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9 April

From the Archives- A History of Castle House

1902: Establishment of Castle House

The early twentieth century saw an increasing demand for boarding at The King’s School. By 1901, these boarders (that year numbering 39 in all) had filled School House to capacity, and so a new boarding house began construction on the south side of College Green to meet requirements: William Haighton Chappel (Headmaster 1896-1918) rented the building owned by the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral. The choice of name for this new boarding residence of 1902 derived from its location on The King’s School site. The old ‘Castle’ or County Gaol had abutted on the boundary wall between Castle House and the Playground: where small boys were now playing prisoners’ base, lawbreakers had been hung.

Mr. Chappel had inherited 11 boarders and 60 dayboys from his predecessor, Mr. Bolland, after the latter’s retirement in July 1896. A year later Mr. Chappel’s boarders in School House numbered 26 and there were still 60 dayboys; the gymnasium on the top floor of School House was turned into an extra dormitory. With more prospective boarders forthcoming Mr. Chappel persuaded the Governors to try to start a second boarding house for his house tutor, Thomas Rammell, to run. The building chosen was the house tenanted by Miss. Davison until her death in 1885 and owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

The Dean and Chapter found the necessary capital to rebuild and enlarge the “old house”, as it was called, and the new building was christened Castle House. While the foundations were being dug, several skeletons and coins came to light. The Dean and Chapter had them buried in the Garth.

Mr. Rammell, with his young sister Kitty Rammell as housekeeper, took up residence in Castle House, and they received their first seven boys on 23 April 1902. In September they had 23 boys and were full. On 4 April 1906 the Dean and Chapter agreed to spend a further £400 enlarging the house: Mr. Chappel’s summary of the enlargement was, “a wing which gave two extra Dormitories and three studies and other accommodations, so as to take 30 boys”.

In 1929, Mr. Rammell retired after 38 years at King’s, 27 of which he had spent as Housemaster of Castle House. In his speech on Prize Day, Cuthbert Creighton (Headmaster 1919-1936) paid tribute to Mr. Rammell:

Twenty-seven years ago he opened Castle House, and generations of boys remembered with gratitude his influence when he was master of the House and they were pupils residing in it. Many of them would remember for years to come the Sunday evening readings he used to conduct. It was not a matter of common knowledge that he took members of the House for holidays at the seaside, and that some of the boys owed the possibility of continuing at the School or going on to the Universities to the quiet generosity of the Head of Castle House.

In his retirement speech Mr. Rammell himself insisted that, as regards Castle House, “All those who had passed through it would agree that any success it had achieved had been due almost entirely to the untiring devotion of [my] sister.” Mr. Rammell later married in 1933, enjoying eleven happy years of retirement before dying in March 1944. His sister came back to Worcester in 1933 and lived at Whittington to the great age of 94, dying in 1971.

Photo of Castle House from 1902

Castle House, 1902 Centre: Housemaster T.E. Rammell and his sister Miss. K.M. Rammell.

Photo of Castle House in 1930

Castle House, as shown in the c.1930 King’s School prospectus.