- Oxford and St.George's Club lads at Highdown Hill, 1930s. Courtesy of the Jewish Museum, London.
Brother and sisters, we’re back on the Hill!
As kids from the East End of London, where you did not see a tree or blade of grass, we spent many wonderful holidays camping on Highdown Hill.
The Stern’s philanthropy was a surprise during our research. Clues appeared in old copies of the ‘Jewish Chronicle’newspaper. In reports we found that the Sterns were committee experts for: the Jewish War Memorial, the Jewish School for Deaf Children, the Jews College and the Anglo-Jewish Association. Frederick appears to be the only member of his family involved with the Jewish community. Another forgotten story was the Sterns’ support for the Jewish youth charity, the Oxford and St George’s Clubs of Stepney, London.
Cricket & Songs
The clubs were established by Sybil’s cousin, Sir Basil Henriques ‘the gaffer’, with his wife Lady Rose ‘the missus’. Every August, for almost 50 years, up to 300 children, teenagers and adults from the deprived East End descended upon the fields next to Highdown Gardens. The children learnt to play cricket, hide in the chalk pits, swim at Goring beach, and ramble to Arundel. Singing and prayers were held at the Miller’s Tomb and the summit of Highdown Hill. Camping at Highdown became such a tradition in the Jewish East End that Lady Rose published a camp song book which features the Sterns and Highdown Hill. The dedication in the song book is an example,
For Highdown’s joys, of which we boast
Made free to us by our good Host
Who, with his Wife, don’t seem to grouse
At all our noise behind their house,
We thank you – when each page we turn,
Oh, Major, brave and Mrs Stern.*
Sources: Jewish Chronicle 1918 to 1967; Jewish Country Houses network, University of Oxford; ‘O.St.G. 1914 to 1989 a history of 75 years’ by Jack Veltman; Interviews with O.St.G old boys and girls; Camps Songs by Lady Rose Henriques, 1930s*