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26 June

From the Archives: Kittermaster House

1984: Establishment of Kittermaster House

Growing day pupil numbers throughout the latter decades of the twentieth century had made King’s four existing dayboy houses unmanageably large.  Newly-arrived Headmaster John Moore (HM 1983-1998) therefore decided to form two new houses, to reduce individual dayboy house numbers from 80 to 50 pupils.  This had the two-fold advantage of easing the individual Housemasters’ workloads and responsibilities, while providing more opportunities for members of the school to reach positions of responsibility and make their mark within King’s community.  The 1984 issue of The Vigornian explained the names of the two new houses thus: ‘The new houses, following the previous pattern, will be called Kittermaster and Oswald after an ex-Headmaster and the other great Saint associated with the Cathedral.’

Kittermaster was named for Ronald Kittermaster (HM 1942-1959), who had been appointed as Headmaster of King’s during the turbulent years of the Second World War.  The eldest of five brothers, F.R. Kittermaster was born in October 1899 and educated at Rugby School.  A classicist who studied Science and Mathematics in Army Class, Kittermaster passed into the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich from where he was commissioned in November 1918.  He served with a Royal Field Artillery Brigade in Ireland for two years, before transferring to the Army Education Corps in 1920.  He was sent to Cambridge on a short course run jointly by the University and Army, and emerged from it a qualified teacher.  He was posted to India and joined the staff at the Prince of Wales’s Royal Indian Military College, where for seven years he prepared Indian boys for Sandhurst on the lines of an English public school.  He returned to England, still a soldier, and was appointed by the War Office to be Second Master at the Duke of York’s School, Dover.  Kittermaster left the army to accept a housemastership at Canford School in 1928.  He embarked on a London University external teaching course in English, took his finals in 1939 and achieved a First Class Honours.  He was King’s twenty-ninth headmaster, but only the second to have graduated outside Oxbridge (following S.P. Denning, HM 1852-1856, a Durham man).

He and his wife Meriel moved into School House in April 1942.  When the summer term began, King’s had a total of 163 boys and the new headmaster’s priorities were clear: to increase pupil numbers; sort out the school’s finances which had taken a beating during the evacuation to Criccieth; and restore the morale of the eight staff members who had returned to Worcester with Mr. Creighton.  Mr. Kittermaster was a keen actor and lover of poetry; Meriel was a keen musician.  Shortly after the Kittermasters’ arrival at King’s a Literary Society was established by Mr. Kittermaster and an Art Circle led by Miss. Campbell to complement Meriel’s Music Society.  The Dancing Club, Play-Reading and Debating Societies all thrived, with day boys joining in alongside boarders.  In addition, a joint Sixth Form Club was established between King’s, the Alice Ottley School, the Royal Grammar School, the Girls’ Grammar School and the College for the Blind, with two pupils from each school forming a committee to organise cultural and social programmes.

Kittermaster’s first Housemaster was Stewart Davies; Richard Davis then took over in 2002.  For the first five years of the house’s existence, Kittermaster was based in the New Block (now the Annett Building).  In 1989 it relocated to School House; and in 2006 it moved again to Choir House, where it has been based ever since. Kittermaster adopted navy with sky blue and yellow stripes for its tie.

Headmaster Kittermaster, 1959 Photographed on his retirement by Graham Hardman (Ch 1952-1959).

43/4732: Headmaster Kittermaster, 1959

Photographed on his retirement by Graham Hardman (Ch 1952-1959).