Obituary for Miss May Hockley, Headmistress of Thame Girls Grammar School, 1916 – 1948

The news of the death of Miss May Hockley, former co-principal of the Girls’ Grammar School, will stir many memories in Thame and the large area of surrounding villages from which day pupils were drawn

The old order has indeed long given place to new, but the influence of Miss Hockley and her co-principal, Miss Messenger, has been a strong and abiding one, and their guidance of the school over many years is remembered with gratitude.

It was in 1916 that they took over this independent school from the former trio of principals – Miss Dodwell, Miss Hughes and Miss Cowell – and the boarding side reached its zenith during the years of World War One with an influx of girls from the London area and elsewhere, very many of whom have remained in touch until the present day. The subsequent careers and achievements of their pupils over the years have always afforded the keenest interest and pleasure to Miss Hockley and Miss Messenger.

During the Second World War the school again proved a sought-after haven where life and study could go steadily forward in spite of troubled times, but in 1948 the time came not only for the establishment to change its status and to be transferred from the old premises to Holton Park, Wheatley but also for the retirement of the co-principals.

After some years’ residence at Headington, they moved to the borders of Sussex and Surrey. While on a visit to her nephew a few weeks ago, Miss Hockley was taken ill and admitted to a nursing home at Horsham, where she died on October 22.

A woman of great force of character, she inculcated in her pupils habits of thoroughness and self-discipline which few of them are likely to lose. Confronted with some modern laxity or sloppiness, they are quick to apply her standards of judgment.

She taught them also to look oulward at the needs of the world and fostered in them a spirit of charitable enterprise. More than was ever generally known, there were those who in times of difficulty – sometimes extending over a whole school career – had cause to thank her for material assistance in accordance with their needs.

At the funeral service at Crawley, followed by cremation, the school was represented by Mrs. M. Treloar, Mrs. D. Hamilton-Hill, Miss C. Coles and Miss D. Avery.”

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