Daphne Hanlon

Head mistress of Kelling School

Daphne was the Head Mistress of Kelling School for thirty-two years from 1948 to 1979 when she reluctantly retired.

Then in 2002 she let the editor record her as she cast her mind back over those years, and the following is the result.


I had told the Norfolk Education Committee that I was ready to do some supplies, and they came up with the request would I take charge of this school, and I was horrified because I'd never taught children over eleven and I'd never been to a country school, I'd been teaching upper juniors in city schools, so it was a complete shock.

When I arrived in 1948 the war just over, there was very, very little in the way of apparatus. The war did starve us of everything. You wrote on both sides of the paper and round the edges. Nowadays they waste so much. The children were from four-plus to fourteen, and we were two teachers; life was difficult. There were two rooms, and the Infants up to seven year olds had one room and I took all the rest in the other room.but they were marvellous, they were wonderful children. It was a question of them showing me things rather than me showing them! The bigger ones told me how the boys went out and did the gardening and the girls stayed in and did needlework, and who went with them, but there was nothing there to do needlework with, and mostly they had to be on their own, because you couldn.t be in two places at once. The parents were difficult at first. I think school was seen rather as the enemy: they thought you would be well, unkind to them, I suppose! They didn't trust me. They thought as soon as I got their children, they didn't know what I was doing to them.

There was a cane when I got there, and I'd never seen one before and it horrified me. I broke it in half and threw it on the fire in front of the class! We had open fires of course, which we had to make up with a scuttle of coal, and when it was very cold we all had to sit around it. I had no experience of ordering; I'd never done anything of that kind before. You had to pay for what materials you wanted, on the limited budget that you had, and this went on as long as I was there. You had to manoeuvre your money around.

The toilets were earth-closets in 1948. They used to come round the village and collect it on certain nights. Then when water came to the village we had water closets, but they're still outside. There's nowhere inside you could put them. There used to be a car that collected the very smallest children from Weybourne and Salthouse. There were no restrictions then, the children were packed in like sardines, literally, and as they were setting off one day, one child fell out! Of course there was no fuss; you didn.t make fusses about such things in those days. The child was Joyce Dawson. I saw her not long ago and said Joyce, do you remember when you fell out of the car? "Oh yes, she said, I was all right!".

It was very difficult teaching that large range, especially as some of them had not had a very good beginning and needed a lot of help with reading, and this went on for several years till the school got so full it was well over a hundred and we just couldn't pack them in any longer, although by 1950 we were three teachers.


The three teachers were Mary Dawson,
Daphne Hanlon, and Mrs Golding



drawn by a pupil of 1977 in imagination of 1877