Chapter XV

The 400th Anniversary


1952 WAS OUR 400th year, with all its celebrations and commemorations. I had always hoped to be at Leeds Grammar School that year, I felt very honoured to be still on the Staff. I enjoyed nearly everything, specially the culmination in July.

On 24th January, my form. Junior 2, spent a lesson writing suggestions for the celebrations.

C. W—— thought we might have cream instead of milk at break, drink through golden straws and have silver milk bottles.

G. N. T—— suggested that the whole festival week should be devoted to swimming races and competitions in the gymnasium.

M. W. T—— wanted to have trips in buses all over Leeds. He was not greedy, as every other suggestion began with ‘or’. “We should have a big cake, or have a week’s holiday, or go in a plane over the sea and look down on it, and don’t have any homework at all for a week”. He also suggested, as did several other boys, that all the school should be taken to the sites where our other buildings had been.

G. J. R—— wanted a cake, a bit for each member of the Staff, and one for the Lord Mayor himself, and “when the cake is cut, three cheers for the Headmaster and the school, and the Founders as well”. Unselfishly he gives himself no share of the cake! He wished to have a placard inside the door, “OUR 400th BIRTHDAY”. It was to be done in gay colours. He and several other boys remarked that they were very glad to be at school for this most important birthday.

P. J. C—— was ambitious. He hoped that the King and Queen would visit us. He proposed trips round the world in a plane, “and to Mars and the moon”. His last sentence was “Miss Christie should have 1,000,000 pounds”. I wrote ‘splendid’ against that!

D. E. B—— would have all punishments abolished, and “then it would be more like a birthday”. He thought we should be broadcast on the B.B.C. He wished to have “the history of the school writen on a marable tablet and its founders”. He was one of the many who suggested a play about the history of the school.

N. C. C. G—— “I think we ought to have a cake with 400 candles, the teachers eat half and we eat the rest. I hope one day we have nice hard lessons like mathematics all day. Another day I hope we go for a ride on a bus. I hope we have a holiday for one week, and then (‘after’ presumably) we do nice hard work. I hope we have six months holiday and I hope the teachers get ten pounds”.

P. M. B—— wished to have a nice long film about a hundred yards long, “or perhaps we could have a speech from the Headmaster, and he might be able to tell us how long he’s been Headmaster”. He also suggested a play with six or seven scenes.

From M. J. F—— a breathless effort: “We might have a play going back to the time when William Sheafield lived suggesting to build a school and when the people were making the Paris Church into this school and what lessons were like in the olden days and what masters used to do at night and in spare time whether they talked all the time or set work for the pupils and whether they had prep detentions and the bat.”

Some of the boys must have been pleased that a few of their ‘dreams came true’. Now for the facts.

ALL EVENTS WERE fully reported in the papers and numerous photographs appeared. I wondered sometimes if the general public became rather bored with Leeds Grammar School!

The celebrations started in January, with the visit of the Lord Mayor (Col. F. Eric Tetley). The Juniors were in the dining-room, where we had the speeches relayed. Before the Lord Mayor went to the Upper School, he came to us in all his regalia and with his retinue, and walked the length of the dining-room. The boys were very interested and knew more about the shape of his hat and its number of corners than I did!

One Sunday in February there was the unveiling of the War Memorial to those killed 1939 to 1945. Sir Philip Balfour unveiled the tablets, Canon Reeve dedicated the memorial. The tablets are in the Shrine, near the 1914-18 memorial.

Here may I say what a splendid Chairman of Governors Canon Reeve was and how hard he worked for the school. His leaving Leeds is a great loss to the city and to the school, but we all wish him God speed and happiness in his new work as Bishop of Lichfield.

One evening in March, we had a visit from the Thoresby Society, when Professor le Patourel told us that the school was probably 153 years older than we thought; but we carried on with our quater-centenary celebrations.

In the same month we had visits from the City Justices, the Chamber of Commerce, at other times from representatives of the Press, the University, and the editors of three Leeds newspapers.

Being attached to the Junior School, I missed many of these functions. We did however have a last minute invitation to meet Donald Kaberry, Esq. M.P., Old Leodiensian, when he came in April to talk to the school. We lined up in the dining room. To me he said: “How grand to see you”, which pleased me! I do not remember him at school—I never taught him—but he remembers me. On 26th February, the Friends of the School heard a delightful concert by the Edward Maude String Orchestra. On 28th May we heard, with great joy and appreciation, a concert by courtesy of J. Chalmers Park, Esq., Old Leodiensian. The School Choir sang to us, so did Tom Harrison, Esq.

In March the school gave a good presentation of Henry IV; the William Sheafield Dramatic Society performed for three nights The Man with a Load of Mischief. H. K. Black, Esq., was the star turn.

On 3rd May we had the School Sports, when E. J. Morrish, Esq., presented the trophies.

From 1951 to 1952, Leslie Moxon, son of an Old Leodiensian, was head boy of the school. To him, as to the Headmaster, 1952 must have been a very hard year, as far as work and organisation were concerned. Leslie Moxon, I know, felt his position a very great honour, he must have been proud.

SO WE WORKED up to the great Festival Week, starting on Sunday, 6th July, our Founders’ Day. There was a mass service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving at the Parish Church. The previous Tuesday we had had a rehearsal of the service, partly to see how closely the school could be packed into allotted pews. It was quite an undertaking to get all the boys safely to and from the church. The Junior School had three buses, most of the Main School went on foot. It was an impressive sight to see so many hundreds marching into the churchyard. The police were on duty; one witty police constable told me that he was going to arrest 899 boys, and there would be only the Headmaster and me left for the Sunday.

There were 2,000 people at the service, including Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal. The Bishop of Peterborough preached the sermon, which was preceded by a long and moving Bidding Prayer, composed for the occasion. His text was ‘Lift up your Hearts’. The Bishops of Blackburn and Ripon were at the service. Everything went better than it had done at the rehearsal. Mr. Turner worked wonders with the choir.

FROM SATURDAY, 5th July, for six nights, Leeds and its Grammar School was performed in the school grounds near the chapel. It was a wonderful pageant. The play was written by A. F. Chippindale, Esq., Old Leodiensian, a master at the school. Great honour is due to him for all his work in research and for the outstanding and interesting play. It was produced by Eric Howard, Esq. The Old Leodiensians were entirely responsible for finances and most of the arrangements. Great thanks were deserved by the Old Leodiensians for all the backing they gave throughout the Festival. I have never known better scenic effects or been more moved by any play. And the weather allowed us to have the performance out of doors every night! When I saw the play on the Monday, there was some drizzle, we feared the worst—a hurried scutter to the Upper School. There, the play would have lost most of its splendour.

On Wednesday, we had the Presentation of Prizes by the Earl of Scarborough. The Juniors had the afternoon holiday, so we of the Staff were able to be there. A select few had tea in the library afterwards; to my great pleasure the Headmaster introduced me to the Earl. I thought him a delightful man. During the afternoon the Earl unveiled the anniversary commemoration tablet in the dining hall.

THURSDAY WAS Civic Day. At 10.30 a.m. the Senior boys were entertained at the Civic Hall by the Lord Mayor (Alderman Frank B. Burnley). I am told that the boys enjoyed the visit tremendously. They heard a talk on ‘Civic Affairs’ by the Lord Mayor’s secretary. I don’t know whether or not they enjoyed that more than the refreshments they had! At 3 p.m. the Lord Mayor and a civic party visited the school. The Juniors were allowed to go to the dining-room to see the officials. We were there at 2.30 and had to wait until 3.30. Boredom was relieved by Mr. Raper, who arranged some community singing and for me by having to attend to R. H. B—— in my form. He was looking green and feeling faint. He said he had had no dinner as he had felt sick. I took him into the kitchen, after attention there he was a good deal better.

That evening there was a Civic Reception for members of the Staff and the officers and committee of the Old Leodiensian Association. It was a very happy evening; I met many old friends. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress were charming as host and hostess. Mr. and Mrs. Kent were staying in Leeds, it was good to enjoy once again their welcome and their car for transport. (Now that car is no more, having suffered in the disastrous floods at Sutton-on-Sea where the Kents had a bungalow.) The only other time the Lord Mayor entertained the Staff was when Alderman Hugh Lupton was Lord Mayor. He invited us to lunch; it was a very good one. That must have been in the Town Hall. Afternoon school started rather late that day!

Friday was Parents’ Day. We had an open day at the school at 2.30. That entailed much work beforehand. In the evening the Festival Dinner Dance took place at the Queen’s Hotel. I went, being escorted by a considerate Old Leodiensian in a taxi, meeting my partner at the hotel. Perhaps I enjoyed that dance the best of all the events. I danced a good deal but I talked even more. There were so many Old Leodiensians I had not seen for years. It put new life into me to see them, as I am very fond of them all. Canon and Mrs. Reeve were there and seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as anyone. All honour to Canon Reeve for breaking off from his enjoyment to go up to school to see the finale of the play, and, I presume, to congratulate all those concerned. He joined us again afterwards.

SATURDAY WAS Old Boys’ Day. The Past v Present cricket match started at 11.30. The Past eleven was composed entirely of former captains. I watched the match as much as I could but there was much distraction in the meeting of old friends. Robin Wynne-Edwards was there. He had come to see me at home in the morning and how delighted I was to see him. Like the rest of his family, he never forgets friends. Laurie Hardy I talked to. We two have very happy memories, specially in connection with ‘Two-bob hops’ I used to organize; he was always my excellent Master of Ceremonies. Eric Arden, whom I had seen at the dance, was there. He was in my first form, and is now well known on the B.B.C. John Franklin never seems to change, he is always jolly and full of life. I cannot possibly name all I saw there. Two others were Ronald David and his wife. We keep in touch but we do not often meet. Eric Morrish introduced me to Sir Norman Birkett at teatime. Sir Frank Nixon I met; he had helped considerably with his advice during the running of the Wynne-Edwards Memorial Fund. Jack Ellison from Scarborough was there and Cecil Greaves, a childhood friend. Tea was such a squash that it was impossible to see all the ex-captains.

On Saturday evening the Old Leodiensian Association had their Festival Dinner, at which 400 were present. Sir Norman Birkett was the guest of honour. Naturally, I was not allowed to go to that, being a woman, but I do wish I could have been there unseen!

On Sunday, 13th July, there was the Old Leodiensian Service in the school chapel. The Vicar of Leeds preached marvellously well. So many attended that we had an overflow meeting in the dining-hall, where the service was relayed. Canon J. E. Roberts, Old Leodiensian, and Leslie Moxon read the lessons. After the service, I went, by invitation of Ronald David, with him and his wife, Eric David and his wife, to the Parkway Hotel for lunch. It was a good lunch, my friends were hospitable and amusing. It was a most enjoyable ending to an exciting time.

LONG BEFORE THE Festival Week, a book Four Hundred Years by P. H. Kelsey, Esq., Old Leodiensian and a master, had been on sale. A small book, fully illustrated and very interesting. A copy had been presented to each member of the school and of the Staff. This was a generous gift from the Old Leodiensians.

Apparently too much excitement upset me, a few days after The Week I was at home with a feverish cold. I could not be at school for the big photograph and it was my last chance; I missed also the excitement the Juniors had on the 16th. A huge cake had been anonymously given by a well-wisher, a man who had firm connections with Leeds Grammar School. Mrs. Kelsey cut the cake. She is the mother of P. H. Kelsey, Esq., and also of C. L. Kelsey, Esq. who, when a Captain in the Canal Zone, was, alas, murdered by Egyptians in November 1951. Mrs. Kelsey’s husband was a master at the school who died during my first year there. Her brother was the Rev. W. L. Johnson, master and Old Leodiensian. So the choice of Mrs. Kelsey as ‘cake cutter’ was a most suitable one.

I HAVE MENTIONED how hard the Old Leodiensians worked for the Festival, some of them to the detriment of their health. E. J. Morrish, a governor, and president of the Old Leodiensian Association died suddenly in August of that year. He was a splendid man and gave his services to many causes. J. F. Petty, also a governor, succeeded him as president. He died in November of that year. He also overworked himself and, like Mr. Morrish, was kindly and helpful to so many people. Both men could ill be spared.

Colonel H. D. Bousfield had preceded Mr. Morrish as president; he had died the year before. He was a most loyal supporter of the school. He was elderly but Mr. Morrish and Mr. Petty were only in their fifties.


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