30th September 2019 — After 80 years of separation, passage between the two schools had been facilitated by a double gate in the boundary fence running between both properties.
To current Hampton and LEH pupils, there was nothing newsworthy in the close links they enjoy across many areas of school life. Every day they travel together on the same coach network and Sixth Formers regularly visit both schools for Curriculum Enrichment lessons. They know they can star in a wide range of joint musical and drama productions, and journey across the world on a variety of shared trips and exchanges.
However some more “mature” members of the LEH-Hampton community have quite different memories of “The Fence”. It was Lady Eleanor Holles School that applied for permission to erect a “wire or chain link fence on the boundary between their school and the new Hampton Grammar School” in 1937. During the post-war period, official staff patrols were conducted to keep pupils from so much as talking to one another over the fence. Former pupils from the 1970s recall Hampton Headmaster Gavin Alexander driving his Mini Cooper along the boundary to ensure Hamptonians kept their distance and out of trouble with the LEH Headmistress. One current member of the LEH staff, Sheila Leigh, remembers having to undertake her fence patrol duty, whatever the weather.
It seemed entirely fitting that both Schools should come together to officially “open the gates” and celebrate this historic moment. So on Friday 27th September, the School Heads, Mrs Hanbury and Mr Knibbs, the LEH Head Girl Team and the Hampton Captains, alongside some of the most recent members of the Senior School, joined forces for a ribbon cutting ceremony. Sheila Leigh was there to make sure everyone behaved impeccably. Much fun was had by all and even the rain cooperated by staying away until the photographs had been taken.