Astor, Class of 1966

Cathy Hogg (Pekelharing)

Alongside an array of treasured photographs, Cathy recounts her final day as a boarder at Claremont School:

“I have many happy memories of my days as a boarder at Claremont from 1961- 1965, too many to recount here, but one incident stands out in my mind above all others….this occurred on what was effectively my last day at the school. The end of the Summer Term was nigh, exams were over, and we were all kicking our heels, waiting for Last Assembly, and then freedom!”

“Claremontians will recall that many places in the school were out-of-bounds, and none more so than the parapet on the roof of the Mansion….to venture out there was to invite a detention, or 100 lines, or being gated, or a summons to the Headmistress’ study, or maybe even expulsion! But on that last day of term, suddenly breaking the rules appeared a very attractive proposition, largely because we knew that we couldn’t be punished in any way, as we’d be leaving the school forever in a few hours! So in a fit of recklessness, a group of us decided on the spur of the moment to venture into unknown territory, and scale the heights of the Mansion! We raced up the back stairs to the top floor of the building, opened the window leading to the Big Bell, and clambered out on to the parapet! Laughing and giggling, one of us started singing The Animals’ hit, WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE (“if it’s the last thing we ever do”) and then we all joined in, shouting the song at the top of our voices from the Mansion roof! I know we all felt such a sense of elation and freedom as we sang our hearts out, but the moment didn’t last long….word had reached the Staff Room that one of the cardinal rules of the school had been broken, and before long, we were hauled off the roof and given a severe ticking-off! Bless them, the staff couldn’t do much else, as within hours we would be leaving the school, never to return. 

Recently, I popped in to the school to see the Alumni Secretary, armed with some splendid old photos taken during my years at Claremont. As I walked towards the Mansion, I looked up at the roof, at the very spot where a group of us girls had gathered so long ago, belting out a pop song and relishing a mad moment of freedom before leaving our school days behind, and striding out into the big wide world which lay beyond the grounds of Claremont School. Happy memories!”