The Manse School at 32 High Street was run by the Richens sisters.
Robert James says (March 2009): "Miss Molly Richens originally started this preparatory school in her family home at Hopgrass Farm around 1915-1916. After their father died Molly, Sally and their mother left Hopgrass and settled into The Manse as tenants and I guess without income Molly needed a job so started the Prep School. Sally, I think, was a nurse with the Red Cross at the (VAD Hospital at the) Old National School in the High Street during the 1914-18 War.
Molly married Tom Gore my Grandfather in 1930 and went to live at Oak Hill Farm for a year or two. They soon gave it up as "a rotten farm being cold and stony" and took Knighton Farm where they lived until 1946.
Sally took over the School after Molly got married and ran it until she contracted a nasty cancer and died circa 1960. My father (Dudley James) then negotiated the purchase for Molly as the sitting tenant of the Manse from the Commissioners of the Congregational Church. He and Norman then bought the house from Molly in 1964. It was the family office until I sold it in 2006".
- 32 High Street, Feb 2007
Robert James, Barbara Hope and Gwen Nicol helped expand a number of family connections to other local Hungerford families. Molly Richens' mother Mrs Bridget Richens, nee Hutchins, had married Richard Richens, farmer at Hopgrass. They had four children including Sally and Molly. Bridget Richens was Robert James' step grandmother. Molly Richens was Mrs Barbara Hope's first cousin. [See Richens Family History].
Robert James adds: "There are many old students still around and besides me my sisters, Norman Barr and his sister Maria, John Holford, Alan Holland, Roger and Janet Beard. Felicity and Stella Whalley, Frank and Julie Clothier (now Mrs Ian Wilson) Jennifer Gauntlett ( now Liddiard ) and her brothers, Nicholas Brittain (Dennis' son ), the Curtis boys Richard, Philip, Andrew and their sister Caroline. My father went there in 1916 when he was 4 years old and somehow travelled from Chilton when he was a little older he walked in and back daily.
I never heard the names of Molly's assistants; Sally had several - May Lindsay, the daughter of old Allwright JP solicitor who lived in Church St, Vera Cleverly, Winney Letts (now Bucknell) from Shalbourne, Mrs Lambourn from Church Way."
Ruth Drury (nee Parry Jones) emailed (Nov 2015) to add: "I was a pupil at the Manse School from approx 1956 until 1959 when I went to Newbury to school. I remember Miss Letts and Mrs Lambourn. I also remember clearly the inside of the building and especially the garden where we used to play. I lived at 30 Charnham St where my Grandfather ran an antiques shop. He was Raymond Tyrer and we lived there until 1967. I also remember some of the names of the children who were at school with me if that would be of interest."
The 1920 Kelly Directory has the Misses Richens living in Lancaster Villas, Church Street.
In 1946, Miss Vera Cleverly was asked by Sally Richens to help out teaching at the school. She stayed two years! She has a number of photographs from the period. She then went to teach at the All-Age Council School.