|Trumpington Local History Group
The History of St Faith's School,
This history of St Faith's School,
Trumpington, is based on a
presentation at the meeting of the
Group in April 2010.
See the introduction to education and
schools for more information.
|A pupil in an old school blazer, St
St Faith's is the school on the right hand side of Trumpington Road, going into Cambridge, just
before Newton Road and the Nuffield Hospital. You cannot fail to notice the brightly coloured
blazers of the older children, or the rather splendid wrought iron gates erected in 2006.
St Faith's celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2009. So it was founded in 1884, but not on the site
which we now know. Back a bit further.
In 1878, the Revised Statutes of Cambridge University were passed, which for the first time
allowed fellows of Colleges to marry, and by 1882 all colleges had to allow this.
|The first site of St Faith's school,
1 Belvoir Terrace, Cambridge.
Photo: Howard Slatter, 2010.
One undergraduate of Christ's College by the
name of Ralph Shilleto Goodchild, saw a real
opportunity here. He graduated from Christ's in
1882, and in 1884 he opened a small
preparatory school in a wooden hut in the back
1 Belvoir Terrace. Not yet in Trumpington
His target clientele was without doubt the sons
of dons at the university, nicely coming on
stream at the age of 5 in 1884.
Actually, that date is in slight doubt; on his
retirement Goodchild was presented by H.
Montagu Butler, Master of Trinity, with a
bound volume full of signatures and photos of
old boys and others associated with the school.
On the front, in beautiful gold lettering, it says
"R.S.G. 1883 - 1909". And Goodchild's entry in
the authoritative Alumni Cantabrigienses states
that he started the school in 1883.
Still, the school was a success, and in 1894
Goodchild moved to much bigger premises, the
building we now know as "School House" in St
Faith's. The old wooden hut was removed to
the grounds of the new school, and was still in
use as a store until after the Second World War.
The new premises were now large enough for
Goodchild to start taking boarders, as well as
the day boys which Belvoir Terrace had
|School House, St Faith's School.
Photo: Howard Slatter, 2010.
|Faith Goodchild and her sister Katherine
being held by their father, Ralph Shilleto
Goodchild, the Headmaster, 1892.
The name "St Faith's" was used for the new
school, but not for the old one in Belvoir
Terrace, which was simply known as
"Goodchild's" or "Goody's". Why St Faith's?
Because Goodchild's elder daughter was
Eleanor Mary Faith Goodchild, known as
Faith. One old boy of the school (they are
called Fidelians) recalled being accosted in
the 1960s by an elderly lady in Trumpington
Road. She complimented him on his smart
appearance and then identified herself with
the momentous words "I am Faith".
St Faith's had been built in 1892, on the
southern part of a plot of land known as
"The Orchard" belonging to Trinity College.
The northern part of the plot had a house
also called "The Orchard" built on it - that
house later became the Evelyn Nursing
Home, now the Nuffield Hospital. You can
see on the map of 1901 St Faith's and the
few existing houses to the south, particularly
Edenfield (later called Firwood), Ley Spring
and one called Southfield, all built earlier in
1878 and eventually to become part of St
|1901 Ordnance Survey map of the area.
There is a wonderful quote in the Short History of St Faith's by F.M. White: "It became
possible to spend a major part of one's life between Bentley Road and Brooklands Avenue:
born next door but one to Southfield in the Stella Maris Maternity Home (now Douglas House),
prep school at St Faith's, and cared for in one's declining years in the Evelyn, with only a brief
excursion in one's adolescence down the Trumpington Road to The Leys and Trinity". If you
were male, with the right connections, of course!
Goodchild was assisted by his wife Eleanor and his daughter Faith. They are listed in the 1901
census with the 11 boarders, who were of course staying overnight. There were 47 pupils
altogether in 1901, so the other 36 would have been day boys. I have tracked down information
about some of the boys listed as boarders:
• Montague Bertie was later to become the 14th Earl of Lindsay and 9th Earl of Abingdon.
• Roland Durell, son of the rector of Fulbourn, was younger brother of a man called Clement
Vavasor Durell, who wrote some classic school mathematics textbooks - as well as learning
from them, I have also used them in my own teaching career.
• when I saw "Nicolas de Crouschoff", born in Russia, I wondered for a moment if this might
be a huge secret of Nikita Kruschev. But no, a different man, I'm afraid.
• Henry Fabian Orpen's father was a fellow of Selwyn College, later to become vicar of Great
• Harold Skelton Terry was the son of the Rector of East Ilsley in Berkshire.
• Roger Charles Marshall was son of the vicar of Doddington, and died in 1918 as a result of
injuries received in the war.
• Robert Cotton Bruce Gardner inherited what was left of the Conington Hall estate from his
father in 1935, and sold up in 1947, after the manor had been in his family for nearly 300 years.
He was Secretary of the Royal Forestry Society.
• Gaston Frederick Wace was son of Frederick Wace, fellow in Mathematics at St John's
• Frederick George Lewtas was to become a doctor; in 1926 the British Medical Journal
reported: "The Home Secretary gives notice that he has withdrawn from Dr Frederick George
Lewtas, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., the authorizations granted by the Regulations made under the
Dangerous Drugs Act, 1920, to duly qualified medical practitioners to be in possession of and
supply raw opium and the drugs to which Part III of the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1920, applies.
Any person supplying Dr. Lewtas with raw opium or any of the drugs to which Part III of the
Dangerous Drugs Act, 1920, applies will be committing an offence against the Acts." I wonder
what he had done - more research needed!
• Edwin Longworth's father John seems to be the exception to this long list of vicars' and dons'
sons; his father was a wealthy cotton bleacher in Horwich, Lancashire.
In 1909, Goodchild decided to move
on. Numbers were dropping, and he
sold the school to Harry Lower,
another clergyman's son, this time of
the Rector of Fowlmere. Goodchild
joined the University Appointments
Board as Assistant Secretary, and
moved to Bentley Road, where he
died in 1943.
Under Lower's headship numbers
built back up to over 60, only to
slump again to only 28 pupils in
1927. Here's a school report from
1913, with H L, Harry Lower,
writing most of it. I am impressed by
the brevity of this kind of report,
though actually these were pretty full
comments for the period.
And here's a bill from Lower's time;
in over 25 years the fees had only
gone up by one guinea a term.
In 1927, Lower once more sold the
school, this time to W.G. Butler,
who had been a Housemaster at
Christ's Hospital School in Sussex.
Butler's headship was an eventful
one. In 1938 the governors of The
Leys School proposed an
amalgamation with St Faith's. The
main feeder school for The Leys,
Caldicott, had moved from Hitchin to
Burnham Beeches in
Buckinghamshire, which was much
further away, so The Leys was
looking for a more local school with
which to have a special relationship.
Butler was happy to accept the offer.
He stayed on as a now salaried
Headmaster, with comparative
freedom to do as he wanted, for
instance the boys continued to be
prepared for a variety of senior
schools, not just The Leys. And St
Faith's now had access to the
facilities of the larger school,
particularly the playing fields in
Latham Road and the swimming pool.
Money was now easier to raise, and
the governors agreed to the purchase
of next-door Firwood to
accommodate the boarders.
|St Faith's School, Leyspring. Photo: Howard
|St Faith's school, Southfield. Photo: Howard
However, war intervened. In 1939,
Cambridge was declared a "danger
area". Butler went off with 16
boarders to Ashburton in Devon,
where they set up shop in the Golden
Lion Hotel. At the same time, The
Leys decamped to Pitlochry in
Scotland. The St Faith's day boys
stayed here, under the care of Mr
H.B.C. English who had recently
arrived in Cambridge having retired
from being Headmaster of Ardvreck
School in Crieff. Firwood was
requisitioned by the Navy.
By the end of the war, numbers had
risen considerably: 37 boarders in
Ashburton, and 114 day boys in
Cambridge. When the boarders
returned, there was immediately an
accommodation crisis, alleviated by
the purchase of both Leyspring and
In 1946 Butler stepped down, retired
to Dorset, took holy orders and
became vicar of Overmoigne and later
vicar of Harlow. A man of some
Butler was succeeded by F.M. White, author of the Short History of St Faith's. There was an
upsurge in private education in the immediate post-war period, partly because of uncertainty
regarding the effect of the 1944 Education Act. St Faith's benefited from this popularity; one
fellow of Sidney Sussex wrote to put down the name of his son who was "born this afternoon".
A desirable education in Cambridge became a real scarcity, to the extent that some academics
refused posts here because they could not get their sons into so-called "local schools". St Faith's
started to reserve a few places for the "sons of newly-appointed University teaching officers",
strengthening an already close connection with the University. About one third of the boys were
the sons of dons. Not just academic subjects, but also activities such as weaving and manly
|St Faith's pupils from the post-War period.
White retired in 1966, to be followed in short order by J.D. Pearce and P.B. Waterfield.
Malcolm McInnes was Head from 1968 to 1989, then Richard Dyson to 2002, when the
present Headmaster, Stephen Drew, arrived. I am indebted to Stephen for providing me with
most of the resources that I have consulted.
Recent developments have included starting a pre-prep department in 1988, stopping boarding
in 1994, the taking of girls in 1995, and the abolition of Saturday school in 2004. The
Ashburton Hall was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1999 and the Keynes Technology
centre in 2006 with members of the Keynes and Darwin families in attendance (Maynard and
Geoffrey Keynes went to the school, as well as two of Charles Darwin's grandsons). The new
gates were installed in 2006 - see the letters B C L N on the oil lamps? I wonder if you can
work out what those stand for?
|Entrance gates to
St Faith's school.