories have stayed with me, not all good, though certainly Miss Y’s recipes were – and tips on how to save gas and elec etc. I was a bit of a rebel and went off to do my A levels elsewhere (a college of further education in Whitechapel) then uni and Surrey and became a Television Drama writer. I wrote for Eastenders for 20 years and wrote an autobiography in 2010 which mentioned Central Foundation. I now write crime fiction. I love this site. Well done for all. Julie Wassmer x

  35. Jan Stevens permalink
    December 23, 2013

    My sister attended from Sept. 65 until (I believe) July 72.

  36. Lauraine Baker (nee Haswell) permalink
    January 1, 2014

    I attended CFS from 1957-1962, I began in 1a with Miss Hardy as form mistress, I remember Miss York very well, making a blouse was not as successful as I hoped, but I did go on to become a tailoress, Miss York would have been very proud of my future skills. My sister Sharon Haswell followed me to Central Foundation in 1965 and became school captain eventually. 1a was followed by 2y – Miss Ransome, 3y – I think Miss Ford 4y – Mrs King & 5y Miss Colmar.
    I am also in contact with Pamela Swift.
    Miss Roberts retired half way through my time there, when to our surprise Mrs Dunford became headmistress.
    Thank you for the site, brings back great memories.

  37. Pamela Swift permalink
    January 1, 2014

    I have just been given the information about this site. I have often wondered if thre were any reunions and I am delighted to see the photgraphs of the above. I was at CFS from 1954-1961. I would like to be informed of any future reunions.

  38. Deanna Fine (née Martin) permalink
    January 1, 2014

    I would like to know how I can sign up for the reunion on May 10, 14

  39. Maxine Stutz (née Guzzan) permalink
    January 4, 2014

    I went to this school from 1966 until 1970. I can remember the headmistress at the time, Ms Elaine Dunford, who was a lovely person, and who I admired very much.
    I now live in Switzerland, and would love to have a reunion with the girls who attended the school during this time, or at least to communicate with them and hear all their news.

  40. April 3, 2014

    Is there any more news about a re-union on 10th May 2014?

  41. Deanna Fine (née Martin) permalink
    April 16, 2014

    Lesley – you can put your name down on the reserve list. Go to FB page Central Foundation (Spital Square) 1945-1975. To see all the Tea posts you have to ask to join the group. Good Luck. Several reserve people are now on the main list as people have dropped out.

  42. Susan McLean (nee Mills) permalink
    April 18, 2014

    I was a pupil from 1956 to 1962. I have only just discovered this website and was delighted to see a couple of names I recognised
    I would love to hear about any reunions. I have turned my back on face book which is possibly why I have only just found you all

  43. Frances Vig Nee Gould permalink
    April 19, 2014

    It was so interesting to find this site. I was at CFGS from Ist form until I left the upper 6th to go to college. I would dearly love to attend the reunion but I will still be teaching and I live in Chicago, Illinois. The last time I was in England I went to the old site and memories came flooding back!

  44. Patricia Shephard (nee Cleaver) permalink
    April 22, 2014

    How can I find more information re reunion on 10th May 2014

  45. Carol Graham (née Foy) permalink
    April 24, 2014

    1956 – 60

    I do remember Miss York and Mrs Dunford (she was our English teacher) and Miss Roberts (Head). I recognise Lesley Finegold, she was in my class. I too would be interested to hear about 10th May reunion as I have not attended any on previous occasions.

    Many happy days and standards were set that have stayed with me through my personal and working life.

  46. J Williams permalink
    April 29, 2014

    Is there another site with details re CFGS reunions, specifically for 2014? I am not on Facebook.

  47. May 1, 2014

    Just saw an entry from Susan Mclean nee Mills. Hi Susan do please get in touch as we last met when you left school to become a Model! I’ve made contact with Ann and Belle Greave. My email is

    I don’t have a presence on Face Book and it sounds like the re-union on 10th May is a somewhat exclusive affair for which one must apply!

  48. Katharine Konaris (nee Photiou) permalink
    May 1, 2014

    Have just come across this article and am almost in tears. I was at CFGS in 61-68. I have lived in Cyprus for the past 30 years where I work as a Government Forensic Scientist. I am in London, often as my eldest daughter is a gynaecologist at an East End hospital and I have actually visited the old market with nostalgia. I did not realize that the school had reunions and this article has brought many memories with long forgotten names extracted from my memory banks – Mrs Dunford who represented the epitome of Paris fashion to us lanky schoolgirls, Miss Yorke struggling to ensure we finished our cooking AND CLEANING UP by the end the lesson and many others.
    I lost track of all the CFGS friends when I left school and have often wished I could find them again. Seeing Lisa Jarvis’s picture after 35 years will hopefully herald the beginning of my personal reunion. Unfortunately it is too late for me to be with you in May but I wish you a successful reunion and hope to make it to one in the near future. Katharine

  49. Susan Goldman permalink
    May 3, 2014

    Ladies, if you are on Facebook you can find our group which is now called Central Foundation (Spital Square) 1945-1975.

  50. Jarvine Scillitoe permalink
    May 18, 2014

    What wonderful memories this website has evoked and the inspiration of Mrs Dunsford….
    I look forward to coming to a reunion in the future.
    1960 – 1966

  51. Sheila Quinn (nee Potter) 1956-1962 permalink
    May 24, 2014

    I came across this website while looking for something else and what a happy error! So pleased to see that Miss Yorke is this alive – my needlework was hopeless but I’m quite a quite a good cook! I actually had lunch in Galvin La Chapelle on Saturday, 3rd May this year – delicious! About 2 years ago my husband and I met Irene Taylor and Cheryl Phillappo, together with their husbands, there for lunch.

  52. JUNE TUERENA permalink
    May 25, 2014

    its taken me till im sixty to contact you all only to find i have missed may 1oth 2014 reunion would love to hear from anyone who was at the school 1965 1971

  53. Barbara permalink
    June 15, 2014

    Wow ! Have just seen your post, June Tuerena ! I remember you very well and so do many of the other girls who were in our class. You gave us so many laughs with your antics and although you didn’t make the reunion , you were certainly spoken about with great affection . Remember locking Miss Wake in the classroom ? I am still in touch with Verinda Osbourne , Stephanie Morris and Barbara Marling. Would love to hear what you have been doing since 1971 . I believe there is to be another reunion next year ( but probably different venue ) but if you would like to get in touch before then, if you e.mail the Gentle Author at Spitalfields Life (see above) , he should be able to pass on my e.mail address. Barbara Jezewska

  54. Audrey Gordon nee Scott permalink
    June 25, 2014

    How wonderful to find this site. I attended Central Foundation School from 1952 – 1957. Looking through the photographs I found Frances Robinson who I was at school with we were in the same class, I still have the school photographs. I would love to hear from Frances. I still have my General Note Book with just one telephone number in it – Frances was the only girl who’s family had a phone! Happy, happy memories. Please let me know the date of the next reunion I would love to attend.

    Best wishes.

  55. Sylvia Thornton nee Murrill permalink
    June 25, 2014

    Hello all,
    I attended the school 1964 – 1969. I thought Mrs Dunford was awesome. I went on to be a librarian as I loved my reading. I cannot recognise any names from my past in the comments above, but would love to come to the next reunion
    Like one of your other contributors, I am not on facebook, and would rather not join so is there another way to find out dates etc. ?
    I cannot remember many of my teacher’s names but I do recall the very stern Miss Stapleton who ruined my perfect school life by giving me a Bad Conduct Mark on the last day of term when in my excitement I pretended to ring a fire bell on one of the upstairs corridors.
    Can you imagine a simple thing like a Bad Conduct Mark scaring the pupils of today ?
    We had a pupil called Grace Crack who threw a chair through an open window. I am not sure how long she lasted at our school but the entertainment was priceless if a bit racy for our very important grammar school.
    I also remember playing the role of a boy who skipped school to see a hanging in the Ward Plays which were held every 2 years I think.
    Also our new berets were always knobbald ( not sure if that is a word even ) by the second year pupils and it was a really difficult to hang on to that little bit in the middle of the hat.
    Happy Days.

  56. Margaret Graham (nee Washbourne) permalink
    July 13, 2014

    Had a meal in the restaurant that was the School Hall yesterday, and was completely overset with all the memories that flooded back. I was only at CFSG from 1958-1960, and then my parents moved, and I moved schools. The school made a huge impression on me, and I believe set my standards for education that stayed with me, helping me at university both as a student and later as a teacher at Uni of Essex. The uniform was a huge burden, gymslips and blouses with puff sleeves for us 1st/2nd years, green PE knickers, hats (with a conduct mark if you were caught without it outside school even if it blew off on the tube escalator!), dance tunics to be made by your mother, and the side vent to be measured by the PE mistress, and also those Deportment sashes to be earned. I never made it out of the gymslip and got to wear it another year in my new school which also had a green uniform. I have a clear memory of Miss Roberts, most intimidating lady when you are 11 years old. She would sail along the corridors in her academic gown, and to me was about 7 feet tall. She taught us English grammar, and this has been of use to me all my life. Mrs Hardy was one of our form mistresses, and taught Arithmetic, a very sweet kind lady. I also remember Miss Yorke, and benefited I’m sure from her classes, but got into trouble for forgetting my sewing 3 weeks running. Also there was Miss Glynn who taught English and took Jewish prayers. She read aloud to us, magical.
    There were 7 Margarets in my class and 6 Susans, so all of us were called by our surnames.
    I made it to University, and also achieved a PhD in History. Thankyou CFGS for 2 very important years.

  57. Lynne Jarrad nee Timms permalink
    August 3, 2014

    This is wonderful, I have often tried to find anything on the old school. Facebook can’t find Central Foundation Grammar for Girls for me – can anyone help please. I live in Australia but didn’t think that would make a difference. I was in the same class as Sylvia Thornton nee Murrill and it was so lovely reading her comment. I remember Grace as I remember all of our class and still keep in touch with a few. I always thought Grace was easily led and her friends got her into trouble mostly – she was a lovely person. So lovely reading about and seeing Miss Yorke .

  58. Jan Chappell (was Janice Forder) permalink
    September 26, 2014

    This article brought back so many memories of pupils and teachers, Mrs. Dunford really did encourage us to think for ourselves and was a very progressive head. I now work in Hackney and whenever I pass through Shoreditch I think of my time in school.

  59. Christine Gunthardt permalink
    November 26, 2014

    came across the CFGS reunion last year. I would love to know if there will be another and also if there is any way ‘to enrol’ for any information about the school. I was a pupil between 1958 and 1964.

    Thank you

  60. Sue C.larke nee Hunter permalink
    December 1, 2014

    i attended the school from 1960 -1967. A bulge year Essex girl I was given a place at CFGS. I had a wonderful time there and have so many fond memories. It was a whole new experience for me coming up from the ‘country’ but there was a wealth of true friendship and an education in which there were more opportunities than many of my local contemporaries received. There was so much exploring around London leaving me with a love of London. I remember Miss Yorke, not only for the needlework and domestic science but also for opening up the cookery room for a cooked breakfast when some of us who had made an early start to get plants to sell for charity.

    I went down memory lane when taking a trip to London to see the poppies and thus stumbled upon the website. I would appreciate being able to come to a reunion. I also have all my old school photos and some of pupils who went on the cruises on the Devonian and the Dunera. It would be a pleasure to share them.

  61. Pam Matthews (nee Wood) permalink
    January 14, 2015

    I went to CFS from 1964-1968. Same class as Sylvia Thornton (nee Murrill) and Lynne Jarrad (nee Timms) – still in touch with Lynne who let me know about this website and reunions etc. Would like to hear from anyone from that era – Class 1H, 2D, 3C, 4W (I believe the form teachers were Miss Hooper, Mrs Dunne, Mrs Cleere and Mrs Woolley). I left in 1968 aged 15 – unheard of….Mrs Dunford was appalled…..three of us left in the 4th year, myself, Hilary Harris and Susan Creamer. Now live in Bournemouth – have done for the past 15 years. Love it. Would love to attend the next reunion – not on Facebook but if there is any other way of finding out would like to hear.

  62. Patricia Nicholson nee Chapman permalink
    February 6, 2015

    I was not a local girl but was sent to the school from South London from 1957-1962. I do not remember a lot of Names from the School but do remember Morag McEwan. My first teacher was Miss Glynn who was a typical school teacher with a bun.She was an inspiration to me.

    I remember our uniform was in a dark green and had to be bought from Gamages store. We used to play netball at Bethnal Green and once or twice we met the boys from the CFS for boys.

    I have lived in Essex with my family for 42 years after leaving London.

    Sadly I lost contact with everyone I knew because of where I lived.

    I would be interested if anyone was in that class.

  63. February 17, 2015

    My granddaughter came across your article and I am surprised and delighted. I was a pupil at CFGS from 1948 until 1953. I remember Miss West, our Headmistress and Miss Roberts was my idol. I also remember Miss Stapleton, our form teacher who also taught geography, and Miss Lawson. I was so fortunate to have a wonderful education. I still have my school report.

  64. Janet Finch (nee Allen) permalink
    April 1, 2015

    I was thrilled to come across this website recently. I attended CFS from 1959-1965 and would love to hear news from anyone who was there during that time. Our first form teacher was Miss Walton and Miss Roberts was the Headmistress at that time until Mrs Dunford took over in 1960. Other teachers I remember are Miss Creed, Miss Powell, Miss Smith, Mrs Naish , Miss Leary, Miss Yorke and Mrs Ryder. I have great memories of my time there.

  65. Jarvine permalink
    May 26, 2015

    I attended the school and would love to come to the next reunion please would you keep I touch and let me know dates etc
    Jarvine Scillitoe

  66. Beverley Horne (was Turner) permalink
    July 12, 2015

    I would love to get in touch with June Tuerena who was in my class 1965-1979

  67. Larraine Capon (nee Carey ) permalink
    July 14, 2015

    Reading some of these messages brought back lovely memories. I attended CFS from 1962 to 1967 and owe a lot to our inspirational headmistress Elaine Dunford who I believe sadly has recently died. I would love to make contact with my best friends at school – Katherine Photiou, Lisa Jarvis, Egly Christofides and Sandra Wells who now lives in Australia.

  68. Beryl Reva Lux permalink
    July 18, 2015

    Today, following the sad news of my dear friend and mentor, Elaine Dunford,I have finally come across this website and can express my thoughts and memories of CFS.I was the archetypical pupil; the daughter of Russian immigrants in Whitechapel, I won a place in 1953 and was nurtured and encouraged to pursue my talent for languages. I left in 1960 , having been School Captain and studied modern languages , later teaching at Haberdasher Aske’s Girls’ School. The whole foundation for my career, which I loved, was the result of this amazing school or should I say teachers who gave us unlimited support, scholarly guidance and yes, total commitment. I have so many memories of so much………the playground being bombarded with vegetables from the porters outside, the school hall at Christmas time, Miss Poole playing the organ,the smell of the dining room and the quiet sanctuary of the library! So many good friends too! what about the school trips! I have wonderful memories of the Paris trip in 1956led by Miss Hardy, who arranged for me to meet my French relatives, those who had survived the Holocaust. I truly believe that many if not all the staff were unsung heroines and now with hind sight we can appreciate the contribution to our lives. Please contact me if you have any notion who I am! I am not on FB but maybe you know someone who has my number. Just one last word, we received the most precious gift of education from a truly unique group of women!

  69. Geraldine Jackson (nee Carver) permalink
    July 20, 2015

    I was at CFGS 1964-71 and thought it was a great school, but much of it due to having a fantastic Head Teacher in Elaine Dunford. I have just opened an email from Lynne Jarrad (nee Timms), who was also started in IH telling me that Mrs Dunford had sadly passed away. I do believe she was a special lady and would very much like to write a condolence letter to her family if anyone is able to provide me with an address, I would be very grateful. I always wanted to be a teacher and I can remember her encouraging me to apply to Teacher Training College. I always thought it might be nice to attend a School Reunion, but I am sorry I didn’t make more of an effort to find out when they were held. I was always proud of attending my school and felt we were given a very good start.

  70. Malka Lewis nee Schlanger permalink
    July 22, 2015

    1962 – 1969
    Nice to hear similar memories, some of which I shared. I remember the school flooding, but I think we were in the 6th form, so we were privy to the real cause. I remember Miss Holt having dyed her clothes – top to toe – purple, and then black as she didn’t like the purple. Or her story of hiring a plane to photograph medieval field systems that were still visible from the air for her PhD, however it had been cloudy that day, which thwarted her plans and the degree!!
    Likewise, not on facebook, but would love to hear from year members!

  71. July 24, 2015

    I have just returned from Elaine’s funeral in Hastings.
    She was a long term friend and colleague of my mum, Dorothy Cleere, who taught science at Central Foundation in the 60s and 70s. Elaine studied at UCL with my Dad, while Mum was at Imperial College. They were all great mates, and she was the nearest thing I had to an aunt (although she never allowed my brother, Christopher, and I to use that title!) She was always Elaine to us, an effervescent and charming family friend.
    In later life she moved to Rye where, by coincidence, Mum was also living. They resumed their friendship until Elaine’s illness prevented them from seeing each other. Mum has Parkinsons and is confined to her home overlooking Romney Marsh. She retains her sparkle and still has great memories of her pupils and friends from the Central Foundation days.

  72. MANDY ROSENCROWN permalink
    August 11, 2015

    I stumbled across this website by sheer accident! What a nice surprise. I remember Miss Yorke – I was in her Home Economics class! Nice to see a picture of Sheree Ashley who was in my class too! In fact my Mum, my sister and I all attended Central Foundation. I think my Mum was at the school around the same time as Miss Yorke – she was Annie Fletcher at the time. My sister Wendy was at the school around 1964-1969 and I joined in 1969 and left in 1975. I have a feeling Mrs. Cleere taught my class. I particularly enjoyed English due to an excellent teacher, Miss Hayes. My sister and I went on a private walk about a year ago and visited the school as it is now is – and the surrounding area…a slight change to say the least! Our ancestors would be shocked.

    I now live in Kent and work for a television company, but I still keep in contact with some other “girls” from my “era”. Wendy lives in New York but still keeps in touch with some great friends from her time there too.

    Mandy Rosencrown

  73. Susan Nichols permalink
    August 27, 2015

    I attended central foundation spital square until 1975 just before the school moved to bow.i have very fond memories of my time there and also remember some of the girls featured in this article. Miss Yorke ,mrs dunford ,Mrs Cleere, miss palfreman,mrs porter to name just a few teachers that inspired us all,they were all truly remarkable and we were all very lucky girls.its so lovely to see miss Yorke looking so well ,and the restaurant is amazing too! I grew up in ec1 and still live there today ,I work in bishopsgate and often pop round to spital square ,it reminds me of walking through the old market amongst the fruit and veg porters into the school gates .lovely memories and a lovely article .

    Susie Nichols

  74. David Horbury permalink
    October 1, 2015

    I wonder if any former pupil remembers and/or was taught by Emmanuel Cooper? He was the part time pottery teacher at the school between 1965-1970. He was the only male member of staff and he and Elaine Dunford were – and remained great friends.
    Emmanuel was at the beginning of his career when he taught at the school but he went on to become one of the world’s leading craftsmen. His ceramics are in many public collections, both here and overseas; he was the author of nearly 30 books, the founder of Ceramic Review magazine and visiting professor at the Royal College of Art. He was awarded an OBE in 2002. Emmanuel died in 2012.
    There are plans to publish a book – based on Emmanuel’s memoirs and including a short account of his time at the Central Foundation School – in 2016.

  75. Hana Kovler nee Sholaim permalink
    December 18, 2015

    Just came across this website. If anyone remembers me I would really like to hear from you.

  76. January 13, 2016

    Susan McLean nee Mills. If you pick up on this email do get in touch! I am in contact with Ann and Belle Greave. Hopefully you can pick up via my website
    I don’t think email addresses are printed.

    Lesley Edwards (Nee Finegold)

  77. Lynda Pace Avery permalink
    January 24, 2016

    I have only just found this website. It is such a shame missed Elaine Dunford’s memorial service. I would certainly make an effort to attend a reunion if another one was arranged. I am so grateful for the excellent education I/we received at CFSG. Wasbtaught pottery by Emmanuel Cooper; Film Studies by Elaine Djnford when she was head mistress, not to mention the modern languages German, Spanish and Russian. The majority of our teachers were truly inspirational Mrs Porter, Miss Hayes, Mrs Slatter and the incomparable Miss Palfreyman whose lessons stayed with me into adulthood. Her lesson on Knossos was one of the reasons I first went to Crete and fell in love with the island the people and it’s culture. It is also the reason I went to Sheffield University as a mature student and gained a degree in Economic & Social History.

  78. Barbara permalink
    March 12, 2016

    Hi , Hana ! Would love to get in touch but don’t have your contact details . I regularly see Barbara Marling , Verinda Osbourne , Stephanie Morris and quite recently met Irene Leighton and Yvonne Arnold at the Memorial service for Mrs Dunford . Beverly Turner and Tricia Townsend were also at the reunion. If you still have Verinda’s details , do get in touch as it would be lovely to see you . Barbara x

  79. Barbara permalink
    March 12, 2016

    Hi , David Horbury . Yes , I remember Emmanuel Cooper as I was often in the art room . I remember Linda Ryle and Mrs Randall who were art teachers at about the same time . I am sure that Mr Cooper taught us on a few occasions , I certainly remember slamming clay onto a work bench to remove air bubbles ! How lucky we were to have such an artist in our midst , look forward to seeing the new book . Kind Regards .

  80. Barbara Dickens permalink
    June 2, 2016

    I was at CFGS from 1961 until 1968 and would like to hear about the next reunion. I often go to Galvin La Chapelle and think of times in the gym!!

  81. Alison Cornell nee Collins permalink
    July 27, 2016

    Researching family history, I came across this site by accident – and what a lucky accident. I was a pupil at CFG S from 64-71 and the website brought back such wonderful memories. Miss Yorke ! She was absolutely correct when she told my mother that I would never supply Marks and Spencers but that was no reflection on her teaching – just my ability. Names and memories came flooding back – Lucille Bobravitch, Sandra Miller, Phillipa Baruch, the skiing trip to Switzerland (1966 ish) , elocution lessons, deknobbling of berets, Miss Glynn ( an outstanding and inspirational English teacher) Miss Creed, Miss Palfreman. I was so sad to learn of the death of Mrs Dunford. She was a superb role model who is responsible in no small way for the many happy years I have had as a Headteacher. I would love to hear from anyone who shares my memories.

  82. Anne Mudd permalink
    November 30, 2016

    It has been a joy to come across this website quite by accident. I attended CFS from 1958-1964 and have many happy memories. I have the same class photograph from 1960 as the one published above! I am extremely sad to hear of the death of Mrs. Dunford who was an inspiration to me and many others. I consider myself to have been very fortunate indeed to have received such a brilliant education and wish it was possible to thank the dedicated women who taught me so much.

  83. Sandy Hite permalink
    October 4, 2017

    I too have happened upon this website by accident and recognise some names. I was at C.F.S. from 1964-71 and shared 1G, 2B etc with Julie Wassmer and Alison Collins. Yes I do remember the skiing trip to Switzerland… particular, cigarettes for breakfast and Pat Lennon sadly breaking her leg. Julie, I had noticed your name on t v credits but hadn’t realised there were books too. Have just read your remarkable autobiography……
    Memories of Zena …. having a double lesson cancelled and being sent into town for afternoon tea, Zena’s treat, because she had a small win on ERNIE. And her Spooner isms!
    I moved to Sussex after CFS to complete a teacher training course ( Physical Science and Maths) and have lived and taught here ever since. News re the next reunion would be welcome. Sandy Hite (Sandra Miller)

  84. November 22, 2017

    I was at CFS from 1960-1965 and I lived in the West End, commuting across London. I’ve been living in New York since the mid 1970s and have carved out an extraordinary life built on the strong foundation of the good secondary education I acquired, however I can’t say I enjoyed it! I highly recommend former classmates join the Facebook group where news, announcements of get togethers, and reminiscences abound: Central Foundation (Spital Square) 1945-1975.

  85. Jarvine Scillitoe permalink
    February 2, 2018

    Hi Ruth
    I gather you got in touch with my previous employers, Barnardos, Ireland. I had already taken leave to go to Cornwall to care for elderly relatives. I am in Penzance, West Cornwall and would love any kind of reunion and get together.
    I will seek out the Facebook link but prefer email.
    Became interested in this site again when I just discovered that there is a hidden synagogue in Penzance which has gone into decay and then heard that Jewish children were evacuated to nearby Mousehole during the War from the Jewish free school in the East End of London and I was seeing if that school linked with ours.
    I do hope to hear from you all
    Best Wishes Jarvine.

  86. Melanie Whitehand. Was Williams permalink
    February 7, 2018

    Would love to be part of the old girls network …attended 1962-1966….

  87. Marcia permalink
    February 24, 2018

    Accidentally came across this site and loved reading all of the ex pupils stories and comments. I was a pupil in the 1970s. Mrs Dunsford was the headmistress. Miss Yorke taught us Home Economics as one lady from the reunion referred to her. I still remember some of the recipes now! It was considered a good school. Definitely impressed people that you went to Central Foundation Girls Grammer School.

  88. Patricia Green (nee Foot) permalink
    July 4, 2018

    I went to College with Maxine Guzzan (now Stutz). Her post here says she now lives in Switzerland and I was thinking of her and found she had posted on this site. It’s a long time ago but wonder if you could pass this on. If you read it Maxine please get in touch.

  89. July 28, 2018

    I am trying to track down my best friend Joan Smith who attended Central Foundation Girls School from 1955 – 1960. CAN ANYONE HELP PLEASE. Ann London new Sweet

  90. Eve Shaposnick permalink
    April 12, 2019

    I went to Spital fields High School with Audrey Goldberg and Doreen Myers. in 1949- 1953 . Miss West was our Headmistress. Is there anyone else that remembers. who went in that period?

  91. Susan Goldman permalink
    September 11, 2019

    The Facebook Group for Central Foundation School for Girls has changed its name to Central Foundation (Spital Square) 1945-1975. We now have 500 members. Please feel free to Come and join us if you use Facebook.
    Have enjoyed reading about the reunion again. It was such a lovely day. Thank you Gentle Author for writing about us.

  92. Dinah Sopher permalink
    October 25, 2019

    I have just seen this site, and found it wonderfully nostalgic, as an old girl of the school in the Spitalfields site 50’s to 60’s, when Miss Roberts and the Elaine Dunford were the headmistrisses.
    I still have some of the school year books, and the old form photos taken in the playground during this period. I would be glad to upload some of these to this site, if that is possible (a friend will have to help me with this). I still remember some of the girls’ and teachers’ names. I lived at the time in Mile End, and remember my journey home from Liverpool station.
    A big hello to anyone who was a pupil around the same time.

  93. Stephen Gardner permalink
    November 7, 2022

    I was Born in 1952 and lived in the House that abutted to the Right Hand Side of the Girls School, which was then 35 Spital Square. Until we moved out in 1964.
    I Remember my Mother talking to the Girls through our Window which was on the Ground Floor Level to The Playground.
    Some of the Older Girls May Remember Her (Peggy) as This Was a Regular Occurrence with some of the Girls.
    My 2 Sisters and Myself would also talk to the Girls who were older than us then and occasionally we would be given a couple of sweets or a Chocolate from some of them.
    One occasion I Remember was when the Girls refused to go back into Class and stood out in the Playground Singing, some of the Girls from that time would probably remember that happening for what ever reason they had for doing it.
    Well the School has now been Knocked Down as was the House, but the old Hall is still Standing and I think is now a Restaurant, and has inherited the Number 35, but that will always be remembered as our House Number,
    Good Days now Long Since Gone, as well as the Architecture and History With It

  94. Brian Amey permalink
    March 28, 2023

    Please forward to Jarvine Scillitoe.

    Hi Jarvine, hope you are well. I often have occasion to drive past your former home which still looks good and invokes enjoyable memories from our youth. However, I know you will be surprised to hear from me after all these years. I was chatting with Thelma this afternoon and she asked if I would search out your address on the internet. This is the best I can do pending further searches. If you would please reply to my email address above I will give you her contact details.

    Would be good to sometime organise a reunion of our old friends perhaps?

    Best wishes,


  95. Brian Amey permalink
    March 29, 2023

    Re my above message, for the avoidance of doubt, please pass my email address to Jarvine Scillitoe if not already done. Thanks in anticipation, Brian Amey.

  96. Maxine Stutz permalink
    June 25, 2023

    Hi Patricia sorry it has taken so long to reply. Would of course love to hear from you. I intend losging on on Facebook next week some time. Hope to hear from you then.

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