Slippered by matron on the first night at prep school

I was sent to prep school in York in 1966 at the age of 8 years old.

My mother was very ill, so never saw me at prep school, but a picture was taken of me in my new herringbone suit with short trousers and school cap. That was the nearest she was to see me in my prep school uniform.

My father, who was an old-fashioned military man, took me on my first day and, as soon as we arrived, he was taken into have tea with my new housemaster and his wife. The new boys were taken care of by the head of house and his deputy, both boys of 13, but over 6 foot tall. We were shown where we would sleep and our classrooms before tea and a game of football.

We never said goodbye to our parents as was the policy of the house.

At 7.00 pm we were all told to go to our dormitory and get ready for bed as lights out was at 7.30. When the assistant master came and switched our lights off, he reminded us that there would be no talking and anyone caught talking would receive the slipper, even though it was the first night.

After been warned four times by the house mistress and other people, six of us in the dormitory were told that they were to be punished. My new friend and I were among the six and were taken by the house mistress, who was acting as matron. The previous matron had retired as she was very old and couldn’t do the work.

The house mistress was a lady of great beauty, in her late 30s to early 40s, with a very kind manner until you crossed her, which we six had that night. Then she was very strict and firm in her discipline.

We were all scolded and although we were all new boys, she said we had to learn strict discipline, which is why we would all be given the slipper across our bottom, with the youngest first and the others waiting outside the matron’s office.

I was the youngest and the smallest boy, and so I was told to stay and the other five left the room, shutting the door behind them. I was in my pyjamas and had my slippers on my feet. Although it was a warm night that September, I felt a bit of a shiver come over me.

I was asked whether I had received the slipper before. Although my mother was a disciplinarian, she had only used her hand, apart from once when I used a very rude word and I had her flip-flop sandal across my bottom as I was laid across her lap.

The matron stood up and went across to a cupboard. I saw a slipper of the bedroom type I was wearing, but a larger size, and a cane, something I had not seen before.

She picked up the slipper and came back to the centre of the room. She told me to bend over and touch my toes. I was told to stay down in that position until she had finished. She then said I should get six whacks, but as I was new and being the first night of term she was giving me three. I was very relieved as I waited for the first stroke. She hit hard, and I went forward and nearly fell over.

I apologised for moving and she said to get back in position quickly.

The second whack was not as hard, but the third and last was like the first and brought tears to my eyes. I was told to rise. She said it was over and I should get back to bed, reminding me there was no talking after lights out in future.

I had to thank her, as was apparently the tradition after getting the slipper or cane. I opened the door and left, and the next boy was told to go in. The door shut behind me.

I didn’t go back to the dormitory, but stayed and waited. I heard what was going on as the others were dealt with.

The house mistress acted as matron for the rest of my first term. I received a number of slipperings, often usually for talking, always in the same position. The only difference was the number of strokes increased to the maximum that could be given, which was 18. After that, it was the cane which I didn’t like receiving.

When we came back after the Christmas holidays, we had a new matron who was a very strict lady of about 25, and very beautiful. She was also very strict and gave me several slippering as well as the cane.