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The first plans for a boarding house were drawn up before the College itself was built. In 1847, Mr. Francois Jeune proposed that a boarding house should be built to accompany the College, as a source of income for the future headmaster, but because of a lack of funds this plan was rejected.
On the morning of Wednesday, 29th September 1852 Victoria College was opened. Thousands of spectators filled the grounds to join in the Island-wide celebrations for the opening of Jersey's largest school. The opening of the College was a great success but, during its first few years the absence of a boarding house became increasingly apparent, and it was not until 1860 that the College had any kind of boarding facilities. The boarding house, as such, was Bellefield, Mont Millais. This was in fact the private lodgings of a College master who in the early part of that year took charge of just a few boarders, and charged 36 guineas per annum for accommodation.
During the following years the boarding house became inadequate. The Reverend W.O. Cleave, headmaster from 1863-1881, was unhappy with the boarding facilities at the time and rented a house at 7 Clarence Road, which would act as a better boarding house. In 1867 the premises were opened and by 1870 the number of boarders had reached 16, but due to an outbreak of scarlet fever two years later, the premises were closed and the boarders were moved to another master's private house at 3 Westbourne Terrace. This boarding establishment was also closed in its early years of life, because in 1875 measles struck the house and the boarders, now totalling ten, were once again moved back to Bellefield. But this too was closed in due course because of financial pressures, and once again Victoria College was without a boarding house.
A new headmaster arrived in 1881, the Reverend R. H. Chambers. The normal residence for the headmaster was changed from Mount Pleasant House (known as College House) to Nos. 9 and 10 The Terrace, Grosvenor Street; this was to enable the headmaster to accommodate boarders. This boarding establishment, unlike its predecessors, grew quickly. In 1884, No. 8 The Terrace was purchased and in 1890 No. II was taken over. Because of the increasing number of boarders the headmaster's wife was appointed 'Matron of the House', and two College masters moved in to assist the headmaster. Despite the ever-increasing number of boarders. Chambers complained to the Governing Council of the College about the premises having bad sanitation and being too far away from the College. The sanitation problems were eventually remedied but still the premises were inadequate.
In 1896, Victoria College had its second new headmaster in four years, Mr. L. V. Lester-Garland. Soon after, the new headmaster, like his predecessors, complained about the lack of proper boarding facilities. In January 1897, after much discussion between the headmaster and the Governing Council, it was decided to go ahead with plans for a new boarding house. A leading English architect, Mr. T. G. Jackson, who had designed new buildings for many large English public schools, was appointed the job of designing & completely new boarding house. Jackson reported back to the Governing Council a year later, but his plans were found to be too expensive, in excess of £11,000. The Governors decided that this amount of money could not be found, so they employed the States' engineer, Mr. Edmund Berteau, to devise a cheaper plan. Berteau later reported back with his plans estimated at about £7,000, which was a lot cheaper than the original plans, so naturally the Council accepted Berteau's plans. With the money saved it was decided to put red tiles instead of slates on the rood, at an extra cost of £300; however, it was decided not to install electricity or water mains.
Building started immediately and the work proceeded diligently for three years until the building was finally finished for Christmas 1901, and the headmaster could at last move into the building in the following January. Although the official opening was not until July, the headmaster started to show parents of potential boarders around the building in the spring, thus gaining more future boarders.
At last the opening day of Victoria College's own .boarding house arrived. The day chosen was Tuesday, 29th July 1902, to coincide with the College's jubilee celebrations. On the morning of that fine summer's day, the Bailiff, Sir W. H. V. Vernon, declared College House open. During his speech the Bailiff congratulated the architect and the builders for producing 'a triumph of architectural skill', all in Jersey granite. The building was then inspected inside and out by the members of the Governing Council of Victoria College, by leading members of the States of Jersey and finally by the public. In each case it met with everybody's approval.
After the proceedings at College House, the celebrations for the jubilee continued. In the afternoon cricket was played on the College lawn, tea was served at mid-afternoon and a local band played well into the evening. As dusk fell the College grounds were illuminated with lamps. "The picture when all the lamps were alight, must have been one of extreme beauty" (The Victorian, 1902). The whole day was a complete success. After the great celebrations the new House took on its task. The headmaster ran the boarding house and the number of boarders increased steadily every term. The purpose-built building was now in operation and proved to be very efficient.
In 1911, Lester-Garland resigned and was succeeded by Mr. A. H. Worrall, who moved into College House that same year to perform the duties of housemaster and headmaster of the College. The success of College House continued for another three years but the outbreak of World War I caused the number of pupils at the school to fall below 140. The number of boarders also dropped dramatically, so much so, that it no longer became practical for College House to stay open, so the House was closed for just over a year. College House was reopened after the war and because of the large influx of English people to the Island, the House entered one of its most profitable decades.
In the 1920's College House was filled to its capacity and N F. W. Turk ran a small overflow house at L'Hermitage, Beaumont.
However, this success did not last. At the end of Worrall’s term of office, in 1933, the number of boarders had once again fallen to between 20 and 30. Despite this the new headmaster, Mr. J. H. Grummitt, had showers and electricity installed in 1934. Also in 1934 the awarding of boarding scholarships began again, having been faded out during Chambers' time.
The outbreak of World War II had little effect on Victoria College at first, but by spring 1940 France had fallen to the invading German forces. By the second half of June an invasion of the Channel Islands by the Germans was imminent. After a two-week holiday at the beginning of the month for College boys to help with the potato crop, the school was reassembled on 17th June, but dismissed by mid-day. There was no mass evacuation of Jersey, but many Islanders decided to leave before the Germans arrived. Among the Islanders that were leaving were 14 College boys, the headmaster and three other members of staff. On 24th June there were 130 boys and five masters present at Victoria College. The then Vice-Principal, Mr. P. A. Tatam, was called upon to be acting headmaster. Jersey was occupied by the Germans from 1st July. There was nobody at College House when it was taken over by the German authorities in August 1940. The building was used as the German civil administration headquarters of the Channel Islands (Feldkommandantur 515). Pigs were kept for food for the German officers, on the field at the rear of College House. College field was ploughed up and used as allotments for the local residents. College itself was taken over by the Germans, in October 1941, and the Great Hall was used as troops' dormitories. The boys and masters resumed work in the premises of Halkett Place School and St. Mary and St. Peter's Hall. College was able to return to its rightful buildings at the end of 1942, on the insistence of Mr. Tatam.
College House remained in the possession of the Germans until Liberation Day on 9th May 1945. In the following year a new headmaster took over. Mr. Ronald Postill was faced with the unenviable task of reconstructing the school and the boarding house. College House had to be completely refurnished before it was finally reopened in 1948, under the charge of the headmaster and his wife. Mr. Postill appointed new teaching staff and he gave a rebirth to the academic life of the College. He also revitalised the sports at College, which included in 1950 a new sports pavilion, which was donated as a war memorial. Also, in 1952 the New de Carteret buildings were opened and later a new art school, which was also a war memorial. After 21 years at the College Mr. Postill retired to take up a part-time teaching post at Millfield. His successor. Mr. M. H. Devenport, decided not to take on the task of running College House, so for the first time a housemaster was appointed in May 1967. Lieutenant Colonel R. J. Finch, who joined the staff of the College in 1948, took charge of 48 boarders. He was assisted by his wife, and a deputy housemaster Mr. J. P. Clapham succeeded by Mr. B. H. Vibert, then Mr. F. A. Lang and then Mr C.J. Buckland. In July 1974, Lieutenant-Colonel Finch resigned his post as housemaster and was succeeded by J. E. Perry and later by Dr. A. E. Hill.
Mr. Richard Smyth joined Victoria College in September 1977 as a French and German master. After a year's experience as deputy housemaster, he took over from Dr. Hill as housemaster in 1979, and he is still in charge of College House to this present day. His accommodation at the House is free; however, he does not receive any extra money for his important responsibilities. Mr. Smyth's job is to supervise the budgeting and the complete day-to-day running of the House. Mr. Smyth is assisted in his duties by his wife, and by various members of the staff, who are all an important part in the running of College House.
The Matron, Miss Flynn, who joined the House about a year ago, lives on the premises and is in charge of the health and clothing of the boarders, and in the domestic running of the House, apart from the catering. The catering side of the House is the job of the cooks, who have to cook the meals for the boarders, and during the term they cook lunch for 50 Preparatory School boys and 70 College day boys. The present deputy housemaster is Mr. Philip Gray. His job is to assist the housemaster by taking charge of the physical duties of running the House on alternate evenings. Mr. Gray is also in charge of specific aspects of the House, like the games room.
Prefects are also appointed in the House. At present there are five prefects and a head-prefect, Brian Lynas. Their duty is to control discipline in the House and can award lines' for minor misdemeanours. The masters give 'fatigues' as a form of small punishment and for serious misbehaviour the boy concerned is 'gated'. That is to say during his free time, the boy is confined to the building for a specified amount at a time.
A day in the life of a boarder at College House begins at 7.30 a.m. when the first bell is rung. Breakfast is then served between 7.45 and 8.30. This mainly consists of a cooked breakfast, cereals, fruit juice, tea and toast. ' After breakfast the boarders leave for school at 8.45 and remain there until lunchtime. By mid-morning the cooks have started making lunch, usually for about 160 boys. The Preparatory School boys arrive at the House soon after noon and have finished eating by about 1.00 p.m., in time for the boarders and the College day boys to arrive at 1.20. The boarders eat in a separate dining room from the day boys but they have the same meal which is always hot, and the menu varies from day to day. The boys then return to school for 2.15. Afternoon school finishes at 3.40 p.m. and the boarders can go straight back to the House for tea or they may stay on at the College for after-school activities. However, they have to return before supper, which is served at 6.15, and again consists always of a hot meal. After supper comes every schoolboy's worse task — homework. Boys in the first two year groups study from 6.45 to 7.30, whilst the older boys study for an extra half hour until 8.00. They then have their own free time until lights out'. The boarders can continue to study or if they wish they can watch television or play indoor games. 'Lights out' varies from age to age. It ranges from the youngest boys, whose lights have to be out at about 9.40, to the sixth formers, who go to bed when they like.
Over the weekend the boarders are allowed to leave the House for any amount of time during the day, but they have to return by a certain time in the evenings. The boarders can stay in the House if they wish and watch television, do extra studying, go to the workshop to do some modelling or to use the indoor games facilities which include snooker, table-tennis and darts. All-in-all the House is run as friendly as possible with a good relationship between the staff and the boys, which is essential for a small community like College House.
The building itself is undergoing a partial refit. Last year the House was completely rewired and the kitchens were also completely re-equipped. Mr. Smyth has been pushing for improvements for some years, and he has finally got some money voted by the States to the College House budget to carry out such improvements, and plans are due to be put into effect this year. The House is going to have its own laundry equipment installed very shortly in a room which has been cleared for this purpose. Also the catering arrangements are to be improved. A canteen is planned to be built at the College for about 300 boys. The meals served there will be slightly less than at present (but still a hot meal) and will be prepared in the College House kitchens and transported down to the school. Any boy will be able to go and buy a meal at the canteen at any time of the lunch hour. This will therefore keep the day boys out of College House completely. Seven new studies are also planned to be installed at the House, so every boy in Year V and above will have his own study. Finally the sanitation, plumbing, baths and showers are also going to be replaced.
College House was described by the housemaster, Mr. Smyth, as "a very adequate building, and a splendid building for its purpose". Mr. Smyth also said that what the building really needs is filling: it can accommodate 50 boarders, although it has never done so in the past. Information booklets are being printed to send to various agencies and public schools, quoting the price of £700 per term per boy and showing pictures of the House, and this should encourage more boarders from the mainland. Although there are only 36 boarders at the moment, it is Mr. Smyth's intention that in future College House should accommodate its maximum number of boarders.