64 thoughts on “11 Mary Craig

  1. Mary Craig looks very like our old head mistress. Do you happen to know if she was previously at Wade Deacon Grammar School for girls Widnes? Please reply. Drey Cole

    • Hello. No I don’t know where she was previous to Bishop Fox’s girls grammar in Taunton. She was headmistress there in the 1960s when I did A levels, and she was remarkable. You could ask Wade Deacon School itself. I shall email you this also.

  2. Mary Craig was an individual who inspired affection and respect. She had a practical understanding of things when one was in a muddle over one’s future, and was always encouraging and an intelligent sense of humour. She smoked heavily and the front of her hair was quite yellow from it! The portrait is a good likeness. Does this sound like the person you knew?
    Best wishes,
    Jane

    Thank you so much for replying so promptly. It sounds so like the Mary Craig that was such an inspiration to us all. I remember her marching along our corridors with her sleeves rolled up and usually with a cigarette in her hand [ no health and safety rules then]. She encouraged my love of music and it is still with me today. We were all heart broken when she left us around 1952 or 53. Do you think it could be the same person?
    > Drey

    That sounds exactly like her. What a lovely shared memory! She gave any school she ran, great character. I think I painted her in the early 1980s, after she retired.
    Jane

    Hi Jane,
    I can’t wait to tell my friends where she went to after our school and how lucky you were to paint her. I really enjoyed the rest of your gallery. You have a real talent- no doubt inspired by Mary Craig.
    Thank you for the memories,
    Best wishes, Drey

    Thank you so much! On of the great perks of using my blog as a gallery, is the surprise contacts and memories it brings about!

    http://www.bishopfoxs.co.uk/

    You might be able to contact someone and find out more about Mary Craig on this link – Bishop Fox’s school, Taunton. At the time I painted her, the headmaster (who commissioned it) was Jeremy Harvey.
    Jane Adams

    • 13 February

      Hi Jane,
      Thank you for the link to Bishop Fox. It looks a lovely school and quite modern compared to Wade Deacon. I believe the Wade is being modernised behind it’s rather grand frontage. I hope we get an invite when it is finished!
      I will try to contact somebody but I am more or less convinced that your Mary Craig and mine are the same person. I’ve just had the bright idea of looking at my old school photo and I have tried to take a photo with my phone so I will attach it to this message and you will see what I mean.
      Bye for now, Drey

      Dear Drey
      That is Miss Craig beyond all doubt. My mother (with me at the moment) recognises her also. Thank you so much for the photo. With your permission, I will attach it to the blog near where my painting is.

      Bishop Fox’s moved to posh new buildings some time ago – the old Bishop Fox’s was more school-like, if you know what I mean – a long brick building, and austere, with a very long corridor. I begin to remember it a little, and the cubby holes for music and French, and a big draughty playing field behind it. I wonder if their website has any old pictures or info.
      Jane

      PS – Her ears are a giveaway! They were very long. Jane

      Hi Jane,
      I’m glad both you and your Mother agree. I don’t think I need to contact Bishop Fox now. By all means attach the photo to your blog. I’m only sorry that it is of such poor quality. My phone isn’t the best.
      Your old school sounds very like ours with its long corridors and large field behind. We had boys in one side of the school and girls in the other but we shared the hall, gym and dining hall. We had a line down the playground and each had to keep on our own side at lunch times so we used to meet down the field where nobody could see us. Oh, happy days!
      Bye, Drey

      • I’m sure it is the same Miss Craig as she told us she came from the North West and that the girls there were afraid to apply to universities south of Birmingham whilst we in Somerset were afraid to go North of Birmingham!
        I think she died in her late 70s early 80s which considering how much she smoked was pretty good. She was a remarkable woman.

    • Jeremy Harvey is on facebook 🙂 i recall Miss Craig. She was Headmistress for one year of me being there a lovely woman. She helped relax me and lifted me off the floor after i fell over. I have never forget that kindness.

  3. Dear Jane, my mum and I were talking about Bishop Fox’s today, which made me nostalgic and head for Google! It was such a wonderful school and Miss Craig was an inspirational woman of rare quality. I was there from 1971 to 1978. She had progressed to using a long and elegant cigarette holder by then. She always reminded me of a Bohemian character from the 1930’s. Your beautiful portrait captures her so well and brings back very fond memories. We think there should be a statue to her in Taunton! She was born in 1913 and died in 1990.

    • Wonderful to hear from you, Deb! I was there in 1965-1967, doing A levels. When I was finishing the painting – probably in my sister’s home – my sister collected “Miss Craig” type items from all over the house and we strewed them all along the furniture top higgledy piggledy for the background. Yes, we were all very fortunate to have her in our lives, and she must have looked wonderful with that cigarette holder. My best wishes to you, and your mum.

  4. Just stumbled across your blog. What a beautiful depiction of Miss Craig. I was at Bishop Foxs’ Girl’s School from Sept 1962-Jul 1969. I was a boarder at Weir Lodge in Staplegrove Road, home to about 24 boarders. She lived with Miss Kent. Not sure if they were lesbians (one didn’t know about things in those days). Although she was quite formidable, “would Yvonne Collins and Monica Evans (me) see me after assembly” she was very fair and reasonable. A very clever woman. She knew every pupil by name and their background. I think she also took science classes.

  5. I went to bishop Fox’s from 1966 to 71 and I have such fond memories of the school and Miss Craig. I remember having to wait outside her room for a reprimand because the Radio One Roadshow had come to Taunton for the First time which was a very exciting event back then. I think it went to the 88400 club (have I imagined that?). We were allowed to go at lunchtime and we wrote a request for all our friends at the school on a bra. It was read over the air and Miss Craig was not amused! We had a good ticking off from her but she was always fair. The portrait captures her very well.
    Happy times!

    • I was at ‘fishbox’s’ also between ’73 and ’80. the last year before it went co-ed. not a model student I spent an inordinate amount of time standing outside Miss Craig or Miss Hampson’s room waiting to be reprimanded. Usually for not handing in homework. Memories of a yellow flock of hair, cigarettes, pekinese dogs and i believe whiskey.

  6. I was at Bishop Fox’s from 1965 to 1972. I have to agree that Miss Craig was an amazing woman, teacher and Head. At the end of each year a special assembly was held in the afternoon which was just her and all the girls. She always got loud cheers and applause and was a much loved Head. She taught me zoology in 6th Form and was an good teacher although her other duties often got in the way. I wish I had had the opportunity to get to know her better but I was rather afraid of her authority so tended to keep out of her way.

    • Hi I was at Bishop Fox’s when Miss Craig joined the school as headmistress in the 1950’s.From memory I think it was 1952 when she came.Love the picture and yes she was a great inspiration and took away any incentive to have a sneaky cigarette as she did not make it an issue.Therefore as far as I am aware nobody bothered.Her door was always open if you needed advice even after you had left the school.It was also due to her I got my first job.

  7. I was at Bishop Fox’s from 1975 to 1981 and have very fond memories of my time there (with the exception of the netball courts in September when the dragon flies gathered on the wall next to them and then flew up into your face and hair!).
    The portrait is a very good likeness of Miss Craig. It was only looking back and comparing my experiences with others that I realised how good the school was in preparing us for life and how Miss Craig was such an inspiring leader. Would be fascinating to be able to talk with her now.

  8. You are so very clever. What an amazing portrait of dear Miss Craig. I joined Bishop Fox’s in the second year and left after the sixth form in 1970. I have such happy memories of those days. She was a super and inspirational person who seemed to know every one of us by name. I remember one end of year assembly when we were in trouble for picking the marigolds from the flower beds in front of the school and tucking them in our hair … flower power failed to work its magic!
    Best wishes and thank you for the memories. Rosemary (nee Silverthorne).

  9. I was just idly Googling Bishop Fox’s and came across this wonderful portrait, and recognised Miss Craig immediately. Remember girls walking her dogs at lunch time? All of us on this agree that she was a wonderful Head. She taught me chemistry too. I was there from 74-76 only, yet my memories of the school are so strong, and she was such a good leader of that school.

  10. What a delightful surprise to fall over this blog! I was at Bishop Fox’s from 1959 to 1966. Miss Craig was a wonder and I can still picture her marching along the quadrangle with her long black cloak billowing out.

    I particularly remember in a career information session one day a girl mentioned she wanted to be a dental nurse. Miss Craig told her to aim higher and work to become the dentist not just the nurse. This was typical inspirational stuff from her. I admired her enormously.

  11. I was at Bishop Fox’s also from 1958 to 1965. I remember that Miss Craig had a television in her study and when we had finished our A level exams she allowed us to watch Wimbledon one afternoon. She had long haired dachshunds which she asked us to walk for her at lunchtimes.

  12. This a wonderful picture of Miss Craig. My twin sister and I were at Bishop Fox’s 1967-74 and were the last of the Rugg girls (five in total) who were there. Miss Craig taught us Biology, Chemistry and Physics at various times. She was so busy – running the school of 1000 girls with a couple of secretaries who I think were part time. She was often late for lessons and it was hard to know whether to go and remind her, which she didn’t like, or not remind her which she didn’t like either. She kept long haired Daschunds and lived with Miss Kent who had Dandie Dinmonts. We all loved her, she really did know us all. I bumped into her in Taunton years after I left when she had retired and she knew me straight away and wanted to know what my sisters were going. I heard that after she retired she looked after Miss Kent who was ill and died not long after her. She was very impressive.

    • I have been looking at the history of Bishop Fox’s and came across your wonderful painting of Miss Craig. I attended the school from 1960-68 and previous posts brought back fond memories. Science did not come naturally to me, but I still remember Miss C taking me out of a science lesson to ask WHY I was not doing physics olevel. She did know all her girls as individuals and valued each one. Sure she was an inspiration for my own teaching days, including 5 years at Weirfield.

  13. I was at Bishop Fox’s from 1976-1981 and remember Miss Craig with her tobacco stained hair. The portrait is lovely to see and such a good likeness. I remember dropping a glass test tube in a sink on the first floor labs and being so worried because Miss Craig was taking the lesson, and I thought I’d be in trouble, but she was very kind to me. I also remember her deputy, Miss Hampton, who used to wear tweed skirts and could never live up to Miss Craig’s reputation. And the scary Mrs Peak (chemistry) – she really made double chemistry on a Wednesday afternoon the most dreaded of all lessons, and she really did not like me. Weird to think that most of the teachers have probably died by now!

  14. I was at Bishop Fox’s in the 1950s. I remember Mary Craig well,apart from the ever present cigarette she also had a little dachshund at her heels.Her desk was so untidy but she was a brilliant head and inspired me to also become one.

  15. I was at Bishop Fox’s Grammar School for Girls in Kingston Road, Taunton from 1971 – 1978. That school has been knocked down since and another built with the same name on the other side of town.
    I remember walking the dogs at lunchtime – it was a popular activity! They were dachshunds I believe. She was given a puppy as a retirement present in 1978.
    I remember going to her office to watch a French news programme on the TV. I also remember her on stage at morning assembly in her black university gown. I was always a little afraid of her, but she help me enormously when my A level results were lower than expected.

  16. Just came across this blog! Wow 😮 I was at foxes 1967 till ‘72 ‘73
    Amazing headmistress so fair.
    Terrified me to death lol 😂 but only because I was always in trouble 😂 and it was never as bad when I got there.
    Thanks to miss Craig’s teachings I applied it to the many children that came my way.

    • Hi Dina, I was at Bishop Foxes from ’72 with fond memories of the school and Miss craig.

      I had a friend called Samira Kureishi whose father was a local Dr. I am just wondering if she was related to you please. I have long wondered where she is and what she is doing now.
      Best wishes

    • Hi Dina, I’m not sure if you spotted my post last year about a possible relative of yours – Samira Kureishi – (I may have spelt her name wrong). We were at school together in Taunton and I was at Foxes until 1980. It would be lovely to be in touch again.
      Thanks for any information, Julia

      • Hi Julia sorry sadly no not a relative of mine.
        Really brilliant site this.
        Love Dina xxx

      • Hi Dina, Pity but thanks for letting me know. It certainly is a great site. Miss Craig an inspiring woman. Bishop Fox’s a great part of my life, so many good memories.

      • Hi Julia
        Yes Bishop Fox’s was a really great part of my life too. Even now I still use some of miss Craig’s words of wisdom with the grandchildren!! (Whether it sinks in remains to be seen lol 😂)
        Merry Christmas and a happy new year
        Dina xxxx

  17. I was at Bisop Fox’s from 1969 to 1976 and thought the world of Miss Craig. She taught me Chemistry and was a great encouragement to me. The painting captures her so well.
    Gaynor William’s ( nee Wilce)

    • We were in the same form, Gaynor! Miss Craig was so disappointed that Chemistry was my worst subject. And she blocked my attempts to go to Edinburgh University after taking a gap year too, saying I would swan around wasting taxpayers’ money! But she was a good headmistress. I still keep in touch with Penny Fisher, Suzie Mummé and Sarah Hobrough. Kay (my sister, who was also at Bishop Fox’s and who has just turned 60) and I saw Sarah in September and we had great fun remembering all our gang from the early 1970s.
      Do keep this blog going Jane! I love the portrait.

      • Hi Mandy I see you are in touch with Suzie Mumme, is that Fiona’s sister? She was in the same form as me 🙈

  18. I was at Bishop Fox’s 1954-57 (then moved away) and remember Miss Craig very well – she occasionally had “cocktail parties” in her study attended by distinguished looking chaps arriving in Rolls Royce’s – often wondered even then whether she had done something noteworthy during the war.

  19. What a brilliant painting of Miss Craig. I was at Fox’s (along with my two sisters Jo and Kim) from 1965-1972. Miss Craig was such a clever woman, most pupils were in awe of her and she commanded a lot of respect. I too remember her black robe billowing as she rushed along the corridors, fag in hand. We were caught smoking once in ‘the Insect Cage’ and were called to Miss Craig’s office. We were told that if we really wanted a cigarette, we should ‘go and sit under a hedge and be jolly uncomfortable!’ The teachers were exceptional. Those were the days, I loved my school days there and wish I could do it all over again.

  20. Hello everybody, it’s been such a delight and thrill for me to read this ever growing conversation about Miss Craig, and all our memories of her, ever since I posted my painting of her, six years ago. I love reading what you all say. We were lucky indeed. I have a couple of sketches of her also. In the next day or two when I’m back home, I’ll add them to the main post, and let you know here. With love to you all – what a team we make! – and Merry Xmas and solstice, from Jane

    • Hi Jane
      Thank you 😊 for this beautiful likeness of Miss Craig. She left such an amazing lifetime impact on so very many of those who were lucky enough to be given into her care!
      A truly dedicated leader. Setting safety boundaries and allowing individual personalities to develop.
      Merry Christmas and a happy new year
      Dina xxx

      • How lovely to hear from you, Dina, and merry Christmas to you too! I would love to read some of Miss Craig’s wise words here, which you tell to your grandchildren! XXX

  21. I started at BF in spring 1974 in the 3rd year and left after O levels in 1976. I loved the building although it was ages before I knew where I was and where I was supposed to be! I remember the quads in spring with cherry trees in flower, lying out there in summer to soak up the sun, the window-partition-type walls being pulled right back to let in the breeze. I was bad, spending my language lessons in sick bay, pretending it was my period. I wish I hadn’t done that as I now live in France! I remember Miss Craig well, especially the bleached lock of hair and the elegant cigarette holder, but despite my rebelliousness I managed to avoid her office. Wonderful portrait and so good to read these accounts. Thank you

  22. Wow! This has certainly stirred up some (very) old memories! Excellent portrait of Miss Craig, I remember the yellowing hair too. I have just found an old exercise book dated 16th January 1968 when I was in form 5M, posted it on FB and the comments I had made me Google Bishop Fox’s which led me to this blog. Thanks for the memories. Angela Davage nee Willey

  23. Jane- what a super painting of Miss Craig, congratulations.
    Miss Craig was valued as a good headteacher, and an excellent teacher, respected by all pupils. I and others always appreciated those science lessons we had with Miss Craig, although often brief (she was always such a busy woman), they were pertinent and greatly valued.
    I’m so glad I stumbled on this site. Thank you, one and all who have contributed so far, what fond memories of school days you have brought to so many. Happy days!
    Liz Gregory ( nee Caray)

    • Hello Liz, I remember you well, how exciting, and last weekend my mother and I were reminiscing about your father what a great GP he was! To everyone who has commented – it is such a delight to hear from you all and to share these memories. I promised a while ago to look out a sketch of Miss Craig and add it to this post, but have been very busy – I will soon, soon! Love to you all.

  24. My nanny who is Magret Ruth binding who when married chaged her surname to criddle went to the school from 1953-1958, are there any photos?.

  25. I am writing a book about the social changes in Taunton between the 1950s and the 1970s and am looking for people to interview by phone about their memories of Taunton and the surrounding area. Mary Craig featured in a couple of the interviews I’ve already done keen to talk to more people.

    • Hi Russell, I would be willing – I attended Bishop Foxes from 1974 to 1976 (aged 14 to 16) and lived in Chard where my parents owned a shop. If you think I would be suitable you could contact me (PS I live in France)

      • Yes, very suitable. Can you please send an email so that we can arrange to speak by phone or Zoom? Thank you for responding.

    • Hello Russell.
      I grew up in Taunton from 1950 until 1968, attending North town school and then Bishop Fox’s where Miss Craig was headmistress. My parents always lived in Taunton and my father co owned TH Serle and Son.
      I returned to the town in 1975 and taught at Weirfield School from 1978 until 1983.
      Very happy memories of Taunton in those times.
      I would be happy to speak to you if this would be of any help to your book. My maiden name was Serle.

    • Hello again Russell
      Thanks for your reply . This has disappeared into the ether! Could you contact me again please.

  26. I was at Foxes from 65 to 71 1g through to 5g. Remember Miss Craig and Miss Hampton well. Miss Craig saw me in the street in the early 80s she knew me immediately. Does anybody remember Mr Floyd he was our form teacher. Miss Taylor the music teacher and Mrs Taylor sport. In 1g we had commander somebody ( name escapes me!)for maths .Jackie Pearce hid in one of the cupboards and popped out during maths much to his surprise

  27. Hi Russell,
    I’d be happy to help if I could.
    My memory is a little sketchy but I lived in Taunton from 1955 to 1975.

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