Prep school

My prep school scarred me for life

On one blissful, cloudless day during the summer holidays of 1972, Charles Spencer, who had just turned eight, surveyed the scene in his mother’s garden in Sussex. He’d spent the morning cycling and swimming, and a barbecue was being prepared. He remembers thinking: ‘This is too good to last.’ And he was right. A date he was dreading, 12 September, arrived. His father drove him the 100 miles from his house on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk to Maidwell Hall, the boarding prep school in Northamptonshire where Spencer would be a pupil for the next five years. We all remember that end-of-summer-holidays dread: the savage haircut, the putting on of

Back to Exmoor, scene of prep-school rides on rough ponies

Exmoor I am heading to Exmoor for the first time since I was last there in 1977 — and as the train pulls into Tiverton Parkway station my childhood rises back up at me like ground rush. We head north and pass Ravenswood, the gothic building where I spent six years of my life when it was still a prep school. And suddenly I am back on the same road we’d take on Thursdays, in a van heading up to a farm on the moor’s edge. Back then, 43 years ago, a shaggy-haired farmer’s boy called Kevin would lead us out hacking on rough ponies across the heather and marshes.