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No. 23. Social Colours, 1880

Social Fours League Table 1880

 

For every boy who comes to Radley College, the identity of his boarding house must seem the most permanent thing in the school.  Timetables change, curriculum changes, staff change, even sports change their rules; but the boarding house has surely been there forever.  Not so.  The ‘Socials’ are one of the most fluid aspects of the school and one of the most peculiar institutions of Radley College.  From All to 6 to 8 to Orchard to 10 to 11, to the mysterious ‘I Social’, to in-College or out-College, from letters to Tutors’ names, this weird institution is more than a place to sleep or ‘board’.  It is, in fact, the boys – ‘my socials’.  Fetch a wet towel to wrap around your head – this is not straightforward!  Read on >>>>>

No. 22. Wallpaper, 2018

The history of Radley sport in wallpaper (detail)

Organised sport has been central to the life of Radley from the foundation of the school in 1847 when the earliest Fellows included two (Howard and Savory) chosen specifically because they could participate in cricket and boating with the boys. 2016 saw a new development in Radley sport with the appointment of James Gaunt as Director of Sport and the subsequent creation of a Sports Office located on one of the main thoroughfares of the school between Shop and Clocktower.  The new office is shared by the Director of Sport and some of the specialist sports coaches, who include Old Radleian, Nick Wood, formerly of Gloucester Rugby, Olympic rower, Sam Townsend, Hockey Professional Peter Bennett and Cricketer Andy Wagner. But sport already had a long and distinguished career at Radley College and, being keen to uphold and honour that tradition, a decision was taken to decorate the office. Masterminded by James Rock, the Rackets coach, the sports coaches delved through the Archives to identify key moments in Radley sporting history.  They created a timeline which wraps around the room, against a backdrop of world events, and, in the Director of Sport’s office, a wallpaper which is a montage of the many ordinary moments in a school’s sporting life. From sinking boats to early PT, from world champions to the Bash Street Kids – through the magic of digitisation, all sporting life is here…

>>>read on >>>timeline

>>> read on >>>montage

No. 21. Debate, 1918 – ‘This House deplores the entry of women into Parliament’

Poem from The Radleian, 1909

The UK celebrates the Centenary of (Partial) Suffrage for Women in February 2018.  Exhibitions across the country are marking the event.  Girls schools, in particular, have found a treasure trove of previously unknown material documenting the eagerness with which young women followed the debate and hoped for a future in which they could participate fully in the government of their country.  Many of those girls had brothers at schools like Radley College.  But the boys’ schools have found it very difficult to find material to contribute to the celebration.  At Radley, the Debating Society addressed the issue on just four occasions during the height of the Suffrage Movement: in 1908, 1910, 1913 and 1918Here are the debates >>>

No. 20. Live-stream, 2018

Screenshot of Radley College website during the live streaming of Declamations, 2018

‘This most civilized of Radley competitions,’ former Don, Barry Webb, describing Declamations in 1983.  With its roots deep in Victorian ‘memoriter’ exercises and parlour recitations, Radley’s civilized competition goes back to the days of William Sewell in the mid-1850s.  In the course of 170 years it has seen recitations in Serbian, Greek, Latin and French.  It has faded entirely from view, been revived (twice) as a symbol of continuity in the face of global war, and has had its current format unchanged for 70 years.  Boys have groaned, Dons have goaded.  Adjudication has been fiercely criticised.  Youtube has radically altered the way boys research and learn pieces.  And in 2018, it was live-streamed from the Theatre into classrooms across the school and parents’ homes around the world.   Declamations – one of Radley’s enduring institutions …  Read on

No. 19 Grant of Arms, 1908

Radley College crest. From an original engraving by Dan Escott, commissioned by the Heraldry Society in 1964

BLAZON

Argent an open Book garnished Gules clasps and buckles Or thereon inscribed the words SICUT SERPENTES SICUT COLUMBAE between three crosses pattée of the second on a Chief of the last a Key in bend sinister of the first surmounted by a similar Key in bend dexter Gold between to the dexter a Serpent knowed and erect and to the sinister a Dove both proper

MOTTO

Sicut Serpentes Sicut Columbae

Heraldry, crests, badges, mottoes – the very root and branch of tradition.  The symbols that say ‘we are here’ and ‘here we stay.’  The colours of identity.  A complex pattern which is instantly recognisable to anyone associated with an institution. Unchanging.  But even something so traditional grew organically over time and was not there for the first sixty one years of the College’s life. Here is the story of the college crest ….

No. 18 Letters from a Primary School, 2017

When the Archive went back to school. These contemporary letters were written as ‘thank yous’ following an afternoon spent at a primary school.  The children were studying aspects of Victorian history, particularly the kind of education rich boys might have experienced in the nineteenth century.  They heard about the carved desk lid, a prefect’s banner, a letter from Gerald Talbot and the prefect’s fives bat.  So this particular ‘object’ is about how the virtual museum does sometimes go out into the wider world.  It is also a partner to No. 17 The teachers’ revenge, since it tells the story of the everyday objects used by those examinees of the 1870s.  Read on …

No. 17 – The teachers’ revenge, 1870s – a 100 objects miniature

Bristowe’s exam

This miniature presents the most ephemeral of ephemera: a scrapbook of snippets cut out of junior boys exams by an unknown Don at Radley in the 1870s. Exams are the horror at the end of every teacher’s year.  Object no. 9  Thank you letter, 2011, examined the history of formal exams and external qualifications.  But the end of year test existed long before exams were subject to external scrutiny or led to nationally recognised standards.  Back in the 1870s, a boy could remain in the same class for years before he passed an exam that allowed him to move up to another class.  The teacher tasked with forcing an education into such a boy needed his own methods to retain his sanity.  In Radley College Archives is a scrap book of cuttings from exam papers.  Did the teachers who collected these feel they were banging their heads against a brick wall, or did they fall about howling with laughter in the Common Room as they added yet another gem to their collection? Here are some of the most sparkling moments as gathered together in Facetiae Radlienses e responsis per examinations factis extracta St Peter’s College 1869

No. 16. Receipt for £672. 1770

In April 1770 Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown received £200 on account from Sir William Stonhouse of Radley Hall, Berkshire.  In December that year Sir William paid another £200, with a further £200 on 3 April 1771. Brown later received a draft on Sir William’s bankers, Messrs Hoare & Co., dated June 9th 1773 for a final payment of £72, which he described in his Accounts Book as ‘a balance of the above account and in full [payment] of account demands.’ The account was then crossed through in the Accounts Book, which probably signifies that the work was completed, paid for and the contract closed.  There can be no doubt, therefore, that Capability Brown was employed by Sir William Stonhouse to carry out landscape ‘improvements’ at Radley Hall over four years between 1770 and 1773, with the bulk of the work probably completed within the year April 1770 to April 1771. In the year in which the Tercentenary of the birth of England’s most significant landscape garden designer is being celebrated nationally, it is time to explore the story of Radley’s lost landscape: to examine what remains, discover how it was lost and found again, and, most significantly, to ask ‘What could you buy for £672 from Capability Brown’?  Read on >>>

Reconstructing Capability Brown’s work at Radley Hall: North & South views

Reconstructing Capability Brown’s work at Radley Hall: romantic and picturesque – serpentine walk and Gothic buildings

Reconstructing Capability Brown’s work at Radley Hall: fish pond into lake: water features from formal to picturesque

Loss & Rediscovery: Capability Brown’s landscape at Radley

image © Royal Horticultural Society, Lindley Library

 

No. 15. Equality in death: the Servants’ War Memorial, 1924

Servants memorial hi res

This is a highly contentious carving.  Not only does the word ‘servants’ evoke the class distinctions of the Edwardian era, but the very separation of this group of names on the War Memorial reinforces that separation in contemporary eyes.  Yet when it was created it was as an act of deep reverence and honour. Radley is one of very few schools which included the serving staff on its War Memorial. At its dedication in 1924 it was part of the great democratisation in death which saw the creation of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission at the end of World War 1.

The whole debate of what form a War Memorial should take began at Radley as early as January 1917 and was not concluded for another 30 years.  In that time the committee had resigned twice, the builders had failed their contract, the architect had died and another war had been fought.  Utility or Sentiment?  What is a War Memorial all about? … read on >>>

No. 14. Planting Plan 1948

Century Clump

Century Clump

This is a scrap of paper glued onto a piece of old cardboard, annotated in red and black ink.  It is very easy to lose or discard it; extremely easy to overlook it.  What it records can be passed by just as easily.  Indeed, so used are we to the landscape around us, to the trees, the paths, the pitches that every golfer playing on Radley College Golf Course, every visitor for a school match, every dog-walker and every member of the College, has walked past this with barely a thought. Yet its purpose is grandiose, ambitious, permanent: a grove of eighteen oak trees each planted to commemorate that greatest of cricketing targets – to score a century in a school match. In thirty-seven years only thirteen boys achieved it. This is the planting plan for Century Clump.  … The full story