OV

18 June

Centenary of The King’s School Worcester’s WW1 Memorials

Early twentieth-century King’s was a small community: when Rev. William Haighton Chappel (HM 1896-1918) arrived as Headmaster in 1896 there were only 71 boys in the school. By 1900 numbers had risen to 100, increasing to 165 in 1909.

At this time the Headmaster was also Housemaster to the boarders in School House. Thus Rev. Chappel lived in School House along with his wife, four daughters and two sons, and so knew many of the boys who were to die in the Great War intimately. Chappel’s closeness to the boys in his care was reflected in his moving tributes to the fallen during the onslaught of the First World War. Every time an OV was killed on active service he was spoken about during the following school assembly.  Moreover, Chappel personally penned tributes to 80 OV war victims in subsequent editions of The Vigornian.

In all, 80 former pupils and four masters lost their lives during the First World War.

Following the Armistice on 11 November 1918, King’s School Worcester, like many institutions across the country, erected memorials to former pupils who had given their lives during the conflict. These took the form of a permanent Roll of Honour in College Hall and a Memorial Window in the Cathedral Cloisters to contain the names of the fallen. It was also proposed to provide scholarships for sons of  Old Vigornians (OVs) killed in the war; a new Fives Court be constructed in the playground; and a new Cricket Pavilion be erected on the New Road ground.

While funds were collecting, an immediate and costless Roll of Honour was painted in letters of gold on the panelling of College Hall. A few years later this memorial was placed in a more central position and the eight lines of verse originally accompanying it were omitted in favour of the simple phrase:

THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE

Centenary of The King’s School Worcester's WW1 Memorials

This was the work of Mr. Hope Bagenal, F.R.I.B.A., who at the same time supervised the stripping of the dark stain off the oak panelling.

King’s first War Memorial Scholar joined the school in May 1920. He was Malcolm Dennis Bennett Royle (Ca 1922-1927), the eldest son of Capt. Dennis Carlton Royle, MC (Dayboy 1893-1898), who had been killed in action on 21 August 1918.

The Cricket Pavilion and Cloister Window were unveiled during the Old Vigornian Reunion weekend of 18 and 19 June 1921. Canon Chappel (now President of the OV Club, and Sub-Dean of Coventry Cathedral) performed the opening ceremonies.

Centenary of The King’s School WW1 Memorials

The Pavilion was the gift of Mr. Thomas Easton Rammell (KSW Staff 1891-1929). Mr. Rammell was master in charge of cricket and had been responsible for maintaining records of OVs involved in the war.  He immediately promised £500 to the project, and when the costs exceeded this figure took on the whole extra burden but suppressed his name as donor. The plaque over its entrance reads:

This pavilion was erected in memory of those who, having learnt in this place to play the game for their school, played it also for their country during the years

1914-1918

It ends with a Latin inscription from Virgil’s Aeneid:

HAEC OLIM MEMINISSE JUVABIT

Which translates as:

These things one day it will be a pleasure to remember

The Pavilion was opened by Canon Chappel on Saturday, 18 June 1921. During the day cricket matches were played between three elevens of Old Vigornians and the first, second, and third elevens of the School. That evening the Headmaster Rev. Creighton (HM 1919-1936) entertained 70 OVs and masters at dinner in the School House dining hall.

The next morning, Sunday, 19 June 1921, the School War Memorial in the North Cloisters was dedicated by Dean Moore Ede, Chairman of the School Governors. A large number of Old Vigornians, relatives, and friends assembled in the North Cloister of the Cathedral where the Dean dedicated the beautiful window to the memory of Vigornians who fell in the war. Two platoons of the Officers Training Core (OTC), with the drums and bugles of the Band, were on parade under Captain Whitaker (KSW Staff 1911-1935). As the Cathedral Choir approached the window from the Chapter House they sang Psalm 121, “I will lift up mine eyes”, with its moving last verse, “The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in: from this time forth for ever more”. Rev. Creighton read the prayers and a brief silence was observed for “remembrance of the brave and true.” The buglers of the OTC then sounded the Last Post (with drums), and after the Dean had dedicated the window, the Reveille. The Dean gave a short address, during which he called attention to the text placed at the head of an official description: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them” (Hebrews 11:13). Then the burial hymn “God of the living, in whose eyes” was sung, and the procession, followed by OVs and the School, moved into the Cathedral for Matins, where Canon Chappel preached the sermon. He took for his text James 1:22,24. Rev. Creighton and Archdeacon James read the lessons. “Oh God, our help in ages past” and “For all the saints” were the suitable hymns chosen for the occasion.

Centenary of The King’s School First World War Memorials

A third Fives Court was added to the Playground as a Great War Memorial in 1922.  (The first two had been built in 1889.)  Its memorial plaque read, “AD 1922: These Fives Courts were repaired and a new one built as part of the War Memorial to those who fell in the Great War”. These Fives Courts, which had long been left unused, were eventually demolished in 2003 to create Castle Place; a memorial plaque was installed on the castle wall and reads, “AD 2003: The removal of three disused Fives Courts enabled this area to be greatly improved for the recreation and enjoyment of all pupils”. Both the 1922 and 2003 plaques can be found on the castle wall.

A video to commemorate the centenary of The King’s School Worcester’s WW1 Memorials, compiled and presented by Director of Music Simon Taranczuk (Hon OV), with current Choristers and Chaplain Rev Mark Dorsett (Hon OV) replicating some of the 1921 service, can be streamed on YouTube , with thanks to King’s Worcester Archives and all involved.

Centenary of The King’s School First World War Memorials