The Grove School, Watford

[and Moreton House School, Dunstable]

Grove School

Moreton House School

Elinor M Brent Dyer


Elinor M. Brent-Dyer (6 April 1894 – 20 September 1969) was a author who wrote over 100 children’s books during her lifetime, the most famous being the Chalet School series - See Wikipedia for her biography and list of publications. There is also a Friends of Chalet Schools web site.

In 1923/4 she was teaching at Moreton House School and was editor of the June 1924 issue of The Moretonia - writing the following editorial which solicits further articles from Old Girls.


It is with fear and trembling that we attempt our first Editorial for the Moretonia. There is so much that may be said, that it is difficult to decide what we should place first.

Perhaps the most important affair of all is the sixtieth anniversary of the school's birthday. Few private schools - for girls, at any rate - can boast that they have attained such a mature age. Well, we have held our Diamond Jubilee, and now we look forward to the year when we shall hear of Moreton House celebrating its centenary. Success and long life go with it! The other important event is that. we have, at last, gained possession of the end house, which is now named "Everest" in honour of Mrs. Pochin. So Moreton House now occupies the whole of the block of houses up to Victoria Street.

But although we have increased in area, we have not increased in the number of articles sent in for the magazine. Save for the verses from an Old Girl who was here thirty-one years ago nothing appears to have arrived from anyone save present girls.

We know that life is very full in these days, and we all have plenty to do; but for the sake of past times, we do ask you to remember - and in a practical form! - The Moretonia, and send us contributions-

That the feast may be more joyous.

That the guests be more contented.

Thanks to all those who have contributed. Please, everyone, follow their example!

In conclusion, let us state what has been stated over and over again in similar circumstances.

No institution and nobody can attain success unless all the members work together for it.

This applies to school magazines just as much as to any other  So come to our aid, and help the Moretonia to attain success!



Perhaps because of the lack of material she contributed an article to issue which is very relevant to the Chalet series of Children's Books which she later wrote, and which brought her fame.




Adventures, they say, are to the adventurous. I have proved the truth of this statement; for certainly only a very adventurous girl would have dared go into the mountains of the Tyrol with little knowledge of the language to help her, and only another girl as companion. However, we paid the price of our temerity in such an adventure as I do not want repeated.

We arrived at Innstruck about eight o'clock in the evening. and then made a pilgrimage to the post office, where a letter from a kind friend awaited us. In this, we were advised to go to the Alter Post on the Brenner Road, as it was situated among glorious scenery. and seemed clean and cheap. Subsequently. we discovered that the recommender had had luncheon there one day, and it was on the strength of that one meal that we found ourselves seated in a droschke, travelling slowly up a wonderfully beautiful road that wound round and round the mountain side. It was dusk when we started. and soon the darkness descended. Meanwhile, our driver was refreshing himself at every Bierhaus we encountered - they weren't many. I must. admit.

Just as I was beginning to wonder whether we had landed ourselves into a trap from which we should be extricated only at the price of all our ready money. lights gleamed out, and we found ourselves before an ugly, barn-like building. We had arrived! But now, our difficulties were to begin. We had covenanted with our driver for 15,000 krunen - at that time. about seven shillings. He now calmly asserted that we were mistaken. He wanted 50,000! Needless to state. he got it. We were both too tired and bewildered after two days in the train to attempt to battle with him. We paid up, and retired thankfully to our room after a meal - so called - of eggs, bread and butter, and coffee. As we passed through the square hall to go upstairs, peasants drinking wine and beer nudged each other and winked. Thankful that we were sharing a room, we went to bed. But not to sleep!

It sounded as though all the country-side were keeping festival; and our minds were not made any easier by hearing someone steal upstairs and softly try our door-handle. Luckily, we had locked the door, and now we barricaded. At twelve o'clock, the light suddenly went out, and we had no candles. What a night that was!

We dared not go to sleep, and we had only matches for an occasional light. When the dawn came, then indeed we contrived to snatch a brief slumber, but my friend was so worn out by the night that I was thankful to leave her in bed when breakfast time came round.

Had it been possible, we should have left that day, Sunday; but we were half-an-hour's walk from the station, had no idea as to how trains went, and there was our luggage to take into consideration. Besides, by daylight our fears seemed absurd and unreal, so we stayed.

The second night was rather worse than the first. We went to our room at half-past seven, in order to avoid meeting the revellers of the night before. Very carefu1!y we locked and barricaded our door, and then sat down to await events. They were not long in coming. A shout of "Hier kommt der Rauber!" (" Here comes the robber !"), apprised us of the, fact that our friend. the coachman, had turned up. As our room was just at the head of the stairs, we could hear the ensuing conversation quite well.

"Were the English ladies still here ?"-Were they wealthy?"­ "Would it be worth while robbing them?"

Then a fresh voice joined in-that of Gertlieb, a daughter-in-law. They will have locked their door," she said. "But how easy to pick the lock!" laughed another. The sound of a whip-lash, accompanied by the cries of a woman, told us that we might have brute force to deal with, and we shivered!

The terrifying conversation went on; till suddenly, at about eleven o'clock, there was the sound of light footsteps pausing outside our door, Gertlieb had come to defend us if she could.

The tramping of heavy footsteps up and down the stairs did not reassure us, and I, at any rate, was preparing to sell my life as dearly as possible, when they came again.

A gruff voice said, "Aha! You will protect them, then?" " They have trusted us; We must protect them," said Gertlieb's voice.

"You need not fear. I would never harm a good Catholic!"

How thankful I was that the Crucifix I had been wearing had slipped out of my frock during the day, causing them to draw this conclusion, which, by the bye, was quite inaccurate.

Silence fell on the house, but we were still in fear. To make matters worse, my friend, a very nervous girl, was becoming ill with fear. I was thankful when morning came and we were able to get away. We paid our reckoning - a simply ruinous one, and contrived to get. to the station, aided by two servants who grumbled at the amount of trinkgeld we gave them.

With joy, we got into the train, and were whirled away, leaving one of the loveliest places on earth with thankfulness that we had escaped with our lives.

© Girls Gone By Publishers


An article in the Book and Magazine Collector commented in 2001: "It was already known that Brent-Dyer had been issued with a passport on 4th July 1922, but, until [this article was discovered], there had been no formal documentation which confirmed 1922 as the date of her visit to the Tyrol which inspired the creation of the 'Chalet School' series."  Her first book in the "Chalet School" series was published in 1923.


It is possible that she was only at the school for a year. She is not mentioned in the preceding issues of The Moretonia or the following issue, and is not listed in the staff at The Grove after the move. However during the year she would appear to have been very active in the school, including writing the text for the school pageant.

December 2010   Page Created