A ROYAL NAVAL SCHOOL?

with the inevitable introduction and explanation!

 

Eltham Palace [surprise, surprise] is in Eltham, Southeast London [infamous in April 1993 for the brutal murder of student Stephen Lawrence by a bunch of white thuggish sub-human louts while  he was waiting for a bus to take him home to nearby Plumstead. However, it might be better for you to know that it is very close to Greenwich which should assist your orientation.

The Palace has had mixed fortunes over the years ,built and used as a splendid mediaeval manor house until the 14th century when, for two centuries, it was used as a Royal Palace where royals would stay to hunt in the generous parks in that part of south east London.

For approximately 350 years it gradually fell into a ruin until in 1933, it was leased from royal patronage  to the famous millionaire man and wise team called the Courtauldís  who largely restored it to its former glory using  modern decorative and structural techniques, giving parties to visiting royals, VIPís and their jet-set society friends. During  these three and half centuries it had been a farm, a live-in barn and much else  etc.  In WW2 the area was regularly bombed by the Lutwaffe and the Courtaulds wanted out.  A Friend of theirs acted as the broker to help the Courtaulds pass on the royal lease to the British Army in May 1944 for their use.

The Army used it for their Education Department offering soldiers the chance for further education and qualifications, and helping soldiers become civilian employees after the war was over. They stayed there until the 5th April 1992 at which time it was taken over by the Ministry of Works and then onto the English Heritage remit.

Just across the road [A20] from the Palace is the well known academic school known as Eltham College,.in the borough of Mottingham, which is an independent day school for boys right through to 6th form, and for girls 6th form only. You get some idea when I tell you that it is set in grounds of 70 acres and one needs to be quite seriously rich to afford the fees!

Its proper name is 'Fairy Hall' built about 1700, and it had a marked connection with the Royal Navy.

Irrespective of the former use of Fairy Hall, the Royal Navy set up THE NAVAL SCHOOL in 1896 for the purpose of educating the sons of naval officers having moved from what is now the London University College of Goldsmithís at New Cross: my eldest sonís university alma mater from where he gained a BA [2:1] degree. However, there were not enough takers from the officer corps, so the navy opened it to the able sons of seamen to boost the numbers and finally to the sons of civilian gentlemen. As the naval school was struggling to put bums on seats, it was decided in 1907 to change its name from The Naval School to Eltham College making all comers eligible for a place strictly on merit. The dining hall and the swimming pool were already built when the navy took it over, and they went onto to build a chemical laboratory, classrooms and a covered gymnasium which now houses the 6th form. A new flagstaff was brought from the fortress at Kars besieged by the Russians in the Crimea Warand permission was given to fly the white ensign. Nevertheless lack of support forced the navy in 1910 to abandon its project and sell-on the property as a going concern as a seat of education.

The present Eltham College started life in Greenwich [Blackheath] as a school for missionaries children dating back to 1842 and as the navy were desperate for students, the missionary school had run out of space and eagerly paid the Admiralty asking fees of £6800-00 for Fairy Hall. At that time the college had very limited recreational facilities and playing field areas, but today, some ninety eight years on and now vastly improved and extended, its footprint is worth many millions of GBPís!

Now whilst the sons of naval and marine officers lost their specifically named ROYAL NAVAL SCHOOL in southeast London, the daughters of these officers were not forgotten. Their school had also been set up in mid-Victorian times and called The Royal Female School for the Daughters of Naval and Marine Officers, but far from the splendour of what became on sale Goldsmithís College, they had a very modest rented, candle-lit area in Richmond Surrey which was a much lesser establishment, although for all that, the girlís progressed well academically.

The Royal Female School was due to the inspiration of Admiral Sir Thomas Williams, an admiral of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, who had served with distinction in numerous theatres during the American Revolutionary War, French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. Admiral Williams realised that after the Napoleonic Wars there were hundreds of impecunious ex-Naval officers acutely in need of an economical means to educate their daughters to earn a living; entirely by the efforts of an influential group of distinguished officers the necessary funds ware raised, the School established and Royal Patronage obtained, and next,  from Richmond (the school) moved on to the fine Kilmorey mansion beside the Thames, at St. Margaret's, where it grew and flourished until the building was destroyed by bombs in 1940. Difficult wartime moves first to Fernhurst and later to Stoatley Hall were a triumph for the headmistress, Miss Oakley-Hill, and paved the way for further expansion. In 1995, The Royal Naval School for girls at Haslemere was amalgamated with The Grove School founded in 1864 to form The Royal School, Haslemere.

In case you are wondering, the sons didnít go without and there were a few celebrated academies which prepared them well for their adulthood.

Below is a newspaper cutting from The Times dated 25th September 1896. Interesting?

Well thatís just a little interesting naval snippet and the more one knows about our navy the better we can be at educating others!

 There were other schools by this name including Royal Naval School Tal-Handaq in Malta and the Royal Naval School in Colombo, Sri Lanka, then named Ceylon, which became the Overseas School of Colombo in 1957