As the first term ended, registrations had picked up although as the Christmas holidays started there were only 27 boys who headed home, including the most recent new entrant, Hadji Stevens, who had only been present a fortnight. This was one of only two breaks in the year. The original prospectus stipulated the boys return home for four weeks and three days at Christmas and six weeks and three days in the summer. For those living abroad, such as the three Wintle brothers from Calcutta, this meant they could only see their parents when they happened to visit England.
In the depth of winter, the Surrey County School was a cold, dark and uncomfortable place. The only lighting was by paraffin lamps or candles, and while there was a boiler under the east side of the half-completed Quad, the ongoing building work rendered it of little use. At night the boys slept in 1 South dormitory, above the current Reading Room, with windows still open so the fresh air blew away illness.
Money was still tight as bills for the initial build and fitting out continued to arrive and fee income was minimal. Loans continued to be made by members of the Council, while the Headmaster was asked to apply to the Society for Proving Christian Knowledge for a grant of books for use in the chapel.
Joseph Merriman confidently told the Council at a meeting on December 17 that anticipated new registrations for January meant he wished to take on a new master to teach drawing. This was agreed “at a salary not exceeding £100 a year”.