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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.

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