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Happy Days

a1974-5 at school

Happy Days! Here I am, outside school in the mid 1970s (that’s me second from right), with a group of friends.  Like the uniform? You’re not seeing the worst of it – there was a hat too!

Uniform apart, my school had two main claims to fame : 1) Dave Hill from Slade lived next door, and 2) it was painted by John Constable in 1809 (long before I was there, before anyone asks!)

The Constable version can be seen at Tate Britain:

John Constable, ‘Malvern Hall, Warwickshire’ 1809

The building’s history is one of fame alternating with destitution.  In around 1690, Henry Greswold, Rector of Solihull, bought what was then Malvern farm and his son Humphrey built Malvern Hall there. The Hall passed out of the direct family line until, in 1772, Henry Greswold Lewis inherited the property and called in the future Sir John Soane, surveyor of the Bank of England, to remodel and enlarge the house. He added the wings in 1784 and the portico with ionic columns was added in 1811.

John Constable visited Malvern Hall in the early 1800s  and made at least 2 paintings of the stately building,  one of which can be seen now in Tate Britain.

In 1830, a young man fell down the main staircase to his death. It is said that his ghost haunts the Hall. When I was at school there, we were not allowed to use that staircase; it was reserved for staff and sixth formers.  Perhaps to protect us from a similar plight?

In 1896, after years of neglect, Malvern Hall was sold to a Birmingham industrialist who reduced the Hall to its present size, removing the third storey and adding bow windows and balustrading. The house then changed hands yet again, going now to Horace Brueton. He, in turn, sold the Hall to Solihull’s Rural District Council and Malvern Hall was converted in 1931 to become Solihull High School for Girls.

6 replies »

  1. I grew up in South Africa and wearing a unformed was the bane of my life! Both cut and colour were truly horrible! But how did I miss that when we moved to Europe and our kids went to school in civvies! I yearned for that mustard yellow dress!


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