During his early years Christopher was educated at Quex, enjoying the delights of the nursery, the family library and the Museum. Later, he recalled fondly a childhood ‘surrounded by much talk of zoological and ethnographical material from Africa’. But life changed dramatically, as it had earlier for his sisters, when he was sent away to school. At the age of seven Christopher became a boarder at Hawtreys Preparatory School, Westgate-On-Sea.
Although, initially, a painful experience away from his Nanny and familiar, comforting surroundings, Christopher soon adapted to his new life. During his six years there he excelled as a scholar and developed a keen interest in sport. His proud father followed is progress with much delight. On receiving news of a successful rugby match in 1929, he wrote excitedly from the French Congo ‘you must have been tremendously bucked…well done Hawtrey’s. However, he was less happy about his sons account of the recent storms that had felled many of the old elms at Quex.
In 1931 Christopher won first prize in the national ‘Townsend-Warner History Prize’, ‘showing a remarkable command of facts for his years’. He passed his common entrance exam to Harrow School the same year. In a letter to his mother at Quex, James Bradshaw, Christopher’s new house master, enthused that ‘he will bring up the intellectual standard of my house’.
Elected to the schools Philathletic Club for ‘the encouragement of all manly sports and exercises’ Christopher also made his name on the rugby field, playing for Kent public schools in 1936 and later representing England in the annual match between English and Scottish Public Schoolboys at the Richmond Ground.
1.Christopher in 1926 looking fit and happy after a year at boarding school
2.Easter at Quex 1932. Major Powell-Cotton returned from the Cameroons on 25 April and noted in his diary that Kit was now so tall and at the spotty stage.
3.In the absence of his father, Christopher (centre) hosts a visit by Hawtreys School in June 1931. He would soon leave for Harrow School.
4.The winning team: Hawtrey’s rugby eleven in 1929 (Christopher sitting second from right)
5.Christopher and his eldest sister, Diana, at Quex in 1928