The Three Schools By John Walker

This exhibition focusses on three schools: St Thomas in Basingstoke, Ovingdean Hall in Sussex and Hamilton Lodge in Brighton.

St Thomas

Photo:St Thomas School for the Deaf

St Thomas School for the Deaf


The building of St Thomas School for the Deaf is on Darlington Road, Basingstoke. The building was originally built in 1874 and it was called the Winchester Diocesan Home for Friendless and Fallen Women. The home was for "penitent women who had no other means of recovering the character they have lost before God and society". In reality, the home catered for women who were either pregnant out of wedlock or had fallen foul with the law.

The Home became a School for the Deaf in 1951 but the earliest records for this educational institution is 1953 (Hampshire Record Office). The school was closed on the 31st August 1985, due to the threat of demolition. 

The school preferred the oral methods of education but there are discrepancies whether they followed the regime strictly, or not. Some teachers preferred to allow the children to express themselves by whatever means, while others were more strict.

The site is now a nursing home.

Ovindean Hall

Photo:Ovingdean Hall School for the Partial Hearing

Ovingdean Hall School for the Partial Hearing

BBC Ouch!

Ovingdean Hall School for the Partial Hearing was established after the 1944 Education Act, which created a number of schools for children who could benefit from hearing aids. The school originally came from the Brighton Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, situated on Edward Street in Brighton. It closed during the war and the partial hearing children were housed on a farm in Wivelsfield; the children who used sign language were moved to Margate School for the Deaf in Kent.

In 1947, this disused mansion was updated to inhabit a new school. Over the years, there were new additions to the school including extra classrooms and accommodation. The focus of the school was to teach through listening and speaking but there was little focus on academic achievements; in the 1970s, only CSEs were offered (equivalent to achieving a grade C in a GCSE, as the top grade). The school was sports orientated and the grounds gave ample opportunity to practice different sports.

Ovingdean Hall school closed in 2010, after an attempt to merge with Hamilton Lodge school. A film was created with the children just before the school closed, to record their last thoughts. The site is now a college for foreign students learning English as a second language.

Hamilton Lodge

Photo:Hamilton Lodge School today

Hamilton Lodge School today

John Walker

Hamilton Lodge School is situated in Walpole Road and is made up of a series of houses which have been occupied over the years. The aim of the school was to teach deaf children within the community of Brighton and Hove, opposed to a secluded location. Hamilton Lodge started as a school that used the oral methods of education but, over the years, they changed to sign supported english and later to child centred communication. In those years, the children who attended were often children who arrived with little language or access to British Sign Language. 

Hamilton Lodge was established in 1945 by Margaret McNabb Taylor, who was a skilled teacher of the deaf. In her years as a teacher, she recruited a wide range of teaching support staff to assist her work (National Archives). But as the school grew, Taylor was advised, in a school inspection, to start recruiting more teachers of the deaf to work along side her. In the 1970s, Hamilton Lodge School start to professionalise its teaching provision, which continued after Taylor's retirement.

Hamilton Lodge School is still a vibrant school today and sports a range of buildings on Walpole Road, including an FE college. You can explore the school's website here.

This page was added on 30/08/2012.

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