There are many different stories about Duncan Hall, that seem more like urban legends than reality when it comes down to it. Things that normally we wouldn't believe at all. The odd thing is that about 99.999% of what is in here is true. A lot is in first person because I tend to cut and paste e-mails. I will never cut and paste anything I know to be untrue, and I will not cut and paste anything that I believe the originator would not like published or would infringe on the privacy of another boy who attended the school. Any references I make about my Norfolk based family are made in a neutral tone. I do not speak with my relations from Norfolk, and will not in the future, however I am also not implying anything about their conduct that I am not 100% positive about.
When it comes down to it, Duncan Hall was all about survival is a strange way. It was true that there was bullying there, that was taken to some very extreme levels in some cases, however all of the boys involved can be absolved in full, as when it comes down to it, they were just children. There was no excuse whatsoever for the bullies to be coerced by the teachers however, and there is no excuse for teachers who took a perverse delight in physical abuse of young boys. In this modern day, any school that functioned like DHS, would be closed down and teachers charged immediately now, so what was the difference then? I will tell you.
When I was 10, I left Duncan Hall, because I was forced to live with my mother and step-father in the North of England. I didn't want to be there, I wanted to be with my friends in the south. I was bullied more at a Comprehensive in the North that I ever was at DHS, although the teachers were more lenient and friendly. A boy from a 'posh' school from the South, was a prime target to anyone wanting to puch someone around.
Anyway, I wanted to go back to the South, to live with my grandma, Anne Flitton (Mrs Flitton, French Teacher at DHS), however there was nothing I could do. I had no friends for years, and was stuck up there, yet no one listened to me or let me go back to my 'home'. Why?
Well I will tell you why. Firstly I didn't have a choice on what I could do at all. Secondly, in my opinion at the time, Social Services were known only for taking children away into special homes. Third, I was scared to voice my opinion too much. My step father was at least as bad as Paddy Manifold.
I am not saying this to make you all sorry for me, I am making a point. We were at Duncan Hall, because we were told we should be there, and we believed we should be there. We DIDN'T KNOW WE HAD A CHOICE. Whilst I had a terrible childhood that went far beyond Duncan Hall, at the time, I didn't have any other option, because I was only a child.
SO WERE YOU.
This is not much I know, however I hope that it might help you a little.
Well lets kick off the ball with some Rumors and truths.
Do I remember the toilet paper???? Man, that was BAD.... And...I have never seen the likes of it since!!! Perhaps it was made specially for DHS. Talking of non-absorbent... do you remember the biscuits that we used to get in the evenings (can't recall the time, but it was between dinner andbedtime) doled out along with a glass of luke-warm, weak orange squash.... Those biscuits must have been manufactured by the same company that made the toilet paper. I was only getting 50 pence a week pocket money, so as unappetizing as this treat was, it didn't stop me lining up with the rest of the guys for my nightly share.
Two teachers werefired for being too fond of spanking in my time. Phillips taught the younger boys but ran a kind of youth club after school. Anyone could go, provided you were willing to be spanked by him. He was obviously a pervert but he was only fired and not sent to prison as he should have
been. The other was a sadder case. Mr Sengupter taught maths or tried to. Although he was a gentle soul, we made his life hell. He would say things like "Boys, let's be serious," while we would charge round chanting "Hari Krishna"! He was fired for paying cash to a London boy to let him spank him in his room. Unlike most of the whackos, at least Sengupter paid!
Two boys died at DHS when I was there. DHS was not directly to blame as both died from probably unavoidable circumstances. They do illustrate the way that DHS was often a dumping ground though. Ian Wright, inevitably nicknamed lefty, died of a cerebral haemorrhage one night at 13 and a boy from America who we only knew as Tex. He died in a nearbye hotel after being taken from the school. Both were abnormally dim, particularly Tex who suffered from epilepsy, his fits were very dramatic and disturbing. Tex was incapable of conversation, and should have been in a hospital.
Believe it or not Paddy was a better teacher than his predecessor Wilkinson whose idea of teaching geography involved us colouring maps.
Manifold did teach although one suspects his knowledge was only about one page beyond our's! I remember he mispronounced the word "any" As in: "If aniboy does anithing wrong, he will answer to me." Scary guy though.
He didn't really have to use much cp because his physical pressence, talk about swarthy, was intimidating enough. He was a classic dominant bully. His first wife, who you seem to have missed, from Scandinavia somewhere and very young, also seemed to have an unhealthy relationship with him. Liked cars, seemed to be very popular among the other teachers.
(Eds Note) The poster of this snippet is right, Manifold was hard yes, but also a lot better than 90% of the other teachers. Anyone who went on a skiing trip with DHS will remember that he was a nice bloke when not in the school environment.
Teaching staff at Duncan Hall did not actually need or in many cases have teaching qualifications at all. In some cases, older boys were encouraged to take lessons themselves, for younger students, and I personally remember The Head Boy, Campbell (Soup), taking me and my classmates, for Geography on more than one occasion.
Prep was a strange one. I remember prep used to be me, sitting with a load of other boys in a pre-fab building at 7pm, doing colouring in for some reason. There wasn't actually any homework, however I attended prep anyway.
I remember the library. The boys would be allowed newspapers, put in the library every so often by Mr Boswell I suspect. I remember newspapers like The Sun had bits cut out before we got to read them. (Normally the semi-naked ladies) Mr Boswell would take classes in the library from time to time, normally English for us younger boys. Mr Boswell was a bit mad, but generally quite kind to the younger boys. (Unlike Mrs Boswell, evil undead creature that she was.)
I remember thinking that Mr. Kaufman was very strange and scary looking!!! He looked like a Warlock. With his mop of unruly red hair and pointed features. And you reminded me that his class was over the pottery room and also storage for old kayaks and other sporting equipment.....a reminder that the school once had activities other than just bloody cross-country running and cricket!!! I only remember him teaching English, but perhaps he did science as well.
One of the Prefects (Andy Baldwin) that had a secret affair with Matron's assistant(Miss Fenner). I think they both left at the end of the year and got married!!! I think she was actually carrying his baby, which is scary because he/she would be in his/her early twenties now!!!! That Prefect could not have been that much older than me. Three, four or maybe Five years older? Mad really....I wonder if they are still together....
There was also a new Matron (also not in any of the pictures) in the later part of my time at DHS. She didn't last very long and just before she left, she called me into her room to "say goodbye". She went to kiss me and before I knew it, she had her tongue in my mouth!!!! I was only twelve at the time and very naive......saying a hasty goodbye, I made a run for the door!!!!
I was in East house by the Tennis Courts. Dickerson was in my dorm and would sing John Denver songs to us at night.
Pattie (Paddy...ed) would stand on the "Scenic Route" in the wooded area. He caught me cheating one day and I got six on the trail and my smokes fell out my shorts. oops.... Time for another six...
In the main quad area, there was a shed that we used as a hobby shed. We would roll our fags in the back of the shed.
Not sure what the hot breakfast was but I remember the Wheatabix. Still eat them today.. I remember we would have to water down the milk in the mornings so everybody would have some. Of course if you were the one setting the table you always got straight milk.
Got my first six the first night. I was 10 years old. Some kid stole my blanket and I got in a fight.
Kauffman would cut off the shoe and just use the sole for spankings. I cant believe you remember his sayings, I had forgotten that one until I read that.
Who was the bastard over the east dorm. He was kind of fat, looked like a pervert. He would make you hug him after he gave you six. He had all kinds of whips and shoes. I remember he would make you pick which one to use on you. That bastard. (Sounds like Mr Slade...ed)
I agree with you there was nothing very funny about DHS. A lot of bad things happened there and we all suffered educationally and pychologically from going there. I know what you mean about the scary aspects of the place, I felt decidedly uneasy when I visited the site of the school and looked around the old school buildings about ten years ago, but I think the ghosts of DHS need to be confronted. Bullying and violence is part of everyone's school experience, but there was something more than that going on at DHS and I now realise that it was the adult's, the so called teachers, responsibility. I feel angry that through either indifference, incompetence, or downright malice they allowed things to happen that should never have been permitted. I think the website is a good idea and I think that the best way to deal with what happened there is to openly talk about it.
Yes, DHS was an incredible experience. While I was there two teachers were fired for taking too enthusiastic an interest in spanking boys in private. I suppose they had to have some kind of job satisfaction though! My worst memory was of being badly poisoned by the school food one night. I just made it to the sinks to vomit. Unfortunately, one of the prefects had left his Ben Sherman short in the sink to soak. I was too sick to care but the prefect forced me to leave my sickbed and wash his shirt. I also had to make his bed afterwards as a further punishment.
Some of the things that happened were so bizarre I sometimes wonder if they really did happen. When the news got out that I was leaving I received a number of visits from the Headboy, John Nunn. His attempts to persuade me to stay seemed to involve twisting parts of my body in impossible angles. I am pretty sure he had been told to persuade me to stay by the Head. Perhaps I could sue?
Boswell had just become HM when I was there. He immediately made his son Head Boy. You may not have thought much of him but he was a lot better than the dreaded Mr Munch he replaced. Munch was a Scots sadist much given to lecturing to us about the evils of drink. In fact I was once supposed to be caned by him for drinking with two friends. Munch let me off in the end because he didn't believe the three of us could possibly have consumed the amount of drink. He erronously believed the whole shool was invoved and even praised me for having the courage to confess!