Edward Mallet Young, Headmaster 1878-1892.

The building of a School Sanatorium in Acreman Street was the initiative of Headmaster Edward Mallet Young.  Following a series of epidemics at the School, it was decided that complete isolation of patients was required and, on 21 December 1886, the Headmaster announced that plans for a Sanatorium had been drawn up by an architect who specialised in hospital design, Keith Downes Young FRIBA (1848-1929).  Amongst the hospitals designed by Keith Downes Young were the Miller Memorial Hospital at Greenwich (1884), which was the first hospital in Britain to have circular wards for better ventilation; the Hospital for Infectious Diseases at Heathcote, Warwick (1887); Derbyshire Royal Infirmary (1890-1909); the Royal Eye Hospital (1892); Hampstead Green Hospital (1896); Glasgow Royal Infirmary (1900); and the Chelsea Hospital for Women (1914-1916).  He also designed School Sanatoria for Harrow and Shrewsbury Schools.

The site chosen for Sherborne School’s Sanatorium was then an isolated spot, far away from the main School buildings in the north-west corner of what was the School House garden.  It took nine months to build and was completed in time for the start of Michaelmas term 1887.  Built by local builder Alexander Betten, the Sanatorium had 22 beds (for a school of 270 pupils) and provided ‘absolute atmospheric disconnection’ and the possibility of treating ‘at least three different kinds of fevers simultaneously.’  The building cost £3000, with a further £300 for furnishings, and the Headmaster claimed that ‘no public school sanatorium, with which I am acquainted, has been built at less cost.’  Initially, a medical fee of 14 shillings per term was paid by each pupil. Two doctors, W.H. Williams and O.J. Currie, were appointed as medical attendants, and Miss Caldwell was appointed Matron of the Sanatorium.

Keith Downes Young’s design for the Sherborne School Sanatorium.

There have been twenty-one Matrons of the School Sanatorium during its 130 year history.  Originally, the role was one considered only suitable for spinsters or widows.  Unfortunately, very little is known about the first Matron of the School Sanatorium, Miss Cardwell.  We do know, however, that she did not stay long and was replaced in 1888 by Miss Mary Incledon Webber (1843-1924).  The Headmaster’s report for 1888 reveals what Miss Cardwell had had to deal with during her time as Matron of the School Sanatorium: ‘The health of the School has been more severely tried during the past year than at any previous period of my headmastership.  Our Sanatorium was no sooner built, than we were visited, in the Lent Term, by a double epidemic of ordinary and German Measles, which strained our resources to the utmost.  Some 80 boys in all took the complaint, and we had to mourn the loss of two young boys; R.L. Hall [Robert Lillington Hall (1872-1888)], who died in the Sanatorium of inflammation of the lungs, and P.S. Hussey [Percy Slade Hussey (1872-1888)], who had returned to his home convalescent but contracted a cold in the holidays and died shortly after we met in May.  Both were promising boys; neither of them had been more than a year in the School.  In the Summer Term we suffered from a less dangerous, but almost equally wide-spread epidemic of Mumps.’

Following Miss Caldwell’s departure in 1888, a new matron was appointed, Miss Mary Incledon Webber (1834-1924).  Miss Webber was born on 3 August 1834 at Braunton in Devon.  She was the daughter of a Buckland farmer and JP, Charles Henry Incledon Webber, and Henrietta (née Chichester).  Miss Webber held the post of Matron of the School Sanatorium for the next ten years and retired to The Dene, Alcombe, Minehead, Somerset, where she died on 10 May 1924, aged 89.

Miss Elizabeth Ellen Young (‘Mrs Gay’) (1858-1952)

Additional temporary nursing staff had been recruited at the Sanatorium in 1888 to help nurse the epidemic.  One member of this temporary nursing staff was Miss Elizabeth Ellen Young (1858-1952).  Miss Young stayed on at Sherborne and in 1889 was appointed School House Matron, a post she held until 1899 when, on the departure of Miss Webber, she was appointed Matron of the School Sanatorium.  However, Miss Young left in 1902 to nurse her father (who died in June 1904).  By 1911 she was working as a Matron at Christowe House, Cheltenham College, but returned to Sherborne in 1912 to run the School Sanatorium, a post she held until Easter 1924.

Elizabeth Ellen Young was born at Longburton, Dorset in December 1858.  She was the daughter of James Young, a woodman, and Elizabeth (née Gay).  However, during the many years that she worked at Sherborne School, Miss Young was known as ‘Mrs Gay’.  Apparently, Miss Young had had to adopt her mother’s maiden name in order to avoid confusion with the School’s Headmaster, E.M. Young.  When Miss Young died at Longburton in 1952, aged 93, her obituary in the School magazine stated that ‘Miss Young, who recently passed away at a very advanced age at Longburton, was known to generations of boys at Sherborne as Mrs Gay; this address was necessary so as to avoid confusion with the name of Canon Young, the Head Master of that time.  We do not know the reason for the choice but it was entirely fitting; hers was a happy and cheerful nature, characteristics which were enhanced by an ability to show burning disapproval when this was necessary.  It is pleasing to think that in all walks of life there are some whose duties may not be spectacular, though they are of the utmost importance, who can, and do, thoroughly identify themselves with the smallest interests of the whole community; an outstanding example of this was Mrs Gay.’

The warmth of the tributes paid to Miss Young (‘Mrs Gay’) on her retirement and death, reveal the affection she was held in by all at Sherborne School.  The boys who had been in School House during the time she was Matron there remembered how on ‘bath-nights when, before going to their dormitories, they would gather in Mrs Gay’s room for a plate of porridge; the talk of House affairs in which she took an unfailing interest.  There they would meet a continual flow of others from the Studies and Day-room who had found cause for wanting to see Mrs Gay that evening.  Leave from Hall-keepers was never lacking; indeed, these officials probably found urgent reasons for going to see Mrs Gay themselves, and all were welcome.’  Whilst those who had been nursed by Miss Young (‘Mrs Gay’) at the San remembered her cheerful presence, kindness and unaffected charm, ‘hundreds of patients, to say nothing of the Housemasters and their wives, are thankful for the perfect care which she bestowed upon all the boys who passed through her hands.’ 

Miss Jane Turner Morris (1875-1929)

In the ten years between Miss Young’s (‘Mrs Gay’) departure from Sherborne in 1902 until her return in 1912, there had been four matrons: Miss Leigh Clare, Miss Hitchins, Miss Todd and Miss Jenkins.  Following Miss Young’s (‘Mrs Gay’) retirement at Easter 1924, the School magazine reported that ‘We extend the most cordial welcome to her successor, Miss Turner Morris, in confidence that she will carry on the tradition of the Sanatorium as a home of happiness as well as of nursing; and we are sure that she will appreciate the sincerity of our goodwill when we do not attempt to disguise our affectionate regret for our old friend.’

Miss Jane Turner Morris (1875-1929) was born at Wentworth, Ontario, Canada on 16 September 1875, the daughter of Arthur Morris, a wheelwright, and Jane (née Turner) of Willington, Derbyshire.  It appears that Miss Morris’s father had visited Ontario from England with a view to relocating there, but had returned to England after his daughter’s birth.  In 1901, Miss Morris was working as a nurse at an Isolation Hospital at Pimperne near Blandford Forum, Dorset, and in 1911 she was working as a hospital nurse in Derby.  In 1924, she was appointed Matron of Sherborne School Sanatorium.  She came with the highest recommendations which, it was said, she fully justified by the way she coped with an epidemic of mumps in her first term. However, Miss Morris died in post on 24 September 1929, aged 54, and was buried at Sherborne Cemetery on 27 September 1929.

Mrs Constance Josephine Batterbury (1889-1971)

The next Matron of the School Sanatorium was Mrs Constance Josephine Batterbury (née Gabbett) (1889-1971).  Mrs Batterbury was the widow of Captain Frank Batterbury.  She was born at Islington in 1889, the daughter of Joseph Gabbett, a Colonel in the Indian Staff Corps, and Emily Janet (née Dalzell).  Having been awarded a certificate in nursing from Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, she went out to India where, on 27 December 1920, she was married to Captain Frank Herbert Batterbury.  However, Frank died from enteric fever less than a year later on 27 October 1921.  For Mrs Battersbury, nursing was probably the only occupation for which she would receive a reasonable income.  On 30 September 1940, Mrs Battersbury was at the Sanatorium when two German bombs exploded just outside the front door in Acreman Street.  The Headmaster reported to the School Governors that ‘scarely a window was left intact, and Mrs Batterbury reports that the blast was terrific.  Fortunately at the time there was only one boy in the Sanatorium; he took refuge with Mrs Batterbury under the stairs and both were unhurt; but all the wards were strewn with glass and debris.’   Mrs Battersbury held the post of Matron of the School Sanatorium until 1946.  She died in February 1971 at Abbey Cottage in Sherborne, aged 83.

Mrs Margaret A. Duff SRN was Matron of Sherborne School Sanatorium from 1946 to 1961, followed by Miss Margaret McIntyre SRN who was Matron during the Summer and Christmas terms in 1961.  Then came Miss Mary Blaikie SRN.  Miss Blaikie had been Matron at The College, Bishop’s Stortford, and held the post of Matron of Sherborne School Sanatorium from January 1962 to April 1964.  In September 1964, Miss Bertha Ethel Alice Heddle SRN (1922-1980) took over the post of Matron.  Miss Heddle was born at Bromley, Kent on 10 January 1922.  Later in life, she lived at 197 Warren Road, Chelsfield, Orpington, Kent, where she died on 8 February 1980.  Miss Blaikie was replaced in 1967 by Mrs Anna Margaret Green SRN, who in 1947 was enrolled on the Midwives Roll of Scotland, a skill, one would assume, that was not often required at an all boys’ school.  Miss Blaikie left the School in 1970 and was replaced in April 1971 by Miss Theodora Gertrude Siderfin SRN, SCM.  Miss Siderfin was born at Bootle, Lancashire in 1935, and in 1965 was nursing at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary.  She held the post of Matron of Sherborne School Sanatorium until 1983.

Over the last 35 years there have been six Matrons of the School Sanatorium: Mrs E.A. Scrase SRN, 1983-1986; Mrs P.A. de Jager SRN 1986-1989; Miss J. Craddock SRN, FETC, 1989-2000; Mrs S.E. Hancock RSCN 2000-2010; Mrs Clare Ellwood RGN 2010-2014; and since 2015, Mrs Marie Hutchings RGN.

Matrons of Sherborne School Sanatorium:

1888 Miss Cardwell
1888-1898 Miss Mary Incledon Webber (1843-1924)
1899-1902 ‘Mrs Gay’ [Miss Elizabeth Ellen Young (1858-1952)]
1902-1905 Miss Leigh Clare
1905-1908 Miss Hitchins
1908-1909 Miss Todd
1909-1912 Miss Jenkins
1912-1924 ‘Mrs Gay’ [Miss Elizabeth Ellen Young (1858-1952)]
1924-1929 Miss Jane Turner Morris (1875-1929)
1930-1946 Mrs Constance Josephine Batterbury (1889-1971)
1946-1961 Mrs Margaret A. Duff SRN
1961 Miss Margaret McIntyre SRN
1962-1964 Miss Mary Blaikie SRN
1964-1966 Miss Bertha Ethel Alice Heddle SRN (1922-1980)
1967-1970 Mrs Anna Margaret Green SRN
1971-1983 Miss Theodora Gertrude Siderfin SRN, SCM
1983-1986 Mrs E.A. Scrase SRN
1986-1989 Mrs P.A. de Jager SRN
1989-2000 Miss J. Craddock SRN, FETC
2000-2010 Mrs S.E. Hancock RSCN
2010-2014 Mrs Clare Ellwood RGN
2015- Mrs Marie Hutchings RGN


See also:
A brief history of the Sherborne School Sanatorium

Sherborne School and the Greenhill VA Hospital

For further information please contact the School Archivist.

Return to the School Archives homepage.