Life Story of Philip Henry Stewart Reid
by his son, Alex Reid

Chapter 4. Earleywood School


Earleywood School, near Ascot, was a small establishment with a total of 28 boys. It was described in its prospectus in the following terms:

The school buildings, designed and built for the present Principals in 1902, are situated near Ascot on the well-known 'Bagshot Sands' in a high and bracing locality. The playing fields and garden comprise nearly 10 acres of ground, including cricket and football meadows and a gravelled playground. The lighting, ventilation, and sanitation have been carefully arranged in accordance with the latest modern methods of Hygiene. An experienced Matron has charge of the health and comfort of the boys. Breathing and other exercises for boys of insufficient physical development are carried out daily under the personal supervision of Mr.Pitkin (St.Thomas' Hospital).

Philip had three outfits: a tweed suit with breeches and belted Norfolk jacket (shown to the left) in the winter; grey flannel coat and shorts for the summer; and Etons on Sundays. The Eton suit had a black jacket like a page-boy's, black waistcoat and striped trousers, stiff white collar over the coat collar, and black tie. The collar was difficult to button with cold fingers, and collar studs were a new thing to Philip.

In addition to the headmaster, there were two assistant masters, and a governess for the younger boys.

Sergeant Buckle, who had a spiky, waxed moustache, taught Swedish drill, rifle shooting and swimming. Philip enjoyed winter carpentering lessons with the atmosphere of pine shavings and glue. Sergeant Buckle and the carpentering were both still going strong when I was at Earleywood forty years later. Philip also took part in amateur theatricals. He is shown below in a Shakespearean production raising his tankard as Sir Toby Belch. I think he is the second from the left.

Philip had an aunt and uncle who lived at Sunninghill, two miles from Earleywood. They had no children, and were very kind to Philip. Their house was beautifully tidy and clean, as though just painted out with white enamel. Philip walked there every Sunday. Arriving while the grown-ups were still in church, he played with their black cocker spaniel, or read Punch in the drawing room.

Philip loved Henty novels and boy's magazines. Chums was a penny weekly paper with serial stories of pirates, and the heavy red annual volume formed a splendid Christmas present.

He took in The Scout, produced by General Baden-Powell, and a monthly magazine The Captain. Captain authors of this period included P.G.Wodehouse and John Buchan.

Philip also enjoyed more serious reading. On his way home for the Easter holidays of 1913 he bought at Sunningdale Station a secondhand copy of 'A History of the British Nation' by A.D.Innes. More than three inches thick, and running to 984 pages, it is shown below.

When he was ten, Philip made up his mind to join the Navy. He cannot remember why, for the Reids had no naval connections, and he was always sea sick. His father knew nothing of the Navy, and wrote on Philip's application form 'Not willing, but resigned'. In the summer term of 1913 Philip went to London for an Admiralty interview. He was asked where Cape Finisterre was. A few days later written examinations were held in Bloomsbury.

The naval tailors Gieve, Matthews and Seagrove took a room in a hotel nearby and measured the boys for uniform, as a speculation. Soon afterwards a telegram came from them - 'Congratulations on your son's success'.

Next: Chapter 5: Obsorne and Dartmouth

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This website is published by Alex Reid, 27 Millington Road, Cambridge CB3 9HW. Telephone: +44 1223 319733. Email: aalreid(at) It is an electronic scrap book, containing family life stories, casual articles, and family memorabilia.


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