Saturday, 31 August 2013

A final visit from St Margaret’s

St Margaret's School, Exeter.  © Copyright Richard Dorrell
An outing to Fairlynch Museum for children at St Margaret’s School in Exeter was one of the last visits organised by the school before it closed at the end of the summer term.

The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Fifteen girls aged from11 to 13 took part in a trip with the aim of looking at  geographical and geological features along the river Otter from Ottery St Mary to Budleigh Salterton. English teacher, Sue Diggins, explained that the pupils had been studying Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his poetry and Geography teacher, Di Forbes, used the field trip to consolidate the pupils’ knowledge.
“In Ottery St Mary we looked at the effects of flooding on the river banks and the potential birth of an oxbow lake and looked at Coleridge's ‘Pixie's Parlour’ about which we had studied a poem.”

Coleridge composed his ‘Songs of the Pixies’ in 1793 while staying with his family in Ottery.  ‘Pixie Day’ is still marked in the town by a pageant based on supposed events that took place on Midsummer’s Day 1454. For details click on


The salmon ladder at Otterton

The St Margaret’s trip included a visit to the mill at Otterton where the pupils studied human impact on the land and river and inspected the salmon ladder. The group then examined the mouth of the river Otter, at Budleigh Salterton, especially the salt marshes, before going to the town.

The visit to Fairlynch made an enjoyable end to the trip said Mrs Diggins. The pupils filled in the museum quiz and had fun in the interactive room where the costumes can be tried on.

“I think it is a lovely little museum and an ideal size for a small school group examining their own local history and the room guides are very enthusiastic.”  

Friend of Fairlynch and Woodbury resident Margaret Wilson, pictured above, who attended St Margaret’s School was one of many who were saddened to learn of the recent decision to close their alma mater.

I think all old pupils are quite devastated by the closure of the school,” she wrote. “I and many of my friends from that time, including our head mistress of 93, attended the closure service at the Cathedral.  I felt desperately sorry for the girls - many of them were in floods of tears. I'm not surprised. I had 11 extremely happy years at the school - 1948 to 1959 - learnt to read and write and speak proper, and generally how to behave - but not much else!  Lots of concentration on sport which I loved and I played hockey for Devon.”

St Margaret’s started at Southernhay in Exeter in 1902 with just 28 pupils before moving to its St Leonard’s site. At the time of closure it had 213 pupils and was ranked fourth in the GCSE result league tables in Devon. It was owned by the Woodard Corporation, the largest group of Anglican schools in England and Wales. A Woodard spokesperson said that the decision had been made because the school was no longer “financially viable”. 









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