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Chalk, Richard Seymour, 1905-1985
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Westminster School Series AFB

This series of postcards depicts scenes from around Westminster School. They were numbered by R.S. Chalk (OW), who penned the following note regarding the series in 1976:

"Westminster School Postcards c.1911
(Purchased up Suts. c.1923)
1,2 - Staff
3-12 - School & Busby Library etc.
13-19 - College
20 - 25 Ashburnham & Library
26-31 - Yard, Rigaud's, Grant's
32-33 - Dean's Yard
34-36 - College Hall
37,38 - Science Labs
39-44 - Fields and Gym
45-47 - O.T.C.
48 - Carpenter's Shop

It would seem 9 of the original 57 p.c.s are missing. These included (i) Interior of Suts (alas!); (2) Art School (memories of incredible character W. Kneen); (3) Ashburnham Staircase (? two); (4) Fields); also perhaps a second view of College Garden
R.S.C, 1976"

Chalk annotated the back of the postcards he had in his possession. These annotations are included in each record for which they are present.
Each postcard in this series is marked 'Westminster School Series AFB' on the reverse. While the meaning of 'AFB' is uncertain, it is possible it may refer to the initials of the photographer, who is potentially a College John named Arthur Brown. This speculation is drawn from information included in Chalk's captions.

Head Master

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'1. Dr. JAMES GOW (‘Jimmy’), H.M. 1901-1919
My first meeting with him was at Challenge 1918. I owe him a lifelong debut for his accepting me without Common Entrance Exam (on the strength of my dismal Challenge papers), thus saving a second journey from my home in Devon in War-time conditions.
My first three Terms (Play 1918-Election 1919) coincided with his last three. He had been a great and good HM, but was now almost blind and moved in a dignified daze, piloting himself with a stick. (Intent on my prep, I once collided with him in Yard)
Through no fault of his, School discipline had become somewhat lax by 1918. Leave and Plays were easily given (e.g. to go skating on the Serpentine in Lent 1919).
He was much loved and his departure was a solemn occasion. He shook hands with every boy after his last Prayers. I am glad I remembered to say ‘Thank you, Sir’ – with the classical Remove form-prize in my hand.'

Masters of Westminster School

One copy annotated on reverse as follows:
"Memories of Masters, 1918-1924 (R.S.C.)
For Group, see ‘Record of O.WW’, Vol. III. Date given ‘c.1909’. As group includes H.L. Reed (sic) but not Q.T. Willett (Play 1909) date is presumably Election 1908 or 1909. (NB: - Photo by Gillmans, Oxford, not by Jn. Brown. Groups not his strongpoints.)
L. to r: -
Liddell; Burrell (‘BaaLamb’); Reed //
Etheridge, Tyson (‘Ti Ti’), Bursar;
Day; Hardy (‘Basil’); Wootton; Forbes; Mitchell (‘Mike’); Smedley (‘Snappers’)//
(Seated) Nall (‘Hoty’); Sargeaunt (‘J.S.’); Tanner (‘The Buck’); Dr. Gow (‘Jimmy’), HM; Fox (‘The Old Man’); Raynor (‘Peewee’); Huckwell (‘Bill’).
Ten had been on the Staff since Rutherford’s day. Except for the four youngest (marked*) all were still there when the War ended in Play 1918, my first term! Probably an unparalleled record of group service.
Under leadership of Dr. Gow, a magnificent team-particularly on Classical side. All devoted to the School, each a master of his subject, each (save one (above: B.F.H)) a striking individual character. Between IV and VII I sat under most and remember all with gratitude, respect and (with one exception) affection."

Second copy addressed and sent, with stamp affixed. Individuals annotated on front. Sent to "Miss M. Chalk, Kentisbeare Rectory, Cullompton, Devon". The correspondence reads as follows:
"Rigaud's House 11/2/19
Dear Mary,
Your cake is very much liked and admired. I am sending this Post-Card as a reward. I saw the King open Parliament today. I saw him and the Queen twice. There were a lot of soldiers there. Has there been enough ice to skate on in Devonshire? Several people have been doing it in London

School Gateway

Depicts Burlington Arch in Little Dean's Yard.

One copy is annotated on reverse by R.S.C as follows:
'The focal point of Yard, which impressed me deeply when I first saw it (as a small boy in 1915). I wondered even then how boys could carve their names on it so expertly. (Later Mr. Green carved my name in College on wood for (I believe) the sum of 5/-).
The centre-piece of many a School compilation. (A tragedy the present ‘Eliza’ has no use for it).
In my day it was wrongly known by Town Boys in Under School as the ‘Up School Gateway’ (save the mark!). A new Junior KS. of my Election in his word-test called its designer ‘Jingo Jones’.
To the left is Sergeant’s Office (a ‘sanctum sanctorum’ where were compiled lists of those due for ‘Up School’ or Penal Drill), with the VI Form Room above it. To the right, in my day a convenient but ugly Fives Court, used (exclusively, I think) by K.SS. It was a vast improvement aesthetically when this was removed some years later and the vista opened into (hitherto unseen) College Gardens.'

Names on wall "Up School"

One copy annotated on reverse as follows, by R.S. Chalk:
By the 1920’s the multiplication of names of O.WW up School was beginning to pose a real problem, as space was running short. They cost (I believe) only 5/- Each!
Towards the end of my time I heard Costley-White explaining to some distinguished visitors that in future permission to have names painted up School was to be confined to “Westminster Families”, i.e. families that had at least three members at the School at some date. I could claim a younger brother and, later, three cousins – but in any case all was decided by the Blitz (which obliterated hundreds of names, including 17 Phillimores and 16 Waterfields).'


One copy annotated on reverse as follows, by R.S. Chalk:
'Memories 1918-24 R.S.C
School- one of the three great losses in the Blitz.
Vastly impressive, tho’ by comparison with its present day counterpart, sombre, dusty and dark. (Yet HCW once lamented the Victorian ‘vandalism’ which enlarged all the medieval windows save one!)
Used for Assembly, lectures, Orations, Concerts, O.T.C. Parades (if wet), Physical Drill (‘Phys Hell’), Exams (as in this picture) and, above all, Latin Prayers.
Latin Prayers each day were a real joy- I never once heard criticism. All joined in singing in Elizabethan Latin. (I remember once (about 1920) three Arab Sheikhs attended these Prayers, and much impressed). The Masters knelt in the middle gangway on ‘pancake’ kneelers thrown (sic) out to them.
In the top foreground (then as now) may be seen the Pancake Bar. I was present in my second Term (Lent 1919) at the most famous Greaze of all- witnessed by King George V, Queen Mary, Prince of Wales and Prince Albert- won by D.L Moonan, K.S'

North End of School

One copy annotated on reverse as follows, by R.S. Chalk:
'Dr. Busby’s Chair (for HM) and 24 seats for Monitorial Council. My seat in 1923-4 was No. 6 on HM’s right- at that time only 13 out of 24 seats were occupied. (Tho’ never a House Monitor I was allotted a place on the Council as First Classic)
The Shell recess of course obscured by the canopy behind HM’s Choir, bearing arms of former HMs. On either side may be seen some of the exquisitely blazoned arms of OWW on the panelling, an unforgettable feature of School.
The white objects on the seats are hand-tablets for Latin Prayers (the Council Chanted the Versicles, the rest of the School the Responses.) The old harmonium may be seen on the right. We invariably sang Psalms 67 or 123, in traditional ‘English’ pronunciation.
During my time two Masters’ Chairs dating from Henry VIII were presented and stood on either side of the Rod Table (in foreground).
The rods may be seen protruding from the drawer. I witnessed four ‘handings’ between 1921-4. Deeply impressive. Four swishes on back of hand only- but followed by tight house-tanning.'

Star Chamber Doorway

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'The (reputed) Star Chamber Doorway (see L.E.T. pp 44-5), another casualty of the Blitz.
View from interior of Etheridge’s Room, past the Rod Table (no rods visible, so out of School hours) to Liddell’s Room (C.R. later C.Sh2)
In the the Under School we knew little of the Star Chamber of James I, but had a saying: “People used to go through that door to be tortured-and they still do!” The reference was to the fearsome W.G. Etheridge, dreaded by all.
He was a brilliant teacher both of French and of History, but a ruthless slave-driver and with a streak of cruelty. (He was known by K.SS in his History Set as “The Man of Blood” – back-handed reference to his detestation of King Charles I)
I spent many a gruelling period in this room, first in the Under School, later in C. Upper Shell (School Certificate Form). I owe much to W.G.E.’s teaching, but was not sorry when, having passed School Cert. and attained to C VI, I no longer had to enter Star Chamber!'

The Dryden Form

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'The ‘Dryden Form’ was kept unobtrusively somewhere behind the semicircle of seats for the Monitorial Council at the N. end of School. Few saw it there, and few cared.
It was first pointed out to my farther and myself by E.L. Fox when I appeared for my first Challenge in 1918.
No doubt (likes so much else stored Up School) it perished for ever in the Blitz.
The Form itself was exceedingly rough, worn by the seats of generations.
In the dim light of School the letters could barely be made out (It may be noticed John Brown has traced them round in chalk for this photograph). To my mind it is open to question whether they were carved by the Poet or by his son of the same name (K.S. 1682-5). Nearby was cut in huge, deep letters ‘A.SLADE’. We all knew the tradition that it had cost him 500 lines for each letter (see L.E. Tanner, p32)'

Dr Busby, Headmaster. 1638-1695

One copy annotated on reverse by R.S. Chalk, as follows:
'(Bust dated 1895-L.E.T. p39) 1918-1924
There were in my day two busts of Dr. Busby (both presumably destroyed in the Blitz)- one behind the HM’s chair Up School, the other in an oval recess in the Busby Library, above the chair occupied by the Master, in my time I.F. Smedley.
On these two busts was based the most famous of several apocryphal stories currently concerning I.F.S and the VII Form (definitely before my time!), as follows: - I.F.S. had lunched well and wined freely.
[He was in fact a man of most sober habits]
On his return to take Afternoon School, he was astounded to see two busts above his Chair (the other having been surreptitiously ‘borrowed’ from School!). On being questioned, every single member of the VII he could see but one – I.F.S must be “seeing double”! Not convinced yet, I.F.S left the room to fetch Sergt. Bowler for his testimony. As once the culprits removed the second bust, leaving one only.
On returning then with Sergeant, I.F.S. was about to ask him his opinion when he looked- and (still mystified) said instead – “Very well, -er, Sergeant- you may go!”)'

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