At the beginning of 1929, at the age of six and a half, his mother entered him as a boarder at Taunton School, in Taunton, Somerset, where he was placed in the junior house, which was called 'Fairwater'. They had sailed from Cape Town, having visited Victor May in Bulawayo on the way south. Originally his mother applied for him to attend Winchester College and, while they were in London, she also took him to a phrenologist in Holbourne who said he would do well as a lawyer or a sea captain
[It was probably also at this time that the photograph was taken of him in Kensington Gardens .]
His abiding memory is of being taken to Taunton school, introduced to one of the masters and then watching his Mother walk away, leaving him there. He was not to see her again for about three years.
He, of course, recalls many anecdotes concerning those years in the Junior School and many of the pupils and masters. Because there were also other students whose parents lived in far away parts of the British Empire and who could not have them home for the holidays, the school arranged for the group to board at various places during vacation time, sometimes near the seaside or sometimes his parents came to U.K. on their 'home leave', one visit was probably in 1931 or 1932. It was during these that he did sometimes meet up with various members of the May family but they never seemed able to take him out or have him to stay with them during the holidays, maybe the school would not allow it. Mostly he recalls time spent with his Auntie Baddy (not her real name as all the May family had pet names, his father being called 'Slump') She was, in fact, Emily Violet Groves nee May and her daughters, Molly who became an actress and whom Phillip encountered during the war in Cairo, where she was in ENSA and entertaining the troops and who, later, starred in the film ?Limelight? with Charlie Chaplin, (he was also the director); and the younger daughter, Peggy who married John Leslie Rodgers and they had two daughters, Madeleine and Melanie, whom we met in 1978.
Another memory was of travelling in a very smart, large car (a Daimler, I think) with his Uncle William George Bawcombe, who was very short and had great difficulty looking over the steering wheel to see the road in front. (He was married to Elizabeth Patience Bawcombe nee May, who was known within the family as 'Pomp'.)
It was this uncle that drew the pencil sketch of Chester in 1887 that hangs in our entrance hall. Although it has darkened with age, it must originally have been an attractive picture of artistic merit and, even now, I appreciate having this family artefact of historical interest, which was given to us by Girlie Thomas. It was in 1928 that Girlie married Stanley Thomas in Bulawayo]
Sport was a very prominent feature at Taunton School and the headmaster at the time of Phillip's arrival was J.C. Nicholson but in 1936 he was succeeded by Donald Crichton-Miller, who had been a renowned rugby player in England; a rugby blue and came from Fetes School, Edinburgh, where he had been a master. The scholars at Taunton were encouraged to excel at various sports and Phillip was quite a successful athlete during his school days as well as when he was a young man.