The School Punisment System (suite) by Glynn Downton (1956 -1963) et al

Another fascinating piece about our disciplinary system at School.When compared to today the words “Sublime” and “Ridiculous” spring to mind, n’est ce pas?

From: Glynn Downton (1956-1963) (
Subject: Punishment system

I was a rebellious boy at school and was caned on five occasions.

In my first year, I made the first of my three appearances at Prefects’ Court. These were held in room ten in the quadrangle containing the lost property box and opposite the biology lab. One was summoned to appear if one had been awarded three or more detentions in a term (or maybe a half-term). Peter Thompson was Head Boy and he had to be addressed as “Sir.” I was let off with a warning.

My second appearance was a year later when Barry Watson was Head Boy and I received two strokes from KD (Headmaster).

My third appearance was a further year later under Colin Clark and I was given four strokes. Colin was the elder brother of Keith Clark (…/law-putting-success-down-to- )who was in the same year as me. He went on to gain distinction as the senior partner of the very large London firm of solicitors, Clifford Chance.

On the three other occasions, I was caned in the Old Man’s study, receiving three, four and five strokes, making a total of eighteen during my otherwise non-illustrious school career. One caning was for gross insubordination and one for playing truant. I can’t remember the other reason.

One was required to stand on the diamond on the carpet, face the window and bend over, whereupon the caning was administered. At Prefects’ Court, one was told immediately before the caning how many strokes one would receive, but this was not the case in the Old Man’s study. Therefore in Prefects Court you could to an extent brace yourself for the onslaught, but until the caning was over in the OM’s study you didn’t know the extent of the punishment.

A member of the staff had to be in attendance. Frank Haill was present on the occasion when I received five, but I can’t remember who was there otherwise.

In case anyone is wondering, caning hurt and left considerable bruising. I never yelled, but on every single stroke, I expelled a gasp of breath.

I have to say that caning never did me any harm other than in the short-term, but on the other hand, it never did me any good.

Looking back it does seem to have been rather barbarous.

Seen by 31


Keith Upton Experience says:
Big bruises from the short thick bamboo cane, as this had no give. Thinner bruises with a ‘whip’ bruise around the upper thigh and front of the leg from the long thin cane thin cane with the curled handle (similar shape to those found on some, walking sticks). Both times awarded for completely wrong reasons but there was no chance whatsoever of discussing it with KD, having been convicted before arriving! Wronged, but for me, I will say there was no harm done.

Paul Taylor There were many reasons why I should have been caned but I escaped but once when I was thrashed for a misdemeanour of which I was innocent, so no complaints. In retrospect, the threat of expulsion would have made me a better-behaved pupil.

Tony Cook “It never did me any harm” That’s because we are the survivors.

Richard Dudley Wood-Kneller Interesting in itself but also about the brothers Clark. Can anyone reach either of them and ask for a piece for the website, please?

David Shepherd Yes, I received two of the best from KD in IV R. guess that I deserved it as I was quite cheeky towards prefects! I remember that it hurt considerably and that I had to walk home to Bognor as it was too late to use my season ticket – ouch !!

Keith Upton  The Long Walk Home. Could be the title of a TV documentary starring Ewen McGregor

Mick Reed Does anyone remember Pigswill carrying a piece of bunsen burner tubing in Chemistry and belting people across the shoulders with it?

David Shepherd  Yes

Paul Taylor I don’t remember that but I do remember Dizzy Dyer walking around with a big knot tied in his gown with which he used to thump boys over the head. Worse than that there was an Art teacher before Taff Harris whose technique was to aim a punch at a boy’s ear with his tight fist and, as the boy naturally ducked away from the blow, the teacher caught him in the ear with his left fist.

Mick Reed Crikey, I think I remember Dizzy doing that now. Some of them were bleedin’ lunatics. Even dear old Tich Morris used to throw a wooden-backed board rubber at people quite hard. I remember him missing my head by about a half-inch in 5G – and I don’t think he was aiming at me. We got on well. On that occasion, the rubber hit the back wall of the class with quite a bang.

Keith Upton …..and the communal electric shock in the physics lab as we all joined hands wondering what the box was with the handle. Soon found out when our teacher wound the handle with much vigour.

David Shepherd Yes, Titch Morris had a bit of a temper. On one occasion because of “unauthorised” talking, he threw a whole pile of homework books at a boy who ducked, and all the books shot through the window into the courtyard which happened to be covered in about four inches of snow! When the books were retrieved all of that neat handwriting was a mess where the ink had run.

Richard Dudley Wood-Kneller I well remember Mr Dyer (Is Mr Diarrhea?) smacking me hard across the head when I was not paying attention. He then asked me why I was not attending to his lesson. I told him my mother had just been diagnosed with cancer. He immediately became full of concern and was sympathetic thereafter. I also enjoyed the sight of Tich throwing the board rubber with much vigour!