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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.

3 comments

  1. Roger Allen

    We lived across the road at 29 grovelands. Knew Willie well. We used to play football in the street.

  2. Chris Bagley

    Will Howe and I were good mates, part of the classics group taught by H.G. Mullens. Will was quiet, shy, forever friendly and helpful. I’m 81, and hope to meet Will again soon, at the great sixth form in the sky!

    Chris Bagley

    1. Thomas

      Many thanks for this beautiful comment.

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