Perhaps the first link between Chatsworth and Tapton House was made when Joseph Paxton, gardener to the sixth Duke of Devonshire, met George Stephenson in the 1840s and helped him to create the conservatories of which he became so proud.
My own visit took place in June 1956, when I presented the prizes at Speech Day. I was impressed not only by the setting, for the presentations were made in the secluded gardens, but also by the easy-going and friendly atmosphere of the occasion.
Now the school has been closed for some years it is timely to gather together the thoughts and reminiscences of some of the people who taught and studied there.
It says much for those who established the school that the precepts of the original charter permeate the descriptions that former pupils give of their experiences at Tapton. Many contributors refer to the charismatic headmaster, Harry Mellor, who, together with his staff, created a particular ethos which endured for much of the school’s life. The responsibility for the house and the park that was their playground seems to have been gladly assumed by the children, who show their love and respect for their splendid surroundings as well as appreciation for the education they received there.
The school no longer exists, Paxton’s greenhouses have been demolished, but the spirit of Tapton’s charter endures in the accounts of these former pupils and staff.
I am sure that all those associated with the school will enjoy reading this book, which will bring back many memories as well as the history of Tapton House.