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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 army.

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 island.
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 Register.)