This week’s Senior Assembly began with a Monitor Address from Sophia W (Ch) who presented a very moving speech on the way we spend and use our time and how quickly it passes. Sophia reflects on her time at King’s, the importance of grasping opportunity and also the importance of savouring every moment with the people we love. Mr Doodes then began his address, where he shared with pupils the importance of our surroundings in shaping and moulding us as individuals and the thought-provoking phrase Cathedral Thinking.
Sophia Winfield (Ch) – Monitor’s Address
There’s only one thing in our lives that we’re never able to reacquire once it’s gone. I’m not talking about money or materialistic items; I’m talking about time. It’s such a unique concept that when used correctly contains all the ingredients to success, to happiness, to growth and prosperity. But at the same time if neglected it leaves us with very little. As my education at kings comes to an end, I have reflected on my time here, truthfully it has gone very quickly leaving me to question where the 12 years went. I have come to the realisation that I will never experience another Christmas nativity or a netball national finals, or a GCSE results day ever again. My point is life is so short and precious and we only get one shot at it. So, my advice would be to grasp every opportunity that comes, to be kind and surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, and to savour every moment with the people you love because the way we spend our time defines who we are.
Senior School Assembly – 27th April 2021
On the nights of the 10 and 11 May 1941, a huge number of bombs fell on London, most significantly the House of Commons that was completely destroyed. Churchill surveyed the damage when he visited, commented that the building should be re-built exactly was it was. Many disagreed. They stated that this was an opportunity for change. But he felt that the building, with its pew like seating facing each other, its central speakers chair, were to remain. ‘We mould our surroundings’ he said, ‘and then our surroundings mould us’.
We mould our surroundings, and then our surroundings mould us.
Last night I attended a service in our Cathedral for the Translation of St. Wulstan and the dedication of the Cathedral in 1218. It was 803 years to the day that the original service took place.
As I sat in the Cathedral waiting for the service to begin, which was beautifully sung by our choristers alongside Mr Taranzcuk and others, I reflected on the building and how this year has robbed the near 150 new Vigornians who joined last September of something rather special, unique to the seven King’s schools founded by Henry VIII in 1541.
That is being able to freely use our Cathedral. Because the Cathedral is, in essence, our chapel. Our school, and the Cathedral, are intimately joined. And as such, the buildings around the Close merge into one. Speak to any Upper Sixth Former, and even the most truculent will probably admit that attending assemblies in College Hall, or services in the Cathedral, has had a positive, life-affirming influence on them through their King’s journey.
We mould our surroundings, and then our surroundings mould us.
The Cathedral that those pupils here before March 2020 sat in is not the same that was originally designed or planned.
The cathedral’s history is quite extraordinary. The original church was built in 961, and a new church built by Bishop Wulstan in 1084. A fire in 1113 damaged much of the building apart from the tomb of the now deceased Wulstan, completed around 1140. Then the west end of the Church, built on poor foundations, started to subside, and in 1175 the new tower that had been built collapsed. Then, in 1202, another fire occurred which also destroyed much of the city. After this, considerable work was undertaken, because in 1218, 803 years ago, the Church was dedicated to Our Lady, St. Peter, St. Oswald and St. Wulstan. This took place in the presence of young King Henry, as well as ten bishops, seventeen abbots and numerous nobles. During the service the bone of St. Wulstan were placed in a new shrine, with some bones being given to various bishops to take back to their own cathedrals to be venerated.
That wasn’t the end of the story. Because of the popularity of St. Wulstan, the sheer number of visitors to the site meant that a new east end – the end nearest to Cathedral Precincts – was built. IN 1302 the tower started collapsing again, and then in 1320 work started once more on the main buildings which was stopped by the Black Death in 1349. The Great Tower, the majority of which we see today, was finished in 1374 after taking 17 years to build. Over the coming two hundred years various screens and vaults were added, and then in 1502 Prince Arthur, who was to be King, died leaving his brother, the future Henry VIII, as the sole heir to the throne. His chapel was built to hold his body.
And then we start coming into the picture, because in 1541, after the dissolution of the monasteries, the monastic parts of the Cathedral were turned into a College. Our College, which is called the King’s School. College Hall was our main place of teaching. But even then, much happened, especially during the 17th century where Worcester became the final focus of the civil war. Lead and timber were removed from the roofs, whilst the final battle of the Civil War was watched by the future Charles II from the tower itself, where defeated he escaped through College Green to a House on the shambles in the centre of Worcester which is now called the Charles II House. At least one house on College Green had a direct hit – Number 9, where my family and I live today. The home of Thomas Tomkins, the Cathedral Organist, he and his sub-organist had taken the organ pipes out of the cathedral prior to the battle, and stored them in what is now our attic where our children sleep. They were saved, although the house was damaged.
And then more happened. The 18th century saw the addition of pinnacles, new windows, restoration of damage from a century earlier, new organ galleries, new cladding on the tower, and then the Victorians, in their own inimitable way, pulled down a few buildings to create some romantic ruins, the Guesten being the most obvious as you walk on the north side of College Green in the gap between the Cloister entry and the next main building, creating pretty much what you see today.
No architect in the 9th century, planning on a mighty Church on the banks of the Severn could have anticipated that the modest building they envisaged would be the building it is today. But back at that time, they had a vision, a focus, a long-term plan that they would create something extraordinary. They would mould a building, and that building would mould lives.
But like the gardener who plants tress that he know he won’t see in full growth, those early builders of the Cathedral knew that what for many of them was their life’s work would never been seen in completion. It would be something for other to enjoy.
This has developed a phrase – Cathedral Thinking. That the work you do today won’t be completed by you, and the outcome may be different, but that you’re working on a shared vision, a long-term blueprint.
Although we haven’t this year been able to gather in our Cathedral, we need to take in mind the vision of those early architects, and apply it to our lives. Our influence and importance collectively in society will be judged on what we leave as a legacy.
How will you embrace Cathedral Thinking? What will you do to ensure that the world is in the smallest way possible a better place? How will you work in the long-term for others? What will you do to spend your lives moulding your surroundings, so you can be reassured that forevermore the surroundings you’ve moulded will have a positive influence on the life of others?
Previous senior assemblies can be viewed here.