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Victoria College School:
A Short History 1852-1928 by E.C. Cooper
In the days of Henry VII a worthy merchant of Southampton,
who had trading connections with Jersey, left sundry land the revenue
from which was to be devoted to the establishment of a school or
schools in the island. This bequest received the royal approval and
the schools of St. Mannelier and St. Anastase were founded for the
east and west of the island. For some time they flourished
exceedingly, their scholars being counted by the hundred, but they
decayed in the time of the early Stuarts and were eventually closed.
The next step towards the provision of education for Jersey
was taken by Charles II. Historians have said many hard things about
this monarch, without perhaps making adequate allowance for the
extraordinary difficulties of his position. But every Jerseyman knows
that Charles II resided for some time in the island, and that after
the Restoration he granted Jersey certain privileges. Chief among
these was the Patente de l'Impot, granted in 1681, which empowered
the Bailiff and Jurats to levy duties on Wines and Spirits. But
coupled with the grant was an injunction to the Bailiff and Jurats to
pay 2000 livres turnois by the year out of the revenue from the
duties to the completion of the building and to the Master and Ushers
of the School which Sir George Carteret was proposing to build.
Further that, after the completion of the pier at St. Aubin's, one
half of the residue of the impot revenue should be devoted to the
improvement and advantage of the said school. Sir George and the
Bishop of Winchester were to form ordinances for the good government
of the same. Charles also, it will be remembered left land to Exeter,
Pembroke, and Jesus Colleges at Oxford, for the benefit of scholars
from the Channel Islands. This latter bequest held good and has
proved a great help to our education, but the former missed fire. Sir
George's school was not built, and the money was diverted by the
Bailiff and Jurats to a variety of public works.
Such continued to be the state of affairs until the visit of
Queen Victoria in 1846. In May 1847 the Lieut.-Governor, Sir J. H.
Reynett, wrote to the Bailiff, pointing out the failure of the Jurats
to carry out King Charles’s wishes, and remarking that for some time
past there had been a surplus fully equal to establishing a school
for the island. He suggested that such a project would surely meet
with Her Majesty's favour. The Assembly of the Governor, Bailiff and
Jurats agreed that a school would be very advantageous and appointed
a committee, which consulted authorities in England (particularly Dr.
Jeune, Master of Pembroke College) and reported to the Assembly. An
architect was selected ; the States of Jersey also appointed a
committee ; and in August the Assembly decided to purchase the
present grounds from W. Le Breton, Esq. for £5,070. The Joint
Committee disagreed with their first architect; they decided to erect
a building capable of accommodating 300 pupils, and in May 1849
appointed Mr. J. Hayward to prepare the plans.
In March 1850 the building contract was assigned to Mr. J.
Le Rossignol and on May 24th the Foundation Stone was laid by the
Lieutenant-Governor; contingents from the militia regiments and the
regulars and members of the States attended, and the day was observed
as a holiday in St. Helier's. The actual building occupied two years.
In the meantime the States determined the conditions of service for
the Principal and Staff, and in March 1852 appointed Dr. W. G.
Henderson as Principal.
One of the other two selected candidates was Dr. Westcott,
afterwards Bishop of Durham. Dr. Henderson had had a brilliant career
at Oxford, taking honours in Classics (1st Lit. Hum.) and
Mathematics, and winning the Chancellor's Latin Essay Prize and the
Ellerton Theology Prize. He had served as Junior Proctor, and had
experience at Magdalen College School and Hatfield Hall, Durham. He
was 34 years old when appointed and he was Principal for ten years,
in the course of which he laid the foundations of the prosperity of
Victoria College. He had many and serious difficulties to encounter.
Everything was new: the governing body were without experience ; the
staff was experimental; parents and pupils critical ; there was no
school tradition. But the difficulties were surmounted as they arose.
Dr. Henderson secured an excellent staff and the school was opened on
Sept. 29th, 1852 in the presence of the States and Sir J. H. Reynett,
late Lieut.-Governor The school began with an entry of 109. This
number steadily increased till in 1858 it reached 223. The school was
divided into Classical and Commercial sides. School hours were 9.30
to 12.30 and 2 to 5 with two half-holidays a week. There were four
terms, with six weeks holiday at Midsummer, 15 days at Christmas, and
two or three days at Easter and Michaelmas. Boys were admitted at the
age of 7. The principal was not allowed to take boarders, but lived
in the house which is now the "Prep" School. In 1855, a grant of
£50 a year was made out of the Crown revenues for the
establishment of an exhibition to the Universities, and three gold
medals, and these were first given to 1856. In 1858 the Halford Medal
for English Literature was founded ; it has since been replaced by
the Farnell Prize. In 1861 the States Medals for French were voted.
In the same year the Queen's (now the King's) History Prizes were
instituted, and also the Touzel Prize. Cricket and Athletic Sports
were organised, and the present cricket ground was bought in 1861 and
levelled to the two years following. The School Library was begun ;
it contained 136 books to 1862. The record of school successes was
extraordinarily high. Dr. Henderson devoted himself chiefly to the
teaching of History and Literature, both Classical and Modern.
Composition was in the hands of Mr. Whitley and Mr. Foster (who
joined the staff to 1865), while the Rev. J. Le Sueur controlled the
mathematics. .Five open scholarships or exhibitions were gained by
1862, and at least four of the boys who were under Dr. Henderson (G.
0. Balleine, H. C. Ogle, E. Marshall, B. L. Clarke) became Fellows of
their Colleges. Besides this A. Brett passed into the Indian Civil,
and T. Stevens became a wrangler, while many boys passed into the
In 1862 Dr. Henderson resigned on being appointed Head of
Leeds Grammar School. He remained at Leeds for 22 years, and was then
Dean of Carlisle till his death in 1905. He always regarded his best
work as having been done to Jersey and all will unite to regarding
him as the founder of the success of Victoria College. Mr. C. J.
Wood, Fellow and Tutor of B.N.C., Oxford was then appointed
Principal, but he only stayed till April 1863. He was succeeded by
Rev. W. 0. Cleave, L.L.D., Fellow and Tutor of Jesus Coll. Cambridge,
who was Principal for 18 years. Dr. Cleave was a very fine scholar,
and a glance at the Distinctions list will show how worthily he
carried on the good work begun by Dr. Henderson. He was anxious to
extend the activities of the College and urged the establishment of a
recognised Boarding House. This was started to 1867 under Mr.
Hartung, and to 1870 there were 16 boarders. Natural Science was
brought into the school curriculum, and struggled on under
difficulties till 1881. The Beaufils and Lerrier Prizes were founded,
and gymnastics were encouraged. There were 163 boys JI the school
when Dr. Henderson left, and the numbers varied from 170 to 190 until
late to Dr. Cleave's regime. The staff numbered 12, and most of the
teaching was done in the Big School. Four masters took classes in the
main hall, and three more to the wing. The Principal's desk is the
only one that remains in its old position. At the other end of the
hall was Mr. Le Sueur; Mr. Holland was opposite the door, while Mr.
Foster was to the right of it. Mr. Degas was at the extreme end of
the wing; then came Mr. Berteau with the drawing appliances, and then
Mr. Boielle. In the class-rooms downstairs were Mr. Hammond, Mr.
Marsh, Mr. W. Le Cornu, M. Jannin, and Mr. Becker. Various pictures
were presented to the College) including the portraits of Dr. Falle
and Dr. Jeune. The Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board
commenced examining the College in 1874. The school year was divided
into three terms instead of four in 1879, and a definite
understanding was come to with the Oxford authorities on the subject
of the Channel Islands' Scholarships. In Dr. Cleave's time the school
enjoyed an extraordinary measure of success at the Universities.
The distinctions gained by Old Victorians at Oxford,
Cambridge, Dublin, and Durham were probably more numerous than those
obtained by the old boys of any other school of the size of the
College. The list comprises six fellowships, seventeen University
scholarships and prizes, twenty-three first-classes, and twenty- four
entrance scholarships. It must be remembered too that the latter were
almost all open scholarships, for the Channel Islands foundation was
not settled till 1880. Classics, mathematics, and modern languages
were the main subjects in which distinction was obtained, and it is
beyond all doubt that the teaching of Dr. Cleave and his staff was of
a very high order. Natural Science was struggling for a place in the
curriculum, and a laboratory was started in the- ' Temple.' It met
however with little support, and in 1881 the Committee actually
decided to discontinue it.
As time went on, the teaching at the College became rather
stereotyped ; many of the staff were getting on in years, and the
demand for a more up-to-date education became more insistent. A
committee was appointed to enquire into the administration of the
College, and, after visiting several schools in England, submitted a
report in 1880. Upon this a Projet de Loi was drawn up amending the
conditions of service for the Principal and assistant masters, and
Dr. Cleave resigned in March 1881.
In August Mr. B. H. Chambers, late Scholar of Corpus Christi
Coll. Oxford, was appointed Principal. Others of the staff followed
Dr. Cleave. Mr. Jannin and Mr. Marsh had resigned in 1880. In 1882
Mr. Le Sueur and Mr. Foster ceased to be members of the staff. Mr.
Berteau resigned in 1889 after 30 years of service. Plans for a
boarding-house had been submitted in 1880, but went no further; upon
Mr. Chambers' advent Nos. 9 and 10 The Terrace were taken on lease to
serve as a boarding-house, and No. 8 was added later. The arrangement
was not entirely satisfactory, and plans for a house were from time
to time considered, but for years nothing was done. Under Mr.
Chambers Natural Science was introduced again, a stricter discipline
was enforced, the hours of teaching were re-arranged, the College
buildings were thoroughly examined, and a new College ribbon was
decided on. In fact the school went through the same change that most
public schools passed through, and from being a purely classical
school became one with a wider outlook. Success at the Universities
and elsewhere was maintained at a high level, and some brilliant
scholars were produced, but the main achievement of Mr. Chambers was
the general re-organisation of the College both in school and in the
playing field. In 1892 Mr. Chambers resigned on being appointed
Headmaster of Brighton College, whence later he migrated to Christ
College Brecon. He was succeeded by Mr. G. S. Farnell, who was
educated at the City of London School and Wadham College, and had
taken a first-class degree in classics at Oxford. Mr. Farnell had had
experience at St. Paul's School and was known as an able scholar ;
his ' Greek Lyric Poets' is still a testimony to his ability. He
continued Mr. Chambers's good work, and the College was anticipating
another long period of success when his career was terminated by a
most unfortunate accident. In Nov. 1895 the College had a whole
holiday at half-term. Mr. Farnell went out to Plemont to join two of
his staff who had started earlier. The day was foggy, and Mr.
Farnell, who was rather short-sighted, must, in searching for his
colleagues, have missed his footing on the cliffs, for he was found
dead at their base. This sad event might well have had more serious
effects on the College than fortunately proved to be the case. Mr. T.
Lattimer acted as Principal till the end of the term, and in Jan.
1896 Mr. L. V. Lester (afterwards Lester-Garland), late Fellow and
Lecturer of St. John's College, Oxford, became Principal. Under him
the College continued its career of academic success and was
gradually furnished with some of the buildings which had become
necessary to a public school. Of these a proper boarding house was
the first need. The houses leased in the Terrace had never been more
than a makeshift, and in 1897 plans for an adequate building were
drawn up by Mr. T. G. Jackson, B.A. The site was chosen, but the
plans proved too expensive, and it was not until 1899 that the
present building was commenced on plans drawn up by Mr. B. Berteau.
It was completed in 1901, and
opened with great ceremony on July 29th to mark the Jubilee
celebration of the College. In the meantime the Library had been
moved to the wing, the Farnell prize established, and the conditions
for the Channel Islands Scholarships definitely settled. The Old
Victorians held their first dinner in 1897. The -Cadet Corps was
started in 1902, becoming the O.T.C. in 1908, and rifle shooting soon
became a school activity. The Cricket Pavilion was provided in 1904
by the generosity of the Old Victorians, and Mrs. de Quetteville
presented the Library with moat handsome oak furniture and fittings,
as well as with a portrait of the late Jurat Girard de Quetteville.
Memorial brasses to the O.V's who fell in the Boer War, and to Dr.
Henderson were erected and unveiled in 1905. Mr. Lester-Garland,
though strongly in favour of classics as the foundation of an
education, had long been pressing for the development of science. A
site and plans for a new block of buildings containing laboratories
and class-rooms were approved in 1907, and building commenced in 1908
; the work advanced slowly and took three years to complete, the
rooms being brought into use in the autumn of 1911. The high standard
of University and other successes was maintained under Mr.
Lester-Garland. Among others H. du Parcq, C. F. Balleine, S. B.
Beaugie and G. T. Le Quesne contributed to the fame of the College,
and a great many boys passed directly into Woolwich and Sandhurst,
some attaining very high places.
In 1911 Mr. Lester-Garland resigned the Principalship after
a tenure of office extending over nearly 16 years. He was succeeded
by Mr. A. H. Worrall, M.A„ sometime Scholar of St. John's College
Oxford. Mr. Worrall had taken a first-class at Oxford, he had had
experience at Loretto and Bradfield, and was Headmaster of Louth
Grammar School. Under his regime various changes were gradually
introduced. The standard teaching period was fixed at three quarters
of an hour. Singing and physical training were made part of the
curriculum. A Terminal College Service at the Town Church was
instituted, and a general committee organised to manage all games. In
1912 the new laboratories and class-rooms were brought into use, and
the old ' Temple ' became a Masters Common Boom.
In this summer the school was for the first time inspected
by the Board of Education, which, while offering advice on various
points, reported that it was in a ' soundly efficient ' condition.
Prize-day was held in the autumn term, but this innovation did not
last long. The Shooting Eight achieved their highest success at
Bisley, being second for the Ashburton. At the end of the winter term
the College gave a very successful concert in the Hall, and this has
now become a regular fixture in the school year.
In 1913 Captain Worrall took command of the O.T.C., as Major
Raymer had gone to Clifton. The gymnasium was completed and brought
into use, and the levelling of the top field continued. Mrs. de
Quetteville presented the Library with furniture to match the
shelves, and the Girard de Quetteville medal was founded. The
Debating Society was revived, and the ' Prep ' school begun.
In 1914 the Bishop of Winchester visited the College, some
fifty years having elapsed since the visit of Bishop Sumner. The
Carmen Caesariense was also composed. Then came the war. Naturally it
affected the College seriously. Mr. Dawson and Mr. Heriz Smith of the
staff went on active service at once) followed shortly by Mr. Sprott,
whilst Captain Worrall himself went in 1915. Mr. Tristram joined the
staff, first as a temporary, them as a permanent member. The O.T.C.
went regularly on Outpost .duty, and work and games had to be
modified. Still every attempt was made to carry on as usual, and all
five candidates for Channel Island Scholarships and exhibitions were
successful in 1915. The Sports and Swimming races were held, .and the
matches against Guernsey played. Mr. Belk became Acting Principal and
remained in charge until Mr. Worrall's return at the end of 1917. The
numbers of the school fell slightly owing to the difficulty of
communicating with the mainland ; the standard of work however was
fairly maintained; eight scholarships and four exhibitions at Oxford
were gained in the war-years ; thirty-eight boys passed direct from
the school into Sandhurst, Woolwich, or the Indian Army Colleges.
Space is lacking for any adequate account of the doings of Old
Victorians in the war. The College was represented in every theatre
of the war, from Zeebrugge to Mesopotamia, from South Africa to the
Falkland Isles. Full details are given in Mr. Worrall's ' Book of
Remembrance'. 27 Old Victorians gave their lives, and more than 600
are known to have serv6d. The list of honours gained is a very long
one. In 1918 owing to the shortage of labour some fifty college boys
volunteered to work on the quays in the height .of he potato season,
and in the summer holidays a party went to . Harvest Camp in
Devonshire. Later in the year the College was closed for a fortnight
owing to the outbreak of Spanish sickness in the island. With the end
of the war the College returned to its. normal life. The College
Play, the Debating Society, the visits to Bisley and to the Public
Schools Camp were revived. The School was divided into four houses
named after distinguished Victorians, viz. Sartorius, Bruce, Dunlop,
and Braithwaite. For the autumn term of 1919 there was a record entry
of 57 and the number of the school reached 211. In the course of the
war it had dropped to 140, but had risen gain before its close. The
number continued to rise until in 1922 it reached 262, a figure for
which the accommodation at the College was scarcely sufficient. This
increase was due primarily to the large influx of English residents
after the war, as well as to an appreciation of the advantages of
Public School education.
The Mossop Cup was presented in memory of C. S. Mossop to be
held each year by the boy with the best all-round record for games.
The funds accumulated from the old benefaction of St. Mannelier and
St. Anastase were applied to the institution of two or more
foundation scholarships at the College each year and the College
authorities determined to enter boys for the Oxford and Cambridge
Schools Certificate, instead of the various professional entrance
examinations and the Cambridge Locals.
The year 1920 was marked by a great change in the
administration of the College. In this year the States took over the
care of all education in the island, placing it under a States
Committee called the Comite d'Instruction Publique. Previously the
College had been under the dual control of the States and the
Assembly of the Lieut.-Governor, Bailiff, and Jurats, an arrangement
which, from the College point of view, was not without disadvantages.
This new arrangement has proved a success, and the College has been
developed in several ways that were previously impossible.
The College was in this year inspected for the second time
by the Board of Education, and the Inspectors were again able to make
a very satisfactory report. In this year also the College boys
started the payment of a terminal subscription to the Dispensary in
lieu of any attempt to organise a school mission. Minor events were
the definite establishment of the Tuck Shop, the foundation of the
Scientific Society, and an outbreak of measles.
The year 1921 was marked by the visit of H.M. King George V
and Queen Mary. The day was exceptionally hot, but the King and Queen
insisted on carrying out the programme in all its detail. The guard
of honour, furnished by the O.T.C., was inspected, and His Majesty,
with great consideration, desired that they should fall out instead
of waiting for his departure. He then looked over the Scouts, and
visited the Hall, signing the Visitors Book, where the first entry
was .that of Queen Victoria in 1859. The masters were presented, and
the Head Prefect, and His Majesty concluded his visit with a request
for the extension of the holidays, and drove off for a tour of the
The year was very successful from the academic point of
view, for four Channel Island Scholarships were gained. The College
troop of Scouts was founded, and has since multiplied, and Mr.
Worrall's Book of Remembrance was published.
The following two years contained little of outstanding
interest. Four C.I. Scholarships and an exhibition were gained in
1922, in which year the number of pupils reached its zenith. The
scale of fees was increased, though it has since been revised ; and
the old stoves and fires were replaced by central-heating apparatus,
to the great satisfaction of the College porter. The chief event of
1924 was the dedication of the War Memorial. The difficulties
connected with the choice of subject, design, site, etc., had been
gradually overcome, and on Sept. 25th the statue of Sir Galahad was
unveiled by the Lieut.-Governor. It is interesting to note that
Maj.-Gen. Sir Horace Smith Dorrien was present. In this year Mr.
Oswald Belk resigned, after having been a master at the College for
36 years. It is sad to relate that he only enjoyed his retirement for
a year, as he died suddenly in 1925. The class-room, in which he
taught for many a long year, has been named the Belk room.
The Board of Education inspected the College for the third
time in 1925 and again made a favourable report. At their suggestion
changes were made in the organisation of the school, and parallel
forms were instituted from the Fifth downwards. The O.T.C. were
rejoiced by the construction of an up-to-date covered Miniature
range, built at the south end of the cricket ground, and so they are
now able to practise whatever the weather may be. This was followed
in 1926 by the opening of the School Workshop, built alongside of the
range, and now manual work takes its place in the curriculum. The
pavilion also was improved and equipped with baths. 1927 was marked
by the gain of two C.I. Scholarships and two exhibitions, and by the
adoption of a new school-cap. In early days there was no cap, but
College boys wore a ribbon of slanting black and white stripes. This
was distinctive, but its appearance on an ordinary bowler hat was
somewhat unusual. Later a black cap with yellow piping and shield was
substituted, and for many years remained the official school head
gear. In time this lent itself to extensive imitation, and the
present cap was adopted and, in spite of early misgivings, has
definitely established itself. It is accompanied by a College tie.
In 1928 the Barreau Drawing Prize was founded. The study of
art, like that of music, has been steadily fostered by Mr. Worrall,
but the College does not yet possess a room entirely devoted to it.
It is to be hoped that this deficiency will soon be made good.
(This concise history is taken from the 1852-1929 College