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The Garden House, Shrivenham, circa 1980s
Open Day at the Garden House School in the 1980s
Location of the school. Map courtesy of National Library of Scotland online maps
Letter written by Catharine Pratt - Page 1
Letter written by Catharine Pratt - Page 2
Catharine Silver nee Pratt (on right) with Judy Raschen who later owned the school in the 1980s
CatharineSilver nee Pratt and Judy Raschen outside the Garden House School in the late 1980s
Transcription of Catharine Pratt's letter

The Garden House School - Shrivenham

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. The Electoral Register for 1958-9 listed a flat above the school occupied by Eric Kingsley Waldon and Jean Elizabeth Waldon.

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 grateful to Laurel Silver Peregrino who emailed us in June 2020, to say how much she enjoyed this listing about her Aunt Catharine. She also imparted the sad news that Aunt C passed away on 9th Feb 2011 in Pacific Palisades, California, USA.


For the Geneologists:
Catharine Rose Oliver Pratt Silver
b. 17 Jun 1918, Oxford, England
d. 9 Feb 2011, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Alexander Hyman Silver
b. 25 Feb 1917, Brooklyn, New York City, New York
d. 13 Mar 1974
Los Angeles, Los Angele County, California, USA
Oliver Beakley Pratt 
b. 6 Mar 1890, Leicester, England
d. aft 1937 
Opthalmic surgeon
Catherine Rose Thorold Winckley
b. 5 Nov 1889
Nottingham, England
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