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Mr. Chippett's School at Riber Castle
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Photograph of the Mr Chippett with staff and pupils of Riber School, 1918. Photographer W. N. Statham, The Studio, Matlock
Reproduction with permission of the estate of Richard Melville Beaumont
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Riber School,
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Riber Castle


The Staff and Pupils of Riber School, Summer 1918

Top row: Meynell, Blackwell, Charlesworth, Seager, Berry, Loveday*, Wigram, (Master), Bathurst

Middle Row: Mrs Summerson, Luce, Rev. W.Chippett, Gauld, Summerson (with cat), Wardlaw

Bottom row: Spencer, Dog, Paul, Baker, Gallimore, Beaumont, Hargreaves, Durbridge, Bradley

Photographer: (in the R H Corner of the mount) was W. N. Statham, The Studio, Matlock.

*changed from Honeywell Feb 2011


Richard Beaumont attended the school at Riber Castle from September 1917 until the end of the Lent Term in 1919 when he transferred to Hillside School, Godalming. His estate's papers include a report to his parents of how he had settled in at Riber and periodic reports on his progress from Rev. Chippett. There's a photograph (above, and enlarged below) and postcards he was sent whilst he was at the school, too, as well as his own autobiography. Selected extracts are published here, with kind permission. Copyright the Estate of Richard Melville Beaumont.


Richard Melville Beaumont (1909-98) of Southwell in his own words


pp.6-7 SCHOOLDAYS (1916 -1927)

"Soon after the War started Nurse Southwell left us and completed her training, to become a qualified Nurse at Guy's Hospital, after which she became one of the Army Nurses and we heard and saw little of her. She was succeeded by Miss Marriott, who became our Nursery Governess, and who with my Mother, taught me some elementary things. When I was seven I was sent to a small boarding school at Riber Castle, which stood at the top of the steep hill to the south of Matlock. There were several other boys whom we knew at the school, and we went there by train from Nottingham. It was an alarming experience for a timid boy, and I must admit that I was pretty terrified and miserable for the first term. But I do not think it did me any harm. The boys whom I knew included Pete Gauld, whose father was a Nottingham doctor and had been Captain of Nottinghamshire County Cricket[1], Brian Bradley, the friend whom I mentioned earlier in connection with the "bows and arrows incident" [not included here][2], Christopher Paul, another doctor's son[3], and, I think, a Windley.

The Headmaster, who owned the School, was The Reverend J.W. Chippett, who had been a Master at Giggleswick, and who was well known to my Grandfather[4]. One, if not both, of my Hacking uncles had been at Riber[5]. Mr Chippett was a marvellous teacher of boys because he had the knack of making things interesting to them. The Matron, Mrs Summerson (Ma Summy) was a war widow[6], and her son John was the second senior boy[7]. He was a gifted pianist and one of the nicest people I have ever known. The Head Boy, Luce, was not very effective in controlling misbehaviour or bullying. There were less than twenty boarders, and one or two day boys came up from Matlock. All the boys are named on the photograph, which I still have.

Letter heading of notepaper used by Riber School, in this case for a report either how the pupil had settled in or on his progress.
Reproduction with permission of the estate of Richard Melville Beaumont
  There were really only two classes. The younger boys were in a form room on the ground floor under the charge of a Mistress.

Close to it was a large Conservatory in which was a good Black Hamburgh vine which produced a good crop of grapes. Nearby was a small bathroom with one bath in it, in which we took turns to wash. One day I witnessed an extraordinary incident which I still cannot understand. Brian Bradley was in the bath and I stood by, being next in the queue. Ma Summy[6] appeared, brandishing the steel poker which we used in the fireplace in our form room which had an open fire-grate and coal fire - badly needed in winter, being the only kind of heating. The poker had been badly bent and had clearly been left in the bottom of the fire until red-hot and then bent in the fire bars of the grate. "Who did this?" asked Ma Summy, very crossly. We did not know, and had never seen the poker like that before. Brian held out his hand for it. Ma Summy handed it to him, no doubt thinking that he just wanted to look at it. Brian held it between his two hands, which he moved about on it, and straightened it with apparent ease, grinning at Ma Summy as he did so. She was completely stunned, and turned pale with shock, because it was a physical impossibility for this to have been done, even by a strong man, with his hands alone. But Brian could only have been about ten. Ma Summy left without a word. Nor did we talk about it either, and I do not think Brian understood what he had done. Brian and I remained friends on and off, and I visited him at his parents' house in Pelham Crescent, Nottingham. Much later in life we were both in the 8th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters. But alas! Brian tried to knock out a German Tank with an anti tank rifle fired from the shoulder, and was killed. That was in Norway[2].

It was at Riber that I learned to love Derbyshire, as we boys walked, or ran, miles with Mr. Chippett. I developed strong legs and a wiry strength that has not yet quite left me. I also learned to swim, in an elementary fashion, in the old and really quite dangerous swimming baths at Matlock Bath, to which we ran down and up the footpath once a week. My mother had learned to swim there as well.

Riber was tough. At first I hated it, and dreaded going back to school. But when I left, I remember carrying my little bag down the steep path to catch the train at Matlock station, and being in tears.

I suppose that the reason I was taken away from Riber was because my father thought it too small a school, and also that it lacked a certain amount of refinement."

Mr. Chippett signed all his reports to the parents in a similar fashion, sometimes including his University credentials in full.
Reproduction with permission of the estate of Richard Melville Beaumont

Richard went on to write: "The hills near Matlock, and the walks among them, have always entranced me since I was a schoolboy at Riber ..."



Enlargement of left hand side of main image.
Names are at the top of the page.



Enlargement of right hand side of main image.
Names are at the top of the page.


You may like to view:
Water Cures
Map of Riber
"A Lesson in Matlock's History", a magazine article about the school by Michael Fay is elsewhere on this site.
The Enduring Folly of Riber Castle, is another magazine article by Michael Fay.

Elsewhere on the internet (the link will open in a new tab or window)
High Leas Farm was owned by Richard Beaumont. Read about the history and some local characters. Sorry, website currently unavailable


Image and autobiography © the estate of Richard Melville Beaumont (held by Edward Beaumont).
Further information about the estate of Richard Beaumont may be obtained from Edward Beaumont or email the web mistress (see footer).
Additional information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

Additional notes on the above:

[1] Richard remained friends with Peter Gauld, who became a doctor in Staffordshire, and acted as a Trustee for the estate of his first wife.

[2] Lieutenant Roger Brian Bradley, Service No:38610, 8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) was killed in action on 26 April 1940, aged 31. He is buried at Lillehammer Northern Civil Cemetery. He was the son of Ernest and Kate Bradley of Nottingham and the husband of Betty Anne Bradley. Brian Bradley and Richard Beaumont both attended a Territorial Army Camp on the Duke of Portland's estate at Cuckney (no date given) before the Second World War.

[3] Gerard J C[hristopher] Paul's father was a surgeon in Nottingham.

[4] The Reverend John William Chippett, M.A. (6 July 1851 - 9 Aug 1941) was born in Clapton (Hackney), London, one of the sons of John and Charlotte Chippett. His father was a harness maker/saddler. J.W.C. was a Scholar of Christ's College, Cambridge and became a Wrangler [21] in 1878. He was subsequently appointed as a mathematics master at Giggleswick School, and was known as "Chippy" by his pupils; he was at Giggleswick from 1878 to 1888 and then moved to Devonshire House, Harrogate, where he also had a school.

Riber Castle was advertised for sale in February 1895. J.W.C. bought it and was in residence by mid-April. His wife Clara Lizzie, whom he married in 1888, died at Matlock in 1916, aged 57. He continued as the school's headmaster until 1922 when Captain Lionel Gathorne Wilson took over. Rev. Chippett remained at the school as a master for a time. He retired in 1924.

He lived in Matlock until war broke out in 1939 when he had to leave Rockside Hydro as it was requisitioned (see Rockside Hydro, 1925-45). J.W.C. moved back to live near his old school and died at the Ashfield Hotel in Settle at the age of 90. Amongst the beneficiaries of his Will were Dorothea Summerson (see [6] below) and Edith Featherstone, who had been employed at Riber Castle. He also left £100 to the building fund of All Saints' Church. The residue of his estate was left to Giggleswick School (Derbyshire Times, 19 December 1941).

References to Rev. Chippett and the school can be found in: Kelly's 1895 Directory | Kelly's 1899 Directory | Kelly's 1908 Private Residents | Kelly's 1908 Commercial Premises | Kelly's 1916 Private Residents | Kelly's 1916 Commercial Premises. Also see Riber School in the 1901 census

[5] One of his Hacking uncles sent Richard postcards whilst he attended Riber school. He clearly had a wonderful sense of humour. For example:
"There is enough stone in this pyramid to build a wall four feet high right around France. Remember me to Mr Chippett."

[6] The school's matron in 1918, "Ma Summy", was Mrs Dorothea Worth Summerson, nee Newenham (1874 - 10 Jan 1963). She was born in Knotty Ash. She married Samuel John Summerson, an Iron Trade Railway Plate Manufacturer of Haughton le Skerne, Durham, in 1895. She was not a war widow, though with so many men being killed in the first world war and leaving widows and children behind it is not an unreasonable assumption for a young boy to have made. In fact, Samuel Summerson died on 7 Nov 1907 and was buried a few day's later at St. Andrew's, Haughton le Skerne. According to a newspaper report about Rev. Chippett's Will Dorothea had also been his housekeeper as well as matron (Derbyshire Times, 19 December 1941). In 1939 she was living in London with her son and his wife. Dorothea died at Whittington Hospital, London.

[7] John Summerson (25 Nov 1904 - 10 Nov 1992) became "one of the most distinguished historians of British architecture of all periods. ... He was curator of Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields from 1945 to 1984" (The Times, November 12, 1992). He was knighted in 1958 for services to the history of architecture. His opinion of Riber Castle is noted in "A Lesson in Matlock's History" elsewhere on this site.