The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund
Postal Address : Blackheath, London, S.E.3
Station : Maze Hill
Telephone : Greenwich 1604
Headmaster : Mr. J. H. Corner, M.A.
At Vanbrugh Castle the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund gives the sons of deceased airmen a home, an education and a start in life. At the same time the School provides from its boys the choir of the Royal Air Force Church at St. Clement Danes in the Strand.
The normal age at entry is eight, and boys remain until the age of thirteen, when they may transfer to a day school near their homes or to another boarding school. The more promising singing boys, however, may remain after this age to sing in the choir; such boys attend a local secondary school but remain boarders at Vanbrugh Castle. Although musical boys will be particularly welcome, the singing boys will be a minority and the School will continue to accept others without musical qualifications.
The accommodation is for 51 boys, who sleep in pleasant dormitories and have the use of recreation rooms, a library, a hobbies room, a cinema and spacious classrooms. There are large grounds and gardens.
The boys are taught in small classes and take the L.C.C. Junior Leaving Examination at the age of 11. From then until they are 13 they do the first two years of secondary work at the Castle. The School has been recognised as efficient by the Ministry of Education.
School prayers are said daily, and members of the Church of England attend Sunday matins at either the Royal Air Force Church in the Strand, commencing October, 1958, or the Chapel of the Royal Naval College. The Honorary School Chaplain teaches Scripture and prepares boys for confirmation, if their parents so wish.
There is an excellent School Band, trained by Mr. Paddy Purcell, Conductor of the London Military Band.
Every effort is made to ensure comfort and homeliness for the boys in residence, and once a term there is a Visiting Day when mothers may come to the School and take their boys out.
If a boy is withdrawn, one term's notice is required under normal circumstances. The retention of boys is subject to satisfactory conduct.
Vanbrugh Castle, overlooking Greenwich Park, was built by Sir John Vanbrugh, the architect and dramatist, in 1717, and is included in Grade I of the list prepared by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. The property was presented to the Fund in 1920 by the late Mr. Alexander Duckham. These premises were augmented by the gift of the neighbouring house, the Wakefield Wing, by the late Viscount Wakefield in 1939.
There is regular physical training, cricket, football and athletics in the grounds of the Royal Naval College or in Greenwich Park, and the boys swim once a week in the Greenwich Baths which are only five minutes away. All games are under the supervision of a master or instructor.
All boys selected for admission must have been passed as fit by a medical practitioner. The School has a sick ward and an appointed Medical Officer who visits whenever required. Dental treatment is also arranged.
Mothers must provide some items of the initial outfit, a list of which will be sent on acceptance. Where necessary, a grant will be considered for these initial requirements, and the Fund will provide replacements.
Parents are expected, whenever possible, to contribute towards the maintenance of their boys whilst at school.
Parents and guardians are expected to have their boys home during holiday periods, the dates of which are notified, in the summer, at Christmas and Easter. Travelling expenses on admission and to and from home at the above holiday times are paid by the Fund.
Applications for admission should be addressed to the Secretary, Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, 67, Portland Place, London, W.I. As vacancies occur they are filled by careful selection from the waiting list of candidates.
Electric trains from Charing Cross (16 mins.), Waterloo (14 mins.) and London Bridge (9 mins.). At Maze Hill Station cross bridge to booking office and climb hill. The Castle is at the top on the left, opposite Greenwich Park.
The School is administered locally by a House Committee and centrally by the Alexander Duckham Memorial School Committee. It has a resident staff consisting of a headmaster, who is a university graduate, and three assistant masters. A housekeeper and two assistant matrons supervise the catering, health and domestic affairs.