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Virginia Lindley

Family background. Parents were writers: editor for the BBC and poets. Older brother who was praefectus at Westminster. [1,00] Earliest memory of the school - being taken to plays, concerts, Little Commem. Enamoured by the buildings and the place – lots of activity. Had private English coaching with John Field. [2,30] Schooling before Westminster – Rye grammar school. When it was turned into a comprehensive her teaching suffered. Quality of the teaching at Westminster was amazing. [4,10] How she came to go to Westminster. Connected through her brother. Played violin in the College concert when there was a shortage of players. Spoke to Martin Rogers who informally invited her to come to the school, because hers didn’t offer university entrance. [5,30] Heard that she was going to Westminster via telegram whilst on holiday. [6,25] Logistics of being a girl in a boys’ school. Treated like a personal guest, stayed in the spare room. Abbey and Latin Prayers. Steep learning curve. Wasn’t told anything about where to go and what to do. Had to dine at the top table with College. Worked in her room. Stayed in the Master of the Queen’s Scholars house. [9,40] Lessons. First lesson was with John Field, whom she knew. Kept herself to herself. Intellectual side was very stimulating and hard work. [10,50] Browning with John Christie. Called her Miss Dickinson. [12,00] Janet Carleton – very fierce but a delight. Knew her and John Carleton. Taught Scott. [12,52] Music side with Mr Burt. College competition. Won as a soprano. [13,40] Thames rowing. Coxed the boat and won. [14,10] Martin Rogers. Oblivious to any of the school rules as she wasn’t properly introduced to them. Caught with Grant’s boys in her room at 11:30pm discussing Yeats. Able to use her familial connections with many of the teachers to get away with restrictions. [16,50] Did she feel she was a trailblazer for the beginning of a co-educational Sixth Form at WS? No, done by personal arrangement with Martin Rogers, father didn’t pay any fees. Had to overrule a statute of Elizabeth I to allow women to be educated. Yet not properly a pupil. Occasional girls came in from St Paul’s to do sciences because Westminster’s labs were better. Helped that she had an older brother and that she knew his friends. Never struck her that she was an only girl among boys. [18,50] Bizarre marking system. Generally treated as any other pupil. [20,05] Uniform. Nothing outlandish. No requirements dictated at all. [21,13] Station afternoons. Catching up on work, helping Jane Rogers, watching football at Vincent Square. [23,11] School services, the Abbey. Awe inspiring, beautiful, privileged. Loved compline, candlelit, special service. Appreciated it enormously. Felt part of Latin prayers eventually. [24,39] John Carleton. Incredibly easy, tolerant, smiley, trusting. Total competence and a big sense of humour. Unshakeable and liberal with rules. Good couple with Janet. [26,10] Little contact with rest of school apart from at whole school gatherings and at meals. Little time. Sometimes went to the theatre or the pub. [27,40] London in the 60s. Connections between bits of London she knew, having not grown up there. Went to Peabody estate. Never threatened. [30,00] Range of reading. Shakespeare, Chaucer, Browning, Tennyson, George Eliot, T.S. Eliot, Wordsworth. Teachers had their areas of expertise. Like Oxford learning. [32,10] Taking the Oxford entrance exams. Unseens and essays. [34,14] Oxford interview. Had many family connections. [35,11] Discrepancies between male and female colleges. No overlap, yet they mixed a lot with boys in male colleges. [37,37] retained some connections with OW boys and friends from Somerville. [40,12] Musical activity at Oxford. Egalitarian setting met many people from varied backgrounds and subjects. [41,00] enjoyment of studying English as a degree. [42,30] English ran in the family, part of discussion. [44,00] Westminster Greek trip. Joined her brother on it when he was at the school. Went with 2 Paulinas. Theo Zinn: charismatic, eccentric, reading Agatha Christie. Loved all the ruins. Fan of botany. [46,10] Rome. Taken to see the Sistine Chapel. Wasn’t wearing the right outfit for a lady so posed dressed as a boy with short hair. [49,00] Educational quality of the trip? Instilled a feeling for the classics in pupils, more like a holiday. Appreciate the environment. [49,50] Ted Craven. Archetypal classics master, reserved. Not as characterful as Theo. [50,49] Felt a part of College. Even the staff living there overlapped with the staff who taught her. Not a real part of the school despite this. Lived separated in number 3. [54,21] Classrooms. Taught in mainly Ashburnham house, the library, Liddell's – very nice setting. Fewer pupils, intimate family atmosphere. Compelled to learn. [57,30] Teachers losing their temper. Jim never did so at her. John Field – a dramatist. Took the class to a performance of Hamlet with Ian McKellen. Was furious because not one of them had thanked him. Then carried on as if nothing had happened. A useful lesson. [59,50] Not much of a sense of rivalry between subjects. Healthy rivalry within the English Seventh. Tradition of having to read your marks out. From the arts perspective, the sciences were somewhat looked down upon. [01,01,00] 10 years earlier, superiority of the Classics dept. Classics was second nature in her family. [01,01,47] Didn’t do much theatre. [01,02,16] Carol Service. Held at St. Margaret’s. Asked to read a lesson by Field. Burt had asked her to sing soprano recitatives and be in control of descants. Challenge, wanted to make it audible. Heard people saying that it was an extraordinary voice for a boy. [01,04,45] Champagne parties and social events, centred around Martin. His Aunt. [01,05,59] Carletons as hosts. John and Janet were very sociable and well connected. Because of her own background, she never thought much of where people were from, encountered famous people everywhere. Daniel Day-Lewis. Made more lasting relationships with people who were interesting. [01,08,48] This attitude towards people helped her to thrive at Westminster. [01,09,17] Field and Carleton were very much a part of Westminster’s history. Field invited her and her mother on a private Abbey tour. Huge benefits. [01,10,43] Life after university. Obtained degree, could have gone to RCM. Ended up taking on a summer job housekeeping and looking after 6 children on a Scottish Island in the Hebrides. Full charge of a 24-bedroom house. Connection to the mother from Oxford choir. Household returned to London and Bath, the permanent housekeeper retired, and she returned to live on the island permanently. [01,14,00] Difficulties of old-fashioned homes and old telephoning. Telephone number was Colonsay 1. Still had to wind a handle to get the exchange on the island. Stayed there for nearly a year. [01,17,11] House cow. Not allowed to look after it herself. Given the produce of the cow daily: a huge excess of milk for one person. [01,18,37] Spent a few years doing antique restoration and china handling. Then got married. Helped with her children’s work.

Tristram Jones-Parry

Schooldays at Westminster. [2:05] Memorable teachers. A Maths Master who left Germany just before WWII. Stephen Lushington, English Master. [2:45] Time in Wren’s. House Master, Charles Keeley, a History Master: difficult to get to know, no pastoral care, but great teacher. [3:54] Shooting at the leader of the Combined Cadet Force. [6:29] Involvement in drama at school. [7:13] Closed exhibition to Christ Church, Cambridge, to read Mathematics. Involvement with drama. College life. [9:44] First job, working for Coal Board. Computers still new. [10:38] Unpopularity when visiting mines, since visiting to see if the mine should be closed. Difficult. Resigned after a year. [11:18] Decision to become a teacher. Computing. [12:12] Head of Maths at Westminster at 25 years old. Enjoyed teaching. [14:00] Enjoyed his time at Westminster. Pupils were beginning to think for themselves. [14:49] School had become more academic, partly due to John Rae’s Head Mastership. [16:05] Being House Master of Busby’s. Drugs. [17:46] Called by Scotland Yard when boys climbing Foreign Office. Similar things happened frequently - more relaxed then. Girls began boarding in Busby’s in his last year as House Master. [19:07] Became Under Master. Reputation for being fierce. Governing Body complaints about pupil behaviour. [23:23] Pushing pupils to work hard. Maths is exciting. [25:43] Left Westminster for Emmanuel School in Battersea. Started to take in girls while he was there. [27:53] Importance of co-education. [29:28] Head Mastership of Westminster came up. Asked to apply. [29:50] Giving thought-provoking sermons. [32:28] Talking to pupils but also support staff. [33:03] Advantages of Westminster. Pupils feel part of the life of the country, for example taking part in the Iraq War demonstrations, and yet in tranquil and beautiful surroundings. [43:08] Receiving pupils whose parents wouldn’t be able to afford fees. [36:00] Didn’t get Abbey involved in School as much as wanted. [36:34] Proposal to set up school in China rejected by Governing Body. Proposal to have underground gym in Dean’s Yard. [37:26] Disney payment for rights to Winnie the Pooh. Other donations to the School. [40:27] Giving pupils expelled from other schools a second chance. [41:03] Pupil perceptions of his toughness. [42:52] Retired early at 58. [43:23] Teaching Maths at state schools in his retirement. [44:38] Changing the timings of the school day at Hampton Court School to complement teenagers’ circadian rhythms. [47:46] Pupils at Westminster very varied. Advice to Andrew Lloyd-Webber that musicals aren’t profitable. [49:31] Sense of social responsibility. Could cause discomfort when teaching at Westminster. [50:52] Exciting the difference you can make at a state school. [51:36] Discussing his trips to Communist countries with pupils. [53:29] Advantages of Buddhism. Everyone should attend Abbey. [55:25] School exhibitions to Skye and elsewhere. Pupil mislaid on a mountain. More Health and Safety now. [57:19] Expeditions were run by staff who were following their passions. [59:09] Effects of new technology in schools. Programming. Cyberbullying. Pornography online. [1:01:50] Increasing number of women teachers. [1:04:16] Changes in the value of grades. [1:06:36] The beauty of an elliptical flowerbed.

Stephen Spurr

When he arrived at Westminster he felt the school needed to rediscover its purpose and reshape itself for the 21st century. [3:42] His aim in the first year was to consult people over the future of the school. [4:00] His previous school had been Clifton School in Bristol. Every school is different, and when you begin at a new school you must understand its ethos. [5:08] At Clifton he had learnt how important it was to have co-education. Clifton had been in a difficult financial state when he first arrived. He had learnt how important it is for the Headmaster to keep on top of finances. [6:25] He had been a housemaster and head of a large department at Eton. Before then he had been a university academic. Westminster is like a small university in some ways. [7:30] Westminster was originally ahead of other schools in co-education, but now can be seen as a dinosaur. Believes that the Westminster model is the right one. [9:18] Doubts about excluding girls from the years below. [10:34] He decided to change the composition and numbers in the sixth form, so that Westminster no longer felt like a boys’ school that happened to have some girls in it. Decided on 1/3 girls, 2/3 boys in 6th form, with minimum of ¼ boarders. [12:23] School increased overall to 740, to allow for more girls at 6th form. Introduced a head girl. [13:19] The number of women in the Common Room has also increased. [14:08] The greater number of newcomers in the sixth form helps the boys who are already pupils to see the sixth form as a new beginning. [14:35] Balancing money spent on social mobility and money spent improving facilities. [15:53] The importance of fundraising. [17:55] The choice between fundraising for a very large endowment or raising money every year to plough straight into financial assistance. Chose the latter. [19:08] Harris Westminster Academy. Westminster needs to look outwards more. [20:23] Westminster summer school. Inspiring pupils to go into higher education. [21:55] Media portrayal of Westminster. Most schools try to get into the press. At Westminster, it’s the reverse. Many calls from the press, which are not always relevant. Need a good relationship with journalists. [25:47] The impact of social media. Pupils need to be educated on how to use it responsibly. Can be a very positive thing. [27:10] Relationships should not just be virtual. [27:48] When first came to Westminster pupils had Walkmans and weren’t talking to each other. Needs to be a community in the school. The development of a parenting forum, where parents can discuss their concerns. [29:44] A moral education should be central to the school. Nurturing individual talent is important, but pupils must also have a sense of social responsibility. [32:38] Relationship between the School and the Abbey was re-assessed during the preparations for the 450th anniversary of the foundation of the school in 2010. Began working together more. Morality and spirituality became more central to the school. [35:30] Introduction of civic engagement, for every pupil to participate in, rather than community service, which was for pupils who weren’t interested in sports. [39:16] Many Westminster pupils will go on to be leaders, and leaders must be socially responsible. [40:17] Traditions. Latin Prayers. Deciding either to abolish it or take it seriously. [43:46] When he began, the Governors had been concerned that Westminster had lost some of its style. The importance of the Archives. [45:47] The introduction of girls’ uniform. It had previously made it appear as though girls were just an add-on. [48:48] Pupils have more generosity of spirit now, and are less brittle and competitive. [53:31] The importance of the Monitors and Head Boy and Girl. [55:17] The Common Room previously hadn’t had much of a common purpose. He tried to involve more staff in the development-planning of the school. [57:35] The Headmaster needs to protect teachers from management, legislation, financial matters, and so on. Their sacred task is the teacher / pupil relationship.

Stephen Lushington

[00:55] Why Westminster? [02:15] John Christie. [02:30] Why teaching? Substitute teaching at Eton. [04:40] 17 Dean’s Yard. [05:17] Teaching Latin and Greek and English. [05:50] Westminster pupils. Keen to learn. [06:25] English teaching preferable – element of choice. [07:28] Classroom up School. [07:55] Pupils. Anthony Howard. [09:35] Directing plays. [10:00] Anthony Howard living nearby. [10:50] No objection to plays from Common Room. [11:05] English respected by other members of staff. [12:05] Common Room colleagues. [13:05] Hugo Garten. Adolf Prag. John Wilson. Lawrence Bird. [14:22] Walter Hamilton, tutor at Eton. [14:50] Differences between Eton and Westminster. [14:50] James Peebles. Fisher. John Carleton. David Simpson. Francis Rawes. Denny Brook. Theo Zinn. [17:20] Walter Hamilton as Head Master. At a disadvantage. [18:45] Senior Housemasters (David Simpson, Fisher, Francis Rawes, John Wilson, James Peebles). [19:35] Time as Housemaster. [20:10] More interesting position. Wide age range of boys to be responsible for. [21:45] Pupils. Bright. [22:30] Successes of past pupils. Interesting. [23:20] Simon Gray writing about the school. Corin Redgrave. [23:50] Reappearance of drama. Medieval Everyman. Macbeth. Twelfth Night. Hamlet. Performed up School. Hired scenery. Running for four or five nights. Attended by most of the school. [27:10] Balancing jobs at school. [28:40] Rationing and bomb damage following Second World War. Teaching not more difficult. [31:20] Classrooms. [32:50] Rebuilt College Dormitory. Wren’s. [34:50] Play rehearsals. [36:40] Tough reputation. [38:00] Latin Play. [39:20] Parents very involved in the school. Many living in London. [40:50] John Christie’s wife keeping chickens on the roof of Liddell’s. [41:50] Reasonable food. Meals eaten by house. [44:40] Not many women at the school. [45:10] Accommodation at school. [49:30] Old Westminsters on the staff. Feeling of importance. [50:39] Charles Keeley, senior history master. [52:45] Proximity to the Abbey. Abbey services. [53:00] Coronation. [56:55] Rebuilding war damage. [57:47] Royal visit from the Queen. [58:10] John Carleton. Didn’t get on. Thought him a bad Head Master. [01:03:30] Might have stayed at Westminster longer under a different Head Master. [01:06:05] Appointment of John Carleton. [01:08:19] Walter Hamilton leaving Westminster for Rugby. [01:08:18] Got on well with John Christie. Walter Hamilton was an old friend. [01:10:32] Carleton lived above Liddell’s during rebuilding of College. [01:11:47] Leaving Westminster. Sad to leave. [01:12:35] John Rae. Tristram Jones-Parry. In touch with the school again.

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