Tuesday July 27th

I was first down of Chiswickites to breakfast this morning but nothing happened worth recording. I went to Abbey by myself and found Mr Benvenisti in the next stall to me. We again had a beautiful service and the Psalms seemed to me rather specially significant and they sang one of my favourite chants to one of my favourite psalms ‘O pray for the peace of Jerusalem’, and we ended with ‘Oh! God our held in ages past’ the one hymn the School really sing and the effect is magnificent though horribly moving. The Dean read the School Prayer.

Then Low and myself walked about Yard together until Gow went up which he fortunately did fairly soon. He first read out Election results and then removes and then gave away prizes. For getting top of the form I was presented with a sumptuous and learned volume: somebody’s ‘Greek Sculpture’. It is extremely beautiful and when I have on white-kid gloves I may possibly dare to turn the pages! After prizes, epigrams and I read my one ‘My Epi’s’ sad lot etc. (see Monday July 26th) and like a fool was nervous. however it was well received and I got my silver penny which was stingy of Gow, last year he gave me a complete set for my epigram. G.G. Williams’ and Low’s were perhaps the best.

Then came the horrible going-out of office and making of the new School-monitors. Barrington-Ward takes the birch from the drawer and gives it to Gow pointing the ‘business’ end ‘up’ School. He then turns it over in Gow’s hand so that the business end (for want of a better word) points ‘down’ School to the Door thus symbolizing the going out of office, the incoming Captain turns it back again and so on alternately first an outgoing and then a new School Monitor. The new Monitors are K.D. Murray (Captain), E.W. Williamson, E.C.K. Clarke, H.F. Rawson. From that moment I ceased, I suppose, to be Head of Grants. It was beastly.

Afterwards we have prayers, the new Captain reading them. He ploughed through all the benefactors, a not usual proceeding about 30 of them! Gow at the end after the blessing made a little oration, said that the School had had quite an exceptional year and talked about those who were leaving and ended by calling for three cheers for us and we were cheered to the echo. Finally he asked those who were leaving to stay behind and shook hands with us all remarking to me ‘we shall see you often’.

The next hour or so was spent in the ‘charming’ process of saying goodbye to dozens of people. I think I saw most of my House and shook hands with them. I gave the ‘Annals’ to Startin as a fagging prize. I tried to cheer up the Professor who was very miserable at the idea of College and also Smurthwaite whom I implored not to worry. I told him that if he felt the water closing over his head he could write to me! We said Goodbye twice and I was sitting in inner when he rushed in again with out-stretched hand and clasped mine and then rushed out again without saying a word. I was very much touched at this demonstration…

Saying Goodbyes kept me employed until lunch when I discovered to my exceeding joy, of course, that the Home Boarders contingent of the Cadet Corps were coming up Grants to lunch. After lunch the Cadet Corps went off to Camp and I said goodbye to Hobson, my successor, and wished him every success with all my heart.

Ichabod! Today I have laid down the cares of office and a high position. I have quoted, I think before, a recorded remark of Peel when he was Prime Minister that all through life one was never quite so great a man again as when one was in the VIth Form at Eton and George III bore witness to the same effect. What am I to say then? To be maudlin and sentimental on becoming an Old Westminster is easy enough. But is it not, or rather ought it not to be, a time of great thankfulness? Such, I thank God for it, is my predominant feeling as I write this, thankfulness for 9 long and happy years which nothing can ever take from me. I close this journal of my year as Head of Grants with the prayer that it may not have been entirely unprofitable, that I may have done some good, at least, I hope so.

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Monday July 26th (Election Monday)

I can’t analyse my feelings at all. I am not nearly as affected at leaving as I should have been a year ago. I do feel it very deeply but I also feel and this is almost the strongest, that my time has come and that I couldn’t have another year. And so I feel miserable in fits and starts and at other times a curious indifference and longing to get it over and done with fills me; a sort of torpor which is perhaps a good thing as so highly-strung a person as myself would easily become sentimental and really upset. I rather dread the after effects of this sort of torpor when it really is all over. I broke down tonight after I had given my fagging prizes but only for a minute or two. I don’t understand it at all.

(I write the rest a week later)

I spent the morning up-Library with Low or rather about an hour of it. We copied out our epigrams. I sent in three, two of Father’s and one of my own.

These were Father’s: –

Habent sua fata libelli

My “Epi’s” sad lot

Oh! why need you ask it

T’will soon be forgot

I’ the waste-paper basket

Out of sight, out of mind

Two summer months before us stretch

We go some North, some East, some West

Where the Masters cease from troubling

And the Classics have a rest

My own was rather stupid: –

Out of sight, out of mind

Some ask that ‘Water’ be revived

We hope the same you’ll find

For though alas! it’s out of sight

It’s never out of mind

Having dropped these gems into the Headmaster’s letterbox we walked round cloisters and I took Low up into the Chapter Library. Then we watched from afar that most charming of ceremonies the Major Candidates bowing to the two Deans and Master of Trinity as they come down from School, preceded by the silver mace, after the Viva Voce Exam. The Old Master took off his hat with the most sweeping and courtly of bows. Low then accompanied me to the stores to buy fagging prizes. I bought a really gorgeous knife for Longton full of delights in the form of corkscrews etc and warranted to spoil any pocket into which it was put!! It was large, knifey and altogether extremely beautiful. I then bought a silver match-box for Smurthwaite and thence went up-fields.

The Town Boys vs. King’s Scholars match is the only match I would have given anything to have played in. It is the oldest fixes match in the kingdom, we have the scores since 1806 while we know it to have been played as an annual event as early as 1770 or thereabouts.

We went back for lunch and afterwards Low and myself walked up to Sotheran’s in Piccadilly via Christie’s where there were some charming pictures. To our horror in the room on the right opposite the door was an enormous canvas by one Gordon Stapleton or some such name called ‘England’s Heritage’. The scene was Poet’s Corner and life size were painted the goodest, ‘Eric’y, pious and angelic looking Westminster boys you can imagine, singing their blessed little souls out. Obviously it was painted on a Saint’s day. Low and I looked at each other and then we looked at the canvas and then we looked again at each other and with bated breath we asked each other if we could ever have looked like that. We crawled away like two worms followed wherever we went by the mighty white elephant which literally hit one in the eye. My metaphors are mixed I feel convinced!..

At 7.30 we had a shield supper in Middle. Previously I had arranged the tables in a T shape with the cups down the middle, my own idea and very nice they looked. I had the Shooting Cup opposite me. This is how we sat:

As will be seen only the team and Middle are asked. Of course I go officially and preside. We had a sumptuous repast which we provided ourselves beginning with croquets then Chickens, Pressed Beef, salad, cowcumbers, meringues and jellies to complete

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Sunday July 25th (Election Sunday)

It has been a sad but in many ways a very beautiful day. A day of sorrow and yet of thanks giving and praise, a day when one has humbly asked that ‘one may so have used they manifold blessings in our lie here that one may become a profitable member of this Church and Nation’. The morning service is our service and the Dean takes it most beautifully. The Dean preached. and spoke of the character of St. James. He ended by asking ‘What shall I say to those young ardent souls who are just completing their School careers, what message shall I give them?’ and he went on to impress upon us who it was who had himself encouraged ambition and told us to ponder on the words ‘Are ye able?..We are..Ye shall’.

This afternoon I went up-School and all by my little lone recited epigrams, a rehearsal for Tuesday.

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Saturday July 24th

We were going to fetch the Shield before Abbey today but the final of the inter-house Fives interfered so eventually we went after Abbey between cheering mobs. When we got ‘upHome Boarders we found the Shield was screwed to the wall and not to be moved. Here was a pretty state of things, Bonner, who really might have troubled to see to the matter before, sent for the Carpenter and eventually we got it down, the unfortunate people in Yard shouting themselves hoarse. I suppose it really wasn’t very long but it seemed an age. It was a great moment bringing it across. I received a congratulatory telegram from Hodder-Williams on our victory.

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Friday July 23rd

The Shield is really ours and I feel that my year has not been entirely unsatisfactory and we end with one more Cup, a shield, than we had last year. It was difficult to get up very much enthusiasm in a sense at the end because it was more or less [a] foregone conclusion. However the great thing is that we have got it and won both our matches by an Innings. We beat Rigaud’s today by an Innings and 22 runs.

Gow gave me an ‘early play’ today, that is to say a whole holiday. Consequently I have been tramping the streets of London all day. I saw the King, Queen and Princess Victoria driving in semi-state, horseguards etc. this morning going to some Hospital or other and walked back with Hine-Haycock who also happened to be passing.

I went to lunch with the Precentor and as his sister was out we lunched t├¬te-├á-t├¬te. He was very nice and I learn with real grief that he has accepted a living near Birmingham and is leaving us in November. He told me that one of his reasons for leaving was that the Chapter were so exclusive they never try to bind people together, it is the Dean and Canons and the rest no-where. Really they are hopeless; the Precentor tells me they wanted to have some complete outsider to preach on Election Sunday but the Precentor was firm. He said it was absurd, Election Sunday was the boys’ special day and somebody connected with the place must preach and so he got the Dean.

From the Precentor’s I literally ran upfields the short way (in the course of some pipe laying in Tufton Street they have turned out the old tree-trunk water pipes which must go back probably to Elizabeth’s time) thus breaking bounds and got up there just before the end of Seniors. Then I went to the Sweet-pea show at the Horticultural, a perfect wealth of colour.

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Friday May 14th

3rd hour went to John Sargeaunt. He spoke of surnames and I learnt, which amused and interested me, that Ming-ees = Menzies, Bred-doll-ban = Breadalbane, and the other ones I knew before. This was a propos of the pronunciation of Cromwell which John Sargeaunt said was of course ‘Crummell’, and that when the statue was unveiled outside Westminster Hall only Lord Rosebery and one other distinguished man called him by the right pronunciation…

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What happens next?

Tanner’s Election term at the school remains something of a mystery. When his journal was donated to the school it became apparent that the third volume was missing. We know Tanner must have continued to keep a record as the fourth volume, which covers 23rd-27th July, continues without any indication of a hiatus. In addition, Lawrence Tanner’s published autobiography ‘Recollections of a Westminster Antiquary’ he includes excerpts from his journal, including an entry dating from 14th May. Tanner did not go to Pembroke College, Cambridge until the Autumn, leaving school in July. Westminster Abbey Muniment Room hold the notebook he kept during Dean Robinson’s lectures which contains notes from the May meetings.

Naturally, we are working to uncover the fate of the missing third volume. in the meantime there will be a break from the serialisation until 14th May, and then again until late June.

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Monday April 5th

We lost the Drilling cup today to College, an almost foregone conclusion, though to our horror and alarm Home Boarders all but got it, the King’s Scholars winning only be one mark.

Clarke came up to me and said some Grantites had been throwing water on to Rigaudites playing in a yard tie, from one of the upper windows. It turned out to be the ‘measlers’ Radford and Miles.

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Sunday April 4th

Got up and went to Early Service this morning. Later in the full glory of my new ‘horsey suit’ went down to Oxted by the 10.20. Travelled down with the Member (H. Brodie M.P.) but fortunately we both relapsed into papers after a few civilities.

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Saturday April 3rd

Wonder of wonders another fine and smashing day. The Sports are famed for wet days and ‘one of my earliest recollections’ to quote the Dean, is retiring under the Nursery table to yell with mortification because it was a pouring wet day and I was not allowed to go up to the Sports. I was then aged five.

Later went up fields and saw various people. For a time Grant’s and Ashburnham led for the Sports Cup owing to Graham’s great effort of 5 individual wins. Mrs Gow (ugh!) gave away the prizes. The King’s Scholars won the sports cup.

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