The Phipps Schools of 81 High Street & Cromwell Road (Whitstable)

The Phipps Prep School

Brian Eames provided the earliest evidence of this small private establishment when he discovered an entry in a Street Index for 1911/12. It showed 81 High Street as the Prep. School of a Miss G Phipps. He also confirmed that Miss Phipps was still teaching at these premises in 1916. (NB Take care with the street number here! The High Street may have been renumbered in later years)

It is a little inclear as to where Miss Phipps located her classroom(s). No 81 is a relatively small building and it is set up as a shop. However, at some stage, it acquired a separate annex or outhouse - located in the rear yard. That yard stretched back to an alleyway that ran along the back of the High Street shops from Gladstone Road to the large Endowed C of E School.

We know that, in later years, the annex was used as a school classroom by at least one other school and we suspect that MIss Phipps occupied it in the same  way.... but, for the moment, we cannot be sure.

Solving a Family Mystery

Brian's information may have solved a longstanding issue for another of our regular contributors. Take a look at the email from Ian Johnson below...

 Hi Dave,

That's a fascinating article on the premises at 81 High Street and it also offers a possible answer to a query I posed some while back on the site. My Dad went to Miss Phipps' school in 1919, when he was six  - see the postcard below. 

Post card evidence of the Phipps Prep School Whitstable

We had no idea where the school was located. Thanks to Brian Eames, I think we now know.

Ian Johnson
W. Yorks

I love that post card! It probably served a business purpose by announcing the start of a new school term... but it was addressed to Ronnie (rather than his parents) and the wording is both charming and comforting.

Schools were supposed to be tough places in the early part of the twentieth century but Miss Phipps' approach appears to have been rather different. Perhaps, this was one of the features of some of the tiny private schools that grew up in small premises around Whitstable. Maybe, they were less harsh or less impersonal than large State Schools and, thereby, appealed to caring parents and/or more sensitive children.

Just as we were congratulating ourselves on solving Ian Johnson's family mystery, a slight doubt arose as a result of Nick Duggan discovering a number quite separate school adverts in the Whitstable Times of January 1924. These included the following.....

A ‘Whitstable School for Girls’
Principal: Miss Phipps
Church House, Cromwell Road
Clare House Girls School
81a, High Street, Whitstable
For prospectus apply; Miss Horley

So, by 1924, Miss Phipps had relocated her establishment to Cromwell Road where she was using the very large hall belonging to St Peter's C of E Church. This  building is known as "Church House" and it still exists today.....

The Church House Whitstable in 2011

TThe Church House (Cromwell Road, Whitstable) in 2011

Miss Phipps may even have changed the focus of her teaching as the ad describes it all as a "girls" school. This contrasts with the "prep school" title of 1911 and the fact that Ian Johnson's post card clearly shows that she was accepting boys as late as 1919.

It also appears that Miss Phipp's old premises in the High Street had been taken over by another school - the Clare House Girls run by a Miss Horley. But, notice that the address of Clare House is 81A High Street rather than 81. We suspect that Miss Horley actually established her school in the annex at the rear of No 81. By then, it seems it had been given the separate number of "81A".

So, When Did Miss Phipps Relocate?

We cannot be certain about this. The earliest street index references to Miss Horley at 81A appear to come in 1922. Thus, Miss Phipps tenure in the High Street may only have lasted until around 1921 at the latest. However, our best guess is that Ian Johnson's dad did indeed receive his education at the High Street location.

A Strange Business?

Miss Phipp's relocation to Cromwell Road seems a little strange. Why would she move on and leave 81A High Street to a competitor?

Well, we don't yet have an answer. Maybe, she had little control over the situation. Maybe, she  moved on for financial or classroom space reasons ... only to discover that a rival had spotted the advantages of a "ready to move into" school building at 81A High Street. On the other hand, perhaps I am applying the hard-nosed business economics of the twenty first century to a very different era! Maybe, there was an agreement or even some co-operation between the two proprietors.

After 1924

As yet, we do not know what happened to Miss Phipps or her school after 1924. However, we do know more about the school premises at 81 and 81A High Street. Take a look at our page on The Clare House Boys, Clare House Girls and Horley schools.  As you will see, there are yet more mysteries to solve!


Page 1 of 1