LETTERS HOME, contributed by Chris Cooper

Chris (top, left) attended The Priory during the period 1959-62, and wrote these letters to his parents and sister when he was in the Fifth Form. It was good of him to share these adolescent missives with us, warts and all, and thereby provide us with an interesting insight into some of those aspects of Priory life which had top priority for some. (Sport, football, cricket, athletics, rugby and more sport).

Can you guess the year ?

. . . . Last Sunday we played Durley Reserves, which is a local village team. They are pretty rough, but didn’t have much skill, and we beat them easily 6 – 2. In the evening we had a debate in the Common Market, one boy speaking in favour of it and one against.

During ordinary manual work this last week I’ve been helping to put up a tempory  bike-shed round by the side of the cow byer. Up till now this has served as a bike-shed, but now it is to be turned into a new recreation hall. On Wednesday the demolition workers arrived to level out the floor, and I worked with a group of other boys clearing away the rubble all afternoon. By doing this we lessened their time here, and so saved money towards our recreation hut. They finished off the work on Thursday morning, and by helping them we saved as much as we payed them.

Well yesterday our run of 14 games without defeat came to an end when we were beaten 5 – 1 by Portsmouth College of Technology. Still all good things have to come to an end. You can’t win all the time. Yesterday in the second half nothing seemed to go right, and our opponents deserved their win. After the match we had tea in a nearby golf-house, which was quite a posh place. We have another game today against Bishops Waltham village team, who are at present top of the Winchester and District III division, so it will probably be quite a tough game.

Incidentally, we are getting a new Procurator this week, Fr Gerrity who has just returned from the missions. Brother David our present one is joining the team of brothers who are at present touring this province fixing up old things and putting new things. They are soon coming down here to do our new recreation hall, and fix up the hot-water system.

As parcel post is now normal I shall start sending my washing home again, if that is alright with you. I also need a few things, which I shall let you know of.

Well till next week Cheerio for now and God Bless


P.S. I have written to Sheila so don’t post this on.

The Priory

Bishop’s Waltham
Sunday 18th Feb

Dear Mum & Dad & Sheila,

Hope you are all well and getting on alright. It has been pretty windy lately down here, though the sun has come out very stormy on some occasions.

Well last Sunday we played Bishops Waltham village team, and we were unlucky to be beaten 3 – 2. They were a bit too strong for us, especially in the second half when they scored all their goals. In the evening the Science Society invited a speaker on Photography, which was quite interesting. Later after supper we had our usual monthly films, given by a man who charges nothing and says he does it for a hobby.

On Wednesday we played the Claverucians at home, and beat them 2 – 0, even though we had three of our best members missing. This was our 13th win in 19 games. In the evning we had a solemn requiem mass for the repose of the souls of those fathers murdered in the Congo.

On Thursday we had a holiday in honour of the new appointments, and I went to Gallidown for the day with four other boys. It was quite dry up there, and I managed to get the fire going with just one match. We didn’t do much all day save relax around the fire, eating and listening to one of the boy’s wireless. After supper we were allowed to watch the television.

Yesterday we suffered our 4th defeat of the season when we went down 3 – 0 to the Salecins. They were a very fast team, with members from three . . . .

(missing pages)

The Priory
Bishop’s Waltham
Sunday 4th March

Dear Mum, Dad & Sheila,

I received my laundry okay yesterday, and your letter Mum earlier on in the week. Its been snowing off and on this last week, and it has been pretty cold. Yesterday we had a bit of snow late in the morning after the sun shining earlier on. I’m pleased to say that I heard yesterday that I had passed my History G.C.E., thank God.

Well last Sunday we had a 7 aside Rugby Tournament between our three houses, and our house came second. Later on in the evening we had a jazz session with Fr. Moloney and Mr Williams playing the records and outlining the history of jazz when it began in 1860 till the present Day.

On Monday evening we were allowed to watch the Spurs v Dugla (?) match, which I thought was a very good game. After this we watched Panorama as usual.

On Wednesday I did another couple of hours digging with a few other boys down the garden. It is now about three quarters finished.

Thursday evening was free in honour of St David, and I listened to records most of the time, of which we have quite a collection both of Pops and Classical.

Yesterday morning we had manual work instead of classes, and I worked on the roller and then at raking the lawns until the snow drove us indoors at 12 o’clock. Our game with St Mary’s Southampton started at 2 – 30 p.m., on a snow-covered pitch. This, however, was soon churned into the mud, though the pitch was quite playable. We took an early lead and were winning 2 – 1 just before half-time when we scored another two quick goals to make the score 4 – 1. The second half was more even, and we both missed some chances, so that the final score was 4 – 1 to us. I am still playing right-back, and we have played all my 22 games in that position.

We have Monday and Tuesday off this week as a mid-term, so that is something to look forward to.

Well no more news this week, so cheerio and God Bless,


P.S. Could you please send me my records of “Wild Wind” and the “Franky Lane” record of four westerns in my next laundry parcel thank you.

Was this the Frankie Lane record, Chris?!

The Priory
Bishop’s Waltham
Sunday. 25. March

Dear Mum & Dad & Sheila,

Thank-you for the letters and money which arrived okay. The new 3-speed will cost just under £4 to fix up says the Village Cycle-shop man who is quite a reliable chap. With this done it should be in good condition for my tour at Easter.

Well today is the third Sunday of lent so that means only 4 weeks to Easter Sunday, and about 2 weeks to the end of term exams, my last I hope. This term has gone pretty quickly, it doesn’t seem possible we’ve been back 9 weeks tomorrow.

Last Sunday we played away to Owlesbury Village Reserves and beat them 6 – 2.  Like most of the local teams around here they were a rough lot, though we gave as good as we received.

Yesterday we played away again against St. Marys College Southampton. This match was a pretty equal one, and ended in a 1 – 1 draw, their goal coming from one of our goalies rare mistakes. This was our 26th game of which we have won 17, drawn 4 and lost 5. We have three more matches plus two against our Scholastics at Totteridge in London on Easterday Monday and May 3rd.

Last Sunday evening Mr Norris a teacher from Portsmouth Catholic Grammar School gave an interesting talk on Communism. Each week we have a speaker in or something else sponsored by one of our three societies.

On Wednesday afternoon I did a couple of hours manual work clearing up rubble around the old farm. After this I listened to records before tea.

Yes we have a Brother Thomas More staying with us down here. He is temporarily attached to the staff till the summer, when he hopes to return to the Missions. I mentioned Mrs Byne to him and he said he would write to her.

An African Student arrived yesterday from Nigeria, and he will be studying with us. He has tried two other orders but found them unsatisfactory, and has decided to come here.

That’s all for this week so I’l sign off now

Goodbye and God Bless


(source : Chris Campbell)

Petersfield : April 7th 1961, Easter.
This was taken when a trip to London was made to visit the Natural History Museum and see "Tunes of Glory" at the cinema — supervised by Fr John Fowles.

(L—R): Liam Colgan, Richard "Charlie" Shann, Chris Campbell, Kevin Gregson, Sean Hughes, Chris (The Squire) Cooper and Bernard Melling.

The Priory
Bishop’s Waltham
Sunday. 3. June.

Dear Mum & Dad & Sheila,

Thanks for the letters, parcel and magazine which all arrived okay. I’m glad you can come down next Monday Dad, I hope the weather keeps fine and then we should see a good game of cricket. I’ve still got a bit of a cold myself, I think it must be the weather it keeps chopping and changing.

Last Sunday was a dismal day, and it rained nearly all the time. The House cricket match had to be cancelled, but we were allowed to watch the televison in the afternoon.

On Wednesday I went for an Athletics practice to Swanmore with a group of Boys. We were practising for the Eastleigh and District Sports which are being held at Southampton on Tuesday. I’ve been put in for the shot and discus, why I don’t know. We did very well in the Sports two years agao, when we won the intermediate section, but this year most of the boys in our form are over age.

Thursday was of course Ascension Thursday and we had a holiday. We in the 5th form had study in the morning after High Mass, which is the customary thing for the 5th during the summer term, in preparation for the G.C.E., which is less than three weeks away.

Yesterday the Manual Work list was changed and I’m now on the Dormitories, after three months in the Chapel.

England have more or less won the 1st Test, as Parkistuns main batsmen are out. Lock seems on good form, both in bowling and fielding. It’s good to see Surrey on top again, this may be their season. The team seems to have improved all round, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Edrich makes the England team this season.

Well I can’t think of anything else to write so I’l sign off now,

Goodbye and God Bless


P.S. I will probably drop you a line later in the week to confirm next Monday Dad.

The senior dormitory 1961


(source : Chris Cooper)

March 1961, on the occasion of the visit by Bishop Holland, the newly-consecrated coadjutor of the diocese of Portsmouth.