Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet

SmallBridge School:- circa 1955 - 1972

During 1955- 1972 the Hall was a private Girls (Finishing) School
accommodating about 30 pupils


It was not until 2015, it was drawn to my attention that Smallbridge was the home of a school during the period 1950 - 1970
Because of its remoteness from the village, I have gleaned very little from the parishioners apart from " yes, there was a school down there"

So I had to search for information elsewhere, and Google was my obvious step.

Unfortunately, the only evidence of the existence of the School appears to be on Friends Re-United (FR) and Flickr.
I have currenty sent out emails to all those ladies on FR who have registered as being at the school

If you can supply any information on this subject, then do let me know via the Contact page

This map dated 1876 indicates a Boat House on the river
I was informed that this was still in existance in the 1950 and 60`s and regularly used by the school

Taken from the School Prospectus


The house has been completely modernised and is centrally heated throughout. It is furnished as a home where girls between the ages of 15-19 years can reside and take courses of study which are intended to bridge the gap between leaving school and taking up their training or making homes of their own.

A special Course is arranged for girls from abroad who wish to study English.

About thirty students can be accommodated, consequently the classes are small and individual attention and interest is given.

There are three terms in the year beginning in September, January and April.

Principal :-Mrs. P. M. NEWTON, Ministry of Education Teacher's Certificate


English and Current Affairs: Mrs. O. G. PRIEST,B.A. Hons. (Cantab.)
Sir BASILBARTLETT, Baronet, M.A. (Can tab.)

French and German: Mrs. P. P. HIGHAM,B.A. Hons. (Oxon.), F.l.L.

Spanish, Italian and German: Miss P. EATON,M.I.L. Dist. F.J.L.

Biology: Mrs. J. E. AMBLERB, .Sc. (Nottingham).

History: G. K. BETHAME, sq., B.A. (Cantab.)

Geography and Mathematics: R. C. HINE,Esq., Min. of Ed. Teacher's Cert., Academic Dip. Geography.

Religious Education: Rev. IAN Dunlop, M.A. (Oxon.)

Commercial Subjects: Mrs. M. THOMPSON(Pitman's Teacher's Certs.)

Art and the History of Art :Miss G. MAGUIRE(Dip. A.D.)

Speech Training: Mrs. J. HARMAN, L.R.A.M.


Dancing and Deportment: Miss J. V. TITLOW,F.D.T.A., M.N.A., T.D.

Needlework and Bridge: Mrs. J. IVANYI

Cooking and Liberal Studies: Mrs. P. M. NEWTON,Ministry of Education Teacher's Cert.



Lnder the personal guidance and supervision of Mrs. Newton, who is herself a qualified teacher recognised by the Ministry of Education, and a fully qualified graduate staff, girls can pursue the following courses:
1. For the General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level, in
(a) English Language (c) Biology (e) History
(b) English Literature (d) French
For the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level in
(a) English (b) French (c) History
Tuition in other subjects, at both levels, can be arranged at an extra fee.

2 For the Lower Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English for students from abroad. The progress of our students and the achievement of good results in whatever subjects or examination they take is of the utmost importance.
To balance the purely academic work, the aim of the training in Smallbridge is to give the girls poise and self-confidence. In acquiring ease and grace of manner we hope to promote a happy and well-balanced personality which together with academic distinction will equip them thoroughly for their business and social life.
Courtesy. Deportment and Social Etiquette, including Conversational Fluency, are an integral part of everyday life in the school, but to help achieve this balance our students can also combine their Academic work with:

1. Elementary Cookery, Flower arrangement, and all the duties pertaining to the hostess.
2. Needlework and Dressmaking to help a girl improve her appearance and cultivate her dress sense.
3. A Shorthand-Typing Course.

All students attend Lectures in History of Art, Current Affairs and Liberal Studies. Incidental lectures in other subjects are arranged throughout the year.
Art Appreciation, Musical Evenings, with visits to Concerts, Theatres and Art Galleries in London and Cambridge, are arranged to supplement the cultural background. The approximate cost of the Excursions involved in these activities is £25 per term.

Golf, Riding and Swimming facilities are within easy distance of the house. There is a hard Tennis court in the grounds.

Bures and Wormingford Church of England services can be attended, or the Nonconformist
Church in Bures, as well as the Roman Catholic Church in Nayland.

This is in the hands of a competent local Doctor who can accept private or National Health patients.

No uniform is required, pupils should be provided with the practical kind of wardrobe they require at home.

can be provided at a small extra charge or students can bring their own.

are £225 per term, inclusive of tuition, residence and all facilities at the Hall, and are payable in
advance. Bursaries up to £25 per term are awarded at the Principal's discretion.
Laundry is 6 guineas per term.



Use of piano, 1 guinea per term.
Use of sewing machine, 1 guinea per term.
Use of typewriter, 3 guineas per term.

A term's notice in writing is required before the removal of a student. This notice must be received within the first fortnight of the term. Failing this a full term's fees for the following term must be paid.


By Train.
From Liverpool Street Station trains leave frequently for Colchester, Marks Tey, or Bures, and cars can meet trains at any of these stations.

By Car.
Visitors from London should proceed on the A.12 to Colchester then on the A.133 for seven miles. at Wormingford turn sharp right at the turning signposted to Wormingford Church and follow the lane through for I mile, when Small bridge Hall can be seen on the left.

By Sea
The port of Harwich is 20 miles away. Cars and escorts can meet students there if it is desired, or at London Airport or the Air TerminaL

Interviews by appointment only.

This text has been obtained using OCR software on the prospectus, apologies if I have missed the odd spelling error


School Cleaner/Housekeeper lived the the property on the right as you enter Smallbridge Drive
This may well have been the De-Laine family. Iris De-laine, being the housekeeper.
They had previously run the Village Dairy and One Bell Public House before moving to Smallbridge

One of Smallbridge Cottages was owned by Mrs Newton the Principal, which was allocated to the School Cook


These memories were very kindly donated by ex pupils at Smallbridge:-


I attended Smallbridge School in 1967 and was then known as Gay Brown
Now married as Gaynor Purkiss.

2nd Jan 2023


It was a private school. It was what was described in those days as a finishing school/school or young ladies! It was also like a crammer and girls could take O Levels and A Levels. We also had lessons for cookery, flower arranging, sewing, typing and learning to become the perfect hostess!!

We had weekly outings to Colchester where we would shop and then meet up at Thoroughgoods (?) a restaurant in Colchester. We sometimes went for Sunday tea to a local tea place. We were allowed to cycle around Bures and girls would have riding, golf, tennis lessons or just use the school’s boat on the moat. Socials were held with the local boys school (I think it was called Copford Boys). This boy’s school was an establishment very like ours.

We cooked for and hosted quite a few functions (curry lunches etc) for charities and many locals and friends of Mrs Newton attended. I remember a formal social ball/party where the girls were able to invite boys to attend.

Soon after I left I heard that the school had closed. I kept in touch with Mrs Newton for a bit and a few of us arranged a reunion but then a years later I heard she had died.

Very happy memories.

Sally Brunel-Cohen

This note donated by a resident at Mount Bures

John used to work at the Church`s seed depot at Arger Fen which is on the same road out of Bures as the School.
John can recall often seeing students walking back from the village.
It was not unusual to see a young lady with a heavy suitcase who had arrived by train, walking along the Nayland Road
A lift in his grain lorry was often met with enthusiasm to shorten the journey.

John Cowlin

A year at Smallbridge School


Lavinia Samuel from Monaco very kindly submitted this information

I was at Smallbridge Hall School in 1967 as a finishing school student, cramming to take 7 "O"levels and 3"A"levels in a year, having been in French school from 10 till 15 years old. I passed all my exams with flying colours aged 16. The Headmistress, I think called Mrs. Newton, was very disappointed that I didn't go to Oxford as they wanted me. Girls I remember : Sally Carmichael (daughter of actor) Jenny Marshall..



It would appear that the school had a working relationship with the Copford Glebe School
Copford Glebe School opened in 1958, which developed into a school with 53 pupils from 15 different countries over the next 14 years.
Robert William Gaspard (1905 - 1997), Founder and Headmaster of Copford Glebe School, 1958–69, Principal, until its closure in 1972
Possibly located at the vacated Copford Vicarage in Rectory Rd.

One notable student was Salem Mohammed Bin Laden, the half-brother of Osama Bin Laden
Newspapers record him starting as a student circa 1960.


Link to Salem and the account of his stay at Copford Glebe School



Janina Susan Sheppard, made contact in December 2018 to say, she taught English to the Overseas Students


Photograph dated 1968


1). Georgina Sarll
2) Angela Scott
3 )Linda Berey ( Berey )
4) Inga Evelyn-Jones
5) Sarah Shepard
6) Sue Cable—Alexander ( I think )

Names supplied by Angela Davies


research by Alan Beales

updated 22/01/16 ( counter 151)
update 28/01/2016
updated 01/08/2017
Updated new photo 14/10/2018
Updated gay Brown 02/01/2023