Memories of Tapton House Reviews

Press Release

"Let no one say it, and say it to your shame, that all was beauty here before you came". The words of "Tubby" Mellor, the first headmaster of Tapton House, as he reminded pupils to have the highest regard for the beautiful house and parkland, situated on the outskirts of Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Thankfully, this and many other memories, covering the sixty years from when the school opened at Tapton House in 1931 to its closure in 1991, have been recorded for the next millennium and are published in "Memories of Tapton House School".

The book is the work of Len Thompson an Old Taptonian who, having previously written his autobiography on growing up in Chesterfield, was badgered by friends in to compiling the history and memories of his old school. (This, his second publication, is set to become a success just like the first, 'Life Down t'Lane').


The book begins with a Foreword from the Duchess of Devonshire who reminds us of the links between Tapton House and Chatsworth House and includes her memories of visits to the school. A brief history of the house that was home to such notable characters as George Stephenson and Violet Markham is followed by a compilation of the memories of over 50 pupils and staff. The book contains at least one contribution per year for almost every year from 1931 up to 1967. Like all good books it will make you laugh, cry, reflect on your own schooldays, appreciate how different we all are and yet, how similar. The book will have particular poignancy for those who attended or know of the school but everyone will be moved by the stories related in this publication. It includes a wide variety of contributions. Most, but not all, pupils were happy there, and they range from a boy who was there just three months to a member of staff who worked at Tapton House School for forty years. Some of the most memorable incidents are told time and again and this adds to their impact. For example, during the war years many recall being served cooked nettles at lunch! The school motto, Tenax Propositi (Tenacious of Purpose), has certainly been demonstrated by Len, who in the space of ten months, has taken an idea through to fruition, taking responsibility for all the publishing activities as well as collecting the contributions to produce a realistic picture of what the school was like for all to read now and in the future. The book is over 220 pages in length and is beautifully illustrated with more than 70 photographs of the house, gardens, staff and students. It is a "must have" for local historians and educators along with all those who were ever associated with the school.

Dr Gaye Hadfield (THS 1967-1974)

The book is available for £12 including p&p - cheques payable to Len Thompson, 1 Orchard Gardens, Cranleigh, Surrey GU6 7LG; Tel: 01483 274535 or email:

Memories Of Tapton House School 1931-1991, compiled and published by Len Thompson is a typical school history: a collection of personal reminiscences which are often amusing, always affectionate, and sometimes a little chilling. A former pupil at the school near Chesterfield recalls the time in the late Thirties when a science teacher, Miss Stanley, bought a live rabbit with a view to studying its digestive system. Of course everyone became fond of the rabbit. Miss Stanley was undeterred. "Not being one to shirk a duty, she chloroformed the poor thing and we carefully dissected it and measured its lengthy intestine across the benches," says the contributor. "History does not record if the rest of the animal was cooked and eaten. I hope it was."
GERALD HAIGH - Times Educational Supplement

Dear Mr Thompson
I have just finished reading the book 'Memories Of Tapton House School' and I felt that I just had to write to say 'thank you' for putting the thoughts of so many happy years into print. I did enjoy Tapton, and have many happy memories. The lovely misty autumn mornings, the spring daffodils, the winter of 1947. The woodland walk, the gardens, and the Commemoration Days. I may not have been one of Tapton's Stars, but one couldn't help but be influenced by being educated by such talented teachers in such wonderful surroundings. Once more, many thanks for compiling a memorial of such a wonderful time of my life. Yours faithfully,
Margaret Jean Ralph, Scarborough, OT 1945-49

Dear Len
Many thanks for the book - I am delighted with it. So far have only 'dipped' into it, but look forward to digesting thoroughly at leisure. Well done - congratulations! 
Yours Sincerely,
Margaret Lennon, Bedford, Wife of Jock PE teacher 1946 onwards 

Our old school no longer exists, except in our memories. We are not getting any younger, and we have moved all over the world. One thing is very clear to me; we all carry a similar set of impressions of the great start given to us by certain teachers and friends we knew at Tapton. I don't believe a school quite like Tapton exists in today's world. I find Len's work to be very helpful in explaining the foundations for my personal set of values to my grandchildren and to my friends. The values given to us through the dedication of teachers like Wildin and Mellor are rare and precious; they must be shared, not lost. Personally, Tapton's lessons have traveled with me to Africa, California, and now to Oregon. I have had the opportunity to shape the lives of others -- my children and many, many employees. I have enjoyed his book, "Memories of Tapton House." I highly recommend it. The value is in the realization of how much we all shared the same feelings about "Our school." It may have been closed as a High School, but the daffodils will bloom each spring. What finer memorial could Tub Mellor have left than the "Flowers that Bloom in the Spring, Tra La," and us, his pupils. Whether you studied directly under him, or under later Headmasters, "Tub's" influence was profound. 
With fondest regards,
Noreen Carless, Oregon USA, OT 1947-51

Attention Len Thompson,
I was delighted to receive, Memories of Tapton House School` as a Christmas gift and since that time have read it cover to cover several times. I was a pupil from 1950 to 1956 and could give you some input if you are considering a second edition. I have vivid memories of this great place of learning. My time there helped me immensely as I used its standards for my own benefit in the world of international commerce. I still have a copy of the 1956 Commemoration Day programme which I am sure would be of interest-this includes the School Charter which should I believe be given prominence in any future publication. I also have a photograph from 1953 showing part of the athletics team which had a successful meeting at the Inter school sports. Looking forward to hearing from you Kind Regards and Congratulations on a masterpiece,
Terry Ward, Chesterfield, OT 1950-56

I intend sending for another 'Memories...', also 'History of Tapton House', and also if you still have any copies, one of your autobiography, could you let me know how much that is please, and I will send for all three. 'Memories...' is excellent - how the years rolled away! I am going to give one to my cousin, an OT 1941, for Christmas. The rest are for me, a total bookaholic due entirely to Phil Wildin and 'Slasher' Haslam. 
Many thanks,
Eileen Cooper, High Wycombe, OT 1952-57

Thank you very much indeed for your work on Tapton House, which I received yesterday. I have enjoyed reading it and appreciate all the work you have put in to its compilation. Yours sincerely
Elizabeth Jennings, Sheffield, wife of Headmaster 1953-59

Thank you for your prompt reply to my request for your book, it is absolutely terrific and I am enjoying the memories it is evoking. I thank you and wish you well. 
Valerie Blankley, South Australia, OT 1958-64

Dear Len
Thoroughly enjoyed the book, MOTHS. I was amazed to find two photos of myself. One in the 6th form 1973 and one of me in the whole school photo. The 6th form picture I can supply you with every full name as I have this photo and wrote everyone's name on the back at the time. I am sat to the headmaster's right on the front row.
Andrea Gregory, Cardiff, OT 1967-72

Dear Len
Thanks for sending the books. I have found it fascinating. When I was at Tapton I never knew the full history behind the house. I feel very privileged that I was a pupil there. I was in the picture for 1976. 
Best Regards
Janette Birks, New Jersey USA, OT 1972-76

Thank you for the books I was very pleased with them both. I am very interested in the 'old Taptonians' and would like you to confirm the details for the 'old Taptonions picnic'.
Thanks Regards
Gary Newton, Selston Notts, OT 1973-79

Just a line to thank you for sending me a copy of the book and my congratulations on it. It is a very well researched piece of local history that is also readable and enjoyable. Good luck with it.
With best wishes.
Tony Benn, House of Commons, MP Chesterfield