Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Wellard Academy for Boys

The history and philosophy of the Wellard Academy for Young Gentlemen by Dr Eva Wellard, Director and Headmistress of the Academy.

The Academy was founded by my ancestress, Lady Amelia Wellard, and the first headmistress, in 1859, to provide an education for girls of good families and to turn them into well-bred ladies.  Until the end of the Great War, it was a successful and profitable enterprise and the Academy enjoyed a good reputation.

But with the advent of feminism and the increase in women's rights and status in the inter-war years, the Academy was seen as old-fashioned and staid, and it was eschewed in favour of more "progressive" institutions.  The Academy fell on hard times.  The then headmistress attempted to reform the Academy and its practices to make it more modern and appealing.

However, the changes had the opposite effect to that intended.  The Academy, which had been unique in the application of good old fashioned methods of not only educating girls but conditioning them for womanhood, merely became just one of a number of similar establishments.  The numbers of girls wishing to becoming pupils dwindled to unsustainable levels and by the end of the 1930's had been closed down.

During the Second World War, the Academy building and grounds, which had become almost derelict, received a new lease of life when it was turned into a school for girls to be trained to be nurses.  I recently received a letter from one of those girls, now an old lady in her eighties, which commented on her astonishment at the decor and furniture of the place, which seemed to be frozen in about the early 1900's.

With the end of the war in 1945, the nurses' school was closed down and, it seemed, the Academy had no future.  Over the next few twenty years, the building fell into decay and there was even talk of having it knocked down.  Then, in 1965, my mother, who was the legal owner of the building and grounds, died and left it to me.

All of the Wellard women had been teachers, and I too had trained as a teacher.  Had I continued to teach in a secondary school, I might have become a headmistress in my late forties or fifties.  Here was an opportunity for me to become a headmistress at the age of just 25.  Besides, I chafed at being subordinate to others, especially as many of my so-called "superiors" were not as clever as me.

The building and grounds, although neglected,were sound and could be restored to their former condition with an injection of capital.  Finding a bank to lend me the money was a problem, especially as they were still prejudiced against women managing their own finances, but I managed it after some considerable time and much patience on my part.

While the Academy building and grounds were restored, a project that took several months, I determined on the methods which would be applied.  In essence, the Academy was going back to it early days.  There would be firm discipline and the pupils would have to conform to a strict dress and behaviour code.  During this time, I also recruited all of the teaching and other staff needed to help me run the place. All of the staff were female.

All that was left to do then was to find the pupils.  I worked out very quickly that it was no use trying to fill the place with girls. A typical girl of the 1960's was liberated and wanted a modern schooling.  She would never submit to the discipline of the Academy.

Thus, it was decided that the Academy would now cater for boys, mainly unruly, ill-disciplined ones whose parents had tried everything with them and had given up in despair.  Due to the one on one tutoring that would be required, only the wealthy could afford to send their sons to us.

The objective of the Academy, as it was in the past, was to educate and condition the pupils, but now it was to be boys that were to be transformed.

The formula has been applied since the Academy's refounding in 1966, it has remained unchanged ever since and is as follows:

At the application stage, the parents or guardians of the prospective pupil must sign a contract promising to allow the Academy to take full responsibility for the boy (or boys), to give authority to discipline the boy as and when the staff see fit, and also promising not to attempt to visit the prospective pupil or to interfere with the activities of the Academy.  Any breach will incur a large financial penalty.

Once the prospective pupil is accepted, he will be collected by a member of our staff and he is to bring only personal toiletries and the clothes that he happens to be wearing.  Everything else will be provided by the Academy once he arrives.

Upon arrival, the pupil will be processed before having any contact with any other pupils.  The clothes he arrived in will be removed and he will not see them again until the day that he leaves us. The pupil will then be bathed, and depilated if necessary.  His hair will be dyed a different colour and styled in a feminine way.  Where the pupil's hair is too short to allow this, he will be made to wear a wig until his own hair grows to a more suitable length.

The pupil will then be attired as a girl of about ten would have been a century ago.  That is to say, he will be put into dainty, frilly underwear, made to wear a corset that has been tightened as much as possible, thick black stockings that itch terribly, a great wad of silken and lace petticoats and a pretty floral frock over which will be a white lace pinafore.  Black boots with a small heel will be put on the pupil's feet.  A ribbon will then be tied in his hair (or attached by some means or other).

Finally, and most importantly, the new pupil must be given a feminine name, usually completely different from his male non de plume.

Of course, during this initial and, for the pupil, most difficult process, the pupil is sure to resist our attempts to reform him, either verbally, physically, or both.  Any resistance must be severely punished.  The child is to be caned or smacked until he submits and apologises sincerely for his aberrant behaviour.  It is for his own good and he must learn from the first day what will happen to him if he is disobedient in the smallest degree.

Once the pupil is suitably attired and composed, he will be presented to the rest of school.  He must henceforth answer to his new name and the other pupils must always call him by his new name.

The days that follow will be very difficult for the new pupil as he struggles to adapt to his new identity and status.  He will absolutely hate being referred to and treated as a girl as this is contrary to the former masculine life that he has led to date and to which he still aspires.  He will be disgusted as the feminine finery he has been made to wear.  He will be rebellious, and will have to be punished daily, or even several times a day in the worst cases.  He may attempt to find some way of contacting his parents or escaping.

Either action, he will soon find, is impossible.  He will have no access to a mobile phone, computer or even an old fashioned telephone and thus no way to establish contact with anyone beyond the Academy.  As for escaping, the Academy is surrounded by high walls and only one gate that is controlled by 24 hour security staff.  All doors are looked and the keys held by the staff.  At night, the grounds are patrolled by security guards with large, powerful dogs which can outrun and quickly overpower any human being.  Besides that, the restrictive dress that all pupils have to wear will greatly hamper them.  Corsets, petticoats and heeled boots, originally designed to restrict females from strenuous activity, will do exactly the same for a male.

No pupil has ever managed to escape and I am confident that no pupil ever will.  They are ours until they are completely reformed and released back to the custody of their parents or guardians.

The pupil will gradually have to accept that he is here to stay, but he will still chafe at his enforced feminisation.  Caning is one way to punish, but there are other ways. Corset discipline, increasing the height of the pupil's heels or the frilliness of his clothes to the point of absurdity, but I have found that public humiliation can be more effective.  The more unruly pupils can be caned in front of the whole school, or made to wear a ridiculous outfit.  I have seen some of the worst pupils reform very quickly after this treatment.

Once the pupil has acclimatised somewhat to his new identity and has become biddable, he will attend classes.  There will be the usual subjects such as English, Maths, Sciences and Geography, but also needlework, dress-making and Home Economics.  Some boys are surprisingly adept with a needle and with proper supervision they are as perfectly capable as any girl of designing and making garments or cooking a souffle.  Of course, at first they will not be happy at doing girls' subjects, but then they will have no choice in the matter and will have to knuckle down.

Sports and games are also an important part of our cirriculum and must not be neglected.  Pupils will play Lacrosse and Hockey on the sports fields in spring, autumn and winter, and Tennis during the summer.  Pupils will have to wear the appropriate attire, normally a white top and a short skirt. There is also a swimming pool and again pupils will have to wear a girls' bathing costume.

Extra-cirricular activities, organised by our keen staff, are Drama and Music.  The Academy is quite proud of the Drama Company and the Orchestra and they have been allowed to perform for the benefit of the staff on occasion.

The pupils will have a full day of schooling, even at weekends (since they cannot leave the grounds) and by the time they appear for dinner, they should be exhausted both physically and mentally.

Unlike most other boarding schools, and unusually, there is no dormitory system.  The Academy is large enough to allow each member of staff and each pupil to have a room to themselves.  We wish for communication between the pupils to be limited.  Keeping them together in one place, without proper supervision, invites mutinous talk, discussions about their past lives as boys and a misguided sense of masculine cameraderie that could jeopardise the reform process.  Pupils are always closely supervised by a member of staff when out of their room and are kept strictly segregated from all other pupils at other times.  At night, after changing into their lacy nightdresses, each pupil is put to bed and their door is locked.  The door will not be unlocked again until the morning.  In the event of the pupil needing to relieve himself overnight, there is a chamber pot under his bed.

We have one special event of the year, Founders Day, which is very different from any other day.  Lessons are suspended for that one day.  The teaching staff will don their gowns and mortarboards and I, as Headmistress, will lead the tributes to the original founder of our establishment.  The staff will then sit down to a celebratory dinner.  Some of the pupils will be selected to act as maids to wait on the staff and appropriately dressed for the part.

The other pupils will wear their school gowns.  These are full length frocks, very sophisticated and elegant compared to what the pupils normally have to wear.  They will be corsetted, of course and will be made to wear high heeled shoes and long gloves that fit snugly over their arms and hands.  The pupils, having spent some hours getting ready, will parade themselves in front of the staff and execute a perfect curtsey to them.  Some of the pupils look wonderful in their gowns, even if they do not look like they are enjoying it too much.

On average, it takes about a year for a pupil to fully settle in.  There have been a few pupils who are quicker learners and adapt in less time whilst there are some who resist reform and so take much longer to settle in.  But all pupils DO adapt in the end.  There is no alternative but to do so.  As memories of their former lives grow dimmer, as they accept that there is no escape from their fate and as the clothes they wear and the pervasive feminine environment of the Academy
inculcate femininity, they will have no choice but to adapt to it.  Some pupils even come to love it.

When the staff are all happy that a pupil has been reformed, his parents or guardians will be summoned to an interview with the Headmistress and will be served tea by a pretty young maid who, they will discover, is their boy.  They are generally astounded by the total transformation from an unruly and uncontrollable youth into a more pleasing and submissive maid, but impressed by the changes wrought in him.

After that, the pupil is a pupil no more.  He is free to return home.  Whether his parents or guardians decide to keep him as a girl (and many do) or allow him to revert to masculinity is up to them.  Our work is complete.

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