Boys’ day and boarding house (Years 9 – 12)
House Parent Profile
Charlie Olive is an Old Blundellian and local lad. He taught in the state system for eighteen years where he held both pastoral and curriculum based responsibilities and combined teaching with being a Retained Firefighter, following his time as a Lifeboatman whilst at University. He returned to Blundell’s in 2013 teaching Biology and was appointed Houseparent in 2014. He lives in OH with his wife Jenni, who teaches Maths at Blundell’s, and their three sons.
In Old House the most important thing is to be happy, to have a great time here, achieve many great things and to leave with fond memories, as generations of OH boys have done before.
In line with the House motto, everyone works together and contributes to the well-being of everyone else in order to succeed in everything that the House takes on. Eighty lads living close together can get a bit intense at times but showing tolerance and consideration of others, having a good sense of humour and developing resilience, builds a strong House community and spirit. All members of the OH community are here to use their individual skills to make the most of all the opportunities on offer at Blundell’s and to contribute to House events, whether that’s sporting or musical talent, expertise on stage, or academic brilliance.
Old House is proud to support the RNLI as the House charity and raises money for the nearest lifeboat at Exmouth. The lads visit the Lifeboat Station and organise a number of fundraising events throughout the year ranging from School Chapel Services with the sea as the main theme to inter-house skittles matches on the House skittle alley.
The Head of House and his team of Monitors (each of which has a specific responsibility to support a particular year group) are vital in OH and form part of an incredibly supportive community that will bring the best out in each member of the House. That’s what makes the House such a great Team.
In 1882, the year that Blundell’s School moved to its present site, the Rev. T.U. Cross built Old House and opened it as a boarding-house for 25 boys. One of the first boarders was Morris Travers, who, later in life was the co-discoverer of the gases, xenon, krypton and neon. Rev. Cross tragically died at sea in 1892, and was succeeded as Housemaster by J.M. ‘Joey’ Thornton, a remarkable maths teacher. He built the first garage at the School, attached to Old House. Such was his mathematical precision that it was a perfect fit for his car, but there was one oversight - he didn't allow for the need to open the car doors when it was in the garage!
Thornton resigned as housemaster in 1912, and H.H. Batterbee took his place. Batterbee joined the army in 1916, and Old House was placed in the care of his sister and parents. During the First World War 31 former boys of Old House were killed. On Batterbee’s return from the War, several alterations were carried out in the house, one of which was to knock down partition walls to form a large dormitory from many small rooms.
The 1920s were a glorious decade for Old House cricket. One of the boys, Royston Gabe-Jones, was chosen to play for Glamorgan in 1922, aged just 15 years 9 months – the youngest county cricketer in the 20th century. In the house competition in 1926 Old House amassed a fine total of 251-1 against Francis House; with Henry Harvey scoring 165 not out.
The west side of the house was extended and the bathrooms refurbished in 1936, as part of the changes to accommodate up to 50 boys. Following the Second World War, during which 16 Old Blundellians from Old House died, Batterbee retired as Housemaster and was replaced by Pat McElwee. Three of the house’s most famous boys came during McElwee’s early years – John Hollands, to become the youngest winner of the Military Cross in the Korean War and a best-selling author; Michael Mates, following a distinguished career in the Queen’s Dragoons, entered politics and is now M.P. for East Hampshire; and Robin Midgley, who became a world-renowned television and theatre director. McElwee retired in 1961, and Geoffrey Lucas, a Classics master, took on Old House for five years, when he left to become Headmaster of King’s School, Gloucester.
Ted Crowe was Housemaster from 1965 until 1980. A Blundellian through and through, he was a pupil 1943-46, a master 1953-89, and Secretary of the Old Blundellian Club from 1958 until his death in 2008. During Ted’s time girls arrived at Blundell’s! Angela Bidlake and Belinda Walker were the first to be allocated to Old House, although they boarded at Gorton House.
Jerry Salter followed Ted Crowe. He had joined Blundell’s in 1969 from industry, but his father had been a housemaster at Malvern, so he had a good idea of the duties involved when he took over Old House in 1980. The house was in his more-than-capable hands until 1995, when his maximum allowed term of 15 years was complete. He was succeeded by a sportsman of great talent, Nick Folland, who had played schoolboy cricket for England and rugby for the English Universities. It was proposed in 1995 to make Old House the home of the Junior Department, but School House was chosen instead. Following a successful time as housemaster, in 2001 Nick moved on – not very far, geographically – to become Headmaster of Blundell’s Prep School.
Leigh Menheneott then took over as Houseparent and with his wife Ali oversaw many important improvements, among which was the total refurbishment of the house in 2010. Leigh and Ali did much to engender a lively and successful house, and to imbue everyone with the attitude of its motto ‘No Passengers’. Leigh was succeeded by Old Blundellian Charlie Olive in 2014.