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NAME: Orlando Nelthorpe

DATE: 1 March 2005


Put me out of my misery. I've been trying to think of the fourth house at QE.  There was Leicester, Holyrood, Stapylton and...??? I was a Leicester boy. And which colours were for which (I remember Leicester was yellow!)


NAME: Vic Coughtrey  Vic CoughtreyThen & Now

DATE: 1 March 2005


Well, when I left in '59, there were FIVE houses - Stapylton (blue), Leicester (yellow), Broughton (red), Underne (green) and Harrisons (brown).  And there was no Holyrood!


NAME: Martyn Day  Martyn DayThen & Now

DATE: 27 June 2005


 Underne?  I don't remember Underne!  (Of course, I was there in the 60's and I can't remember anything from the 60's).   Don't bogart that joint, my friend!


NAME: Vic Coughtrey  Vic CoughtreyThen & Now

DATE: 27 June 2005


It was named after Edward Underne, who was the Rector of Barnet when the School was founded in the 1570s.  The Housemaster in our day was the Scripture master 'Poker' Pearce.  He was called Poker because he glided about in a very erect fashion with a sanctimonious expression on his face.  Surely you remember Poker, Martyn?


NAME: Anon

DATE: 8 March 2006


There are 6 houses at QE - Broughton (red stripe on ties), Harrison (brown), Leicester (yellow), Pearce (purple), Stapylton (blue) and Underne (green).  I was in Leicester, with the dubious distinction of having Mr Cornish - my all-time least favourite teacher - as a housemaster.  No-one took house competitions as seriously as he did, and he seemed to have a thing against anyone in Broughton.  He was said to rig the first year inter-house poetry-reading competition (which he organised), and once booked out the hall for five consecutive lunchtimes so that we could practice whatever it was we were supposed to be performing in the inter-house singing competition.  Anyone who didn't turn up got a detention.  We still lost.


NAME: Ian Sadler  Ian Sadler

DATE: 8 May 2006

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1951-1958

Just a wee minor correction - the "brown" stripes correspond to Harrisons House - in the plural.  I was there the day EHJ announced it to the school (1955?).  It was named after two former masters, each with the name Harrison.  But I can't remember anything about them!  Bernie Pinnock, who taught maths (O-level year and 1st A-level year) then, was the first house master.  He retired about 1986. In those days there was only one tie - dark blue with some light blue diagonal stripes.  The coloured stripes were on the school cap (!) - when did that vanish (it can't still be worn surely)?

Interesting to see that Poker (Pearce) - who was (my) housemaster of Underne now has a house named after him.  He was also second master (deputy head) who mostly taught Scripture.  But he also sometimes taught French, which was most alarming, as he refused to speak any English the whole period.


NAME: Paul Buckland

DATE: 11 May 2006

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1962-1969

I too was in Underne House with 'Poker' Pearce as Housemaster, and for most of the time John Curry as Assistant Housemaster.

Whilst 'Poker' could appear very formidable, especially to younger pupils, in fact i always found him very kind and supportive.

Underne was the only house to have the annual 'house social' which I believe that 'Poker' always paid for, or at least subsidised.

He retired, I understand, to the Lake District.  Although he taught me RE I do not recall his ever talking french.


NAME: Stephen Giles  Stephen Giles

DATE: 15 July 2006

CONNECTION WITH QE: former inmate

I certainly remember Scripture lessons with Poker, with my case on the desk to hide my crib sheet during his tests!  I don't know what they call Scripture now, does anyone?

Surely Rastas Dilly was assistant housemaster up to 1964 when I left, having failed all my A levels, much to my father's disgust.

Incidentally, my father, Jack Giles was head of Foulds School in Barnet from 1967 to 1989 when he retired.  He died in 1998.


NAME: Paul Buckland

DATE: 29 July 2006

CONNECTION WITH QE: former pupil

Yes, indeed Rastas Dilly was Assistant Housemaster of Underne.  He left to go to the Royal Masonic School, Bushey.  John Curry, who subsequently became Assistant Housemaster of Underne, had been a pupil (I believe he was also head boy) at the Royal Masonic School and joined QE after University.  In my years at QE the housemasters were: UNDERNE: John 'Poker' Pearce;  LEICESTER: Gil Smith (assistant: Ken Carter);  HARRISONS: Bernie Pinnock (assistant: Derek Fry);  STAPYLTON: Jack Covington (assistant: Hugh Thomas);  BROUGHTON: Tiger Timpson.  Derek Fry and Hugh Thomas were both OEs.


NAME: Vic Coughtrey  Vic CoughtreyThen & Now

DATE: 30th July 2006


With reference to Reply 8 above, it was the same when I left in 1959, except that Frosty Winter, the history master, was housemaster of Leicester.  This Gil Smith must have started at the school after I left.  If anyone wants to reminisce about Frosty, they're welcome.  I can't do it because merely watching a mental image of him 'teaching' sends me to sleep.

10th REPLY

NAME: Ian Sadler  Ian Sadler

DATE: 23rd August 2006


Referring to reply 9, Gil Smith was at the school when I arrived in 1951 - He was the senior french master and nornmally only took post O-level courses - except when I arrived and he told us this was the first time he had taken a first year class - he was very good.  He was also mad on cricket and ran the 1st eleven.  He was also an excellent pianist and used to accompany the then (pre Dilly) sole geography teacher C0cks (who fancied himself as a singer) at school concerts.  Smith was the first assistant house master of Leicester when they introduced assistant house masters in about 1955.

11th REPLY

NAME: Allan Ayers

DATE: 20th February 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: pupil 1960-67

Came across mention of Acorn Camps and Eric Crofts in this month's National Trust mag (NO not MY subscription) and a web search led me to this delightful site. I was in Underne House during the early '60's. Its a real trip to find this site and all old memories. I appear in the front row of the Underne house museum shot. My memories of Mr C0cks would not be believed (horrible antics with his snotty handkerchief for example - and a great act for racist one liners!). Poker Pierce on the other hand could build up such a degree of pipe smoke fug in his little office that one's eyes started watering from the acrid smoke as soon as one entered. Despite being a life long smoker I will still sue the School if I succumb to lung cancer. Eric Crofts, Bannerman and the like were shining stars in a sad post war despot of inadequate masters. They did a good job of turning out Hippy rebels.

12th REPLY

NAME: Andy Thomas  Andy Thomas

DATE: 19th June 2013


"They did a good job of turning out Hippy rebels" [reply 11]. They sure did - I guess I was one of them by the time I left. Stumbled across this site quite by accident and am amazed at the names I recognise - not just the staff but fellow pupils too. Came across an interesting reference here to the Eel's Foot pub where we used to repair after a hard day's work on biology field trips and get thoroughly plastered, smoke cigars, etc while QE staff who were with us turned a blind eye and, to some extent, unwound and joined in the fun. This pub made their own apricot wine on the premises - absolutely gorgeous stuff which many years later prompted me to start making wine at home. Will visit this site again later - keep up the good work!

13th REPLY

NAME: Peter Sumpter

DATE: 25th September 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1968-1974

Regarding Harrisons [see various replies, esp. 5], which was my House: if I remember correctly, it got its name from the benefactor of the Fives Court... Is that still played at QE??

14th REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 16 October 2013


Fives is still played at QEs and is sometimes mentioned on the official school website. When at the school for Founders Day this year I took a photo of the court (unchanged)for old times sake as well as several of the third field (very different from our days).

15th REPLY

NAME: Nick Dean  Nick Dean Nick Dean gallery

DATE: 19 October 2013


On the subject of housemasters [mainly replies 3-9], did the latest issue of The Elizabethan strike anyone else as a bit more gossipy than usual - even extending to some slightly irreverent thoughts about some of our heads of house 50-60 years ago? Coincidentally, a few days ago I saw a repeat on BBC2 of that somewhat politically incorrect 70s sitcom, Are You Being Served? and noted that The Elizabethan has a contemporaneous (c1950s) sketch of John Pearce [replies 3,5,6] that is an absolute dead ringer for Mr Grainger. There seemed to be some uncertainty among those invited to contribute as to why JP was called 'Poker'. This is no doubt discussed somewhere on this site, but I had always assumed it was because, in both deportment and manner, he was (unlike Grainger, of course) as stiff as one.

NOTE FROM VIC: I mentioned it in my reply 3, Nick.

16th REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 19 October 2013


I did read the latest edition of The Elizabethan, Nick, and enjoyed reading comments from a small but perhaps sufficiently large band of OEs about the various housemasters (Tiger Timpson, Jack Covington, Poker Pearce and Frosty Winter). The list of views is starting to compete with this site. Notable for its absence were views of Bernie Pinnock of our old house, Harrisons, possibly as those asked to contribute were at the school before the House was formed, although it is no longer the junior house since the existence of Pearce. I look forward to seeing at least some of the guys who contributed at the next Forty Club Dinner and the 118th Annual Dinner as well as some of the ex-Harrisons House contingent such as Messrs Newton, Wormald, Harrison and Tarry.

17th REPLY

NAME: Geoffrey Conner

DATE: 29 May 2014

CONNECTION WITH QE: pupil 65 to 68

I've just stumbled across this site and saw the reference to The Eel's Foot [reply 12 and here] before it opened as a field study centre. Ken Carter and a couple of other staff members used to take working parties up to the farm to convert an old barn donated by Major Croft, Eric's brother. We lived in tents and an old caravan and we used to alternate between the the Eel's Foot and the local in Therberton. The story in the village was that the barn had been used to lay out the casualties from a Zeppelin whose crew were buried in the local graveyard.

18th REPLY

NAME: Michael Vinson

DATE: 26 January 2015

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1944-1951

Regarding the Underne House Social [reply 6], the first was held shortly after the war at the Copper Kettle in Victoria Road, New Barnet. It consisted of a mug of sweet tea and a sticky bun. By the time I left in 1953 it had progressed to a concert party held I think, in Church House, Wood Street.
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