February 1866

From modest beginnings the School had grown rapidly, and by the start of February there were more than a hundred boys overseen by four masters, including the Head.  All four dormitories on the South side of the Quad had been opened and preparations began to allow the two on the East side to be brought into use in anticipation of further growth.  The expansion benefited Joseph Merriman, the Headmaster, as he earned £2 per boy on top of his basic salary; by February he was being paid £500 pa. By comparison, the annual school fees were £30.

The numbers reduced slightly when in February Philip and Thomas Swanwick, who had only started on January 25, were expelled.  The brothers were only 11 and 10, but Cranleigh was at the time a very young school.  The average age of the first year’s intake was 11 years and eight months, and the first Senior Prefect, James Frood, was only 14.  The oldest boys were 15 while the youngest was eight.

The day was long, with lessons starting before breakfast at 7:00 am in cavernous rooms lit by oil lamps.  The Quad was open to the West, while the northern side was only a single story. What is now the Williams Library was used as the dining hall (the present Hall was not built until 1869) with the kitchens located on the ground floor of the East side of the Quad.  The long winter evenings were grim, with all prep done in dormitories by the light of flickering lamps, and cold as the windows were open all year.  An interconnecting door from the old Headmaster’s house, long since walled up, allowed Merriman to patrol the South dormitories.

The widespread publicity surrounding the opening of the School had brought an influx of registrations, aided by an advertising campaign locally and nationally in the autumn. However, Henry Merriman, the headmaster of the Royal Grammar School, Guildford and no relation to his namesake at Cranleigh, was less than impressed and took out an advertisement to point out there was no connection between the two schools.

There was little organised sport – the only games as such were of football on the sloping South Field on Wednesday afternoons –  and no matches against outsiders, although in early February “a spirited game of football was played between the new boys and the old, in which, notwithstanding the smallness of their number, the old boys were victorious”.