John Betjeman

John Betjeman and his family used to holiday at Trebetherick in Cornwall, where they met up with Skipper Lynam’s brother ‘Hum’ and his family. John had not been happy at his school in Highgate and Hum persuaded the Betjemans that John should attend the OPS.

The future Poet Laureate joined the OPS as a ten year old boarder in the Summer Term of 1917. John was very homesick to begin with and Skipper spent some time with him, arm on his shoulder, getting him through it.

He later wrote about his time at the school in ‘Summoned By Bells’, in which he recalled Skipper Lynam reading out the names of those who had died “for King and Country and the Dragon School.”

The news, John could see, caused Skipper considerable grief, but for the boys what was of far greater interest or concern were their bicycles, gangs “and what there was for prep.”

* * * * * *

John would have benefitted from Skipper’s determination that his boys should be introduced in their English lessons to Shakespeare and other poets. Skipper also encouraged the writing of poetry, often based on what they were studying at the time.


Throughout his time at the OPS his name was spelt ‘Betjemann’ with the second ‘n’ – and that is how it appears in posts on this site.

The posts in which he features can be found here.

3 thoughts on “John Betjeman

  1. Edward Hudson says:

    I remember JB attending RKI’s Assembly one morning in The Old Hall in the late Sixties or early Seventies and nobody batted an eyelid.
    My father recalled that he also suffered from homesickness and a certain amount of bullying when he attended Marlborough College. On one occasion, he was hoisted into the high rafters in a laundry basket. Must have been terrifying.


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