October 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, November 1, 2012
The pictures and stories from the old Crome School have revived memories of the much loved teacher who transformed himself into a knight in shining armour
The children called him Sir or Mr Drane (even Pop behind his back) but away from the classroom this legendary Norwich teacher turned into Baron D’Rane or Sir Denys.
He was a shining knight in armour and an expert on medieval life including weaponry which he made, food, medicine and clothing.
My picture of Dennis Drane, pulling for all his worth on the end of the rope in a tug-o-war contest at Crome School in Norwich during the 1950s, brought back many memories of this popular and larger-than-life teacher.
So many of you remembered him - he went on to teach metal work at Heartsease after the Crome closed - with great affection and the story of his life outside the classroom emerged.
Bridget Belson, of the Norwich Swan Swimming Club, said when the club started up again after the Second World War Dennis became the secretary, won the freestyle swimming championship of Norwich and played water polo for both Swan and Norfolk.
He also made a deep sea diving suit at one time - which he used.
He lived in York Street, Norwich, with his wife Margaret, and in the mid-1970s he went along to one of the first meetings of a medieval society and found himself elected chairman.
He told the Evening News back in the 1980s: “We all had to have costumes made and I felt a right ‘nana when I went to get my first pair of tights from the ballet shop. But the shop assistant didn’t bat an eyelid.”
The society flourished and Sir Denys or Baron De’Rane, by now retired from teaching, became a top sword and armour maker. It was a labour of love for such a skilled metalwork teacher.
The society he helped to build became a big hit at village fetes and at schools around Norwich and Norfolk.
“People often come with the idea that we’re a load of cranks but then they find themselves getting interested in what we’re doing,” said Dennis.
His home became his castle - full of replicas of swords, armour and jewellery from the Middle Ages and he loved passing on his knowledge of medieval life.
“There’s a great deal of misinformation due to films and television which are all for spectacle,” he added. “My interest is in historical accuracy.”
Thanks for the memories - Baron De’Rane.