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Chalk, Richard Seymour, 1905-1985
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A "Break"

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'Dated 1909 1918-1924
There was a welcome break between First and Second School about 11.0, another between Second and Third School about 12.0. According to Teignmouth Shore (1910) these were of five minutes’ duration only, but I think they had been increased to ten minutes by my day. This gave a brief opportunity for going to Sut’s (as some are doing in this picture, tho’ by no means a ‘Greaze’ such as was sometimes seen). It was also an occasion for consulting the Notice Boards. (Those in the picture are looking at the list of Teams for forthcoming marches). To omit to do this, and in particular to fail to tick one’s name off for Afternoon Station, was a “tannable offence” (as I learnt by experience- though on that occasion I and my fellow culprits were given the benefit of the doubt).
Fourth School in my day was from 3.30pm (after Fields) to 4.25pm. It was a long and gruelling period. Under Costley White a brief break was introduced (followed on a few happy occasions by a Lecture Up School ). But I.F. Smedley refused to allow this break for the VII- much to our distress and displeasure. (If the Break was observed we were not allowed to leave the room).'

A Classroom in Ashburnham House

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'Class Rooms up Ashburnham were of course not originally designed for the purpose. As such they would have given a present-day Minister of Education a heart-attack, and certainly have been deemed unworthy of any Comprehensive or even County Primary School. However, we had no complaints - except about that ultra-gloomy room, on the ground floor (facing out on to Ashburnham Green) where the ferocious and austere E.L. Fox ruled the Upper Fifth with his rod of iron.
As far as I remember, the Class Room depicted was not a (Upper and Lower School, independent of Forms) Form Room, but was used for Sets, till these were discontinued after the arrival of Costley White.
Here in 1918-19 I learnt French under the acidulous W.N. Just and Maths under the doddering Rev. H. Hancock. (Both were ageing men, recalled as temporary members of the Staff to hold the fort while younger Masters were absent on War Service).'

A "House" up dormitory (College)

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'Memories, 1920-1924
After the cramped conditions prevailing in Rigaud’s Little Dorm, it was a joy to have a ‘House’ of my own, even as a Junior. It provided space, comfort and a welcome degree of privacy.
Pasted up in each House were “The Ten Rules of College”- the Magna Carta of Under Elections. I still remember: “Punishment to be by tanning or [for Upper Elections] desking, and in no other way”, and “No servants’ work to be done by any Under Election”. (There were of course two College Johns- and the ‘Nymphs’).
Each House was screened by a red-baize curtain. At ‘Lights Out’ (9:30) Mon. Chaun. and his partner pulled this back (rather farcically!) to make sure all Under Elections were in bed (of course his coming could be nicely timed!). The commonest occasion for a ‘Case’ was to be out of one’s House (even by an inch) after that.
In this picture, note (a) the hat-box, (b) school photos, no doubt purchased from John Brown.
It may also be noted that the ‘floreat’ (i.e. chamber-utensil) has been removed out of sight. This was called “Setting to Rights” and was regularly ordered on Play Nights, to avoid shocking curious guests who peered inside Houses!'

A last homage to out beloved King Edward VII from the scholars who first acclaimed him King

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'This picture (well before my time) has its use in supplying a general date for this series of P.C.s (recorded in Record of OWW Vol III, under ‘Arthur Brown’ on p443 as “about 1911”).
It is always a source of regret that it was never my lot as a KS to take part in our supreme privilege of all - being first in the Empire to proclaim the Sovereign at a Coronation.
The only royal occasions in which I was able to take part were (1) Princess Mary’s Wedding in 1922 as a (very nominal) Steward at the North Door and (2) the Installation of the Knight’s of the Bath in 1923 or 1924. At this my companion and myself were Stewards with the task of checking tickets at the little North Aisle door, commonly called ‘Devil’s Door’. L.E. Tanner, in charge, posted us with the words “Now come along, you two Devils!”'

A Room in Ashburnham House

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'1918-1924
This would be the ante-room at the Head of Ashburnham Staircase (see L.E. Tanner, p20). The busts are those of Southey and W. Hastings, with the H.M’s chair. About 1922 (under A.T. Willett) this was converted to a Chess Room, the strict rule of silence up Lib being waived to allow the call “Check!”
In the ‘Novel Room’ adjoining were displayed various items presented to the School (see L.E.T. pp22-3). There come to mind the rudder of the VIII of 1845, the trireme cast, the bust of Sir Fras. Burdett. Also (not listed by L.E.T.) a block of (?) quartz from Ammon inscribed:- ‘OI ΠAYΛOY M’EΔOΣAN TOIΣ ΠETPAIOIΣI ΛIΘOYPΓOIΣ / ΠPIN ΔIOΣ AMMWNOΣ KEIMENON EN ΘEMEΘΛOIΣ’ (I once met an Old Pauline who explained its origin.) Similar blocks were presented to the Freemasons of five other Public Schools.'

Art Room

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'1918-1920
The Art Room cannot but evoke memories of that peppery Manxman WILLIAM KNEEN who presided there from 1884 till just before his death in 1921. He was regarded not without reason as the most peculiar member of the staff. His diction (much imitated!) was extraordinary, e.g. ‘Will you give me at-tenshon?’ or (by way of punishment) ‘Take a Drill-ah! Take a Drill!’ His methods of teaching would be considered outmoded now – Finding the “common venishing point”, making drawings of the numerous classical plaster casts and (for Prep) time and ahain “Plen and Ele-vashon”. (Williamson who succeeded him belonged to the then Modern School and revolutionised things).
Wm. Kneen only taught the Under School and was a real friends to any who (like myself) loved Art. He died much lamented.'

Back of Grant's

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'Back of Grant’s 1918-24
A portion of the School precincts I naturally never once set eyes on during all those years. Except for Monitors (on official duty) no member of any one of the five Houses was allowed to set foot inside another.
This no doubt Grant’s Yard (somewhat more specious than its counterpart up RR next door). The windows are protected by wire-mesh because of the ‘Yard Game’ played there, the counterpart of RR Yard Game. This was a kind of miniature football played four-or-five-a side with a rubber ball about 4 inches in diameter. A very fast game (and too rough for me personally). If the ball was ‘popped’ on an iron spike or (more likely) ‘skied’ into GG Yard next door, it meant an outlay of 6d, on another, if available. Ee would call, “Thank-you ball Grant’s!!” Sometimes our ball would come back, but not often. (GG balls were never skied into RR Yard!)'

Busby Library (Seventh Form Room.)

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'Memories (R.S.C.) 1922-1924
I sat in Busby Library as a member of VII for 6 Terms ; from Play 1922 to Election 1923 my seat was in the far left-hand corner of this picture (a privilege to have chairs, no longer desks or forms!); from Play 1923-Election 1924 as First Classic (a little revived at that time) I chose a Chair at the end of the table by the window (we chose in order of seniority).
We sat at the feet of I.F. Smedley (never ‘Snogger’ to his Form), a profound Classical Scholar, complete master of his subject, and a gentleman. He had (I believe) been Master of the VII since 1898. He was also a consummate master of English and a purist (Eg.- ‘Baptized’ not ‘baptised’, because derived from Greek root; conversely, ‘Authorised’, never ‘authorized’). We were taken in some subjects by the HM –not so great a scholar, but with the priceless gifts of enthusiasm, zest and appreciation.
Our order for 1923-4 was determined by the result of Higher Cert. in July 1923. There were no promotions from CVI in 1923 so 13 of us continued for a second year in VII. Not caring to risk Election, 4-5 of us gained Open Scholarships.'

Carpenter's Shop

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'1919-1924
I have often regretted I never took Carpentry as an ‘Occupat’ – at any rate once a week – but I fancy few Boarders did so. We were most of us just too exhausted by 5p.m to think of anything beyond Lib!
I do not remember ever going inside the Carpenter’s Shop. From what I recall it was situate behind Ashburnham, adjoining Japs.
It was presided over by the Japper little Mr. Green – for some reason always Mr. Green. (I believe he was the only member of the Teaching or ‘Ancillary’ Staff to hold that title not only when addressed by whenever referred to in conversation)
I see from the ‘Record’ Vol III he was appointed in 1904 and continued till his death (presumably in harness) in 1933.'

Coin Room. Ashburnham House

1 copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'Memories, 1921-1924 R.S.C
The School Coin Collection was formed in the main by Dr Scott, who presented it to the School in 1874 (see first Number of ‘Elizabethan’). The bulk of the coins were kept in trays in a handy-size cabinet in the H.M.’s house. At some date unknown the most spectacular and interesting specimens were extracted & placed in a glass cabinet in the ‘Coin Room’ up Lib (as shown). They were expertly mounted and labelled by the British Museum, but attracted no interest at all, being badly lighted, under glass and tarnished black.
Tho’ but an amateur, I was given the charge of the School Coin Collection by H.C.W. in Play 1921. I do not think they had been touched since Dr. Scott’s day. The task of cleaning, re-arranging and cataloguing these coins (I seem to remember there were just over 900- Greek, Roman Republican & Imperial, Saxon and English) occupied me till 1929, when H.C.W. kindly staged a small Numismatic Dinner in recognition of this.
It was not till years later I learnt what a superlative collection I had been handling and what a precious possession the School had. (Now “dispersed”?!!**)
I urged H.C.W. that the Cabinet up Lib be dispensed with and the coins in it amalgamated with the main Collection. He understood, but could not agree to this. Result - the Cabinet disappeared without trace during the Evacuation, including ‘OFFA REX’ now catalogued £800.'

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