President’s Message from Guy Holland
I count myself as fortunate to be one of very few former St. Michael's pupils to have what I believe was the ideal Warden scenario. I started in September 1976 and spent one year under the charge of Dennis Paxman.
The subsequent five years were rather different. Michaelmas 1977 heralded a new man with an entirely different energy and approach. A new atmosphere seemed to pervade St. Michael's and a new school was created with vastly improved facilities and general living standards, whilst all the while holding on tightly to the best and oldest traditions associated with the College.
This is not to decry Dennis Paxman in any way, but he was from another era and it was Andrew Walters who gave us a new environment to enjoy and flourish in. And right at the forefront of that enjoyment was Andrew himself along with his wonderful wife, Sally.
Whether we were seven or 13, subconsciously I think we all recognised something of ourselves in Andrew. He was clearly in charge and had our respect - not because he demanded it by throwing his weight around, he received it because he genuinely warranted it and he respected us in return - but there was an innate sense of schoolboy fun that was barely restrained and always likely to surface however formal or serious the circumstances.
I think Andrew taught us many things without ever appearing to teach us very much at all. His attitude and energy and sense of fun and mischief combined with a genuine and palpable sense of old fashioned decency and honesty just emanated from him. Despite battles faced and obstacles blocking paths - and he certainly knew about tragedy, set-back and loss - he showed us it is always OK to find wry amusement and snigger at life's vagaries whilst lampooning and guffawing at its absurdities.
Rev. Andrew Farrar Walters passed away on February 17th his year. The funeral at Hereford Crematorium and Memorial Service at St Michael's Church were both packed to the rafters and suitably moving, respectful, celebratory and amusing. Both services were wonderfully led by SMC old boy Rev. Tim Goode. The potentially incongruous mix of High Church tradition with glorious levity was a perfect representation of the man himself and I am sure Andrew would have heartily approved.
This year’s reunion will be dedicated to the last Warden of St. Michael's, including the church service, and we hope that as many of you as possible can come along and enjoy as much of the day as you can.
The reunion meant a lot to Andrew. Even when in very poor health he would turn up and, from the drive above the 1st XI cricket pitch, start haranguing us players for being too slow between the wickets, bowling too short or playing across the line rather than adopting a straight bat and high left elbow. It was like time had stood still. And it was always a joy to have him there.
It is ironic that Andrew's energy and zest for life were two of his greatest hallmarks, and yet for much of his adult life he suffered a catalogue of serious illnesses and ailments, any one of which would have stopped a lesser person in his tracks. Despite everything he lived an inspiring and full life of exactly three score years and ten and he left an indelible mark on so many of us.
Over recent years it has been apparent that some people are only able to attend during the day and unfortunately cannot extend their visit into the evening meal. That they attend at all to watch the cricket, tour the school and go to the service is tremendous.
This year we hope to attract and accommodate more members and guests whose time is restricted by laying on a buffet lunch. This will also be available to those staying for the event meal.
To enable us to ascertain numbers please email the secretary Tim Coles or myself in good time and complete the booking form if you would like to take lunch, at a cost of £6 per head, and this can be payable on the day.
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The Rev. Andrew Farrar Walters
20th July 1942 – 17th Februray 2013
Warden of SMC from 1977 to the closure of the College in 1985 - “The last Warden of SMC has died, ending the line from Ouseley himself. RIP Andrew”
(The following article is taken from the Funeral Sermon given by the Rev. Tim Goode (SMCS) on March 5th 2013)
It seems impossible to believe that there was a time when the world did not know Andrew, but it is true – in fact Andrew was born on the 20th July 1942 in the school house at Lichfield, Andrew’s parents having arrived in Lichfield the year before in October 1941.
His gregarious personality was apparent from an early age when his mother would push him into the town and Andrew would say “Hello man” to any workmen he saw, usually with their response “Oh Hello Andrew”. No one knew quite how the workmen knew his name, but knew it they did!
He was also known to visit the Dean with the rather precocious comment “Hello Dean, I’ve come to see you.” The Dean would fend off Andrew’s advance with “Thank you Andrew. I’m a bit busy at the moment, so could you come back another time?”
But not deterred in any way, Andrew would do just that! The Dean discovered that even at an early age Andrew had a healthy disregard for the trappings that came with high office. Though only a toddler, respect still had to be earned! Many a Bishop, Dean and Archdeacon have since learnt that lesson from Andrew at their cost!
After attending Miss Austin’s kindergarten, Andrew became a pupil at Lichfield Cathedral Choir School, St Chad’s - as it then was, with his father as his head master. He became head chorister and won the Victor Ludorum in 1955 before moving to Ellesmere College in Shropshire. On leaving Ellesmere he worked for Walsh Graham’s Construction in the Midlands before deciding to venture in to teaching.
He became a master at Stubbington House in Ascot under Mr Renton and Mr Moore, where he made many lifelong friends amongst staff and boys and he also took time out to gain the then equivalent of the Certificate of Education, at St Luke’s College, now part of Exeter University.
It was at Stubbington that Andrew met Sally who became his wife and soul-mate in August 1975. He also further developed his love of cricket – and practical jokes, more of which later. He progressed up the ranks to become a senior member of staff and was subsequently appointed as Warden of St Michael’s College, Tenbury in 1977.
It was during his time at Tenbury that Andrew explored his priestly vocation and he was subsequently ordained Deacon in Hereford Cathedral on Sunday 28 June 1981 and ordained priest in the following summer on Sunday 27 June 1982.
Andrew and Sally were devastated when St Michael’s was forced to close in 1985 and Andrew was grateful to his friend Christopher Helyer, then Headmaster of Exeter Cathedral School for providing him with a chaplaincy post. This gave Andrew time to take stock and in 1987 he was appointed Headmaster of Homefield Preparatory School in Sutton. I’m sure his stay at Homefield would have been longer, but the job to end all jobs came up and in 1991 Andrew returned to where it all began, the Close at Lichfield Cathedral, this time not as a pupil, but like his father before him, Headmaster of the Cathedral School.
As so often though in Andrew’s life, tragedy was just around the corner. His beloved Sally was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 and after an extraordinarily brave fight, it got the better of her and she died in 1997. Andrew never recovered fully from the loss of Sally.
During his later years at Lichfield Andrew adopted Alex, who had been one of the boys who participated in a Russian exchange experiencing life in an English prep school. As part of the exchange program Andrew went to Russia himself to visit Alex’s home town.
Following a heart attack and a by-pass operation, he finally retired from Lichfield in 2000 and went to live at The Drey where he had already completed the first instalment of alterations. His days were full, visiting his mother who lived across the valley, taking numerous weddings and christenings for former pupils, taking local services, gardening and, of course, enjoying the epic sailing holidays, courtesy of Nigel Bayley. He also became an excellent chef and enjoyed putting on dinner parties which would put most of us to shame.
He subsequently had his mother staying with him at The Drey as she became less able to care for herself. This was both a rewarding and a taxing time for both as they each were strong characters and his mother died in 2004 Andrew then embarked on further alterations to The Drey in 2007 with a final addition of a conservatory, just completed before his birthday last July so that it was in use for his 70th birthday celebrations which he enjoyed so much.
His further numerous activities included being a member of the Ouseley Trust, a Governor at Trent College and member of the local community council of which he was variously treasurer and chairman. He was an enthusiastic member of the MCC and would attend test matches at Lords whenever he could.
Andrew’s adult life was one that was blighted by illness and yet in so many ways it also defined him for so many people, especially the manner in which he lived through and overcame suffering. It was his lack of self-pity, of sentimentality that was so inspiring. Never once did I hear him say ‘Why me?’ Rather each illness, each visit or stay in hospital, each unpleasant and invasive procedure was something to be faced, head on, always with his usual self defacing humour.
It was at Stubbington that he first became unwell. Eventually, Andrew was diagnosed with a seminoma which was successfully treated with radiotherapy until he had secondaries in his chest five years later whilst at Tenbury. This required major surgery, followed by chemotherapy.
Ironically, it was the initial rather unrefined radiotherapy of the 1970s that left residual damage to his heart and lungs and it was this damage that led in later years to an increasing number of chest infections which he bore stoically. A key support throughout this time was Jackie Williams whose wonderful care for Andrew is so appreciated by Andrew’s family and friends.
Andrew and Sally loved their dogs. Over many years of marriage a stream of singularly devoted Springer spaniels graced their home, each uniquely trained by Andrew and they were also a great source of companionship in the many years that followed Sally’s death. I remember one being able to fetch by name a series of different spitting image dog toys of the politicians of the day. Andrew was never prouder than seeing the spitting image head of Neil Kinnock being devoured on cue!
As a Headmaster, his ability to engage with children was unsurpassed in my view. His care, compassion and concern were never ever in doubt. With Andrew we had a friend, a mentor, a confidant and most of all an inspiration. And that care did not end when we left school, as so many old boys of all the schools where Andrew taught would testify.
But we cannot look back on Andrew’s life without focusing on his extraordinary and unique sense of fun. Andrew metaphorically never stopped wearing short trousers - his impish and childlike sense of humour was infectious and incredibly attractive. To be teased by Andrew was the ultimate compliment because it came from such an affectionate place.
There are too many examples of Andrew’s impish sense of humour for one sermon, so please forgive me for mentioning a personal one. When I first went to St Michael’s Tenbury I had just conquered a lisp but was not good at pronouncing my ‘Rs’. Though never mentioned while I was at school, when I visited Andrew in my
early twenties we shared a good giggle about it, with Andwew constantly pwonouncing evewy rord he could incowwectly – he sounded like Elma Fud and had me in stitches.
From then on any card or letter, any phone call or introduction he would mispwonounce his Rs. It is how I would know immediately who was on the phone. Even my address on the infamous Christmas card would suffer the Elma Fud treatment – how they ever got to me is testament to our postal system.
I was speaking to a former director of music who worked under Andrew who shared a typical story of Andrew’s unique and totally unPC sense of humour. They were together, travelling by coach, on a choir tour to Germany. Andrew had been absolutely clear about the behaviour he expected from boys under his charge – no swearing, no jumping about, no shouting and no raucous singing – and yet as they crossed over the border
into Germany he suddenly jumped out of his seat, put on a tape and led the choir in a very raucous performance of Elma Bernstein’s classic film theme, ‘The Great Escape’.
Another former colleague mentioned being very confused when mowing the cricket strip in preparation for a school match. He would mow away from the school buildings towards the cricket pavilion end and when he turned the mower around, there at the opposite wicket resting nonchalantly against the middle stump, having arrived as if by magic, was a bottle of cold beer. This kept happening as the season progressed and it was only by chance finding Andrew, hiding behind a building giggling to himself, that he finally discovered who the culprit was.
And the practical jokes did not stop at the door of school – rival Heads of Prep Schools were known to have had palpitations when they received notification of HMI inspections, all plausibly written on the correct named paper, only to discover some clue to the identity of the true sender within the final paragraph or sentence, which usually included some ridiculous request!
So though it is right that our thoughts and memories rest in the past; we also meet in the present, here today, giving due deference to the reality that we gather as family and friends marking Andrew’s return to the loving embrace of God. This is the true purpose of this service, to come together and celebrate Andrew’s life, to share our memories, to mourn our loss, to say our final goodbyes and to thank God for all that Andrew has meant and continues to mean to us.
A Service of Thanksgiving was held on the 8th June at St Michael's Church. Michael Guest (senior lay clerk at Lichfield) put together a choir for the service. Photos by Guy Holland
St Michael’s College Society
Reunion – 28th September 2013
The programme: Families and guests are most welcome to attend during the day/evening.
11.00am Cricket - Old Boys XI v St Michael’s Village XI
12.30pm Ploughman’s/buffet Lunch – College/Village Hall/Cadmore Lodge - TBC
2.30 - 3pm Afternoon Tea and presentation of cricket trophy on Cloister Lawn
SMCS group photo (West Door)*
3.00pm Choir practice
4.30 – 5.30pm SMCS AGM – College Library
6.00pm Evensong – St Michael’s Church
Choir - Directed by David Barclay
7.30/7.45pm SMCS Annual Reunion Dinner at Cadmore Lodge
Guest Speaker – Gareth Stainer – Great Grandson of Sir John Stainer
*Please note, the photograph used to be taken after Evensong, however, not
everyone was able to attend and the light is rapidly fading by 7pm at this time
of year. Please can we give 2.45pm a go, just before Choir Practice – it might
be a little less formal (cricket whites and casuals!) but we hope it will be more
Thanksgiving Evensong for Rev. Andrew Walters - 6pm
David Barclay and Michael Hart have chosen the music for the “Thanksgiving Evensong” and as usual, members of the Society are welcome to join the choir. We do not need to know numbers or what voice they are.
The music is:-
Thou knowest Lord – Purcell
Processional hymn – Ye holy angels bright
Introit – Jerusalem on high – Ouseley
Responses – Ayleward
Psalm – 91
Canticles – Brewer in D
Anthem – I saw the Lord – Stainer
Final hymn – Now thank we all our God
John Stainer wrote the anthem for double choir aged 18 while still organist of St Michael’s.
NB - Choir Practice will start at 3pm. Old Boys join in as soon as possible.
2013 Annual Reunion Dinner Menu
No ‘sit-down’ starter – an opportunity to chat and mingle and catch up on the old times
over a glass or two of your favourite pre-dinner tipple!!
Roast topside of beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy
Lightly grilled fillet of hake, samphire mash potato and garlic and parsley butter
Pan fried supreme of chicken with sage and onion stuffing,
roasted new potatoes with Madeira sauce
Brie leek and cranberry parcel with roasted new potatoes and balsamic dressing
(All above served with Chefs Selection of Fresh Vegetables and Potatoes)
Orange blossom crème brûlée with shortbread biscuits
Rhubarb crumble and clotted cream ice cream
Fresh fruit pavlova
Selection of cheese served with biscuits
Coffee and Mints
(Please indicate your choices on Booking Form)
Annual Reunion 2013 and Dinner Booking Form
Tel No …………….………………………… E-mail ………………………………............
Years at SMC: 19____ to 19____
Please indicate numbers:
………. I will play cricket
………. I wish to have lunch - £6 per head payable on the day
(NB - Only if something can be arranged formally – alternatively at The Fountain Inn under your own steam!)
………. I will attend the Dinner - £22.00 per head (partners welcome)
Please indicate choice of meal (see menu on previous page):
PLEASE COMPLETE AND RETURN YOUR RESERVATION SLIP BY SEPTEMBER 23rd AND SEND IT TO ME ALONG WITH A CHEQUE MADE PAYABLE TO “St Michael’s College Society”
The Moor Hall
Tel. 01584 823209
I am not sure if any general opinion gathering has ever taken place to see what people feel about the annual SMC Reunion arrangements.
Some of you make it year after year, others attend intermittently and, for any number of circumstances, some of you have perhaps never been back. We are not going to find an ideal scenario for every old boy and girl but we want to satisfy the majority.
If you can have a look at the following brief questions and just tick an option or provide an answer, we can hopefully build a useful picture.
1. The SMC Reunion is currently in September. Previously it took place in July.
Which is likely to be best for you?:
Another month (please state which one)
2. The reunion has traditionally taken place on Saturday. Would you be more likely to attend on a:
3. The order of the day is: Cricket 11am-3pm (approx); Choir practise 3pm; AGM 4.30pm; Evensong 6pm; Dinner 7.30pm. There is usually the opportunity for a tour of the school during the day. This makes it tricky for anybody to play cricket, sing in the choir and attend the AGM, but otherwise most people can partake in most elements.
Happy with order of events and timings
Would like to see any alterations/additions? (if so please state)
4. We are aware that not everybody can stay until the late evening, however, you might like to watch the cricket and attend the service.
If a lunch option is made available would this be:
More likely to encourage you to attend
Would you prefer an Annual Lunch to an Annual Dinner?
All feedback will be gratefully received. Even if you haven't been back for many years or never attended a Reunion, your opinion on the above points will still be very helpful and allow us to shape dates and events to suit the majority over coming years.
Members, Friends and Guests present:
Guy Holland (President)
Tim Coles (Secretary)
Tarquin Wiggins (Treasurer)
Rev Andrew Walters (former Warden)
Rev Tim Wilby
Rev Denis Parry
News of St Michael’s Church
By Michael Hart
The restoration of the Father Willis organ
The St Michael’s PCC is very grateful to the Old Boys and Friends of St Michael’s for their generous contribution towards the restoration of the organ.
Nicholson’s of Malvern were given the contract and have done an excellent job. Work needed to be done on re-leathering most of the motors (small bellows) and the larger concussion bellows. The walkways used by the tuner were unsafe – planks just resting on beams. Proper fixed walkways with rails have been fitted.
Work started, scaffolding was built above the choir stalls on Decani reaching up to the vaulting. A dozen of the central painted pipes were removed to allow for the removal of the smaller exposed pipework for cleaning. The pedal board action has been cleaned and renewed where necessary.
As planned the organ was back in use for the Birmingham University carol service in December.
The total cost was £36300 plus 20% VAT. The Old Boys donated £7000 plus Gift Aid; the parish raised around £4000; there were various sums from funerals and weddings.
Christopher Robinson conducted a choral workshop in May and we also used some of the Dan Symonds bequest. He also gave me the name of the John Pilling Trust which gives money towards the restoration of important organs.
The Trust is based in Bolton and I got hold of the phone number of the clerk to the trustees, rang him and told him about the founding of St Michael’s, its history and its present situation. He informed me that because of the present credit crunch the Trust was only giving money to churches in the York Province.
However from what I had said he thought St Michael’s was fairly important and so asked me to put on paper everything that I had told him. A fortnight later I received a letter to say the Trustees would welcome an application from St Michael’s. They awarded us a grant of £12000. This of course made all the difference and I am very grateful to Christopher for giving me this important piece of information.
Very little money has been spent on the organ over the years and so although what has now been done is vital and important, more needs to be done. For instance the sound boards date from 1873.
Having raised this amount of money ourselves and completed the work, it puts us in a good position to appeal for Lottery funding. We hope to do this next year. Meanwhile we are planning to have the nave and aisle walls painted to start the process of beautifying the interior. The last time it was painted was in 1950 which coincided with mains electricity reaching the church and college!
The redecoration of the interior of the church
The interior of St Michael’s church was last decorated in 1950 using only ladders – the same year mains electricity arrived. Having spent over half a million pounds since 1985 stripping the roofs, replacing rotten wooden beams, felting the roofs and replacing the slates, the building is now watertight and dry.
Last October the first phase of painting the plaster walls was started and completed in time for the carol service. Special paint was used which allows the walls to breathe. As the nave is on one level we were able to use a scaffolding tower which was less expensive than covering the interior with scaffolding.
People have remarked how much brighter the interior looks and of course you can see clearly the contrast between the plasterwork and the stonework. Previously both were covered in dirt. Apart from the nave and aisles, the Lady Chapel and tunnel behind the organ were painted.
The tunnel has always been gloomy and the Fellows’ Boards from the dining hall which hang in the tunnel are virtually impossible to read. Many visitors are interested in them and try to read them with difficulty. With the Old Boys and PCC sharing the cost, we have installed portrait lights over each of the 5 boards. This has had
the dramatic effect of brightening the tunnel and making it easier to read the names on the boards.
The PCC is very grateful to the Old Boys for their financial contribution. The next phase we hope will include re-gilding the screens which were painted blue in the 1970s .
Outside around the apse is a gully lined with lead. For many years the lead leaked like a sieve and every time it rained the walls above the windows filled with water. The plasterwork above the windows needs re-plastering and then the walls painted.
Parts of the Baldachino also need re-gilding. We were very careful to choose a warm white colour for the walls. Brilliant white would have been very cold. This next phase is unlikely to start for several years when hopefully there will be sufficient finance available.
The Coronation of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953
The choir which sang at the 1953 coronation was made up not only with the Abbey and Chapel Royal choirs, but also with representatives from our cathedrals and choir schools.
The College was asked to send a treble, and so it was only fitting that the Head Chorister should represent St Michael’s.
Michael Hartley, aged 13, described his experience of being a member of the Coronation Choir in the 1953 college magazine. This being the Jubilee of Her Majesty, we though it appropriate that we reproduce it here.
“Through the eyes of a chorister”
I was very surprised and delighted when I heard I had been chosen to sing at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. On May 8th I set off as excited as could be.
The journey to London took just over three hours. Addington Palace, near Croydon, where we were to stay while we were being trained, is a very beautiful building. In the lounge there is an old fashioned fireplace set deep in the wall, with beautiful carvings around it.
The whole of the ground floor was owned by a golf club. The stairs leading up to the second floor were of stone, and the bannisters had no knobs on the end. The music room, where we did our practising was very big. At the other end of the landing were the billiard room, and the quiet room, where we did our school work.
At first, nost of the thirty-two boys staying at the Palace thought that they were going to have a very dull time, but after the first day everyone knew we were going to have a lovely time. Mr Wright, our singing master, and Mr Kidd, a bass singer from St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, thought they would have a buey time teaching us the music for the first rehearsal in St Margaret’s, Westminster, but after our first practice they changed their minds, for they congratulated out choir masters on teaching us the music so well beforehand.
We had a practice every day, rehearsals in St Margaret’s, Westminster, and three full rehearsals with orchestra in the Abbey. The last but one Abbey rehearsal was summoned by the Earl Marshal, in which peers and peeresses took part, but not in full dress.
The last rehearsal at the Abbey was also summoned by the Earl Marshal, but we went through the service, in full costume. The last rehearsal was on Friday, May 29th. The two most exiting mornings for us were when one
Thursday morning, after we had been at Addington for a fortnight, a battery of press photographers from all sorts of papers came and photographed us and interviewed us. There was also a French lady who made sketches.
The other very exiting morning was Thursday, May 28th. On that morning at 11 o’clock, two BBC Television Newsreel men came. They spent one and a half hours taking different shots. We appeared at 8.28 pm on Monday June 1st on television, and we were on for two minutes!
The boys staying at Addington Palace were a cheery group. Besides myself, there were 31 boys from other choirs. All but twelve belong to choirs affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music. At 4 am on Tuesday morning, June 2nd, we were all woken up by Mr Kidd who was in charge of the dormitories on the top floor.
We breakfasted at 4.30 am, went by coach to East Croydon Station, by train to Victoria, and walked up Victoria Street to the Abbey. We robed in the Westminster Song School’s gymnasium. We were all in our places in the Abbey by 8 am. We then sat down and waited for two and a half hours, until the orchestra began playing.
At precisely 11 am we had our first glimpse of the Queen as she came through the screen with the procession into the chancel. Beneath us, and on the north side, were representatives from other countries. Mr Atlee sat amongst them. Just before the procession came four people with carpet sweepers and brushes came to sweep the carpet in the chancel.
At the moment of the actual crowning we leant right over, and could just see the Archbishop place the crown on the Queen’s head. We also saw the Duke of Edinburgh pay homage to the Queen. We had our first glimpse of the Queen when she came out in the procession.
The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen all smiled at us when they reached the screen. The choir stared disappearing at 3.30 pm. As soon as we had changed we all rushed for the cloisters where a buffet dinner was served. When we had finished we waited for Mr Kidd to call us together.
While I was waiting I saw a coach draw up in Dean’s Yard. I ran out to see what it was, and found it was the Queen’s coach. I was so surprised. The doors had paintings on them, and most of the coachwork was of gold. When we got outside we saw some of the troops march off, and then we started for Victoria Station. When at last we arrived at Addington Palace we all lay on our beds for an hour, exhausted. After a slap-up supper, we made presentations to Mr Wright and to Mr Kidd.
We went to bed at 11 pm, having watched the firework display along the South Bank on television. A boy from Leeds and I were woken up by the Matron at 6.30 am on the Wednesday morning. We had breakfast in her room and the we travelled together as far as Victoria Underground Station, where we separated, each taking our own way home.
Back at St Michael’s, I had to tell everyone about the Coronation, so that I had quite an exhausting time at first. I shall remember Addington Palace, the boys and the staff, and of course the Coronation as long as I live. A vivid memory indeed!
By Mike Benson
Most boys went home for Coronation Day (June 2nd 1953). About twenty of us didn't, my brother
David and I among them. Our
parents were very busy organising events for the Day where we lived on the
Welsh border, and they knew that they would have a very busy day and did not
really want us around. So we
stayed at school.
I don't remember much about the day, apart from one incident which I remember vividly. I was sitting listening to the end of the Coronation Service in the Train Room, all by myself. The National Anthem was being played. It never occurred to me that I should be standing up. Just then, Miss Ashley came into the room and seeing me sitting, rebuked me: "Why aren't you standing up?" she said. Then she left.
Assorted Notes on Ouseley
By John Austin
These are various subjects that I have been working on whilst researching my Ouseley book, which I hope to finish and get published.
The title has changed again and is now ‘OUSELEY’S LEGACY – Ouseley, Woodyer and St Michael’s College. A Story of the Gothic and Catholic Revival’.
How and where Ouseley and Woodyer first met has been a long standing but interesting question. I think I have found the answer. Sir Gore was obsessed with finding the very best Broadwood piano for his protégé Frederick to perform on. Between 1827 and 1834 he purchased or hired no less than nine grand pianos.
Such a customer must have made the acquaintance of Henry Fowler Broadwood (1811-1893), the principle of the firm. The Broadwood family country home was Lyne House near the village of Rusper in Sussex. Sir Frederick certainly knew Henry Broadwood because they both sat on a sub-committee of the Royal Society in 1866 to establish the problem of perfect pitch, but this was later.
The Broadwood family vaults were at the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Rusper. By the early 19th Century the building was in a very poor state and in 1854 Broadwood commissioned Henry Woodyer to rebuild it. This was Woodyer’s commission immediately before doing St. Michaels in 1855-56
I think Ouseley’s introduction to Woodyer was through the Broadwoods. However I recall that the Foundation Stone of SMC was laid in 1852, so perhaps it was Ouseley who introduced Woodyer to the Broadwoods. Whichever, the connection is an interesting one.
By the way, the founder of Broadwoods was a Swiss harpsichord maker called Burkat Shudi. He was famous for his harpsichords long before the firm made pianos. One would have thought it most likely that the harpsichord in the library at St Michael’s was a Shudi. Can anyone remember? We miss you Dan.
Since writing the above Michal Hart tells me that the harpsichord in the library was indeed a Shudi - Broadwood and there was a brass plaque on it saying it was presented to the Founder by Broadwoods.
The Mendelssohn/Ouseley duet has also been a difficult one to pin down. Joyce writes that it happened, and the others – Alderson/Colles, Watkins Shaw and Bland follow suit but there are few details and even they vary.
However, in ‘Musical Moments’ by J. M. Popkin (K.G.Saur, Oxford-Paris, 1986) I have found an entry that states that Sir Gore invited Mendelssohn to stay at Hall Barn in 1826, when Frederick was six. It must have been between Ascot in June and the end of the year because this is when the family, alongside the rest of high
Society, lived on their country estates. The remainder of the year they lived in their town houses – the Ouseleys at 33 Grosvenor Square - for the Season.
In the autumn of 1832 Sir Gore sold Woolmers and purchased Hall Barn. The archives of Broadwood Pianos contain the Carter’s Delivery Books which show that Sir Gore paid for two pianos to be taken from Woolmers to Hall Barn on 26 September 1832. So, we now have the place and the date within three months.
Sir Gore’s diary has been elusive and I assumed it had gone to the Bodleian, if it still existed at all. However it is not in the St Michael’s College Collection. Very recently I have located part of the Diary in a warehouse, a sort of Bodleian overflow, on the other side of Oxford.
What they have is a section covering the years 1810 to 1815. This is fascinating as these are the years he was Ambassador to Persia and visited Russia. It was in St Petersburg that Frederick’s sister Alexandrina was christened, and held at the font by her Godmother, the Empress of Russia. I will certainly be using some extracts.
I have also managed to buy another letter from FAGO. This one, dated August 14th 1877, is to Sarah Selwyn, wife of the Bishop of Lichfield, who had written asking about the copyright of Ouseley’s music. This makes a total of twelve letters that I have, which with the eleven books from St Michael’s library, will be fully detailed in the book.
Photographs from original glass plates – taken by the late
Letters/Emails to the Society
John Austin writes:
“I have been in touch with Rev Tim Wilby and we have had a long chat. He is a man we should keep in touch with.
He is Vicar of St George’s, Chorley, and he has been given a sabbatical year off to research Ouseley. With the backing of Manchester University he is doing a Master’s Degree on Ouseley’s music and theology, researching Ouseley's three versions of his unpublished cantata ‘The Lord is the true God’ which he wrote for his degree at Oxford. Possibly later on he will do a thesis on the same subjects leading to a PhD.
He wanted to know about my book on Ouseley and Woodyer and whether it was published yet. I told him that when we had settled in to our new house near Horsham I hoped to get the book to a printer within six months or so.
Oddly enough the church in Rusper, which is where we are going to be, was restored and more or less rebuilt by Henry Woodyer in 1855 – the job he did immediately before St Michael’s. There seems to be no booklet on the history of the church – yet!”
Rev. Andrew Walters wrote:
“David Well- Cole by whom I was seated [at the reunion dinner] told me that his brother Gervis had been appointed a Deputy (Lord) Lieutenant for Lancashire. He was ADC to Admiral Sandy Woodward (a parent at Stubbington) in the Falklands Dispute in the 1980s.
You might be interested, if for no other reason(!) that Prince Caspian, now King Caspian in the films, Ben Barnes no less was an Old Boy of mine at Homefield. It is amazing that despite me Old Boys and Old Girls (which include your good selves) have made a great contribution to Society at large in all their differing and different ways and are super citizens.”
And again ….
“I think that Guy Holland [President’s Message 2011] may fancy himself in being only 34 rather than his more adult age in claiming to be the youngest president ever.
I was only 35 when the mantle was thrust on me and I attended with Brian Demaus my first SMCS Dinner in Basil Street, London where there were some 15 present from memory.
It was on the drive back that I suggested the Reunion should be held at SMC. He was very doubtful that it would work, but I encouraged him to have a go and in 1978 there we were at SMC and have been ever since.”
Rev. Godfrey Simpson writes:
“I retired as a parish priest in October 2009. The following year I was invited to take on the role of School Chaplain (part time) here at Rendcomb College, which is a small co-ed day and boarding school near Cirencester.
I must be at 70 the oldest School Chaplain in the country! I am finding the work here as pastor to both the staff and pupils most rewarding. And what a lovely part of the world in which to live!
My two sons went to Packwood Haugh Prep School, near Shrewsbury, and I remember very well some boys coming to Packwood from St.Michael's when it sadly closed in the 80s.”
Michael Graham writes:
“I write as en ex-pupil/probationer/chorister of the glorious SMC, 1944-1950.
What a wonder the internet is! I have been listening to Basil Harwood: "O How Glorious" and decided to 'look him up'.... which led to Sir Frederick, thence to SMC, thence you as Secretary of the Society.... and I never even knew that there was a Society.
I have a [crumpled] copy of the 1949 Commemoration photo, and with respect, and tentatively, make the following comments on your naming of the seated middle row, left to right:
Miss Smallman/Miss Grant/Demaus/Fink/Menzies/Miles?/Bennett/not Dams/ColFrost/Prescott/blank/blank/not Sumsion/Dams/Watkins-Shaw/Billen/Fellowes/Alderson/BP/Kemp-Welch/Mrs KW/BP'sWife//Waterfield? / Hull/Atkins/Sumsion/EldredEvans/Littlejohn/Coles/ Stamp/Thorpe?/Simmonds?/blank/blank/Miss Ashley/Col Longridge/Weeks.
That puts the 3 Cathedral Organists together, as per photo on p42 of "E Elgar, Diana M McVeagh", pub. Dent, 1955.
Hope all this makes some sense.... and look forward to hearing from you.
Yrs sincerely: Michael Graham [back row, behind EHF & Canon Alderson]”
Peter Squire writes:
“Please remember me to Christopher Robinson. We were last in the St Michael’s Chapel together in July 1949. I still have so many vivid and happy memories of St Michael’s.
I recall the game of rugby being introduced and during that first game Christopher’s distinguished contribution which lasted all of 5 minutes before being sent off for a foul; somebody was racing for the try line when Christopher stuck out his foot and tripped the lad up. I remember Christopher muttering something about a “silly game” as he shambled off.
I last met Christopher in Philip Moore’s house just after Christopher had given an organ recital at Guildford Cathedral. At that time, Guildford had the most raucous 4-manual instrument. Christopher though played Howells and Elgar and I could smell the apple orchards; it was sublime!”
Selwyn Charles-Jones writes after attending Andrew Walters’ Thanksgiving Service:
I remember an occasion all those years ago, when one Sunday in term, the organ blowing machine broke down and a few of we little chaps offered to work the beams so that there would be organ music for Evensong.
Mr Littlejohn was, I think, the organist and all went well until the anthem, again the background music was at first kept gentle and we boys could cope with the pumping until the anthem reached its end with what was designed to be a great crescendo and blast of noise.
Unfortunately Mr Littlejohn, at that point, forgot the situation and gave the keys and pedals the full welly and sadly we little chaps could not keep pace, pump we ever so, and the final trump subsided, not with a bang but a whimper and a moan, with the bags collapsed and empty.
George Chesterton MBE - died on 3rd November 2012 at home in Malvern. He spoke at the SMCS Reunion in about 1978/79. In July he wrote to the Society:”I shall be 90 on the 15th. The Queen, bless her, has made me an MBE in the Birthday Honours. Some of my old friends will hardly believe it.”
From the Daily Telegraph: George Chesterton, who has died aged 90, was a schoolmaster and an able seam bowler for Worcestershire and MCC.
Chesterton made his living as a geography teacher and master in charge of cricket at his old school, Malvern College; but for much of the 1950s, at the beginning of the summer holidays he would make himself available for Worcestershire, playing for the county 47 times between 1950 and 1957 and taking 263 wickets at an average of 22.78. He then turned out for nine more years for MCC.
George Herbert Chesterton was born on July 15 1922 at Chirbury, in Shropshire, the youngest of a clergyman’s three children.
When he was two, his father, Jack, was appointed vicar of St Mary’s, Tenbury Wells, where his £600 stipend proved inadequate to support his passion for backing horses.
An occasional visitor to the vicarage was the author GK Chesterton, a first cousin of George's father, and the boy remembered once being told to stay out of the great man’s way because “he doesn’t like children”. (George later discovered that the writer had been “off the booze” at the time, and was crotchety as a result.)
George scraped into Malvern, which, in his final year in the sixth form, was appropriated by the War Office for the use of Winston Churchill, then First Sea Lord. The school was evacuated to Blenheim Palace (Churchill’s birthplace), where George had to apologise personally to the Duke of Marlborough after breaking a window in the Long Library while practising his catching.
On leaving school he enlisted in the RAF and trained as a pilot in Canada. He was then commissioned and, after a brief spell with No 299 Squadron, converted to the Stirling bomber, which had been modified to carry troops and tow gliders.
Attached to No 190 Squadron, Chesterton dropped supplies to the French Resistance in preparation for D-Day. On the night of June 5/6 1944, No 190 dropped paratroopers, then returned to Normandy towing gliders. Chesterton also took part in the ill-fated Operation Market Garden, at Arnhem. Towing gliders, the squadron lost 11 aircraft in five days, Chesterton later describing the operation as a “cauldron of hell”. In January 1945 he transferred to another Stirling squadron, No 242, operated by Transport Command .
On leaving the RAF as a flight lieutenant in November 1946, he went up to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he read Geography and won a cricket Blue in 1949. He was Oxford’s leading wicket taker that season, with 46 victims — among them the great Tom Graveney, whom he dismissed twice in one match. In the following season, his first in county cricket, Chesterton headed Worcestershire’s bowling averages.
Chesterton returned to his old school, in 1950, as geography master and to run the cricket. As a housemaster from 1961 to 1976, he scorned corporal punishment. He was Second Master from 1973 to 1982, and served as acting Headmaster for one term in 1982 during an interregnum.
His first-class cricket career continued until 1966 with appearances for MCC . In his final full season he returned his career-best bowling figures (seven for 14), for MCC against Ireland.
Chesterton did his utmost to promote youth cricket, and in 1991 founded the Chesterton Cup for schools across the Midlands. For eight years he was The Times’s schools sports correspondent.
He was president of Worcestershire CCC (1990-93). For his service as chairman and president of Malvern Civic Society (1985-2011) he was appointed MBE, receiving his award from the Queen only a fortnight before his death. He wrote a history of Malvern College, and in retirement lived in a house behind the school’s tennis courts.
George Chesterton married, in 1943, Kathleen Dominey. She died in 1980, and he married secondly, in 1981, Vanessa Clegg, who survives him with a son and a daughter of his first marriage.
Roland Wiseman - who has died aged 82, was a chartered land agent and from 1974 to 1995 served as Deputy Ranger for Windsor Great Park. (reports The Daily Telegraph)
As Deputy Ranger, he was in overall charge of the Windsor Estate of more than 15,000 acres embracing Windsor Great Park, the Home Park of Windsor Castle, farming, forestry, a deer park, residential and commercial properties, golf courses, a racecourse and a recreational attraction with some two million visitors a year.
Wiseman served two masters; the Duke of Edinburgh, as Ranger, and the Crown Estate Commissioners, who paid him. Keeping down the running costs was no easy task: he had to take into account the needs of the Queen and the Duke, arrange the Royal Family’s shooting and look after the many tenants, staff and pensioners who live in the Great Park. The estate included some interesting and historic buildings, such as the Royal Lodge, Cumberland Lodge, the Royal Chapel and the Royal School .
Wiseman was also responsible for improving and developing the Savill Gardens and the rebuilding of the Estate Office in 1978 . He assisted with the establishment of the herd of deer, promoted by the Duke.
Alfred Roland Wiseman was born on March 26 1930, the only son of the Rev Alfred Wiseman . His mother, Muriel, died when Roland was three and as a young boy he was brought up by his maternal aunt and grandparents. He was educated at St Michael’s College, Tenbury, where he was a chorister, and King’s School, Worcester.
His interest in farming and the land developed during his childhood in Shropshire, and on leaving school in 1948 he joined the Army. He was commissioned from Sandhurst into the Royal Artillery, serving at home and in Gibraltar, where he met his future wife, Ann Lambert, whom he married in 1954.
He then worked briefly for Shell Mex, but his interest in the countryside enticed him away from a business career. He joined the chartered surveyors Smiths Gore and qualified in Cumberland and Yorkshire before becoming assistant factor on the Duke of Buccleuch’s Selkirk estate in 1961. In 1966 he moved to the Duke of Bedford’s Woburn Estate as Steward/Land Agent until his appointment as Deputy Ranger, Windsor Great Park.
During their time at Ranger’s Lodge, the Wisemans were known as generous hosts, in particular for the lunches they gave during Royal Ascot week. On retirement, Wiseman took over the running of the Royal Windsor Horse Show for three years
He was High Sheriff of Berkshire in 1998; a Deputy Lieutenant of the county from 1994 to 2005; president of the Royal East Berkshire Agricultural Society; and chairman of the Windsor Park Equestrian Club from 1996 to 2005.
He was appointed MVO in 1984 and CVO in 1995. Roland Wiseman is survived by his wife and by a son and a daughter.
Harry Downes – former Bursar od SMC
11 June 1913 – 22nd July 2012
Harry’s granddaughter, Helen Roach, wrote: It is with great sadness I wanted to let you know that Grandpa has died. He celebrated his 99th birthday on June 11th, 2012, and until Easter he was still in remarkable health as he always was. However, his 99 years caught up with him and he started tiring easily, then leading to exhaustion and his health declined suddenly and rapidly with him finally being in Tenbury Hospital.
His funeral was held at Boraston Church, 10th August, 2012, and the Society was represented by your Secretary and Mary Thorpe.
Former Warden, Andrew Walters wrote: I had the privilege of working closely with Harry Downes throughout my time at St Michael’s, and I have the greatest admiration for him. He and I shared exactly the same philosophy and indeed some 20 years after the closure of The College, we closely shared the same views, knew how we would have handled it but there were a number of entrenched views and I would also say fear amongst a very few following the closure of Lucton , the previous October, that decisions were driven by that, as much as by the requirements of the Frederick Ouseley Will. It grieved both of us that the actions were taken when in our opinions there were alternatives, but we were not in a position to express those.
I am sure there will be some people who would now argue the following as they did then: The objects of Sir Frederick had been fulfilled – Were they? Was there not room for a Christian School ennobling the values of Sir Frederick in the whole sphere of things? The restrictions of the Will were such that closure had to be taken. That was not the opinion of all the Fellows, the majority having listened to the rather ponderous arguments agreed eventually, but there was a rump who were not convinced. The Ouseley Trust might not have been formulated in the way it eventually was, and it has been well governed and thus provided valuable Grants to a number of stipulated causes. That I would agree BUT had other paths been explored who can tell whether with a stronger sense of business acumen the College could have continued without diminishing the prospects of the Ouseley Trust at a later stage. The plain fact is listen to anyone’s arguments and you might be persuaded but Harry Downes and I together with others were not.
He served the College in the most dedicated of roles as Bursar (I remember he had some ‘With compliments’ slips ‘from the Bursar’ – but overlooked a minor spelling error which stated ‘from the Busar’ which would have been a huge injustice!) and as Clerk to the Fellows and Governing Body. He had great building skills; note the new Shower Room upstairs in the College (bringing it from the mid-19th century style into the 21st) which he personally built one Summer holiday, and the ‘Playroom’ above the Theatre/Garages. He re roofed the Alderson Building Roof, again personally, just to name some of his accomplishments. He supervised the alterations to the Swimming Pool. He had the College at heart and it always came first in his annual timetable.
I had and I have the greatest admiration for the man and I still realise how fortunate I was to work with such a man.
Peter Haslam – has died aged 85. He was at SMC 1936 – 1940.
Peter’s son Simon writes: I know he always remembered his time at St Michael’s with great fondness, and was – I believe – a regular attendee at Society reunions; indeed from one of those reunions he brought back some of the Society’s commemorative mugs which he gave to each of his four children, from which I drank my coffee this morning.
Jeremy Downes Hall - was a pupil at St Michael’s 1948 – 1954.
Generations of his family since the 19th Century had lived in Ashford Carbonel near Ludlow and the family home was Ashford Manor. He was a keen supporter of the chapel in which he served and acted as crucifer. After he left St Michael’s he went on to Bradfield College.
He chose a career in photography and became official photographer at the Tower of London. When he retired, he returned to live in the family home with his wife Jane and his two daughters.
He always had a great affection for St Michael’s and continued to support the Music Programme by attending concerts, organ recitals and Evensongs sung by visiting choirs. His last visit sadly was on Good Friday 2011 when he attended a performance of the Mozart Requiem and we could then see he was very ill. He died at home of cancer of the oesophagus on June 12th, 2011. Fortunately his suffering was comparatively short.
Ashford Carbonel Parish Church was packed for his funeral which was also attended by a number of his St Michael’s friends. Julian Dams played the organ and Michael Hart conducted a small choir of friends and members of the St Michael’s Church choir. REQUIESCAT IN PACE.
Richard Field - SMC 1951–56.
George Field - younger brother of Richard Field, died on 14th May 2013
Peter James Agg - died on 2nd March 2012
John Nethersole - died February 2012
Basil Simpson - died in Spain, where he had lived in retirement for quite a number of years, in March 2010 at the age of 73. He left St Michael's in 1950 (?)
John C. Walker – of Lindridge, nr Tenbury Wells. Hugh Cave writes: “I was also at Shrewsbury with him. A most brilliant all-round sportsman, he was in virtually every First Team, and of them for two or three years; football, cricket, Fives, athletics and gymnastics (he could walk on his hands!). He was a farmer.”
Jonathan Harvey – SMC 1949-52. Older brother of Brian Harvey (who was a Fellow of SMC)
Ivan Hewett wrote in The Guardian:
The composer Jonathan Harvey, who has died aged 73 after suffering from motor neurone disease, was unique in the way he put digital technology and a strenuously rational approach to music at the service of a deeply spiritual message.
In terms of international profile and honours, Harvey's status was almost on a par with his slightly older colleagues Harrison Birtwistle and Peter Maxwell Davies. While they have always been in the news, thanks to their pugnaciously unfashionable views and hard-edged modernism, Harvey's rise was so inconspicuous that even the musical world seemed not to realise just how eminent he had become.
He was a quiet man, tall and slightly stooping, with the fluty and precisely modulated voice of an Anglican clergyman. His music, though not without its tumult and discord, on the whole speaks in a similarly quiet voice. What makes it distinctive is its otherworldly, incandescent sound and sinuous oriental-sounding melodies, which give it a sense of ecstatic striving for a world beyond this one.
Born in Sutton Coldfield, in the west Midlands, Harvey was joyously aware of that other world from early childhood. His interest in music started early on, and was stimulated by his businessman father, who had surprisingly unorthodox tastes. Harvey became a chorister at St Michael's College in Tenbury, Worcestershire, and it was here, during a concluding organ voluntary after evensong, that he had a life-changing experience.
"Usually these voluntaries were real milk-and-water affairs," he recalled, "but one day the organist did something really wild, which was thrilling. I knew in that moment that I wanted to be a composer, and do something similar." The years at Tenbury also gave him an enduring taste for unaccompanied choral music, shown in the modest liturgical works for Anglican liturgy that sit in his work-catalogue alongside big complex works for orchestra and electronics.
Harvey went on to study music at St John's College, Cambridge, and sent some of his early compositions to Benjamin Britten. On Britten's advice he went on to study privately with two doughty defenders of the European tradition, Erwin Stein and Hans Keller.
They instilled a keen sense in Harvey that music has to be unified to be coherent. It was a useful lesson; Harvey seems to have been touched by the prevailing flower-power ethos, and some of his early works, such as Ludus Amoris (1969, written for the Three Choirs Festival), have a kind of anything-goes exuberance, not so far from other quintessentially 1960s works such as John Tavener's Celtic Requiem.
By this time Harvey had become a music lecturer at Southampton University (1964-77), and was married to Rosaleen, a physiotherapist, with two children, Anna and Dominic; all three survive him. One of the remarkable things about Harvey was his ability to combine a busy composing schedule with an impressive academic career. He was then lecturer, reader and eventually professor of music at Sussex University (1977-95), and part-time professor at Stanford University, California (1995-2000).
During his last years numerous awards confirmed Harvey's status as an elder statesman of new music. In January 2012 the BBC promoted a generous survey of his music at the Barbican in London. The composer by this time had been ill for some years, and was unable to attend, but he sent a message of greeting to the audience.
The grand summation of Harvey's mystical ecumenism was Weltethos (a global ethos), which Harvey described as a "grand oratorio, a kind of total harmony of all the world's religions", with texts from the world's major religious scriptures chosen by the German theologian Hans Küng.
The world premiere was given on October 2011 by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Berlin Radio Chorus under Simon Rattle. The UK premiere, given by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on 19 June launched the nationwide arts festival London 2012. As with all Harvey's recent works, a predominantly meditative tone was enlivened by passages of startling vigour.
Radiantly still passages suggestive of heavenly peace sat cheek by jowl with dancing, almost angry, settings of Buddhisttexts, and delightfully literal imitations of the shofar or ram's horn in the "Jewish" movement. Harvey was too ill to attend the world premiere, but was able to witness it through a live internet link. It was a fitting conclusion to a career dedicated to the idea that music can point towards a higher form of consciousness.
As Harvey put it in a lecture in 1992: "It's for music to articulate the true nature of man in his blissful, enlightened form. No less than that should be demanded. It's a way of charm and simplicity which no verbal concepts, least of all mine, can ever encapsulate."
• Jonathan Dean Harvey, composer, born 3 May 1939; died 4 December 2012
Rodney Burrows – SMC 1951-57.
Robin Bodman - 3 December 1926 – 23 March 2012
Robin’s early life was in Bristol. His father was a young Doctor building up his practice, and his mother was intent on having fun after rebelling at her Plymouth Brethren family. He and his two younger sisters were looked after by a Governess.
Robin’s parents divorced when he was 6, and he was sent to St Michael’s College. From there he went to Bryanston, where he became a house captain.
He joined the Navy in 1944 as a Special Entry Cadet. In his varied career, Robin served in a Frigate, St Austell Bay, 2 Cruisers, HMS Bermuda and HMS Sussex, and 2 Aircraft Carriers, HMS Bulwark and HMS Centaur. He served in Malta on the staff of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, and at the Admiralty as Assistant Secretary to the Fifth Sea Lord who was responsible for naval aviation.
Robin’s most important appointment was as Fleet Logistics Officer on the staff of the Commander in Chief Far East Station, Admiral Sir David Luce. Robin was responsible for arranging the full range of logistics support to a large fleet, covering an area East to Japan, South to Australia and West to the Indian Ocean.
During his naval career, he skied on the slopes of Mount Etna; Aqualunged off Malta; played Rugby for the Combined Services Malta; bathed in the Pacific where the water was 5 miles deep; visited the Blue Mountains in Australia; climbed Timo Shan, a mountain opposite Hong Kong; lived in Jahore Bahru; went to the Tsavo Game Park in Kenya, and was presented to Her Majesty the Queen.
Robin joined the Civil Service in 1966 after retiring from the navy and lived with his family in Guildford.
In 1950, Robin had gone to a point-to-point near Edinburgh where he met his future wife, Helen. Robin retained an interest in horse racing for most of his life. He was a successful analyser of form and took huge pleasure in his winnings, much of which he gave away. He was a generous giver to many charities.
After a romantic courtship, Robin and Helen married in 1955. His old school friend, Russell Molyneux-Johnson, was his best man. His daughter, Penny, was born in 1957. Helen died of cancer in 1978. Robin re-married in 1988 and moved to Dartmouth, where his second wife Anne was living. He enjoyed playing an active part in Parish life, as Treasurer, Electoral Roll officer and church guide. Anne died of cancer in 2007.
Robin was a true gentleman – considerate to others and appreciative of all kindnesses shown to him. Despite suffering great loss in his personal life, he gave thanks for being married to two exceptional ladies. He felt very fortunate in having a faith, and he bore the loss of his home and independence as his health failed with tolerance and grace.
Robin ended his life peacefully in a retirement home, Hyne Town House, amongst kind and caring staff. He is remembered with love.
St Michael's and the World-wide Web
The Society has for a number of years now had a presence on the web, with several members getting back in touch as a result of coming across the website via Google or other search engines.
Delivery of the annual Newsletter by electronic methods has also meant that we can reach a wider membership and also keep our costs down at the same time. It's always a surprise to see what memorabilia is being uncovered in the form of photographs/school lists/magazines and so on, and a great deal if these are being made available via the website.
A new set if photographs have just made an appearance so if you haven't visited the site recently, please feel free to do so. You can even fill in a new Banker's Order on-line if you aren't yet up to date with your subscription! The address is www.smcsociety.co.uk
We hope that you find something of interest there, and that perhaps you will be encouraged to contribute SMC memories of your own. William Jenkyns, SMCS website.
The SMCS Shop
SMCS ties (£10) – a batch of Society ties was produced for the Centenary Reunion. If anyone’s old tie is the worse for wear or you have lost it (!), let a committee member know.
SMCS Centenary mugs (£3.50) – again, as a memento of the 2006 reunion, centenary mugs were produced. They look really good and there are quite a few left so if anyone is interested let us know.
Memories of St Michael’s College, Tenbury edited by C.R.Beresford (2006) Paperback (£7)
Flashbacks by thirty people who were pupils between the 1920s and 1980s, together with articles and appendices with names of staff and pupils. The editor was a pupil from 1952 to 1957.
Elgar, Ouseley and St Michael’s – A personal account by John Austin (2006) (£2.50)
Old Boy and former Society President John Austin has put together a 20 page booklet.
If anyone would like to provide submissions / photographs
for the Newsletter we would welcome them.
(Preferably electronically as it saves substantial re-typing)
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
alternatively post to Tim Coles, The Moor Hall, Cleedownton, Ludlow, SY8 3EG
The Society subscription is £10 per annum (minimum). If necessary could you please
update your standing order accordingly. Many thanks.
A Standing Order Form is available on our website
Members and Friends Present – 49 attended the dinner:
Guy Holland (President)
John Pepper (Treasurer)
Tim Coles (Secretary) (75-81)
Andrew Walters (Warden 77-85)
Felicity Osborne (nee Cole) (77-79)
Paul and Mary Drummond
William Jenkyns (72-78)
John Davies (39-43)
Wesley Waldron (guest)
Mike Benson (50-55)
George, Carole and Alex Field
Michael Hart (50-54)
Jenson Jones (57-59)
Charles Beresford (52-57)
Julian and Gill Dams (48-54)
Peter and June Squire (47-50)
Christopher and Mrs Irby (41-44)
John & Norah Brown (39-44)
John Austin (41-44)
Richard Bolt (guest)
Peter Haslam (36-40)
Brian & Nora Demaus (32-37 & staff 46-84)
Jenny Paxman (Warden’s wife) (65-77)
Simon and Liz Higginson (65-70)
John and Liz Weston
Ian and Mary Holland
Tory Paxman (74-77)
Robin and Karen Bayley
Simon and Michelle Banfield (76-81)
Nick and Claire Weston
Others attending the day:
John Hare (60-64)
Brian Demaus – in his element as after dinner speaker
by Guy Holland
The annual cricket match between the Old Boys and St. Michael's Village is always great fun but it is fair to say that the SMCS team has dominated the contest in recent years in the same way that the USA once took The Ryder Cup and America's Cup for granted. But as in those great contests the giants can be slain.
Events on the St. Michael's cricket pitch last year very nearly provided an exciting reminder that this can be the case...
Batting first SMCS looked to put on a significant total and started very fluently. Holland and T. Coles reached 32 in rapid and untroubled fashion until Coles holed out off the bowling of A.Grosvenor for a particularly stylish 18.
J. Pepper once again made a mockery of his self-doubt by looking very good for his valuable 21. M. Banfield only managed a single and was outshone on this occasion by his father, S. Banfield's 12. But Simon threw it away just when the team really needed him to settle in and make a significant contribution. R. Bayley fared little better with his laboured 6 whilst the Weston brothers remained not out at the end, Andrew with 4 and Nick with 8.
G. Holland's innings of 34 ended in an undignified crumpled heap on the floor and in searing pain when a full pitched delivery missed bat, all padding and boot to crash into the inside of his right ankle. Luckily he was batting with Dr. John Pepper at the time who managed to administer little more than laughing ridicule.
SMCS posted 126-6 off 25 overs. L.Pardoe's 2-9 and skipper Godfrey Pitt's 2-15 were the standout bowling performances.
In reply St. Michael's Village started to eat into the SMCS total with some flamboyance. Richard Grosvenor and K. Hipkiss made solid 25's each and were well supported by Steve Griffith's 17.
In the end steady Old Boy's bowling throughout was enough to stem the flow: Holland 1-11, Weston 1-16, Bayley 1-7 and S. Banfield 1-22 were all effective whilst Matthew Banfield's 30 runs looked expensive but his 2 wickets were critical. Sharp fielding by age defying limbs resulted in two run outs and the dismissal of the match was unquestionably G. Pitt caught Coles bowled Banfield. A perfect length ball with some leg cutting action by Simon Banfield was nicked behind and brilliantly taken by the cat-like Coles, bravely standing up to the stumps. To 'caught Marsh bowled Lillee' and 'caught Gilchrist bowled McGrath' let it be added - Caught Coles Bowled Banfield.
After 25 over St. Michael's Village fell agonisingly six runs short of victory with a battling 121-8 off 25 overs.
One again it had been a thoroughly enjoyable match and we always appreciate the efforts of everyone who turns out. As always the tea provided by the Village was magnificent, very generous and hugely welcome!
We look forward to another close contest this year. Please get in touch if you fancy joining the ranks of flanneled fools in future years!
* Special mention must be made of Simon Banfield who became a father at 3am on the morning of the match but nevertheless reported for duty at 10.30am prompt. With that kind of commitment how could we have lost?!
St. Michael’s Revisited
By John Hare
I arrived at St. Michael’s just after 1.00pm on Saturday, the 24th September 2011. I walked down to the wall overlooking the cricket pitch and sat next to a gentleman who turned to me and asked if I was an Old Boy of St. Michael’s. I told him that I had been a choirboy (and in my last year, a Head Chorister) at St. Michael’s from January 1961 to July 1964.
With a twinkle in his eye, he stated that it was a little bit before his time and he introduced himself as the Rev. Walters, the last Warden of St. Michael’s before it closed in 1985. I told him that I had spent most of my working life as a Primary School Class Teacher in the state sector and a peripatetic teacher of flute and general woodwind instruments and that (now that I had retired from full time teaching) I spent most of my time maintaining and improving property and playing in two amateur flute choirs (I started receiving flute lessons as a boy at St. Michael’s. They were given by a kind gentleman with white hair and moustache. He used to arrive on his motorbike to teach clarinet and flute. I’m pretty sure he would have been frustrated by my reluctance to do any real practice).
The Rev. Walters and I talked about Dick Stride and the ‘Sing Joyfully’ LP. I showed him the picture of me (along with five other boys) that appeared on the original front cover. I was the one on the far left (the later CD cover version seems to have cut me out). He also told me about some of the history surrounding the closure of the college (while we watched the village play the old-boys at cricket). He then became engaged in conversation away from me with other people, as one or two Old Boys began to gather around us for the annual ‘tour’ of the old buildings.
One tall gentleman had been a chorister at St. Michael’s and had left a few years before my brother James and I arrived in 1961. It was David Wells-Cole. He spoke eloquently and softly of his career as a public school master. He seemed to me to be gregarious and naturally at ease with people and so, occasionally, he engaged me in conversation (asking politely about some of my recollections of St. Michael’s).
Another friendly (and even taller) man arrived for the tour. He had been a boy at St. Michael’s well after I left. A third man joined us. He seemed quiet and modest and had been a pupil at the college around the start of World War 2. We proceeded on the ‘tour’, led by a gentleman employed by the current international school establishment of St. Michael’s College as a ‘pastoral’ manager of the students.
Our first ‘port of call’ was (through the Warden’s main entrance of the building and into the corridor) to the library, which Sir John Betjeman (in his famous and ‘iconic’ BBC radio broadcast about St. Michael’s) described as being ‘world famous’. From my time at St. Michael’s, I remembered the sights, sounds (and smells) of rows and rows of huge, leather- bound books on solid wooden shelves, mahogany-tinted be-panelled walls, oil paintings of important people and soft lighting. Around a massive grand-piano (covered in a soft but tough, protective, light-brown fabric) we choirboys gathered to rehearse ‘Beati Quorum Via’ (or whatever else was on the agenda for the then choir-master, Lucian Nethsingha) for choral evensong, aware that in some well-protected vault behind us lay George Frideric Handel’s conducting score for ‘The Messiah’. Sadly, what I witnessed on this tour barely corresponded to those memories from nearly fifty years ago. A metal ‘mezzanine’ staircase had settled (like the ‘Tardis’) in the middle of the floor space. The old books and shelves had been removed, to be replaced by modern books and shelves.
There were few of the old panels and none of the old paintings or piano. Handel’s score had (of course) long gone. I realise that you cannot preserve the past in aspic, especially when the college has changed role from a choir school to an international college for teenage boys and girls (from all parts of the world) preparing for university entrance. Even so, in my eyes, it was a lamentable sight.
We proceeded into the corridor, down which the Warden, Dick Stride would pass most evenings towards the dining hall (while we boys were all lined up, each side, hungry and waiting), sweeping past us, trailing his gown impressively and smelling (ever-so-slightly) of a pre-dinner sherry. Apart from the removal of the oil paintings, the hall seems to have changed surprisingly little and still retains the original refectory tables, panelling, dumb-waiter (to the kitchen) and ‘minstrels’ gallery. Up the stone steps we went, to the big dormitory (where we used, as boys, to sleep and which Sir John Betjeman described as being like ‘the hold of a galleon’). It was now transformed into a kind of ‘youth club’, replete with comfy sofas and pool table, for the current students to relax in after their studies; the residential blocks for students now being (approximately) in the area of what was then ‘the spinney pond’ (so called at least, by those of us who remember passing it on ‘rambles’).
Was this the same place where (on many nights) Dick Stride would choose one of our beds to sit on and read a chapter or two of ‘Jennings and Derbyshire’, or where (on one dark night) he informed us (in grim tones) that President J. F. Kennedy had just been assassinated and that he (The Reverend D.W.A. Stride) ‘feared for the future of a world where such a terrible crime could be committed by a fellow human being’? We wandered past the location of what used to be the communal bathroom (no longer there, of course) to the area where on a single afternoon during term-time, I (and virtually every other pupil, I suppose) would hold his single, lonely, individual, one-to-one, five or ten minute vigil, beneath the vast, echoing, gothic roof beams with.......THE BARBER!!!!!. I jest. The experience was never (in my experience, anyway) fearful. In fact, I seem to remember looking forward to a ‘rare’ experience of being (in a small way, admittedly) individually ‘pampered’.
Down we went a few steps of the spiral staircase to the ‘little dorm’, the venue, I recall, for exciting, clandestine, ‘under-the-bedclothes’ midnight feasts with my brother James and his friends (hopefully, from our point of view, ‘out of ear-shot’ of our ‘long-suffering’ matrons, Miss Evans and Miss Kidman). It is now a sad sight of dereliction and decay; paint peeling off the walls and a sensation of all-pervasive, mouldy dampness creeping through what can now only be described as a dilapidated store room. We made our way down and out of the building and headed towards the old swimming pool area (where many new buildings have recently been built to accommodate the needs of the expanding international college). So, our (frankly, quite depressing) tour ended here.
On a more positive note, three things do counter-balance these negatives; firstly, St. Michael’ is still a thriving educational establishment; secondly, the chapel is still protected and used for musical events; and thirdly (as Jenny Paxman said in her address to the Old Boys at the reunion dinner at Cadmore Lodge), the original purpose of Ouseley in establishing St. Michael’s, had (by the time of the closure) been fulfilled, in the sense that the English choral tradition was by then (and is still now) thriving, in cathedrals, chapels and churches up and down the land. Mr. Wells-Cole reminded me that ‘choir-practice’ was about to begin in the chapel, so we both went off swiftly to meet the Holgate Consort (with whom some of us Old Boys would be singing evensong at six o’clock). A long practice ensued, in which the choir-master (David Barclay) coached the group in pieces by Stainer, Ouseley and Parry (amongst others).
As a boy, I seem to remember (around 1963/1964) quite a few times when the St Michael’s College choir were recording and/or broadcasting (e.g. ‘Sing Joyfully’, Choral Evensong on BBC radio and a Pathé News Christmas ‘event’). On the Pathé news reel that Chris Pickford mentioned in a recent St. Michaels College Society newsletter, I am filmed standing next to Peter Brill in the choir stalls. I seem to have a mark on my face (as a keen rugby player at the time, I guess I might have sustained some slight injury during a practice or match).
During the Holgate Consort rehearsal, I occasionally looked across at the Tenor opposite me (on Decani) and thought to myself ‘that couldn’t possibly be Denis Parry could it?’ As we lined up for evensong, I plucked up courage (I have always been a bit shy), turned to him and asked,
“Are you Denis Parry?”
“Yes” he replied, “Who are you?”
“John Hare”, I said.
“Ah, John Hare”, he said loudly and shook my hand very firmly.
A moment later, Mary Thorpe arrived and called out my name. She handed me the ‘Innocent and Singing’ double CD that I had asked for and I handed her my ten pound note just in time before we filed into the chapel for Evensong. After the service, we (the Old Boys) all congregated in the spitting drizzle outside for the annual group photograph. Before the final ‘click’, an immaculately dressed gentleman quietly ‘appeared’ and stood in the centre foreground of the group. I thought to myself, surely that can’t be Mr. Demaus? Of course, it was.
After the photograph, I met Denis Parry and Maureen Parry (who were teacher and matron respectively when I was a boy at St. Michael’s) and their son. Denis recalled that (at the time I was a pupil) my main interest and preoccupation seemed to be in the music of the ‘The Beatles’. I can well believe it. I never was able (or willing) to really apply myself academically (I might have been more successful in my life if I had been). I told them that
I remembered enjoying being taught by Denis how to do basket-weaving (of trays, paper bins and such-like). Maureen and Denis also reminded me that I had spent quite a few days in the sick-bay recovering from some kind of foot infection that I had contracted while camping with the scouts. (I had forgotten about this, perhaps not surprisingly). It must have been a difficult job sometimes (for members of staff at St. Michael’s) to successfully cater for the needs of so many individual pupils.
Unfortunately, I had to leave early so I was unable to attend the dinner at Cadmore Lodge and missed the interesting, amusing and entertaining speeches given by Brian Demaus and Jenny Paxman. Thankfully, I was able to hear recordings of them on the St. Michael’s College website.
Saint Michael’s College News
Two girls shine on a night filled with glitz and glamour.
The Graduation Dinner saw several awards handed out to our brightest and most hard working students. Amongst the honours were two very special centenary shields presented by the Saint Michael’s College Society. These were presented, in person, by former student and old boy Jenson Jones and acknowledged both ‘academic achievement’ and ‘service to the community’.
Leyla Eminalieva from Russia took the award for academic achievement on the night and was ‘surprised, but very grateful to win the award’. She achieved an A Grade in her GCSE mathematics and has worked consistently throughout the course of the academic year whilst studying on the University Foundation Programme.
The award for service to the community went to Miranda Fu from China - the former charity prefect at Saint Michael’s. During her tenure, Miranda has played an important part in the organisation of many fund-raising events. Her efforts include organising non-uniform days and baking cakes to raise money for victims of the devastating earthquake in China. Perhaps her most important contribution of the last year however, was ensuring that the charity committee raised enough money for ‘Angel Cover’- a charity which helps impoverished children in Africa receive a good education. There are currently two students studying under the auspice of Saint Michael’s College.
When speaking with the two girls following the event I asked them what they intended to do with the generous sum of money awarded by the Saint Michael’s College Society. I was very impressed to discover that both girls could be characterised by the awards which they received on the night. Miranda, who plans to travel across South East Asia this summer, said she was hoping to put the money to a good cause somewhere whilst on her travels. As for Leyla, it would seem that she already has one eye on her university studies next year; she plans to spend the money on books and stationary as she prepares for her undergraduate studies here in England.
Prize Giving 2012
ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – OUMOU HAWA DIALLO
SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY – ZHONGXUAN (DORA) CHI
Over the past 6 or 7 years the number of students studying at Saint Michael’s has almost doubled. They are now full (with a capacity of 112 living on site).
As the school seems to be increasingly popular they have decided to submit a masterplan for their future development. The masterplan includes 4 new residential blocks (all single rooms), new classrooms , a new kitchen and dining room and a sports hall and swimming pool. They hoped to start the first phase, a residential block, in autumn 2012.
Exam Results 2012
A Level pass rate was 94% - this is down a little from last year’s pass rate (98.2%), but is the 7th year in a row the pass rate has been over 90%.
The A* - B rate was 54%, up from 48.1% last year.
Headmaster Stuart Higgins said: “I think we can be very pleased with the results. For over 50% of the results to be A* - B grades, when our students are not native speakers, is phenomenal.”