Prize-giving – 1871 and 1921
As we made our rearrangements for a slimmed-down Prize-giving in 2021, I wondered what it was like 150 and 100 years ago. I had to turn to Papers Past to obtain a full report. Quite simply, the Christ’s College Register did not exist in 1871 and the 1921 report in the April 1922 Register was short on detail about the Headmaster’s report.
There were 115 boys on the roll in 1871. The photograph that is closest in time is this one for 1869.
There were morning and evening services in the Chapel and prizes were distributed in Big School at 7pm for History, Geography, Recitation of English Poetry, Divinity, Classics, Mathematics, Mechanics, English, French, Music and Drawing.
The Press noted the “Masters Bell whom it will be perceived carried off a large number of prizes, receiving quite an ovation on coming forward”. Indeed, Arthur Wilbraham Dillon Bell (378) was awarded a Senior Somes Scholarship and received Mr Gould’s Prize for History, and College Prizes for Divinity, Mathematics, English and French. His brother, Edward Hutton Dillon Bell (377), was given Mrs Godley’s Prize for the English Essay on Colonisation, Mr Gould’s Prize for Mathematics, and College Prizes for Classics and Mechanics. Ernest Tancred Dillon Bell (379) received College Prizes for Divinity, Music and Classics.i
Unfortunately, the Warden, Bishop Harper, was “almost entirely inaudible from the noise of visitors coming in and taking their seats” as he spoke about the history of College and the fact that “while it brought out the whole of his intellectual abilities, it also cultivated and fostered the moral and physical qualities”. He also drew attention to the recent death of the Bishop of Melanesia, John Coleridge Patteson.ii
Following the distribution of prizes, there was a programme of glees and recitations. These included portions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as recitations from Terence and Aristophanes. The choir performed the part song Coming through the Rye, and the glees See our Oars and Oberon in Fairyland.
Fifty years later and 100 years before today, the College roll was 404 and this included boys who were in the Lower School as The Cathedral Grammar School did not return to its pre-1895 separate existence until 1923. Coming through the gates, it is clear that School House and the Hare Memorial with the laboratories have been added to the College buildings.
Photograph Album CCPAL16/22a Christ’s College Archives.
Ernest Courtenay Crosse had recently been appointed as the 10th Headmaster and, in his speech, he referred to his need to balance tradition and “the vitality of the new”.
The Warden, Bishop Julius, said that “an education worthy of the name touched the whole man” and that the aim of the College “was to turn out men well equipped to take their place in the world”.iii
There was good news on the bequest front. William Wood (407) had left money to build a boatshed and the relatives of Conrad Nalder Denham (1630) had made a gift for the foundation of a prize for English Literature.
The subject list for prizes had expanded since 1871. There were Form Prizes as well as prizes for English, Divinity, French, Latin, Greek, Mathematics, Science and Drawing. Tancred Prizes for Literature and History, the Warden’s prize for Divinity, the Tyndale Prize for Divinity and a prize for Speaking, and a Chapel Choir Prize were also awarded. John Quentin McWilliam (3295) and Brian Tyrwhitt Wyn Irwin (3008) had accumulated enough Stars for work sent to the Headmaster to be awarded prizes.
The proceedings “were enlivened by the playing of the College Orchestra” and, at the conclusion of the proceedings, the College Song and the National Anthem were sung.
Victor Aubrey Smith (3114) was given Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen for 1st place Tancred Literature Class D and With the Russian Pilgrims to Jerusalem by Stephen Graham as the Tyndale Divinity Prize Class B. These prizes are in the College Archives Collection.
i The Christ’s College School List lists EHD Bell as the Academic Head of School in 1870, 1871, and 1872. This does not quite match with the Form Lists and the places in the class of AWD Bell. See Press 15 December 1871.
ii Press 15 December 1871
iii Press 16 December 1921