James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Education & childhood

According to Reginald, Nellie had asked Nurse Redrop, the children’s nurse, to look after the family when she was gone but she was "an awful old battle-axe". Elaine was rather neglected and on one occasion she had an ear abscess which could have been extremely serious but was ignored by Nurse Redrop. A major row ensued, Reginald's sister Mary was summoned, Nurse Redrop was dismissed and Elaine spent some time recuperating with her aunt.

Like her siblings Elaine was initially educated in Watford by a tutor, Miss Sergeant, but in Epsom she and her brother, Eric, went to Miss Shaw’s school. When the family moved to Cricklewood, Elaine was attending Mrs. Trainin’s prep school in Edgeware Road. There she passed the exams that enabled her to go to Watford Grammar School for Girls when the family moved back to Watford. She bought her school uniform from the shop 'Andrew Forbes' in Watford (she would later marry the owner’s son). She was something of a tomboy and rather scruffy with what one member of staff described as a fringe that looked like a toothbrush. Ill health one year caused her to miss so much school that she joined the year below; she was wrongly diagnosed as diabetic, when she actually had an appendicitis and she fully recovered once her appendix was removed. She went on to become a girl guide at school, obtaining many badges; she described her hilarious failure to get her cook’s badge.

Reginald was very anxious that one of the children should be musical like their mother and Elaine studied piano to at least grade five. She regularly went to watch Watford Football Team with her father. They also went to some internationals and to watch cricket at Lords; they saw Hutton make his record-breaking 364 against Australia at the Oval in 1938.

Elaine put herself under such pressure, largely to do well to please her father, that she did not really enjoy her last year at school. She was therefore disappointed by Reginald’s somewhat muted response when they learned she got her School Certificate, exempt Matriculation, which indicates a very good pass. Elaine left school in 1935 and, by contrast, she thoroughly enjoyed being an art student at the local art college. On the advice of the principal, most of Elaine’s class took the teaching diploma. Her studies there were interrupted by a bout of measles.

(see pictures of childhood)