Vanbrugh Castle School


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Headmasters of Vanbrugh Castle School

Captain Slimming 1921 - 1950

He was born in 1888 in Woolwich.

He became an assistant school master at the Deaf & Dumb Institution, Langside, Glasgow (1907 - 1908) and Dumfries Industrial School (1908 - 1909).

In 1909 he enlisted with the Royal Engineers as a Sapper for 3 years in colours - this was later extended to 7 years. But in 1911 he bought himself out for £18, and became an elementary school teacher at Standon Boy's Home in Staffordshire (1911 - 1912). He moved to the Royal Orphanage at Wanstead as Assistant Master (1912 - 1913) then to the Licensed Victuallers School, Kennington (1914).

In 1914 he was commissioned as a temporary 2nd Lt. in the Army.

He married Sarah Carrie Salmonds by Special Licence in 1915 at St. Dunstan, East London. Later that year he was promoted to the Army Cyclist Corps, 9th East Surrey Regiment.

In August 1917, Temp.Lt. Slimming became an Adjutant and Acting Captain (while still being paid as a Lt.). In March 1918 he relinquished the acting rank of Captain and on September 7th tranferred to the RAF as a Lieutenant.

He was transferred to the RAF unemployment list in May 1919 and in August 1920 was posted to ? Company. On August 10th 1921 he joined ADRIC (Auxilliary Defence for the Royal Irish Constabulary) and resigning at his own request in November 1921. He was awarded the usual war medals ; Victory, British and Star (known affectionately as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred).

He became the Controller of Vanbrugh Castle School when it opened in 1921, his wife, Carrie, acted as matron. He was registered as a teacher in 1924 to teach the youngest boys at the school.

At the outbreak of the Second World War the school was closed and in 1940 Slimming was commissioned into the Royal Artillery.(service number 157542). He returned to the school when it re-opened in 1947. His wife died shortly afterwards and Slimming married the new matron Miss Rankin.

After 27 years as Controller at Vanbrugh Castle School he retired in December 1950. He died in June 1964 aged 76 at Salisbury, Wiltshire.

James W. Webb-Jones January 1951 - June 1955

Born : 1904

Married : 1930 to Barbara Bindon Moody, daughter of Col. R.H.S.Moody,CB, The Buffs & The Royal Fusiliers.

Died : 1965

Education : Cranleigh School, Worcester College Oxford, Grenoble University (Diplome de Hautes Etudes).

Career :

Captain Worcester College Cricket.
Assistant Master St Georges Windsor Castle, 1928; Headmaster 1934 - 42
Resigned to enter RAF, RAF Education Service, 1942 - 45
Housemaster Wellington School Somerset, 1945 - 50.
Headmaster Vanbrugh Castle School, Blackheath, 1951 - 55
Headmaster of the Junior School, Wells Cathedral, Sept.1955 - 1960.

[Footnote : Webb-Jones retired to Witham Hall in Lincolnshire where his son-in-law Peter Lyons was headmaster. He died there in 1965 aged just 61. He liked his drink as evidenced by the wine store he had in the basement of the Wing and his ruddy broken-veined face. It is speculated that his early death was connected to this fact.
It is reported elsewhere that he was a choral conductor but this side of him wasn't evident when he was at VCS.]

D.R.Jones 1955 - 1956

For a few months between the departure of Webb-Jones and the appointment of John Corner, David Jones (a housemaster at the school) carried out the duties of headmaster.

John H. Corner January 1956 - 1973

John Harman Corner was born on 3 June 1910, and left school with only a London Matriculation certificate. He first enrolled to train as a schoolmaster at King's College in London, but looking to broaden horizons he applied for a scholarship at St Catharine's.
Not too discouraged by failure, John tried for a choral scholarship at King's {Cambridge}, putting himself down as 'Bass, but preferably alto'. Though he got in (1930) with the help of some lessons, John never felt he was a competent enough alto and resigned his scholarship after one year. With typical enterprise he managed to stay at King's as a modern linguist and historian, assisted by awards he persuaded City companies to make him, and his mother's taking in of lodgers. Click here to see graduation photograph.

From King's in Cambridge he went directly to the King's School, Canterbury. John was an outstandingly successful housemaster there from 1936, though he often complained later that the only thing boys in his house remembered of him was the three-foot horn atop his electrical gramophone.

The war took John into the newly-formed Intelligence Corps via basic training in the Life Guards. He served in North Africa, Italy and northern Hurope. In Germany he captured the Gauleiter of Magdeburg personally, and was much occupied with de-nazification.

John's Headmaster at King's, Canon Shirley, secured his early release from the Army, and he was seconded part-time as treasurer of the Canterbury Cathedral Appeal to make good the ravages of war. A trip to the US and Canada garnered many thousands of sympathy dollars for the mother church of the Anglican communion. In the rest of the week John taught, and found time to resurrect the Boat Club (he had been a stalwart of KCBC). By 1948 the Chapter target of £300,000 (over £4 million in today's money: was reached, and John came back full-time.

In 1956 he moved to the headship of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund School at Vanbrugh Castle in Greenwich. So successful was this headmastership that his Air Marshal governors gained for him an OBE before his retirement in 1973. No sooner had he retired to Canterbury than the Chapter launched another appeal and asked John to be treasurer again. With the help this time of professional fundraisers the appeal reached its target of £2.5 million and continues to this day.

John next directed his energies to founding Canterbury Pilgrimages to bring coach parties of 'pilgrims' to St Augustine's in Canterbury, and explore the city with the help of expert guides and lecturers.

In his last years John's sight began to fail, and his life was much enhanced by King's School boys and girls who came to read to him and do his shopping. He died on 24 June 1995, and left the bulk of his estate to the School for a scholarship fund. [From the Archives of King's College Cambridge]

[Footnote : Some boys thought his second name was Herman and this together with his penchant for Volkwagen Beetle cars, led them to conclude that JHC was a German - Johannes Herman Korner. Now we know.]

William P. Jones 1973 - 1976

W.P. Jones had been a wartime flying instructor, had been head of the junior school at Kimbolton in Cambridgeshire and had served six years as headmaster of an RAF school in Nicosia. He was keen to implement changes at Vanbrugh Castle. In 1973 admissions were offered to sons of officers as well as NCOs and airmen - the first change in a long established tradition at the school.

It was clear there would be an ever increasing demand for places and that Vanbrugh Castle would be too small to cope. So a search was made for alternative suitable premises in the south of England suitable for about 140 boarders and with adequate playing fields. By chance a school at Woolpit, Sussex, was discovered which was in financial difficulties and had all the facilities they were looking for. A merger was agreed upon and the Fund took possession of Woolpit with the intention of transferring Vanbrugh Castle School to the new premises in 1976.

W.P.Jones became the headmaster of the Woolpit School and two other masters from VCS joined him - Michael Moreton and Arthur Rogers (who had been a VCS pupil). Of the 135 pupils at the new amalgamated school, 40 were Vanbrugh Castle boys.