Priory Website Archive

This Site Was Last Updated on Sunday, 13 December 2009

Site Owner - Stephen Smith

Remember Richard Hamblyn

Richard 1974

Richard 2006


When did you attend Priory



How did you locate the Priory website?

It was sent on to me by Timothy Racine, a former classmate.


Who were your most memorable teachers?

It's hard to remember exactly from a thirty-year distance, but I do recall Mrs Bicknell particularly encouraging me in creative writing, as well as in studying history. I can remember studying for a class project on the Port Royal earthquake of 1692, and the legend of the sunken church bell still being heard underwater. I've thought about that spooky image from time to time ever since.

Mrs. Judy Bicknell


Who were your best friends at Priory?

I remember Drew Fulford, Timothy Racine, Hugh Skelton, Sebastian Taylor, Stefan Niedzwiedzki, Katherine Warren and Patrick Gordon being friends.  


Drew Fulford, Stefan Niedzwiedzki, Katherine Warren and Patrick Gordon


Who are you in touch with today?

Tim Racine emailed me the link, and we've had a brief exchange of messages.

Tim Racine


Who would you like to track down?

Drew, maybe, but anyone from my class would be fun to talk to.

Drew Fulford


What was the wildest thing you ever did at Priory?

I remember being in a school play, wearing a false beard; not very wild, but there you are. I only had one line: 'My lord, you're as sound as a nut'. I played a doctor. No idea what the play was, though.


Who was the craziest person during your time at Priory?

I think it was either Drew Fulford or Hugh Skelton, but one of them (I think it was Hugh) came to my house for dinner once, and drove my mother mad by only responding to her in the form of Bob Hope style wisecracks. He kept it up all the way in the car going back, too, which really took some doing.

Hugh Skelton


Tell us about any memories or thoughts on your time at Priory

It really encouraged creativity and individual expression, even at junior level. The all-boys school I went to when my family returned to England was very dull and academic by comparison, and I badly missed the sense of community that flourished at Priory. Also the food; I bought a pattie from a Caribbean cafe in London just the other week, and it really took me back...

I haven't thought about this for years, but in retrospect our house in Jamaica was absolutely amazing; it overlooked the whole of Kingston and the surrounding area, as far as Port Royal and beyond: we had great views of the planes coming in to land on the causeway airstrip;

also of regular tropical storms flailing over the island. My mum's Collins diary for October 1974 has some great entries on hurricane Fifi, which headed straight towards Jamaica for a couple of days, before suddenly veering south to Central America; I think it killed around 10,000 people in Belize, mainly in mudslides. The winds were still pretty powerful in the Caribbean, though; I remember seeing photos in the Gleaner of cars that had been picked up by the wind and thrown into buildings, and of a metal table leg or something that had been hurled right through the trunk of a coconut palm, and couldn't be extracted. My mum had been absolutely terrified in the run-up, because our house was quite exposed up there on Skyline Drive.

It's funny, because I've been studying and writing about extreme weather for a few years now, and hadn't really made the connection with life in Jamaica, even though I remember those photos in the Gleaner making a great impression. But ever since Tim Racine sent me the link to your website, I've been thrown into extreme retrospective mood about Jamaica in general, and Priory in particular, which I reckon is all your responsibility!! I haven't been back since we left in 1976 (my dad had a 3-year post as a fisheries inspector for the Jamaican ministry of agriculture, fisheries and food) and haven't really thought about the place, either, until now. Is that a common feature of people who you trace through the site?



Where do you live and what do you do nowadays?

I live in London, and commute to Nottingham 2 days a week, where I'm a research fellow in the geography department at the University.

I have a new book just out, as well, about earthquakes and tsunamis, and as I mentioned in the interview answers I sent you in 2006, I started thinking about the subject while at Priory, when I did a class project on the Port Royal earthquake of 1692; I also remember the coming of hurricane Fifi in 1974 and how scared people were. So this book on earthly powers has been brewing in my thoughts for around 35 years!
Anyway, the Amazon link is here:


Tell us about any significant others

I'm married to Jo We had twins in November 2007 (a boy and a girl, Ben and Jessie)


Tell us about your most unusual meeting with a Priory person

No meetings yet.


What do you think of the Priory Website?

Great site.


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Published on the Priory Website Sunday 1st October 2006

Updated Sunday 20th December 2009

Stephen Smith 2009