Memories from the 'first girl at Cranbrook in 1944!'
These facts were taken from the census of 1901. "Harold Pearson Tait, d.o.b. 1884 Tenterden. Boarder at the School House, Cranbrook, Kent where the school was run by 42 yr old Rev. Charles Forbes Muller, (a British subject born in Germany) with the help of five assistant masters."
Harold Tait was my uncle. My father, Ernest Sutton Tait, d.o.b. 1889 Tenterden, was also a boarder later on. He used to tell us stories about those days, in particular his dislike of the rice pudding they were given to eat. The story went that he would somehow remove it from his plate and later dispose of it by throwing it onto the roof of the squash courts- at least that was his version! He never ate rice pudding for the rest of his life. He died in 1977 at the age of 88.
Father remained an Old Boy of the school all his life. During the 2nd world war he was friends with Mr. Scott, who I believe, was the headmaster at the time. In 1943 I was at home in Tenterden, having been evacuated in 1940 with Ashford School to Countess Wear, Exeter. I had to sit for a pre-medical exam in chemistry, physics and biology (equivqlent to todays A levels) for entrance to Kings College Hospital Dental School. Ashford School had no laboratories to enable science teaching in their temporary home.
Back in Tenterden I did a certain amount of theoretical study through a correspondence course but needed labs for the practical so Father persuaded Mr Scott to allow me to attend Cranbrook for private tuition and lab work. I cycled the eight miles to and from Cranbrook two or three times a week during 1944/45. It was the time of the 'doodle bug' attacks on London which quite often fell short in Kent . When I heard one overhead I jumped off my bike and sheltered in the nearest ditch! Once when I arrived at school I found many of the windows smashed as a flying bomb had fallen nearby. I went in and out of school as unobtrusively as possible - I learnt that the boys had been told not to speak to me! I used a little store room at the back of the lab to do my work while classes were going on. When it came to biology practical the boys provided me with the prescribed earthworm and also a rabbit (shot by one of them) for dissection. I believe that I was the first girl ever to attend Cranbrook and indeed the only one until recent times.