July 19th 1919

A visiting headmaster, who attended our end-of-term Prize-Giving commented that there was “something delightfully friendly and unbigwiggish about it, and I loved the variety in your prizes and the variety of things they were given for…”

He rightly observed that I enjoyed the occasion, and given this encouragement, I am including here extracts from my speech:

“Hum has been for the past two years in entire charge of the Boarders, and I make some recognition of his efficiency and help by associating with me in the Headmastership. We are now joint Headmasters – with different spheres of responsibility. From our experience so far, I have not the slightest doubt that this arrangement will be most satisfactory in every way. With our other old hands, Mr [GC] Vassall, Mr Wallace and Mr Haynes to run the outdoor life, and with Mr Bye, who has come back with honour of war and runs the Junior House, and with GC still as our enterprising and most efficient Editor of the ‘Draconian,’ all should be well with the School.

I may also say here that my daughter [Kit Lynam/Marshall] has come back from her war work in France and Italy after nearly 4 years and that she is to marry Captain Cyril Barclay (Durham Light Infantry) and that they are to come to Oxford, and that we hope he will eventually join the Staff.

Thirty boys and girls are leaving this term, but we have already more than enough new boys down to take their places next term. It is always a sorrowful task to say goodbye to those who are passing on from us, especially to those who have been with us for a long time…

I wish all you boys and girls who are leaving every happiness and success in the future. I thank you for all the good you have done in the School by example and leadership and the credit you have won for us. It may be by winning scholarships or winning School matches or in other ways…

I have nothing special to say to the Parents, but I must thank them for this: that so very few wished to send their boys back on the 18th instead of the 24th September, whilst the vast majority welcomed the extra days in honour of the Great Peace.

These Scholarships have been gained this School year (in order in which they were gained):

D Wiggins, Exhibition, King's School, Canterbury.
E Frere, Scholarship, St. Leonard's School, St. Andrews.
M Carritt, Scholarship, Sedburgh.
C Clark, 1st Scholarship, Winchester.
J Brunyate, 2nd Scholarship, Winchester.
D Hunt, Scholarship, Malvern.
P Vernon, Scholarship, Oundle.
P Mair, Scholarship, Oundle.
B Sheard, Scholarship, The Leys.
H Milford, Scholarship, Sherborne.
E Webb, Scholarship, Charterhouse.
L Salkeld, Scholarship, Rugby.

E Webb is not taking up his scholarship, having passed the interview and qualifying examination for the Navy. Stella Joy was top for Roedean. They must have an uncommonly high standard or else be short of cash, as I am sure Stella was worth a Scholarship.

This, though not quite as long a list as last year’s, is a record for any school in containing 1st and 2nd at Winchester.”

In the top form of 18, half were awarded scholarships.

July 16th 1919

Parents should be advised of a letter we have recently received. I would be happy to hear your views on the matter.

Association of Preparatory Schools
14 Wellington Square,
Oxford

July 1919

Dear Sir,

I have just received a communication from the Board of Education 
informing me that His Majesty the King has expressed to the 
president of the Board his desire, that in commemoration of the 
Peace some extension of the Summer Holidays in all schools may be 
granted by the school authorities.

Yours truly,

Hugh C King (Secretary)

This would mean that next term would start on September 24th, rather than on the 17th as previously notified.

Perhaps less welcome to parents is the news that the following resolution was passed by the Council of the same association at their last meeting regarding school fees:

“That the Council are of the opinion that it is necessary that in the present circumstances there should be a general increase of fees in Preparatory Schools, to meet the increased cost of food, labour, and salaries.”

This was, I regret to say, inevitable.

July 8th 1919

P E AC E   S U N D A Y

July 6th 1919

My brother Hum, as always, has taken particular interest in the religious side of life and made sure that we joined in the national celebration of Peace.

“Yesterday we attended Morning Service at the Cathedral, where we were courteously given seats in the Nave. The beautiful rendering of the Service by the Choir was a great musical treat, but we cannot believe that such form of worship is as suitable for boys as our own Sunday Service.”

In the afternoon a few of the boys found their way to the United Service in ‘Tom Quad‘ – along with a crowd estimated to be 10,000 strong! The band of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, along with the combined choirs of Christ Church, New College and Magdalene College Schools were an undoubted highlight.

 

There have been regular Sunday Services at the School this term, of which two were of particular note:

V C   D A Y

May 18th 1919

Jack Smyth’s Victoria Cross

We had hoped to give Rev. Col. Price’s VC Day sermon. But he writes that he ‘just said what he was feeling’ – and has been unable to ‘put it decently together.’ That is probably why it was so effective. He commented on the extreme youth of many of the VC winners, the high pitch to which the standard of bravery and sacrifice necessary for its winning has been raised during the war, yet ‘No VC’s act was more tremendously fine and great than that of Lieut. Smyth.’

Jack was once a very delicate boy, but his fine spirit and pluck pulled him through at that time, and the same grit and power has now won for him eternal fame.

We had a grand VC day picnic thereafter. Boats from Beesley’s took some 120 boys and staff up to Wytham Woods, while the caravan took the provisions and cookie and her staff to Swinford Bridge and a quarter-of-a-mile over the fields to the lock. The blue hyacinths were gorgeous. It was a day to remember.

June 8th 1919

We were delighted to have as preacher Rev Neville Talbot, whose brother Edward Talbot was an Old Dragon. Both served as chaplains throughout the war. Their father, the first Warden of Keble College, was a founder of the first girls’ colleges in Oxford (Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville).

Neville’s other brother, Gilbert Talbot, was killed at Ypres in December 1915 and the famous Talbot House at Poperinghe was founded in Gilbert’s memory by Neville and the Rev. ‘Tubby’ Clayton. It provided a resting place for soldiers to meet and relax in breaks from front line duties. Inside this house all were to be considered equal, regardless of rank, as the notice by the door required:

‘All rank abandon, ye who enter here.’

 

 

July 4th 1919

Following a most successful Sports Day for the Junior Department, it has been the turn of the rest of the school.

A fine day and some excellent performances gave the spectators a very pleasant afternoon on the last Wednesday of term.

Laurie Salkeld’s high jump of 4 ft. 5 in., Michael Carritt’s hurdling, and Cyril Gadney’s all-round performances are worth special mention.

Laurie jumped in beautiful style.

Laurie Salkeld

The school hurdling has improved tremendously. The regular practice they have had made a deal of difference. Michael Carritt won with a time of 17 seconds, with D Hunt second and K Horsley third.

Michael Carritt

Other results included:

Broad Jump (Open): Ist – C Gadney (14 ft. 7 in.), 2nd – W Kaye, 3rd – G Hardman.

Hop, Step & Jump (Open): 1st – C Gadney (30 ft. 6 in.), 2nd – L Salkeld, 3rd – G Hardman.

100 yds. (Open): 1st – C Gadney (12.2 seconds), 2nd – B Sheard.

Cricket Ball (Open): 1st – V Forrester (65 yds.), 2nd – F Grove.

We also had 100 yd races for under 9/10/11/12/13/14 year-olds, a Bicycle Race (6 laps), Girls’ Races & High Jump, a Tortoise Race, a Three-Legged Race, A Donkey Race, a Team Race (Boarders v Dayboys, in which the Dayboys went all out to win by 3 or 4 yards) and senior and junior Obstacle Races.

We hope that this year’s practice of timing the races will be continued.

July 3rd 1919

REPORT ON ENGLISH LITERATURE PAPER

As promised, here are the findings of Frank Sidgwick, who kindly marked the English Literature paper set for the top forms.

Marks were out of 150 and ranged from 124 down to 11. The top four were:

  1. Ellie Frere (124)
  2. Laurie Salkeld (100)
  3. Stella Joy (98)
  4. Hugh Gaitskell (91)

I note that George Hardman (44) would have been 5th, but his marks were halved for writing a silly poem.

In addition, Frank Sidgwick supplies the following observations:

“This paper was set by the Skipper, and I consider it fairly difficult.

Question 1 was well done except for the Lorelei and Kotik

Question 2 unfortunately contained the word ‘illustrate,’ which two or three took to mean that a pen-and-ink sketch was required. Shylock is very unpopular; he was ‘a wolf in carnation,’ and ‘Shylock was medium in height… he was a very bloody man.’

Question 3. The quotations were fairly well known, except the last, which no-one got quite right, and the Swinburne one. It is news to me the ‘When shall we three meet again?’ was said by Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer, as they were being bound to the stake in Broad Street!

Question 4 was as interesting as it has been In former years. I congratulate Stella Joy on having grown out of a liking for ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel.’ F. Childe apparently dislikes Hans Andersen because he thinks he was a German. He ought to be made to apologise in public for this error and for the prejudice. Somebody else dislikes another book because the characters in it ‘always make Fo-pahs.’

Question 5. As before, Shakespeare (27) leads the way with the Bible (23), followed by Tennyson and Kipling (15 each), useful books (natural history, botany, cooking, etc), Dickens and volumes of ‘Punch.’ One precocious youth demands Boccaccio! Two really sensible boys put an Atlas on the list.

The poems [a love song for The Merchant of Venice’s Lorenzo to sing to Jessica] were most depressingly bad – except the six best, which were not nearly as good as I expected. There was this however:

The moon is bright - come, a little kiss! -
There's no one near - let me bend, so! -
It would be an eternal bliss
To your own dear loving Lorenzo.

Our marker concluded that the handwriting was generally bad (and Brunyate’s disgraceful!)

 

June 29th 1919

Hum Lynam with the first Juniors (1906).

Our junior department was opened in 1906 at 1, Charlbury Road, for children from 4-8 years of age. The aim has been thoroughly to ground the children in reading and writing; the older ones do easy English and Bible History, Geography and Arithmetic, and begin on a little French.

The school (now consisting of 19 boys and 4 girls) has this term had their first ever Sports Day, and what a joyous occasion it was. I am grateful for this account of the occasion for the ‘Draconian.’

“I wasn’t quite up to time (10 minutes late), but it didn’t matter, as owing to the hubbub, the competitors had not realised that it was desirable to start operations some time near the given hour.

When all superfluous energy had been exhausted in cart-wheels and games of ‘he,’ the younger members ran a race, followed by the older ones, and after that came the race for the whole school.

There were various ways of running a race at the Baby School: some flatly refused to remove their hats, others shed them, as well as shoes, while one budding athlete was seen busy rolling up his shirt sleeves and after that his trouser legs. Someone started with his hands in his pockets, but the smallest competitor went one better and waited the signal to start in the most correct position, crouching on one knee and steadying himself with one finger of each hand on the ground…*

There was a long jump. I didn’t attend it properly as two small sisters had to be shown where the river was; but I heard afterwards that he in the white shorts who fell over in the black earth was as big a hero, if not bigger, than he who won the event rather brilliantly…

When these and the [cricket ball] throwing were duly finished, the high jump was prepared. This appeared the most popular event amongst the children; great excitement prevailed, and it didn’t matter if Dick took Tom’s turn, or Douglas got two to everyone else’s one, all were fearfully happy and just lived for the next opportunity of a jump.

After this came greater and more frantic excitement still – the team race, a really wonderful effort, one side only just winning by a yard or so.

This and a rush to the tent for lemonade and buns ended for me one of the most enjoyable afternoons of this term. Let us hope that if these sports are made a yearly institution, they will all be as successful and give as much pleasure as the first Junior School Sports certainly did to onlookers and candidates.”

* Unfortunately, what he gained in style he lost in speed of gaining balance and actually starting!

I also gather Mrs Hum made an appearance with a large box of sweets, which almost stopped the show!

June 21st 1919

‘The Battle of Blenheim’ by Robert Southey has been studied this term and some of the best work resulting from it will be in this term’s ‘Draconian’ magazine.

I hope that in the future my English VIth form will appreciate the English poetry I have given them to learn, its rarity and interest and beauty, and also my efforts to get them to become poets too!

Young James Alford (aged 13) is the author of this poem. It recalls the day the Armistice was declared last November, when James was at home, following our decision to send all our boarders to their families at a time of considerable concern over the influenza epidemic.

Sadly, James leaves us at the end of this term to go to Rugby School.

THE ARMISTICE
(Begging Mr. Southey's pardon).

It was a winter morning,
My French that day was done;
I sauntered down into the town
For exercise and fun.
The board-school children could be seen
A-sporting on the Richmond Green.

Just then a hideous syren
Sent up a frightful sound
The guns at Kew and hooters too
And church-bells all around,
And flags and shouts announced the fact 
The Huns had been severely whacked.

The shops in flags were shrouded
Banners were waved about,
Munition-workers crowded
To drink the publics out,
And all day long the vast mobs swell
From Kensal Rise to Camden Hill.

And when the dark had fallen
And the bright day had gone,
I went to bed with weary head
And slept until the dawn;
And thus if rightly I remember
I spent the 11th of November.