Annie Lloyd (nee Dunford)
The village school was situated at the far end of the village where the by-pass now intersects the old road and backed onto the railway line. The old school house was a very imposing building and was used for the juniors lessons whilst the infants were taught in the temporary building which was housed to the side of it. The rear of the main building was the headmistresses accommodation and had a very large garden surrounded by a high stone wall.

In front of the main building was a tarmac playground. A path then followed around the side of the main building to the rear of the school house where the playing field was situated. In the field we would stand by the railings waving to all the passengers on the trains as they made their way by. At this time there was a halt in Stratton where you could catch the train to Dorchester and Weymouth or the other way to Yeovil.

I was lucky enough to have been educated in this lovely village school from 1958 until I  moved to the Green School in Dorchester in the mid-sixties.

There were only two teachers throughout the time I was there, Miss D. M. Hudson, the headmistress and Mrs. Anderson the deputy head. The school took pupils from Stratton, Muckleford, Grimstone and Magiston and there were never more than 35  pupils in the whole school (infants and juniors combined) so it was a wonderful family atmosphere. Both of the teachers were strict but fair and we had a lot of fun growing up there.

The main building housed the lessons for the juniors. There was a porch entrance where we each had a peg with our name on it to hang our coats. At the beginning of each day Miss Hudson would appear with a very large bell which she would ring to herald the start of the lessons. The desks were bench types with ink wells, which at times provoked many ink fights! There was a large boiler in the middle which provided the heating and at the other end long trestle tables where we ate our dinner.

Dinners were provided by the council and arrived daily in large metal containers which the dinner ladies served a variety of hearty meals from. Mr (Spot) Warren delivered them and  at Christmas would often stay to eat dinner with us after we had greeted him with the customary rendering of “We wish you a merry christmas”. He was a balding man, always very jolly until the day he was delivering our meals and slipped a disc in his back. It became the cause of much concern for the adults and much excitement for us children as he was carried away to the hospital.

We had the normal variety of lessons, music was taught using the very large old radio that was kept in the main school. Every Monday and Thursday it was tuned to the BBC for singing together and rhythm and melody. The 3Rs were essential and we had weekly mental arithmetic tests, spelling tests and the compulsory daily reciting of the times tables. We also read daily to the teachers. I guess we were lucky that in those days they  were able to concentrate on the essential lessons.

Nature lessons were given every week. We would  be taken out for walks to learn about the countryside and its inhabitants. There was also competition between the two houses. We were allocated windows in the school and each week we would collect wild flowers to decorate them with the winner getting house points.

Sport was very important and we were even lucky enough to be picked up by bus once a week and taken to the secondary modern school in Dorchester for swimming lessons.

At Christmas we would always put on a nativity play for the parents and any villagers that wanted to come with every  child having a part. There was  always a real christmas tree in the school and a small present for everyone at the end of term.

The highlight of the school year was the Sports day. Much excitement was evident as we helped to put up the bunting around the school field. It seemed that nearly all the village would turn out to watch us as we all competed in the races. How lucky we were to have been able to “take a risk” competing in thread the needle, sack race, three legged races, wheel barrow races and egg and spoon races. There was a cup for the winning house and every child got a prize. This usually took the form of a book (usually a Ladybird one) which would have a lovely inscription in it signed by Miss Hudson. The prizes were  usually presented by Mrs. Pope or later by the local vicar, Mr Maddocks. Refreshments were provided by the Mums who always arrived with an array of home made cakes which we then washed down with  orange juice.

Gardening was also encouraged and the headmistress opened up her garden to us and we  were all allocated a plot which we had to tend and grow flowers and vegetables in. It seemed great at  the time but I guess it may have been her crafty way of getting her gardening done for nothing!

There was nothing like a school nurse. If you fell over (which I did for a pasttime) you were quickly cleaned up, usually by a dinner lady who covered the grazed area in lashings of a really smelly yellow iodine paste. If this did not placate you then the final healing was done by Mrs. Anderson who would put the child under her “magic” fur coat which would cure all ills! It was lovely time.

Towards the mid sixties the number of children dwindled and the school was demolished to make way for “progress”  the by-pass! The local children were then transferred to Charminster and the heart of the village died.

I will always remember the school with fond memories and still have the autograph that Miss Hudson wrote me when I left. It said simply: Don’t look at the hill; climb it.