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News > Family Announcements > Remembered with Affection - Pamela Johnston, Former Head of History

Remembered with Affection - Pamela Johnston, Former Head of History

Obituary published in OGA Chain magazine 2020
Obituary published in OGA Chain magazine 2020

12 May 1935 - 29 Apr 2020

It is with sadness we announce that Pamela passed away this year just short of her 85th birthday. She was associated with St. Swithun’s for over 20 years and was involved in many organisations and activities in Winchester and Kings Worthy.

She was born in St Albans, a place for which she always had great affection, and attended St Albans Girls’ Grammar School, winning a scholarship to St Hugh’s, Oxford. She completed a post-graduate diploma in theology before her appointment as a history teacher in Northampton where she met her husband David, a classics teacher. They were married in St Albans Abbey in 1961 and later moved to Southampton when David was appointed to the Extra-Mural Department of the University, as a lecturer in archaeology.

Pamela taught at Hill College (Southampton Grammar School for Girls) before joining the staff at St Swithun’s as head of history in 1973, retiring in 1995. She was a great believer in exploring history beyond the classroom and always arranged visits for each year group to places relevant to their studies such as York, Belgium, France, the USA and Russia.

She was awarded a School Teacher Fellowship which took her to New Hall, Cambridge for a term. This led to a book with Bob Scribner about The Reformation in Germany and Switzerland, published in 1993. 

Pamela was passionate about history outside school too and was a longstanding member of the Winchester Historical Association, serving on the Committee for 30 years, including roles as Chairman and Outings Secretary. As a tribute to her work for the Association and History she was made a Fellow by the HA. 

Pamela and David moved to Kings Worthy and in 1982 they founded with others the Worthys Local History Group. In retirement she pursued her own research and wrote an article on the rectors of Kings Worthy church which was published by the Worthys Historical Society in a collection of essays edited by Pamela and Peter Finn, A History of the Worthy Villages. In 2017 the Society also published a collection of her articles Worthy Causes: Teachers, Churchmen and Suffragettes which included a chapter on Anna Bramston, the founder of St Swithun’s. 

She was active in the University of the Third Age and the Alliance Française, keeping up her French lessons until relatively recently. She gave lectures for the Workers Education Association and acted as a guide at The Vyne for the National Trust. Music and opera were a source of great pleasure and she sang with the Winchester Glee Club and in the choir formed by staff and parents of St Swithun’s.

Another keen interest was travelling. She had a particular love of France, perhaps dating back to her time there as an au pair before going up to Oxford. She accompanied David and his archaeological students to many Roman sites in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as visiting the Far East.

Pamela’s knowledge, local, national and international was boundless and she was immensely generous sharing this with others and willingly giving her time. She was warm, enthusiastic and friendly, cherishing the long-standing friends she had made at Oxford and in her subsequent teaching career. She enjoyed entertaining them at her much loved home.

After David’s death in 2011, she moved into a bungalow in a sheltered housing complex where she enjoyed their quiz evenings and visits from family and friends. She leaves behind two daughters, Fiona and Jessica, both former pupils of St Swithun’s.

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