Dec 13

Bathing at Lord Williams’s Grammar School, 1900-1928

From Derek Turner, School Archivist.

This short history, based on entries in the school magazine The Tamensian, begins in 1900 with the first mention of swimming in the Thame river and ends with the opening of the school’s own swimming bath in 1928.

It is probable that that boys swam in the river Thame from the time that the school moved in 1879 to its new premises in Oxford Road but there are no references to swimming before 1900 when The Tamensian was first published.

The first reference is in issue 2, which describes the school’s ‘aquatic sports day’, taking place in ‘Jemmott’s Hole’, a modest size natural pool in the River Thame, a few hundred yards across the fields opposite the school. The nickname was from the name of the farmers, the Jemmott family, who owned the land. The Jemmott name can be found in Thame at least as far back as the mid 17 century.

The sports day was held on 30th July 1900 and established a tradition of holding the sports near the end of July during the last week of the summer term. In 1900 the events included an 80-yard race and a competitive swimming display, which later entries meant putting together a medley of various swimming strokes and termed ‘fancy swimming’.

It is probable that the aquatic sports day was held annually at the same time but the next reference is not until issue 14, July 1906, which states that bathing began on 4th July with the sports day fixed for the end of the month “and was indulged in at every possible opportunity”. Swimming practice replaced ordinary gymnastics – a popular sporting activity at that time. The Tamensian makes no further reference to swimming until issue 28, July 1911, when the sports day was held on 25th July, despite the level of the water being ‘rather low’. The events included 60 and 30 yards races, ‘fancy swimming’, diving – despite the low water level – and a water polo match. There were only two competitors for the fancy swimming, one of whom, the runner up, was a French pupil, Ferdinand Raillon, who later served with the French forces in WW1. Uniquely until the opening of the swimming bath in 1928, the Tamensian gives a detailed account of the sports day.

Whether swimming continued during WW1 is not clear because the next entry in the Tamensian is not until issue 55, September 1923, which records that poor weather delayed the start of the swimming season. The weather in the summer of 1926 was also bad and caused some of the events on the day of the sports, July 27th, to be curtailed.

The year 1927, by implication as there is no mention in the Tamensian was the last in which boys from LWGS used the river Thame for bathing. Construction of the school’s own swimming bath probably began later that year as the grand opening was fixed for the remarkably early date in 1928 of 12th May. The pool was not heated so, unless the weather was unseasonably warm, the water must have been distinctly chilly. The reason for the early date is explained in the magazine. The Athletics Sports Day normally took place at the end of the spring term, late March or early April, and the Aquatic Sports at the end of July. The school felt that parents of boarders who often lived quite far away would not be able to visit the school twice within a few months but would not want to miss the grand opening of the bathing pool. The 12th May date was therefore fixed for both athletic and aquatic sports. The opening ceremony is described in considerable detail in the Tamensian, issue 70, September 1928. Thereafter, the swimming gala is regularly described in the magazine, which lists the results. The most gifted swimmer of the 1930s was another non-English pupil, John Octave Claes, always known as Johnny. His mother was Scottish and his father Belgian. In the early 1930s Johnny won almost all the swimming races, setting and then breaking his own records in three successive years. He later became known as a pioneer jazz band leader and Formula 1 racing driver.

Plentiful photographs exist in the school archives of swimming galas but none unfortunately of LWGS boys swimming in the river Thame. However, a photograph from the 1920s shows primary school boys from ‘Thame Church of England School’ swimming in what is almost certainly Jemmott’s Hole. This photograph is reproduced in Malcolm Graham’s, Oxfordshire at School, 1996, where the caption comments that swimming costumes were later painted on to those boys who were swimming naked, presumably because their parents could not afford a swimming costume; a comment on both the 1920s views of propriety and the standards of living at that time.

Oxfordshire at School also features a photograph of pupils of the Girls’ Grammar School learning to swim; not in the river but in their own school swimming bath, part of the High Street premises where the school was located. This photo is undated but most probably was taken about 1909, as part of a set of photos of the school’s buildings and facilities. If so, the Girls School’s swimming bath pre-dated the boys’ by nearly twenty years.

Dec 05

Howard Roscoe Eady

Eady was music teacher at Lord Williams’s in the early 1920s and should be credited for starting the tradition of the school musical. He was also the organist and choir master at St Mary’s Thame and was responsible for re-arranging the school hymn. 

Eady’s background and family are unusual for a music teacher. He seems to have been the odd one out in his family: a gifted musician, an enthusiastic and good teacher of children but less successful in other aspects of his life.

He came from a military family.  His father, Frank Osborne, was a professional soldier, not a front-line soldier but serving for many years in the Army Service Corps. For much of his service time he was a non-commissioned officer, rising to become a Warrant Officer, Quartermaster, but was eventually awarded honorary commissions, promoted to Lieutenant (1901), Captain (1911) and eventually Major (1916). He married Louisa, probably around 1889 as their first son, Leonard Frank was born in 1890. Roscoe followed on 16thApril 1891, and the youngest, Barrington in 1892. All three were born at the Army Service Corps Barracks at Woolwich, where the family were living in married quarters. Ten years later they had moved to Kensington Barracks. 

It is not known in detail where Eady was educated and how and when his musical gifts were noticed and developed.  However he was a chorister at Cape Town Cathedral so it is reasonable to assume that his father was posted there. Probably his first position, around 1911, was as assistant organist at Winchester Cathedral, as he was living as a boarder with the Hone family in Colebrook Street close by. Edward Hone was a schoolmaster, very probably at Winchester College, also close by and another schoolmaster was also boarding there so it is possible that in addition to his organist duties he was employed as a visiting teacher at the college, where he first realised his gifts for teaching young people. Like his elder brother he served during the war, following his father into the RASC, but seems not to have been regarded as officer material as he remained a private.  He was discharged from the army in October 1918 and took a teaching post at St Edmund’s School, Canterbury. It was probably from there that he moved to Thame in 1922 to become organist at St Mary’s and visiting music teacher at LWS.  

In February 1922 Eady produced the school’s first opera, HMS Pinafore, with ‘very effective’ scenery painted by Mr G M Cooper. The review was highly complimentary. The school had no real orchestra but a number of pupil players, together with some adults, provided a small orchestra, with additional accompaniment on the piano by Eady, who was also the conductor.


HMS Pinafore began a short run of ‘G&S’: a year later The Mikado was performed by boys all under 14. This attracted mixed reviews for the singing and acting and equally mixed public attendance at the town cinema hall, a venue never used again. It was notable for the inclusion of extra verses in the ‘stand-out’ ‘List Song’ Ko Ko sung by Ko Ko. In 1924 the opera was ‘The Pirates of Penzance’, another Eady production using younger boys and performed this time in the school hall.

Eady was FRCO (Fellow of the Royal College of Organists) and LRAM (Licenciate of the Royal Academy of Music). We know he taught Ron Woolford, who was organist at St Mary’s church for many years from the 1950s through to the 1980s. Ron had been a chorister at the Parish Church and he once told  of an occasion when the St Mary’s choir was taken to sing a service at the chapel in Thame Park, home of the Wykeham Musgraves who were entertaining the Prime Minister. Ron had the privilege of opening a pew door to admit Lloyd George to his seat.

Around this time Eady also composed pieces for the piano that were published, for example Catilena published by Novello & Co. 

Where Eady’s next post was after leaving Thame in 1925 is not known, but some time before 1939 he had moved to Brighton and become a school director of music, most probably at Brighton College. His entry in the 1939 register, however, suggests that at about that point his career took a turn for a worse as he is described as ‘Director of music (school) unmarried, temporarily disengaged’. What happened to him after that is unknown except that he did conduct the Wokingham Choral Society. He died on 19thFebruary 1957 at Chestnut House, High Street, Charing near Ashford in Kent leaving no more than £562 to his brother Barrington, a wealthy dentist.

[born Howard Roscoe, 16thApril 1891 at Woolwich Arsenal, Army Service Corps Barracks, Woolwich middle son of Louisa and Frank Osborne b. 30 Apr 1862, , warrant officer, quartermaster, Hon Lt May 1901, Hon Capt May 1911, Hon Maj 1916, ASC after13 y 341 days in ranks); elder brother Leonard b.1890, younger Barrington b. 1892; 1901 living in Kensington Barracks; 1911 living at Colebrook Street Winchester, close by cathedral, organist, boarding with Sarah and Edward Hone, schoolmaster, and family, along with a schoolmaster; discharged 12 Oct 1918, address St Edmund School Canterbury, 1939 Brighton, Director of music (school) unmarried, ‘temporarily disengaged’, died 19thFebruary 1957 at Chestnut House, High Street, Charing near Ashford leaving £562 to Barrington Eady his younger brother born 1892 (wrongly stated as 1891 in 1939 register), 1939 divorced living with housekeeper, later his wife living at Maribar East End Way, Pinner, dental surgeon, later living at 29 Devonshire Place died Mar 1968 leaving £14,391, Leonard Frank born 1890, in Royal Army vet corps, rank Lt later Capt,in France from 11 Dec 1915, vet in London 1911, died 1942 in Manchester]

Dec 03

The oldest OT and staff member

The oldest OT and member of staff (so far as we know) lived to be 101. 

Edward Herbert Martin Parry was born 11.10.1890 in Todmorden, Yorkshire. His father Edward was a Unitarian Minister and this meant that the family moved around the country. Sometime in the 1890s, the family moved to Illminster, Somerset, and here Edward was educated at Ilminster Grammar, 1899-1903, and then Taunton School from 1903-1908.

It seems possible that he then took up a student teacher post while studying for a BA London (External) degree, which was awarded as a 3rd class in French and English, in 1914.

He enlisted with the Cambridgeshire Regiment during WW1. His medal card in the National Archives gives minimal detail but implies he did not serve abroad.

After the War, he taught first and briefly at Heversham in1920; Soham Grammar (Cambs) 1920-1928; Collège St Joseph Lille 1930 where he also was awarded a License es Lettres Lille in 1930.

He came to Thame and was taken on at LWGS; first on probation 1.1.1931, and then permanently a few months later on 1.5.1931, to teach French throughout school and English to forms I, II and III.

He was a great organiser. In the summer of 1931 only months after being given his permanent post, he organised the first school trip to Paris.

In April 1934 he produced ‘Le Collier Fatal’ in the Library.

In December the same year, he followed this with ‘La Comedie Tamensienne, L’homme qui epousa une femme muette,’ a medieval farce in two acts. It received a lukewarm review. Undaunted, yet another dramatic event followed in April 1935: a triple bill of scenes from Corneille’s Le Cid, Molière’s Le Bourgois Gentilhomme, and La Grammaire by Labiche, the last a 19th century vaudeville comedy. All were performed by members of the French Drama Society. It seems that at least the last of the three was well received.

In the summer of 1935, Parry organised another trip to Paris. (Unknown whether he had organised any trips between 1931 and 1935.)

Parry produced another, better known, vaudeville comedy L’Anglais tel qu’on le parle’ in March 1937.

In the 1939 Census he was living at 52 High Street Thame (possibly a lodging house).

Also in 1939 he was responsible for organising the Modern Sixth Form’s visit to Oxford to hear a lecture from Professor Rudler, the Marechal Foch professor of Fremch given in French on De Vigney’s Maison du Berger; and in the same year the same group went to see a performance by the Comedie Francais in London: L’Ecole des Maris and Le Chandelier.

Rather late in life he married Marjorie Hutson Hawthorn(e) on 14 April 1941 at St Joseph Catholic Church in Aylesbury. She had been born 14 April 1907 and was the youngest daughter of S M Hawthorne who was also a minister in a church but preached in the West Indies and, at the time of marriage, was in Barbados. Marjorie was in the WAAF, and presumably was based nearby Thame. (In 1939 she was with the No 13 Company based in Stanmore Mddx.)

Parry left LWGS and Thame at Easter 1943 after 12 years to take up new post at Atherstone Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Warwickshire. The school magazine noted, “Very many boys must remember with gratitude the trips to France he organised in the Easter holidays. So far it has not been possible to replace him”. It took the school eighteen months to find a permanent replacement as all schools were suffering from staff shortages. Did he leave for a bigger salary? 

The Tamensian magazines for the period are full of woe about staffing problems. One possible explanation for Parry deciding to jump ship: additional to or instead of a salary rise is a failure to find affordable housing – nothing changes in Thame of course!  The Tamensian specifically says that (for obvious reasons) most of the staff were old and married and stayed only a short time because they could not find anywhere to live, housing priority being given to those doing war work.  Not sure who these would have been in Thame but presumably not all the staff involved in hush-hush work at Thame Park could be accommodated in the mansion. Our guess therefore, and only a guess, is that housing at Atherstone was more available and/or affordable. 

Parry died in 1992 at the age of 101 while living in Epsom Surrey.

His wife Marjorie died in 1995 in Wellington, Somerset, aged 88.

Dec 03

Golf 2019


Message from Barry…


2019 is our 25yr anniversary since I started the society in 1994.
Some of you, notably the Studley Wood members, have asked if I could find another course for this special year. So I have been looking around and considering various alternatives within a reasonable travelling distance for all concerned.
I have provisionally arranged for us to play Burnham Beeches. It’s a very good course in a nice setting.
The cost is £75 for: coffee/ bacon roll, 18 holes of golf, and a 3-course meal.
That is the basic cost so I propose to pay for the prizes & medals out of our capital reserve. I have enough funds in the bank to cover these as an exceptional matter.

The majority decision by 5 clear votes is for the match to be played on Wednesday 8 May so please put the date in your 2019 diary & if necessary arrange the day off work.
I will come out with details in the New Year, probably early February.”

Nov 30

Willie Howe, the Narnia Window, and the scholarship

In early 1955, W G Howe, died after a short illness. In the Tamensian the following was written:

‘W G Howe was a sixth former of great promise whose loss came as a great blow to the school. William Howe had a most pleasing disposition; though modest and retiring, he was always cheerful and ready to serve his Hampden House and School to the upmost of his ability. After one term in the Sixth Form, he was already showing great promise for a good academic career, having marked himself out as a potential university student, and was a permanent member of the School XV.’

Sadly Gillian Margaret, his younger sister, too had died in her first year of life in 1945. Both are buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry. This was the church where C S Lewis attended and he too is buried in the churchyard.

The church is known for its Narnia window, which features images from Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. It was commissioned from Sally Scott, a painter and glass engraver, and installed in the north aisle in 1991. It was bequeathed by George and Kathleen Howe (nee Clark), who lived at 38 Grovelands Road in Risinghurst close to the Lewis brothers in memory of their two children, William G and Gillian Margaret.

The window contains a lamp post, the word Narnia, Glimfeather the owl, the flying horse Fledge, the sword, shield, and bottle of cordial from the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Dawn Treader, the castle Cair Paravel, Susan’s horn and bow with quiver, and the talking animals.

In the top left and right hand corners are the arms of John Williams, 1st Baron Williams of Thame.

The models for the children were local to the church, and included the opera singer Maggie Cooper, who is the girl on the horse, and Rachel Smith with the owl

At the same time, George and Kathleen also left a substantial sum of money to set up a trust at the school so that scholarships could be awarded to sixth form pupils who show particular musical ability and promise. They are known as the Willie Howe scholars, and we are lucky that they perform on Founder’s Day, both in the church and at the school.

Nov 21

Golf 2019

hi

2019 is our 25yr anniversary since I (Barry Yates) started the society in 1994. Some of you notably the Studley Wood members have asked me if I could find another course for this special year. So I have been looking around and considering various alternatives within a reasonable travelling distance for all concerned.

I have provisionally arranged for us to play Burnham Beeches. It’s a very good course in a nice setting.

The cost is £75 for coffee/ bacon roll, 18 holes of golf and a 3-course meal.That is the basic cost so I propose to pay for the prizes & medals out of our capital reserve. I have enough funds in the bank to cover these as an exceptional matter.

I have 2 dates booked for 30-40 players, namelyWednesday 8th May 12 noon 1st tee andFriday 31st May 1pm tee off.

The latter is the Friday of Whitsun Bank holiday week and half-term.

What I wish for you to tell me is which day you prefer, and if you are up for it at this price. I have to make a decision in the next week.So please respond by Monday quoting one of the following:a) Wed 8th Mayb) Fri 31st May c) bothd) neither – sorry I cannot playI will then go with the majority.thanks for your help and I hope to see you in 2019.

best wishes,

Barry

Nov 13

Richard Green’s grave

A message from the town of Herelbeke:

Just to inform you that Pte Richard Green was commemorated by the town council and people of Harelbeke on the 11th November 2018 Armistice Day during a service at Harlebeke New British Cemetery. He was the last OT to be killed on 2th Nov 1918. Over 100 people laid flowers at the grave of this 20 years old boy.

During the annual Commemoration Service at Harlebeke New British Cemetery for all soldiers buried on the cemetery, we always choseone particular soldier to commemorate in front of his grave. This year Pte Richard Green 4th Bn Royal Sussex Rgt was chosen as he was the last British and Commonwealth soldier to died in the grounds of our city Harelbeke, 9 days before Armistice. We do not have a photo of Richard Green nor could contact family to invite them for the ceremony. Relatives may always contact me. A lot of photo’s were taken during the Service.


Kind Regards from Flanders
Fhilip

Nov 13

Richard Green

A second post about OT Richard Green. Hs story is featured in a book written by Hannah Spencer and details can be found here:

https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/history-politics-society/amidst-cheers-they-marched-to-war/

Nov 11

Thame Remembers – the fallen.

A book has been recently published about those who served and fell principally but not exclusively in the 1st World War, and who had a connection with Thame. Unfortunately some of the information with reference to the school and OTs is incorrect, which is a disappointment for the OTA. Nonetheless if you wish to purchase a copy, beside being available at Thame Museum, we are sure you can purchase by ordering through your local bookshop.

Thame Remembers – the fallen.

Complied by David Bretherton and Allan Hickman

Published by Daal Publishing

The cover price is £25 and the ISBN number (which helps the ordering process) is 978-0-9539331-5-0.

Nov 11

John Hampden War Memorial Fund 2018

We are pleased to announce that we had over 70 successful applicants this year for awards from the John Hampden War Memorial Fund, and almost £13,000 to distribute so we were also able to give the school several thousand pounds to buy much needed equipment. Currently, the fund is doing very well with our capital increased from generous bequests from R F Crawford and Peter More. As ever we would make a plea for the fund to be considered when you make a will, and gifts are welcome any time. One thing we do know is that there will always be a need for the fund.

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