Many people in Shrivenham and district may remember a school annexe known as 'The Garden House.' In the late 1950's this entailed meeting at the main school up in the High Street of Shrivenham, and then walking in an orderly fashion down Hazell's Lane, turn left at Vicarage Lane, and then left again up a long, narrow footpath to the school house. The footpath ran alongside Knapp's Farm (now Catherine Close named after Harold Knapp's daughter). We knew very little about the origins of this school until we were kindly given a letter by Judy Raschen who lives in Coplow House. The letter is from a lady called Catharine Pratt, who's family used to live in Coplow House before Judy & Dan Raschen. Catharine married a USA serviceman and she moved with her husband to America. She wrote a letter to Dan & Judy in 2003, and in it she describes how the school came about. It contains many valuable pieces of information, ie, why was Harold Knapp known as "Rimble Knapp." This listing contains a scan of the letter and a transcription.
Col. Dan Raschen then provides us with the rest of the history. Around 1947, schooling in Shrivenham was reorganised and the Garden House School became part of Shrivenham Primary School. A wooden teacher's room was added above the brick schoolroom. But by 1965, Shrivenham Primary was rebuilt and the Garden House annexe was no longer needed, so the building was returned to Coplow House ownership. Owner at the time, Hugh Smith let it to Mrs Ormerod, who opened a nursery school, which was later run by Mrs Kay Johnson.
In 1976, Mr Hugh Smith sold Coplow House, with Mrs Johnson, the sitting tenant of the nursery school, to Colonel and Mrs Dan Raschen. On the death of Kay Johnson, Judy Raschen took over the running of the nursery school.
In 1992, amid increasing government regulations, Judy Raschen closed the nursery school and sold the Garden House building, with planning permission for use as a private dwelling, to Air Chief Marshall, Sir David and Lady Lee. Their son, Richard, a Bristol Architect, designed aand had built their new Garden House, allocated the number 12A Catherine Close, of much the same shape as the school and on exactly the same site, but with greatly improved foundations. The Lees had a good new brick wall built to divide their new garden from the Coplow House drive.
We are always on the look-out for more information about Shrivenham and district. If you have old photos, know of historical facts, old documents (especially deeds) please contact us...
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