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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]

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