The Vanbrugh Chronicle
A series of misfortunes last Easier made an edition of this Chronicle impossible, so we are issuing a much larger one this term in case our friends should believe that we have lost interest or become the victims of industrial unrest. Your editor has been forced to cut up and re-make some of the material offered in order to cut down costs, but the magazine still goes out free, thanks to the generosity of those many supporters who contribute to the School's Amenities Fund.
We are sorry to be losing two of our resident teachers this term. Miss Karin Usher will be married shortly and Mr. Christopher Dyer is returning to University for a year. We wish them every happiness and good fortune, and thank them for their loyal efforts in the past year. They are being replaced by Miss Rosemary Darke and Mr. David Bouteloup.
THE VISIT OF PRINCESS ALEXANDRA
On the 19th February twelve boys were invited to meet Princess Alexandra at the Greenwich during the interval of Caryl Brahm's new play "Sing a Rude Song".
We arrived at the theatre at 8.40 to find that nobody knew about our visit. The Theatre Manager calmed us down with large drinks of orangeade until the Princess suddenly appeared at a door only a few feet away from us. She seemed surprised and asked us who we were. We told her and had a jolly talk together. She was so friendly that I don't think many of us remembered to say "Ma'am"! We fear she may have spent a little too long with us for a small party of Aldermen, pop singers and Bishops glared at us with no affection.
We would like to thank the people who invited us out for this evening, and provided the orangeade.
The Band consists of six clarinets, four trumpets, one horn, one euphonium and one tuba.
|J. Rashid||1st Clarinet|
|G. Sanders||1st Trumpet
(Head Band Boy)|
|I. Jackson||1st Trumpet|
|M. Fifield||2nd Trumpet|
|B. Jakeman||Solo Clarinet|
|K. Webb||2nd Trumpet|
|M. Gribben||Solo Clarinet|
|M. Hughes || 2nd Clarinet|
|A. Connolly ||Euphonium|
|A. Webb 2nd ||Clarinet|
It gave its traditional performance on Speech Day and all its members are naturally proud of providing Kingham Hill School with their Music Scholar for two years running. Timothy Baker (trombone) last year and Martin Gribben (clarinet) this year. Who is going to make it a hat-trick? We are all grateful to Mr.Naish for his excellent training.
by P. Butler.
In the middle of the Castle lawn, as you know, there is the flag pole. Alistair Smith, our Assistant Handyman, was digging up the turf a few feet on the north side of this a few weeks ago, when he fell through a hole up to his waist. Next day Mr. Tappenden and he took the earth away and found a bricked-in well about four feet in diameter and thirty feet deep. There was about two feet of clean water at the bottom.
The Surveyor thinks it is an old cess-pit, but it is also possibly a well. One or two experts have looked at it but nobody has yet decided whether it was built by Vanbrugh, before his time, or after. We are going to leave it in its present open condition until we find out more about it. It is not dangerous.
NOTE BY HEADMASTER
I hunted about in the local library and found an old newspaper cutting that mentioned Vanbrugh Castle as a place of local interest and stated that in front of the imposing edifice stood an old circular well-house, close to a large oak tree.
It seems that this must refer to the well that we have discovered. The stump of the oak still remains. The biology class examined the water and found that it was pure.
The metal and wooden remains we discovered at the bottom are probably relics of the well-house that stood above the site. One peculiar feature is an alcove built into the walls about ten feet from the surface and we wonder whether this once housed a pump.
The newspaper cutting was undated, but the type suggests a date in the early 19th Century. I am sorry that the local archeologists, who have been informed, have taken no interest in the discovery, and that we may have to fill it all in.
EXTRACT FROM "THE UNDERGROUND PASSAGES, CAVERNS, ETC., OF GREENWICH AND BLACKHEATH": A Lecture delivered by John M.Stone,M.A., President of the Greenwich Antiquarian Society on 26th Feb. 1914.
" The Maidstone Journal for the 26th January, 1847 gives an account of the affair. At the time Mr. Henry Aldwin Soames was in occupation of the house which formerly stood on the east side of Vanbrugh Castle. The site is now occupied by the house and grounds known as "The Cedars".
Difficulties arose in the household by reason of curious noises that were heard in the lower parts of the house, and to add to the mystery smoke used to issue from somewhere and penetrate into the kitchen, when there was no fire in the house from which it could come. The servants all gave notice to leave, as they were sure the house was haunted.
Matters came to a climax when one night the cook heard heavy knockings coming from one of the cellars. Constables were called in and the premises explored. They examined the entrance to a small tunnel in the dell at the back of the premises; a dog was first sent in, and, in the words of the Maidstone Journal, a man's voice was heard 'bidding the dog quit the place'. The occupants were invited to withdraw from the tunnel but without result. Straw was then brought and lighted at the entrance to try if they could be smoked out. This was not successful. Spades and pick-axes were then requisitioned, and the lawn on the line of the passage was dug up, the arch broken in, and more straw and fire introduced.
Those at last had the desired effect, and three men emerged, who were, of course immediately arrested. The place had been used as a retreat for thieves, and as a store house for stolen property. The floor was deeply covered with the evidences of their enterprise. The heavy knocking had been occasioned by a desire to break through into the cellar from the passage in order to rob the house.
The entrance to this passage is still to be seen on the slope at the end of the garden of "The Cedars", on the east side of, and next to Vanbrugh Castle. The line of the passageway was cut when a stoke-hole to the greenhouses in the garden was made: it apparently led up to and adjoined the large cellar still existing next the grounds of Vanbrugh Castle.
There appears to be no doubt that there existed, and still exists, a long underground passage in Westcombe Park; persons who are, or were a short time ago, living have been in it. The line taken suggests that it may have connected Vanbrugh Castle with Vanbrugh House. I venture to think that if excavations were made along this line, perhaps in the gardens of the new houses on the south side of Westcombe Park, the tunnel would be found. "
(The house called "The Cedars" is, of course, our Wakefield Wing).
THIS AND THAT
In the Easter term we incubated ten ducks' eggs in an apparatus constructed by Mr. Morton, our Biology master. We operated on two eggs to remove the embryos and both operations were successful. The incubator was heated by an electric light bulb and given humidity by moisture trays. A number of ducklings were successfully hatched, and at the end of term we had five live birds which we presented to the groundsman of the Royal Naval College.
The Royal Air Force is taking a greater interest in our School lately. During the Easter holidays last year a party of ten boys spent three happy days at RAF Oakington and Coltishall. This last Easter another ten visited RAF Lyneham and Benson. Another ten are flying to RAF Wildenrath in Germany during these holidays, five are going as guests of RAF Binbrook and the whole school has been invited to Press Day at Biggin Hill for the Battle of Britain flying Display on the day after the School returns in September.
During the Easter term we were shown five films on the School projector: The Big Job, Shaggy Dog, Jungle Book, Ring of Bright Water and Hey There, it's Yogi Bear. We thank the masters who were kind enough to give their time for this ever-popular entertainment.
Every term Mr. Morton takes a group of boys to a concert at the Royal Festival Hall and prepares them for the occasion by going through the programme on gramophone records beforehand. This is the best way of stimulating musical appreciation, and many boys leave here as a result with some understanding of the difference between music and noise.
For quite good reasons this School has a 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Form, but no 3rd. A new boy asked by one of the masters why he thought we had no 3rd Form, and replied "I was told when I arrived that there was once a 3rd Form, but that it had slid down Maze Hill".
Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Pafford and Mr. Dyer, the School has a remarkable record of awards from the Amateur Swimming Association and the Royal Life Saving Society, including 15 gold medals for personal survival. At the end of the present term there are only six boys who still cannot swim. If your children can't swim, teach them to.
Over £150 was earned by six boys who took part in a sponsored walk of 15 miles in the past term for Shelter. The money will go towards the provisions of houses for homeless people. The walk was organised by Mr. and Mrs. Pafford, and the walkers were:- Sanderson, P, Butler, Mackelden, M. Elliott, Jakeman and Borthwick.
We much enjoyed the company of our various guests, and in the past two terms we have welcomed the following visitors to lunch:
Flight Lieutenant Sawyer,
Wing Commander Simpson,
Squadron Leader Hawley,
Mrs. Daphne Daw,
Mrs. Karen Simpson,
Mrs. Daphne Maynard,
Sir Walter Merton,
Lord Kings Norton,
Dr. D. Inman,
Miss McKaig, HMI,
and Mrs. Curzon, HMI,
Lieutenant-Commander Tom Heard and Mrs. Heard,
Mrs. Ewen Mount,
6 RAF Cranwell Cadets and their Instructor.
After a R.A.F.A. party in South London:
"Did you have a good time?"
"Yes, Sir, Sammy Quail was sick in the bus!"
After a visit to Rustington-on-Sea:
"Was it an enjoyable day?"
"Gosh yes, Matron. A mast fell on McCann's head:"
This is the Royal Air Force station to which we are especially devoted, because some years ago they adopted the School as their special interest. Ian Jackson has written a long account of our recent visit on June 4th, but it must be summarised into the brief statement that the occasion was as exciting and enjoyable as ever, and that the food was more than remarkable! The Chronicle sends its thanks and greetings to its sister establishment.
Leavers This term
18 boys are leaving, and the Chronicle sends them all our very best wishes. No room to give details, but the schools receiving them are :- Kingham Hill, Reed's, St. Peter's, Royal Wolverhampton, Reedham and Gatton Park. Three are going to day schools near their homes. Gatton Park (or the Royal Albert and Alexandra School) is a new venture of ours, but we have been surprised at the success of Webber and Armstrong, our guinea-pigs, who have had splendid reports from the Surrey County Council who are responsible for the teaching there.
The United Slates officers who are always so generous to us at Christmas have presented us with a magnificent Colour TV apparatus that has given great joy to staff and boys. We hope they know how grateful we all are.
Following our success with the breeding of ducklings in the Biology Laboratory, Mr. Morton invested in a few locusts so that his classes could watch them feeding and mating. They did both with much vigour, and although a number of them committed suicide by sitting on the electric lamp and burned themselves to death, their sons and daughters arose from their breeding pits and looked like being a nuisance over the summer holidays, so they were quietly and kindly put to death in a bottle of ether.
A few of our boys attended the Preparatory Schools Athletics Meeting in a ground near the White City Stadium at which Lillian Board presented the certificates.
Christopher Sanderson was awarded second prize for a high-jump in which he broke our school record.
Inspired, no doubt, by a talk on company management, David Mackeldon collected a few pals together and collected enough capital to start Mack's Cafe, an enterprise eager to supply boys with drinks and sandwiches in their spare moments. The profits were enormous, and the share-holders gloating over their enormous profits when for some reason the Headmaster closed the thing down.
(Note: The reason was quite a good one. J.H. C.)
The School has continued to supply the Royal Naval College with a full complement of boy choristers for which they are very grateful. The Admiral
On Speech Day several mothers told the Headmaster that they would like to know which other families of V.C.S. boys lived near them so that they could perhaps co-operate on Visiting Days and travel plans. This sounds like an excellent Geography project for next term.
This Chronicle was started in the Christmas term of 1963 by Ian Macfadyen when he was just 13. He is now 20 and studying to become a lawyer. It was always the intention to make the magazine a record of the term's events, but this time we have added a "coloured supplement" to compensate for the lack of an edition last Easter.
Our 1st Form have been fortunate to enjoy the services of Mr. John Pearson over the past year. He is a retired business-man who visits us twice a week in order to interest our youngest boys in the many exciting things that are going on around. Together they have been to the Woolwich Ferry, the Royal Docks, Horniman's Museum, Chislehurst Caves, the Maritime Museum, the Blackwall Tunnel, the Borough Nurseries, a farm near Canterbury, the Cutty Sark and several other places of interest. We are very grateful to him, and are now awaiting his plans for next term!
On Speech Day, July 25th, we were honoured by the presence of Sir Arthur Bryant, the distinguished historian who gave us all a rousing talk about our English heritage and the part we must all play in our future. He recalled some of Churchill's inspiring words in England's "greatest hour". Later he wrote describing his visit as "a most fascinating and interesting experience".
Supplement: We have included in this edition two accounts, one by Lady Cordingley, a member of the School Committee for many years, and another by Mr. Paul Cutting, a former secretary of the Committee.
Only two matches were possible in the Easter term, and we beat King's College School, Cambridge, by 4 to 1, and Westminster Under School by 8 to 1. The Under Eleven Team played only one match with the score 7 - 0 in our favour.
The first eleven were chosen from Rashid, (Captain), Quail J. Sanderson, Sanders, Connolly R, Walker A. Kimber, Jakeman, Cadwell, Harris, Walsh, Jackson, Borthwick, Firman, McConnell, Fifield, Barlow, during the Christmas and Easter terms.
Our two teams have had an excellent season probably the best in the school's history. The 1st XI won 9 matches, drew 1 and lost 1.
|Westminster Abbey Choir School
|King's College School,
||Won by 36 runs
|Westminster Under School
|| Won by 5 wickets
|Carn Brea 2nd XI
||Lost by 1 wicket
|Clare House School
||Won by 3 wickets
|Westminster Abbey Choir School
||Won by 80 runs and 8 wickets
|Carn Brea 2nd XI
||Won by 10 wickets
|Clare House School
||Won by 4 wickets
|Westminster Under School
||Won by 23 runs and 4 wickets
|King's House School, Richmond
||Won by 70 runs and 4 wickets
||Won by 1 run
The team consisted of : Sanderson (Capt.), Rashid, Cadwell, Barlow, Quail, J. Borthwick, Kimber, Sanders, Elliott M. Cooke and Jackson. Leghorn R. McConnell, Webb K and Connolly R. also played.
The Under 11 Team
They won four matches and drew one.
|Homefield School (H)
||Won by 15 runs
|Homefield School (A)
||Won by 7 runs
|Christ's College (A)
||Won by 67 runs
|Christ's College (H)
||Won by 9 wickets
The following boys have played: Leghorn R, Black, Webb K. Butler, G. Hughes G. Harris, Nethercott, Walsh, McCann, Webb A. Firman, Quail S. Condon, Davidson, Olner.
Cordingley beat Harries by 61 runs.
The teams are grateful to Mr. Pafford and Mr. Dyer for their expert and thorough coaching.
Harries won the Athletics match with 99 1/2 points to 83 1/2 by Cordingley. Seven school records were broken;
|High Jump (Jun)
In an Athletics match against Westminster Abbey Choir School, Vanbrugh Castle won every event in the senior section, but lost the junior events by a narrow margin. It was a most enjoyable match.
The senior cross-country race this year was won by C. Sanderson with a time of 12.42 minutes which beats the existing record by 16 seconds. The Junior race was won by C. Cummings in 7. 6 minutes. Cordingley won the senior race and Harries the junior.
Harries House won the School swimming sports, and the School beat Westminster Abbey in a match at Westminster Baths.
OLD BOYS' ASSOCIATION NEWS
From Martin Smith, Secretary of the OVBA.
In 1959 a predecessor of the present association was founded under the title of the "Vanbrugh Old Boys' Association", but this failed to meet with success. However, in December, 1966 Mr. Corner wrote to such Old Boys as were still in touch with the School, suggesting that the Association might be re-formed.
Consequently, on January 9th, 1967, Mr. Corner and the present Hon. Secretary formed an ad-hoc committee to organise an inaugural meeting. This took the form of an Old Boys' Reunion on December 19th, 1967, when a Temporary Constitution was adopted. This is due for review in December. Since that time two more Reunions have been held, and nine termly Newsletters have been published.
We now have the names of 151 Old Boys on our files, I have had the pleasure of holding the post of Secretary since the Association's foundation, but our latest Newsletter was edited by my Assistant, Christopher Owens (1968), since I was busy at the time of publication taking final Teachers' Certificate Examinations, Therefore, most of the news which follows was collected and written not by me (as the heading suggests), but by Chris, to whom I am very grateful for his help.
MICHAEL FENNER seems to be having a busy time. In a recent letter he writes:
" I must say it is interesting to see how everyone is getting on, when I receive OVBA Newsletters - particularly all those "little Juniors". It is very difficult to equate their latest achievements with the little fellows I knew. The most striking thing is the very high proportion of boys who go on to become "leaders".
I was in the U. S. A, for three weeks: my firm is setting up a new factory in England and I was over there to see how our U.S. operation is set up. It was probably the most interesting trip I've ever made, and I can recommend America (excluding New York) to anyone. "
Michael Fenner's remark about "little Juniors" may seem puzzling to anyone who is unfamiliar with the history of the school - it was originally a home from which the children went out to local schools for lessons. Eventually lessens were taught in the Castle until secondary age, when the boys become "Seniors" and went out to schools such as the Roan.
Those taking lessons at the Castle were referred to as "Juniors" until the last "seniors" left in the mid-1960s. I wonder how many people could now say where the "Juniors' Pitch" and "Seniors' Pitch" were the former is now the Playground, and the Games Room stands on the latter.
However, enough of reminiscing - on with the next news item, which comes from NIGEL JOHN (1963) aboard S.S.Hima, of Shell Tankers (U.K.) LTD.
" I believe the last time I wrote I was about to start a period of training ashore in Plymouth. I was there until the middle of July, and not long after leaving I was ordered to Singapore for appointment. I spent five months as an apprentice on one of our company's ships.
As luck would have it, the Merchant Service is suffering heavily from a decline in manpower. This enabled me to obtain promotion to Third Officer at least six months before I normally would have done. This increased my earnings considerably, but the extra responsibility of the job makes it rather tit-for-tat. I hope to return home soon and after a short leave I will start a short study course for my first professional exam; the last one was academic. This exam will enable me to return to sea as a permanent Third Officer. "
During a special visit in April to RAF Lyneham, one of the first officers that Mr. Corner and twelve boys from the school met was Brian Shorter (1961) who after leaving VCS becamehead boy of Kingham Hill School. He talked to the boys for some time, telling them of his education at the school and his good life in the RAF.
From Reed's School we hear that:-
MARTIN BARLOW (1968) is a member of the school athletics team, the captain of the U.15 cricket team, and has played in the Surrey U.15 cricket trials. During the Summer holidays he is going on a cricket tour with the school to Denmark. He also plays in his Senior House Cricket team. On Sports Day Martin ran for his house in the relay, 400 metres and 200 metres. He has played in school and house rugby and hockey teams and is due to take his 'O' levels next year.
Tommy Galvin (1968) is a member of the school Under 15 cricket and hockey teams. He ran for his house on Sports Day and came second in the Under 15 mile. He also represented his house in the triple jump, long jump and relay. He is a member of the CCF RAF section and has passed his proficiency test. He is taking his 'O' levels next June and hopes eventually to join the Royal Air Force.
NIGEL GRAYSTON (1966) has been taking his 'A' levels this term.
ALUN MacFADYEN (1967) has left Reed's School after taking his 'O' levels.
Michael McConnell (1969) plays in his Junior House Cricket team, and has swum for the Blathwayt House Swimming Team. He is a member of the Zoological Society and the Music Club, and was a seconder in the Junior House Debate. He hopes to specialise in science and to become a doctor.
David Patten (1965) has just left Reed's after being captain of Mullens House and Vice-Captain of the School. He has played in the school's first rugby, cricket, hockey, squash and swimming teams, and was Captain of Hockey. He now enters Lloyds as an underwriter.
Neil Rankin (1967) is a member of the 1st cricket eleven and is at present in Denmark with the school touring team. He plays in school hockey and rugby teams and won all his events at the swimming sports.
David Pafford (1960) is about to begin his third year as teacher at Vanbrugh Castle.
The two school teams that he has been coaching have achieved remarkable successes, almost certainly the best in the school's history.
His brother Christopher Pafford (1962) has completed his second year reading Geography at King's College, London, and hopes eventually to teach. Brian Pafford (1964) who left Kingham Hill a year ago with 7 'O' levels is training as a child care officer in Carlisle.
Terry McConnell (1966) is working for Keilkraft and hopes to go to college to become a litho-printer.
CHRISTOPHER OWENS (1968) has been appointed Assistant Hon. Secretary of the OVBA, to serve until December 1970, He was confirmed by the Bishop of Guildford in March. Chris is a keen musician, and this term has taken his Grade 4 Piano examination. He was unfortunate in having to miss taking part in the Reed's School Choral Society's two performances of Mendelssohn's oratorio Elijah, due to sickness.
We are pleased to welcome 20 new members to the OVBA, including all 18 of this year's leavers, plus William Antill (1970) and Raymond Gardiner. Our special congratulations are offered to Martin Gribben (1970) for gaining a Music Scholarship to Kingham Hill School, following in the footsteps of Timothy Baker (1969). Our best wishes go with Mark Fifield (1970) as he prepared to emigrate to New Zealand during August. He will be our third overseas member, the other two being Stanley Willis (1939) in the USA and Geoffrey Fenner (1965) in South Africa.
One of the great problems about running the OVBA is the embarrassing number of members who ask for news about their Secretary. However, since the last Newsletter was written not by me but by the capable hand of Chris Owens, the problem was solved when he wrote:
" When MARTIN SMITH (1962) is editor, he never puts down anything about himself, so I am going to:
He has achieved considerable success as a local youth-leader with a newly-founded church youth club, for whom he wrote and produced a modem passion-play which was performed as part of a church service, and also a revue for their new Year's party. During the past year he has organised and led at least 30 expeditions for youngsters to places of interest, several cycling trips including a 5-day cycle tour, and two hikes: he has also arranged a firework display and sponsored walk, and was last seen riding through Surrey on an ancient green tandem named "Victoria", looking rather like a cycling version of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, leading a trail of youngsters awheel. His local image, I understand, is that of "Universal Big Brother", in which (as anyone who knows him will understand) he absolutely revels.
Although for some time Martin has not permitted his name to appear in anything unconnected with the OVBA, (to avoid any unwelcome attention on his activities, particularly from college authorities), many of his activities have received coverage in the local press (including front-page articles) the Church of England Newspaper and the parish magazine of his church, Holy Trinity, Upper Tooting. He regularly contributes articles for the magazine, and is the church's unofficial historian - last August two articles which he had written about its history were published, and a further two are to follow this Summer. He tells me that he has not lost his passion for writing and telling ghost stories (as many of our younger members will recall) - one of his ambitions is to photograph a genuine ghost - and his also working on a novel which, he thinks, may turn out as a modern 'Tom Brown's Schooldays'. "
Martin has now left college after a three-year teachers' training course and is seeking a post as a teacher, he now holds the Scout Association's A.S.L, (Assistant Scout Leader's) permit, and helps to run the 4th Balham & Tooting (Holy Trinity) Troop. As you can see, then, our Secretary has been busy. At the end of July he sets off for five weeks at Eastbourne working (believe it or not) with children".
Kevin Mulligan (1966) has left Castlereagh Technical College in Belfast, where he went a year ago from St. Augustine's College, and has been taking his GCE examinations; including Maths & English.
Finally, news of our friends at Kingham Hill :-
by Steven Jones
B. Tyekiff - House Monitor; taking '0' levels this term; NCO in RAF
Section. Went to Easter Camp in Cyprus (RAF Akrotiri). Member of
school cricket XI, school shooting team, octagon debating society; took
part in house matches in soccer, basketball, shooting.
R. Campbell - leaving this term. In the RAF Section, school 2nd XV rugger,
house rugger, cricket and football teams, octagon member.
P. Greig - model club, house cricket and football teams. In form Upper
A.Rodgers - Octagon Society, House rugby, football, shooting teams;
school shooting team; Basketball squad; taking '0' levels.
P.McCann - taking 'A' levels, member of cricket, soccer, rugby, cross country and swimming teams. Member of RAF Section, camera club and Octagon.
T.Ogden - taking 'A' levels in French, History, English. House Prefect. In schools teams of football, rugby and basketball.
G. Pountney - school 2nd XV rugger team, swimming Vlll, octagon society meeting, CCF REME section, Bradford House prefect, taken CSE's this term,
C.Kendall - taking 'O' levels this term, RAF section, octagon debating society, U.15 rugger XV.
B. Seaton - member of school U.131
rugger, house team, soccer and rugger, swimming and cricket, in CCF and Model Club.
A. Seaton - Model Club, CCF, Form L. 3. House rugby and football teams, school U.14 rugger team, U.131
THE DESERTED SOLDIER
By P. Borthwick
The soldier had deserted like a coward it was thought.
But he ran for a reason of his own,
He ran because he didn't like the war
And the reason for which he was fighting.
There were dogs on his trail like wolves on the hunt
But the soldier went on regardless,
He was determined not to fight for wrong.
The dogs were catching up quite fast
But the soldier didn't give up
He'd rather kill himself than fight for wrong again.
So he continues his run to the desert.
The route is hard and extremely hot
And all around was a dazzling scene
The soldier gets faint and falls to the ground
He stays there too weary to move - and the dogs are catching up.
He sees the dogs but cannot move
The dogs attack with violent bites
The soldier gives up and kills himself
The trainer calls and the dogs leave off.
The soldier is dead. The trainer rejoices.
He needs a drink and the dogs need food.
He takes a drink and the dogs eat the soldier
And all for the sake of one mans belief.
A POEM By J. Cooke
The moon's half closed eye
Casts a weary glance
Upon the dying tree,
Whose slender fingers,
Throw a shadow to the ground.
A tangled mass of twigs
Rises like the fury of a god,
and Through the veiling mist A castle looms,
A dark and distant tree,
Stands sentinel of the night
By the cruel winds plight.
Across the misty country
Dark shadows lurk,
Beyond our mortal word.
Little coloured men,
The hedges rattle,
A creature hurries to it's lair
To tread where no man trod.
20.3.70 Literary Supplement by G. Sanders
As I walked down the paths,
The leaves stared at me with their cold, dry, blank faces;
Like old grey men in a dream, stooping;
Thinking, thinking of their youth.
As I walked down the paths,
Not a bird was singing,
They were all in their nests, trying to find what warmth they could;
Thinking, thinking of their youth.
As I walked down the paths,
The trees in the mist loomed out like witches, hanging their cold fingers out to dry.
As the wind went through the branches,
Drops of blood it seemed dropped onto its already decayed body;
Thinking, thinking of their youth.
"RAIN" by C. Sanderson
I fought for my Country at the Battle of the Somme,
I fought bogged down in mud and admidst bloodstain-
I fought next to corpses who did not withstand the cold,
Although nothing was worse than the rain.
We would sit in our trenches for days on end,
Just sitting in agony and pain-
We would sit there in the thick, brown mass,
All of it due to the rain.
We would sit in our trenches; just watching the clouds
Which were swaying to form a heavenly mane;
We could only just bear the battle itself
But never the mud and the rain.
On November the 12th, after too many months,
I was moved from the lines to the hospital lane;
To relax, to thank God, and to pray for the others
I had left to fight in the mud and the rain.
18.6.70 THAT TERRIBLE WAR by G. Sanders
Yes I fought in that terrible war,
That war that many a person died in.
That war that grew in you and decayed you till you died
Where the poppies of Flanders grew;
The bodies of dead men lay;
Rotting beneath the earth.
They were forgotten heroes that no one would remember.
The clammy trenches, and the stink of stagnant water.
The noise of battle and aircraft.
Ever growing the fear in your mind,
Of death in that terrible war.
[ Comment by the webmaster :
These two reports are both fairly bland, predictably. Lady Cordingley retired from the RAFBF Schools committee in 1969. Paul Cutting (an ex Squadron Leader) was the secretary to the RAFBF schools committee for several years and came to VCS from time to time to sort out problems. It would have been instructive to have had details of these events from his viewpoint.
The two house system (Harries & Cordingley)was started by Webb-Jones, together with the system of 'Stars & Stripes' for good and bad behaviour, which were recorded against your house to foster esprit de corps.
It could be that the large underground cavern which later became an air-raid shelter is nothing to do with drainage but is simply the cellar of another Vanbrugh building which stood on this site. ]
By Lady Cordingley
Some 25 years ago, I was invited to join the Committee of Vanbrugh Castle School, and on my first visit I travelled to Maze Hill Station full of pleasant anticipation.
It would be impossible to say how many times I had passed by the outside of the Castle as a child, as all my early years were spent in Blackheath with my parents. Many happy hours my Sisters and I spent in Greenwich Park bowling our wooden hoops, feeding the deer with acorns, or hoping to extract a feather from a peacocks tail.
Many features of the Park have changed since then, and so also with the Castle since the day I first walked through those imposing gates. If the boys had been having their free time break they would if fine, probably have been kicking up the dust or if wet, splashing in the puddles in the untarmacked yard, and many a Matron has wept tears over the consequent state of their clothes.
Someone suggested that a suitable play room would be made in the underground cellar in the garden, and volunteers to prepare it were called for. As rumours were rife that the cellar had been used by smugglers bringing contraband from boats at Greenwich and up through a tunnel in the Dell, there was no shortage of willing helpers. The enthusiasm however died quickly, when the hidden treasure turned out to be rotten vegetation and no kegs of rum. In the end the whole idea of using it as a play room came to nothing as there were many difficulties or objections on the grounds of safety and health, and the Rotary Club put forward the brilliant idea of building at their own expense the present games room - a most practical and generous action; one great advantage at the outset, was the Band could make practice noises without limitation and without worrying others.
If I had then stopped to have lunch with the boys, I should have found a far smaller number, and a much smaller room, but I hope that the helpings were sufficiently large, I could not have visited the boys in their class rooms because all and sundry went to outside schools in the district, and only did their prep in the Castle. The extra class rooms were built much later.
The dormitories have stayed much the same though of course there was no Knollys wing.
During the period of my close association, the splendid advance in all departments would make wonderful reading, but time and space are not available for me to set it out here; a most impressive achievement. But as the saying goes "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" and when the boys leave to go on to their next school, they are warmly welcomed for several reasons and not least their academic standard, their manners and discipline.
During the 50 years that Vanbrugh Castle has been in existence, three headmasters have in their turn cajoled, guided and moulded it into shape. To them is due the lions share of any credit arising, their responsibilities have been great and no praise can be too high for the manner in which they have fulfilled their functions.
The school has been remarkably fortunate in the three Headmasters - Mr. Slimming, Mr. Webb-Jones and Mr. Corner.
Thinking back over the years, so many incidents, people and occasions flash through my mind:- the Matrons, the cooks, the teaching and the domestic staff, the most helpful Mr, Cheeseman, generous donars such as the U.S. Air Force Officers, Squadron Leader Pound and Wing Commander McDonnell of the Variety Club. Mr. Cutting and the staff at Portland Place, Paddy Pursell and the Band, the address of Sir Barnes Wallis on one speech Day, the fishing club, the Scouts sausages which Lord Knollys had to eat, and the many escapades of boys as told to us during my periodical visit to the school, and perhaps the most vivid memory is the wonderful record of health and happiness of the boys.
To have been able to assist the sons of men of the R. A. F. is a privilege of great value, and I think all concerned who have made possible this splendid school as it now is will share my pride.
VANBRUGH CASTLE AND ME
By Paul Cutting, D.F.C.
It was about twenty years ago that, amongst my other duties, I was appointed the Secretary of the Vanbrugh Castle School Committee. I think the greatest change that I have seen is that which has taken place in the age range of the boys and with it the change from a Home to a Primary School and then to a fully-fledged and recognised Preparatory School.
When Vanbrugh Castle School re-opened after the Second World War, in April 1947, the first Headmaster, Captain G. A. Slimming - who used to be called the Controller until the Controller of the Fund thought that this might be a trifle confusing - did no teaching on the premises and all the boys went out to local schools. Three years later, however, the Fund transformed Vanbrugh Castle into a boarding school for boys between the ages of seven and eleven, while the older boys continued to live at the Castle and attend local schools, some of them up to the age of eighteen years when they transferred to College or University.
Mr. Webb-Jones who succeeded Captain Slimming as Headmaster on 1st January 1951 had the task of building up the Primary School and at the same time he was faced with the problem of the older boys who returned to Vanbrugh Castle School of an evening from their day schools and who naturally envied the freedom enjoyed by their daytime comrades.
This organisation was inherited by the present Headmaster, Mr. Corner, in January 1956 and, after a while, he came to the conclusion that the only solution would be to recommend that the age range of the boys should be altered to eight years to thirteen years inclusive. The Committee accepted his proposals and the new age range started to be implemented in 1960. Four years later the Headmaster was accepted as a member of the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools and the School has never looked back. Since then the 60 young boys have been divided into two Houses, "Cordingley" after Air Vice-Marshal Sir John Cordingly, Controller of the Fund from 1947 to 1962 and "Harries", after Air Vice-Marshal Sir Douglas Harries, School Chairman 1946 to 1957, and there are sufficient boys in the narrower age limits to produce competitive teams.
The boys at Vanbrugh Castle enjoy various advantages as the result of the generosity of many people and organisations over the years. If one were to stand on the lawn behind the Wakefield Wings you look to the north-east, you see the Games Room which was a gift from the Greenwich Round Table whose members contributed the materials and the money for its erection. Then, as you face South-East you see the Knollys Wing added in 1964 in memory of the Rt. Hon. Viscount Knollys who was Chairman of the Fund from 1953 to 1966. Adjoining it is the Wakefield Wing given to the Fund by Viscount Wakefield of Hythe who was the Chairman of the Fund from 1934 to 1940. Almost due South the Whitley Classroom block is named after Air Marshal Sir John Whitley, Controller of the Fund from 1962 to 1968.
To the South-West is the latest addition, the Biology Laboratory donated by the Variety Club of Great Britain. To your West is the playground with the artificial cricket wickets, the first of which was a gift from the United States Air Force Exchange Officers and the Staff of the United States Embassy in London, at a time when we understood the only similar artificial pitch was at Lords Cricket Ground,, The Igloo climbing frame was a gift from the Royal Air Forces Assoc., and the other playground equipment and sand-pit were further gifts from the Variety Club of Great Britain.
I also have what I call an "anonymous gift" file which, over the years, contains a record of a number of gifts to the School, e. g. the large name board facing Maze Hill, from a donar who wishes to remain anonymous.
The boys may wonder why the Dell is out of bounds. This goes back several years when three boys were missing and everybody was getting rather worried about it, especially as one little boy had earlier absconded because "he did not like the friend fish they had for dinner". Then somebody had the idea of searching the Dell and they found smoke coming from a large water drainage pipe which connects up to the underground chambers which used to be under the Wakefield Wing lawn. Three cheerful smoky boys were brought out of this tunnel, the entrance to which was then closed and the Dell put out of bounds.
That underground chamber beneath the Wakefield Wing lawn has quite an interesting history. I believe it was originally constructed as a water drainage reservoir from the roof of the Castle and it is the old overflow pipe which leads into the Dell. When Wakefield Wing was occupied as a private residence (called "The Cedars") before the Second World War, the occupants used the underground chamber as a miniature rifle range. Then during the Second World War it was converted into an air-raid shelter with an entrance either end and with lighting and toilet facilities. The second exit was where the playground is now, where there used to be chicken run. After the war, somebody decided to use the chamber as a dumping ground for rubbish and it was filled up with cinders and refuse. There used to be a circular air vent in the roof of the chamber which came up under a manhole cover on the lawn. A group of boys set up a tripod over this air vent and laboriously emptied the chamber of all its rubbish by using a bucket slung from a rope over a pulley. So well did they clean it out that when the Greenwich Round Table first thought of the idea of presenting the School with a Games Room their first thoughts were to modify the underground chamber, but they came across difficulties when the fire escape officer inspected the chamber, the roof of which was some nine or ten feet underground.
There was a charming incident when one of the small boys mistook the Rt. Hon. Viscountess Portal for one of the mothers and she was too kind to correct him. She probably got more first-hand information about the School than if she had done so!
There are several yarns I could tell about boys who mis-behaved themselves and sometimes had to be severely punished but, strange as it may seem, these Old Boys are now among the School's strongest supporters and some of them do not hesitate to express their devotion to the School. It does make one wonder where lies the seat of learning in the human body.
What of the future? The present indications are that because of the reputation which the School has acquired both inside and outside the Service, the Fund will have a waiting list from which to select boys for many years to come.
The Vanbrugh Castle "Old Boys" Association is flourishing and former pupils often visit the School.
The Fund has recently acquired the Newton Driver Services club, on the coast at Rustington, re-named "Princess Marina House", for up to sixty convalescent, partially disabled or elderly, past and present members of the Royal Air Force and their adult dependants. Once established, it is hoped to arrange liaison visits between the residents of Princess Marina House and the boys of Vanbrugh Castle School.