History of Hunmanby Hall

Article reproduced with the kind permission of Mrs Genista Dawson, July 2014. At the time of writing, Genista is living happily and well in York, aged 94.

19th December 2016 - we are sad to report that Genista died peacefully this morning.  The obituary is here.


This archival site about the history of Hunmanby, East Yorks (until 1974 when the village was incorporated into North Yorks ) would not be complete without a full History of Hunmanby Hall Girls Boarding School (1928 – 1991) which was of the Methodist persuasion and became one of the leading girls boarding schools in the country. Although effectively ‘divorced’ from the village proper, the school’s presence had a very beneficial effect, providing employment and trade locally besides preserving the old Hall and its beautiful grounds.

Despite my late father H. C. Mowthorpe (Sen.) being the main contractor for the original conversion of the Hunmanby Hall into a large boarding school, my knowledge of the school itself was limited. However I was friendly with Mrs Genista Dawson. She was one of the early pupils, rejoining as staff in 1941, marrying another member of staff in the 1950’s and today, a leading light in the Hunmanby Hall School’s Old Girls Association. Hence the following discourse, which is an excellent précis of the school’s lifestyle.

Thank you Genista 

  By Mrs Genista Dawson


Hunmanby Hall 1937


The idea behind the request made to me by Mr. Ces. Mowthorpe was to create a descriptive account of our school and its pupils, during its 63 years.

In 1928 a very NEW school was opened at Hunmanby, Near Filey in the East Riding of Yorkshire. There was a magnificent team of governors from many spheres of work and life to control the years ahead, meeting up regularly at the school. As many as 80 girl pupils came from all parts of the country as its “First Pupils”. From East/West Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Kent, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Northampton and Norfolk they made an interesting collection. As the school became known girls came from North of the Border and overseas – flying across the world to school. Education received by the pupils was carefully delivered with a great emphasis on academic and outdoor games and activities.

Many gifted girls in all spheres resulted in high achievements across the board. Physical handicapped and speech defects were cared for – Remedial and Speech Therapy were available. The teaching and nursing staff – later house mistresses were introduced – saw an exceptional able and experienced group of people dedicated to help and care for the girls. Wearing of academic gowns was a habit we all got used to – for services and teaching in class.

The founder Headmistress, Miss Francis Hargreaves BA was very appropriate – daughter of a Methodist minister with a degree in History and a former Assistant Head at Kent College for girls. ‘Houses’ had the names of former Lords of the Hunmanby Manors. Gant, Constable, Cecil and Mitford. Knowledge of the historic area of Hunmanby made these names an obvious choice. The Girl Guides movement gave an additional asset for us all, by the formation of 5 Guide Companies and 2 Brownie Packs - later Guides and the future Duke of Edinburgh Award Schemes. Staff took training to become Brownie/Guide Captains, taking us through from 2nd & 1st class to the acclaimed Queens Guide Award and Duke of Edinburgh.

The many classroom blackboards saw white and coloured chalk in use – teaching us arithmetic, geometry, science and all other literary work. We had some tuition verbally in foreign language. Our yearly Calendar of Events kept the pupils occupied, leaving few dull or idle moments. Each term began and ended with the LAMP service. The symbol of the Lamp – with an in-extinguishable flame – became our schools symbol. The original copper lamp was donated in the 1930’s by parents. Today the present one is in the care of the Chairman of the Old Girls Association and taken to all branch association meetings – on lighting the lamp these words are repeated. “May the spirit of the flame burn in you and kindle others hearts”. Long may it continue - even after the schools closure in 1991.

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