Girl caned at Lord Wandsworth College 1940s

I came across The Sternian 1999, the old school magazine of Lord Wandsworth College  and hidden in its pages is a brief mention of a girl being caned. It can be found on page 81 and is part of a reminiscence from a girl called Joyce Aston (nee Cox). She wrote “In the whole of Matron Hubble’s strict regime she only caned two pupils, guess who was one, I think I wanted to be noticed. I was called into the office “pull down your knickers Joyce Cox, I am going to spank you” are the words engraved on my mind forever. Bertha Prothero was the second girl.”



Is there any indication or inference that a cane was actually used? Girls being spanked on their bottoms, usually with a slipper, and especially at summer camp , while not commonplace,is not as rare as some people think.


More generally, as regards girls being caned on the at schools in the UK.  I doubt it happened with any regularity but I have absolutely no doubt that it did happen, and outwith the well-known cases which led to prosecutions.  Indeed, I seem to recall seeing claims that a personage who is very well known indeed was so caned.

Closer to home there have been accounts of this here.  Some I believed, some I didn’t.  There is an account here of a boy and girl caned together on the bare at a 1950s prep school.  I see no reason to doubt it, and at the time it was posted I was one of the Forum’s resident doubters.  I believe it also satisfied another then prominent contributor not famed for his credulity.  Certainly, we both gave the contributor the third degree.  I’ll find and link it if I get time later.


At my infant and junior school in the late 1940s early 1950s, the school dinner constituents used to arrive on a small truck in steel containers labeled ‘Pig Swill’.  I doubt if they ever held pigswill, but the contract was operated by a local farm and I guess now that it was an adult joke.  The food wasn’t good, but it was considerably more palatable than that described in your link.  Same ‘eat every bit’ rule though..


We had the same ‘eat every bit’ rule at my school.  For me, it was a time of post-war food rationing, so in retrospect, I can understand why we were told to avoid food waste.  We too had Pig Swill bins, but the food didn’t actually arrive in them, they were just used to collect leftovers.


I believe this is the first time that I have seen Lord Wandsworth College (LWC) in Long Sutton, Hampshire mentioned here. Although I think I have somewhere seen a posed. photograph of an LWC boy being caned there. A good friend of mine was a boarder there in the 1950s/60s. He always gave me the impression that LWC was a boys-only public school. Although a well-regarded public school it seemed to differ in some ways to many of the others in that it was more agricultural having several farms on its enormous campus. Boys wore short trousers and open-necked shirts in county colors all year around.
I remember him saying that when he started work how different things were working with girls. He clearly gave the impression that he was unused to being with girls. LWC he said had a few quirky traditions, one was that soccer footballs were totally banned there LWC was a rugby-only school. He talked of a few ‘odd’ teachers there but nothing too outrageous.
He and other LWC sixth formers were known to truant to the local village pub in the evenings. He said that if caught, even as sixth-formers, they would be caned. The penalty on their return was six of the cane before bed across their pajama trousers. He said they considered it worth the risk and that in their somewhat inebriated state after a few pints of the local brew six of the best wasn’t so terrible.
So as you can imagine I was more than a little surprised to hear of girls being at LWC. Could it be that there were girls there at prep school age prior to Common Entrance Examinations, age about 13 then or was there possibly a ‘sister school’ nearby of the same name? I am aware that LWC is fully mixed now.
I am not doubting anyone’s word about this but I have to admit to being very surprised.


Yes, I was likewise surprised, but for a contrary reason to you.  When I first read this thread I’d never heard of LWC and therefore assumed it was a girls’ school. On checking the web I found it was now co-ed.  Whereas boys’ public schools eventually taking girls is not unusual, my own did so a year or two ago, the opposite is quite unusual.


I have been doing a little research. It seems that LWC was a boys’ school in the 1940s. Gosden House was a Girls’ school with the same foundation – so a sister school to LWC. In 1946 it moved into local authority control and became a special residential school for girls. It can only be assumed that when LWC went co-ed they used the name Gosden for the girls’ boarding house to mark this link. So Joyce Cox was at Gosden House school rather than at LWC. I hope this makes sense!


All very interesting. I knew a fair bit about LWC before reading any of this. Other than my friend, I met with him, a few who’d been also at LWC. Like most public schools LWC has its own odd little traditions, OBP was one, this gave older lads the opportunity to jump queues; Old Boys Privilege!
Lots of coincidences about LWC: I once went to an evening meeting there in the 1980s. The meeting was organized by one of the LWC’s teaching staff and had nothing to do with the school. He was a member of an organization that I also belonged to.
Another time I happened to be close to Long Sutton with my friend. He asked if I was in a hurry to get home. I said I wasn’t so he took me on a drive around the area. He rather cheekily drove right through the school grounds. Fortunately, no one challenged us and the route he remembered took us through the grounds. We ended up in the village pub that he remembered from his sixth-form days.
I’m very surprised that some of my guesses were about how the situation could be explained.


Thank you very much indeed, that makes eminent sense.  So Joyce Cox’s account was included in “The Sternian” as a courtesy to a sister school from a time before LWC went coed.  In your research did you by any chance find when LWC went coed?  A number of boys’ public schools have taken that step, mine included.  I was quite disgusted when I heard of it, but money rules all these days, and I must admit it certainly seems to have brightened the old place up.


A search for the usual suspects, cane, caned, caning, etc., etc., reveals some interesting items, including a mass caning over pajamas as the final official school action by a popular master after his leaving party, at which he had cooked a splendid meal for boys and staff, was found to have rather naughtily been used as cover for a raid on prefects’ rooms.  A public caning, followed by expulsion, for a boy guilty of theft.  The article says that in the era concerned public canings were not unusual.


A friend of mine often mentioned his time at LWC. To the best of my knowledge, he is not a ‘spanko’. He did however talk of his public schooldays a fair bit. Certainly not all of what he said related to SCP. He talked of his time in the CCF there, his dislike of games, clandestine cooking sessions in the evenings, and other activities at LWC.
He did once tell of being slippered there by his housemaster. When he left the study he turned and gave a double-handed two-finger salute at the closed door. Another master spotted him doing this and promptly took him into his study and applied a second dose of the slipper to his rear end.
One day when we were traveling together for our work we were in Hampshire close to Long Sutton.
James asked if I was desperate to get back home. I said I wasn’t. He then drove into the grounds of LWC and right through the whole area. As we didn’t stop no one challenged our being there. I then remember having been there a few years before to a meeting one evening. A pure coincidence; the meeting was held in the sixth form block. It was not an LWC occasion, one of the teaching staff had arranged the meeting for members of an organization that I was a member of. I remember the meeting well as on leaving I turned over on my ankle resulting on a very nasty soft tissue injury. I managed to drive home with some difficulty as my left foot was very painful and made gear-changing very difficult. Unlike my friend that was my only painful recollection of LWC!
As a lad, my only knowledge of the English public school system came from books, comics, and the occasional film or TV programs. This was the time of course when SCP was still very much in use. Hearing the accounts of LWC seems to fit in with all I had heard of in the past.
My only other knowledge of the public school cane came from another acquaintance, John. I met him in around 1980. He was very proud been to Rugby. He didn’t talk that much of his schooldays as a boarder there. I remember he was at our home for a meal once when the topic of SCP arose. He said that he had once taken a caning there. When he was bent over the master told him to stand up before giving him the cane. The master had spotted something in the back pocket of John’s school trousers. It seems if was a small wallet or similar. He was told to remove it and to bend over again. The cane came down eight times, six plus two extra for the attempt to thwart the cane’s effect. John said that he had just forgotten about the wallet being there. The topic of conversation then changed then.
For the skeptical here I have to say none of the above is embellished in any way.


Thank you. That is very much appreciated.  I do what I do here because I enjoy it, but it is very pleasing when someone else derives some pleasure from it.

I don’t know if you’ve already done so, but the facility I linked in the first paragraph of my post #18 earlier in the thread is worth a look.   It is certainly the best thing of its type that I recall encountering.  Whoever set it up is to be congratulated.  The choice of three outputs gives great flexibility.

What I did was to put the usual search terms, cane, caned, caning etc., into the main search box.  This would usually bring up multiple hits, each with the choice of article, page(s), or complete magazine.  I then looked at the article first.  This is relatively unformatted but it is easy to locate the term searched for, either by the highlighting provided or, as I did, by a browser page search.  Having located the term it was then easy to see if it was of any interest.   Cane for instance is sometimes found as a surname rather than in the context of a punitive implement.  If the hit was of any interest I then linked the relative page with the aid of the middle column of page(s) hits.

All in all, the sort of system I would like to have for my own records.  Whether it was set up as an ad hoc system or is a commercial product I don’t know, but it is good!  It would be worth putting in your friend’s name, and any nicknames if you know of them, to see if he is mentioned.  It is interesting that pupils at LWC are sometimes mentioned by a number in conjunction with the name.  I think this is based on the order in which they entered the school, certainly the longer ago they were there the lower the number, but I could be wrong.

If perchance you are in contact with your friend who was at LWC at any time, if it was possible to contrive a chance for the question I would be fascinated to know what ‘a raking’ was.  It is frequently mentioned as a punishment, usually awarded by prefects.   There was one mention I noticed that suggested that other pupils could be bribed to undergo ‘a raking’ instead of the person awarded it, so it may just be raking a gravel drive or similar area, but it was always referred to as a raking’.

You make a general mention of the public school system.  While I am sure you are not afflicted by this there is a lot of misunderstanding in the general population, where ‘public school boy’ is sometimes almost a term of abuse.  I recall a very good friend being quite disbelieving when I let slip that I’d been at one, and almost horrified when I persisted in my claim.  Yes, public schools are different in some ways.  I can usually identify someone who was at one if I meet them in person.  Whether that works in reverse I don’t know, but mine was only a relatively minor one, although when I was there it used to beat some of the major ones on overall academic results, no thanks to me I hasten to add!

But whatever they may be, the public schools must have something going for them as they consistently produce many of the people who get to run the country,  whether by election as politicians or by promotion through the ranks of the civil service etc.  And yet there is great opposition to, and considerable desire to suppress, the methods they use and the ideas they embody and promote.

I’ve just been listening to a radio interview in which the headmaster of Eton was explaining the very large financial investment and considerable people resources the school was already devoting to assisting children from state schools in lockdown, and how much more they wanted to provide to assist with the recovery when children go back to school.  And yet it was clear that both the interviewer and the second interviewee, an academic from some educational organization, were hostile to this.  Why for goodness sake?  We didn’t get the excellent and reliable motor cars we have today by buying rubbish models en masse.  What’s so different about education?


A-L: Public school education varied and still does greatly compared to most state school education. Small classes, more emphasis of manners, etc. The state system in many schools used to push the cleverer pupils and give less attention to those who were just waiting to leave. Also it has to be remembered that those who went into private education generally had parents who were keen to get their money’s worth!

James had, of course, known and worked with thousands who went through the state education sector. He was immensely proud of his public school education. Those who went to public schools generally oozed with self-confidence too, great when applying for jobs. However, my maths was far better than his. I have to admit that I am very proud of my grammar school education too.

My mother-in-law was more than a little surprised when her eldest daughter started dating a grammar school lad. All her family had received a private education, both girls and boys. As did my wife and her sisters; all were day girls at the local convent’s private school. Soon after my wife’s parents realized this grammar school lad was fast becoming a potential son-in-law her mother told her that she was quite impressed with my apparent education, and not only that I knew which knife and fork to use!

Back to SCP, James, it seemed, just accepted it as part of boarding school life. Being at school seven days a week day and night meant a constant risk of the cane or slipper except out-of-term time. I did notice that James seem to have a different relationship with his parents than I did at home. His parents were very comfortably off.

I remember a lady that we both worked with in the late 1980s mentioned once that her daughter was sometimes spanked at home. James seemed a bit shocked at this revelation as he had never suffered this type of punishment from his parents and asked me if I approved of this type of family discipline. I said that I remembered occasionally going over the arm of our settee if I really misbehaved at home. James’s parents it seemed left all that to school.

I don’t remember James ever mentioning ‘raking’ but I know that LWC had other punishments as well as the cane and slipper. I meet him occasionally still, by ‘phone only at present of course. If the opportunity arises I will ask what a ‘raking’ was.


i would have to question whether the British public school system actually produces students who are going to run the country or if it just is made up of the students who because of their families status or their recruitment through scholarships of the gifted are already the most likely to end up running things… ie does the system actually improve the raw material it receives or does it just have for various reasons those who would succeed anyway regardless of the quality of the schools they are sent too.


You make some very interesting points and I confess that I cannot easily refute them.

The public school system does do certain things differently.  For instance, senior pupils tend to be given a great deal of responsibility as regards the running of the school.  I would certainly not claim that this didn’t and doesn’t happen in state schools here, but I don’t think it often happens to the same extent.

For instance, at my own school the most senior boys who met the requirements as regards character and ability were appointed prefects.  The prefects operated most of the non-classroom disciplinary procedures of the school, both on the school premises and outwith the school.   Only very serious cases would require the involvement of staff or the headmaster.  In the course of enforcing the disciplinary requirements, the prefects could both cane and award other punishments such as writing lines.

The prefects were assisted by a sort of ‘police force’ who at my school was called ‘privs’, short for privileged sixth formers.  If you didn’t make perfect then priv was the next best thing, ‘cos that meant you didn’t have to wear a school cap anymore. I was lucky, I got priv very shortly after entering the sixth form.  It was more common to have to wait until the second year or sixth and for some didn’t attain it at all.   Privs were able to report disciplinary infractions by other pupils to the prefects for them to deal with and were also required to undertake administrative duties such as supervising lunch rooms etc

These types of arrangements are fairly typical of public schools, though of course prefects don’t get to wield the cane these days.  Substantial power and responsibility at an early age.  If properly used and learned from, invaluable in later life.   But that certainly can’t be the sole reason people send their children to public schools.  At my old school fees are now over £15,000 per year.  That’s at a public day school, and a fairly minor one, just for tuition.  Many activities come extra on top of that.  I was lucky, I got a scholarship which in my day paid the lot.   At the great public boarding schools fees and extras are huge.  For Eton think £45,000 per annum up.

Why do parents pay that sort of money when they could have a state education for their children for nothing?  There certainly aren’t many people around who wouldn’t expect to get some tangible benefit if they outlay £45,000 or even £15,000 a year per child.  Would parents pay that sort of money if they thought that their children wouldn’t gain any advantage from it?   Is that advantage a real one or purely illusory? Could it be being got just by letting events take their course?  Clearly many think not.


I’m not sure the old boy’s network is as important nowadays as it was in the past. Although there are some professions that are still well impressed by a public school education. A degree is fast becoming a minimum requirement for almost any career type of job.
In the past many public schoolboys went into the military; Dartmouth, Cranwell or Sandhurst straight from public school. Others went into the commercial world. Nowadays the great majority go to university.


Although I already knew a fair bit about LWC at Long Sutton in Hampshire before lucy200’s post I now know that the original Lord Wandsworth’s educational establishments were more like orphanages based in Bramley in Surrey. It wasn’t until 1946 that any LWC establishments became paying ones. The original Bramley one was housed in Gosden House there. So I have to admit to knowing nothing of LWC back then. I do know that the current LWC was well established at a boy’s public/private school at Long Sutton by the mid-1950s.


You make some interesting points.  I am inclined to think that the public school ‘old boy network’ may still be a major influence in some spheres of activity but mainly when combined with attending the right university and joining and being active in the right organizations while there.

Many years ago I did have some experience of its then benefits.  I was considering parting a company with my employer and had made this known to a few people.  Within a short space of time, I received three unsolicited invitations to discuss potential employment, all of which proved to be from organizations where a senior individual had been at my old school.  I never did discover the ins and outs of who tipped off who and in the event, I didn’t take any of them.

In fairness, it has to be said that I was still in the same city as the school, and this was at a time when three good science A-levels, my only academic qualification, would get you into a great many good jobs.  In fact, the organization I went to was so pleased to get me that they almost refused to let me out after the interview.  Ah those were the days!  I feel very sorry for modern youngsters who work hard to get a degree and then can’t find work.  I seem to recall noting here a year or two ago that I’d chatted to three youngsters stacking shelves at my local supermarket.  They all had degrees, but so far the shelf stacking was the best they could do in the employment field.

And as regards degrees, they have of course been greatly devalued.  In 1960 when I departed school to commence my inglorious and brief career at what was then a fairly good university and is now a member of the Russell Group only 6% of school leavers went on to university.  Nowadays the proportion is nearer 50%.

A great many Bash Street Primary Schools (a slight exaggeration I know, but only slight)  have reinvented themselves as the University of Somewhere or Other and started churning out students with virtually useless degrees in applied dance and golf course management and the like.  Hence those unfortunate shelf stackers and the reason that nowadays any job requiring even minimal intellectual ability is likely to specify a degree as the entry requirement.  They have to do that to get what they used to get with solid O-levels!