During the 1950s and early 1960s there was a small, private ‘kindergarten’ school located at Blackwood, Bois Lane, at the corner of Holloway Lane and Stubbs Wood in Chesham Bois.

It was called The Chiltern School but was usually known as Giffies after its popular headmistress, Mrs Griffin. It was one of several similar schools in the Amersham area and catered for local girls and boys aged three to eight years old.

Mrs Griffin, born Barbara Talbot in Acton in 1893, founded the school in 1935.

After training and working as a teacher in London she married widower, Gerard Featherstone Griffin in High Wycombe and moved to Brays Orchard in Hyde Heath.

In 1951, after her husband’s death, Giffie moved to Blackwood in Chesham Bois and relocated the school there.

An Amersham Museum volunteer, Peter Healy interviewed 2 former pupils, Anne Pepper (née Stanley) and Mary Card (née Smythe) about their memories of Giffies.

Anne also taught art at the school for a short time before it closed in 1965 when Mrs Griffin retired. Anne went to the school with her sister Lindy.

Their father Pat was a partner at solicitors, Francis & How in Amersham.


“I have very happy memories of Giffies which was run by Mrs Griffin and Miss Sims. Miss Sims went on to work at Winterbourne, the nursery at The Beacon School.

“On my first day I was given a beautiful white wood half of a double desk with lid. I shared it with a girl called Alison who also lived down Stubbs Wood.

“At 11 o’clock we were told to go out, presumably to play in the lovely garden.

“However, I thought it was home time and walked home.

“As you can gather there was no supervision!

“Giffie and Miss Sims would go into the little dining room at the back for a cuppa.

“There was a classroom downstairs and one upstairs with a third room which I think we used for play.

“I remember the homemade plasticine which was kept in used Roses chocolate boxes!

“I used to eat the plasticine, but I don’t think I suffered any ill effects.

“Every summer we had Sports Day with potatoes in the egg and spoon etc and the parents would come to watch.

“Every Christmas we had a Nativity Play in Long Hall [The Parish Centre] by the vicarage in North Road.

“Once we had it in a hall in Amersham High St and I had to sing ‘chick chick chick chick chicken’ with a paper chicken hat on, much to my dismay.

“Giffie was a very kind, calm methodical person. I don’t remember any punishments. To me it seemed just like another home.

“Lunch was in the little dining room at the back which led off the kitchen.

“I can see Giffie plonking a wooden spoon of mash on my plate now, to accompany the sausage and beans.

“Miss Sims was very tall and slim. She had a rather booming voice and seemed rather imposing to a small person. However, she was kind in formal, teachery way.

“I was very happy at The Chiltern and feel very privileged to have had a such a lovely start to my education.”


“The school was in an old rambling house with a large garden. It was at the top of Stubbs Wood tucked between two houses before Holloway Lane. The headmistress was always called Giffie.

“The school never seemed to be called by its proper name, always Giffies. I remember Miss Sims who had dark curly hair and was very nice.

“I first went in Summer 1958, entering the Kindergarten aged five.

“I don’t remember any of my first term so I think I must have enjoyed it. I only spent two years there. I suppose it was very much a nursery school.

“I stayed for lunch on some days as my mother was a teacher (Mary’s mother taught at Dr Challoner’s (combined) and then at Challoner’s High School) but on Tuesdays I had to come home for lunch.

“This was very disappointing as there was always sausages and baked beans for school lunch and I missed it.

“We didn’t have sausages at home very often so that was a treat. Some lunches I think we had ice cream for pudding.

“In the afternoon we had to have a rest after lunch. In the summer we were given blankets outside in the gardens.

“There was a wooden climbing frame and a super big tree, I think we were allowed to climb the tree, but maybe I did and shouldn’t have! There was also a lovely large wooden swing.

“I think one school room had high wooden desks which incorporated the chair. It smelt nice but I cannot describe it. Maybe a bit like homemade playdough.

“There was a Christmas entertainment for parents including a Nativity Play.

“One year I was Mary. but was rather cross because I didn’t get to say anything, everyone else had lines.

“I was told I had the best doll for baby Jesus.

“I can’t remember which year we learnt our times tables, but when we could recite them through perfectly, we were given a Bunnykins [Royal Doulton] cup and saucer as a prize.”

Photos courtesy of Mary Card who is the little girl with the pigtails and the lovely smile.

If you are able to identify any other children please email Alison Bailey at info@amershammuseum.org.

Amersham Museum is now open from 12 until 4.30pm on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.