The Early Days
Douai Junior School, Ditcham Park, Near Petersfield, was opened in September
1948. At the beginning of the first term there were 36 boys, a number that
had increased by the summer term to 49. The headmaster was Fr Alphonsus
Tierney, who in 1952, returned to Douai as headmaster of the senior school.
Fr. Edward Fairhead, Fr. Clement Herlihy and Bro. (later Fr.) Jerome Richardson,
together with Mr Johnston, a musician, made up the remainder of the teaching
staff and Mrs Gillman, an ex military nurse, assisted by Miss Russell looked
after the boys' health and welfare.
Ditcham House was situated on the South Downs with amazing views
southwards all the way to the coast at the eastern end of the Isle of
Wight. Much of the surrounding land was managed by the Forestry
Commission. In front of the house was a lawn which was used for sports
activities and was separated from the neighbouring field by a 'ha-ha'.
In the field were ponies on which the boys were given the opportunity to learn to ride
Captain Blower, the father of one of the boys who ran a local
equestrian centre, gave lessons. At one edge of the lawn were clumps of
bamboo where groups of boys set up their "camps"
. Mr Johnston gave lessons on a variety of instruments and organised the boys into an orchestra
We actually managed to learn the first page or two of Schubert's
Unfinished Symphony with Michael Freeman on the double bass, playing
the opening solo bars!
Post war austerity measures were
still in place but slowly, farm animals such as pigs begun to appear
(Were there chickens? Did we eat pork from this source?). Fr Clement
had a black Labrador and a shot gun and rabbit would appear on the
menu. Mr Gaskin, whose wife ran the tuck shop produced fresh vegetables
from his garden. Despite all these distractions we followed a good
basic curriculum that included English, French, Latin, Mathematics,
Science, Geography and History. Religion was of course part of our
lives and Mass was celebrated each day by each priest and we learnt how
to serve. Processions were held in the grounds on major feast days.
Ditcham Picture Gallery
Prizegiving - Abbot Mooney and Headmaster 'Alf''
The History of Ditcham House
Read The Buriton info sheet 14
& view a picture of 'Ditcham Park Halt' Railway Station. also called 'Woodcroft Halt'
Ditcham Park in later Times
Fr Edward Fairhead took over as headmaster when Fr Alphonsus became headmaster
of the Senior School in 1952
Fr Edward was succeeded by Fr Hilary Palmer in 1968.
Finally, Fr Anthony become the last headmaster on the Ditcham site.
Ditcham House on the Douai Campus
A decision to close Ditcham Park was taken in 1975 and Ditcham Park was
closed at the end of the academic year 1976-77. The Junior school was re-opened
as Ditcham House on the Woolhampton site in the Autumn of 1977. Fr Wilfrid
Sollom, had overall charge of both senior and junior schools as Headmaster
and Fr Godric Timney became housemaster of Ditcham House.The building on
the Woolhampton site known as Ditcham House was opened in 1980.
Current Ditcham Park School Website