Thursday, June 05, 2014

Herry's Archive Index

Parents
Patrick Lawford 1914-2002
Annette Lawford 1911-1998
Family History
Lawford Family History
Pugh Evans Family History
Pugh Evans Family History - the Lovesgrove Line
The Powell Edwards Line
Lawford Ancestors
The Drapers' Livery Company
Edward Lawford 1787 - 1864
Edward Acland Lawford and his Descendants
HF Lawford 1851 - 1925
Maternal Grandparents
Sir Arundel Arundel 1843 - 1922
Col AJ Pugh 1871 - 1923
Marian 'Nina' Lady Herbert 1874 - 1967
Paternal Grandparents
John Lawford 1811 - 1875
Capt VA Lawford 1871 - 1959
Pugh Cousins
Brig-General Lewis Pugh Evans 1887 - 1962
Maj-General Lewis Pugh 1907 - 1981
Ruth Stevens Howard 1910-2010
Capt Humphrey Drummond of Megginch 1922 - 2009
Dr Griffith Pugh 1909 - 1994
Uncles
Valentine Lawford 1911-1991
Luxmoores
Luxmoore History
Wing-Commander Arthur Luxmoore 1909 - 1940
Fairfax Luxmoore
Herberts See also Sir Alfred Herbert
Sir Alfred Herbert 1866 - 1957
Nina Lady Herbert 1874 - 1967
Dunley 1917-1957
Wadwick House
Alfred Herbert Ltd
Lady Herbert's Homes and Garden, Coventry
Lady Herbert's Memorial at Litchfield
Sir Alfred Herbert on Shooting
Sir Alfred Herbert on Fishing
Sir Alfred Herbert's Memorial Service in the Cathedral 1957
The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry
The Church of St James the Less, Litchfield

Patrick Lawford's Farming Career
Headbourne Worthy 1934-1938
Litchfield 1938-1946
Danegate 1946 - 1950
Stocks Farm 1950 - 1970
The Shooting Book
Stocks Farm 1970 - 2002

Friends
My Parents' Friends
Friends 1950-1970
Friends 1970 -1980s
Friends 1990s - present
Sally Macpherson 1940 - 2012
Richard Shaw 1940 - 2103
Nick Duke 1945 - 2013
Venky Venkiteswaran 1941 - 2013
Jo Johns (Joanne Taylor) 1939 - 2014)

Herry
Early Memories of Home Life
A Short History of Tractors in Hampshire
Schools 1949-1967
St Ronan's 1953 - 1958
Winchester College 1959- 1964
Engleberg Winter 1963
Early Social Life 1950-1970
Early Encounters with France
Early Experiences of Banking
The Pubs of our Youth
The Cars of Our Youth
Herry's European Tour 1967
What Did We Wear?
Careers in the 60s
10 Shouldham St 1967-1993
Thomas Miller 1967-2006
Herry's Wedding to Prue Watson 1971
Watson Family
Harvestgate Farm 1971-1982
Ramatuelle and the South of France
Friends 1970 -1980s
24 Edna St 1993 - 1998
Futatsumori Family
Cap Ferrat and Les Azuriales
The Orangery 1998 - present
Swanage and the Dorset Coast
The Family in Sydney
Christmas in Sydney 2006
The Church of St James the Less, Litchfield
New Year in Ireland and London 2008/9
The Family at Christmas in Australia 2011
The Family in New York July 2012
The Archives and the Internet
The Family at Christmas in Australia 2013
Lawford Lunch at the Drapers' Hall

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Wing-Commander Arthur Luxmoore 1909 - 1940

The story of Wing Commander Arthur Noble Luxmoore

Arthur Noble Luxmoore ([1])
was born at Newton Abbott in Devon on the 24th of February 1909 the twin son of Major Lancelot Alfred Luxmoore, Royal Artillery, and Charlotte Evelyn Constance Luxmoore of "The Roundel", Rye in Sussex. 

He was educated at Lancing College where he was in Heads House from September 1922 to July 1928. He was a member of the Cricket XI in 1927 and 1928 being Secretary in the latter year. He was a member of the Boxing team in 1925 and 1926 and the Athletics Team in 1927 and 1928. He gained his School Certificate in 1927 and was a Cadet Officer in the Officer Training Corps achieving Certificate A.

He went on to Hertford College Oxford in 1928.

He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in the Royal Air Force on a short service commission on the 15th of August 1929 and was posted to the Royal Air Force Depot at Uxbridge. He was promoted to Flying Officer on the 14th of April 1931. 

On the 16th of June 1933 he was posted to No. 3 Armament Camp at Sutton Bridge and on the 30th of October 1933 he was posted to the Air Armaments School at Eastchurch. On the 15th of December 1933 he was posted to the Anti Aircraft Co-Operation Flight at Biggin Hill. 

On the 17th of December 1934 he was posted to 43 Squadron at Tangmere and on the 23rd of April 1935 he was posted to 25 Squadron at Hawkinge.

He was married to Annette Rosemary (nee Pugh) at the Church of St James the Less at Litchfield. They had a son, Fairfax, born on the 18th of July 1940. After his death she remarried to Patrick Vincent Lawford in 1944.

Shortly after he was married he was posted to Egypt. He was promoted to Probationary Flight Lieutenant on the 15th of March 1935, a rank which was confirmed on the 1st of June 1936 when he was granted a permanent commission. On the 24th of February 1937 he was posted to the Electrical and Wireless School at RAF Cranwell. He was promoted to Squadron Leader on the 1st of August 1938 and was Commanding Officer of 144 Squadron at the time of his death.

W/C A.N. Luxmoore’s last air-raid mission May 11-12, 1940.

On the 11th of May 1940 37 aircraft from Bomber Command, being 19 Hampden and 18 Whitley bombers, were dispatched for an operation on Mönchengladbach to bomb road and rail links in the area in an attempt to impede the advance of the German forces which, on May 10,1940 had attacked and invaded the Low Countries. This was the first bombing raid on a German town of the war.

Arthur Luxmoore and his crew took off from RAF Hemswell at about 10.30pm on the 11th of May 1940 in Hampden MkB1, P1326 PL-? for the operation. 

Its crew consisted of
            Wing Commander Arthur Noble Luxmoore, Pilot
            Pilot Officer Robert Edward Allitt, 2nd Pilot/Bomb Aimer
            Sergeant Herbert Wathey
            Corporal Ronald Jolly

May 12, at about 00.30 ([2])  they were at 6,000 feet and approaching the target area when they were hit by flak (German Anti Air gun) several times which caused severe damage to the starboard engine and to the rudder controls.
There is no doubt that Wing Commander Luxmoore was determined not to let his crew fall into enemy hands and had made up his mind to bring them back
to France. ([3])
He managed to steer the stricken bomber in a south-westerly direction, slowly losing height.
An hour after being hit he ordered his crew to bail out and all three landed safely on friendly territory in Belgium, somewhere in the neighborhood of Hulsonniaux, commune of Houyet, Namur province.

Pilot Officer Allitt and  Sergeant Herbert Wathey at once got clear. At this moment Corporal Jolly was getting a fix from Le Bourget (France) and did not receive the order, as he was not at the intercommunication system. When he got through to the captain again he heard his voice saying: “have you jumped?” Quickly destroying the aircraft papers and leaving the transmitter key switched on, Corporal Jolly bailed out at a low altitude. (3)

In the meantime, the 22nd Divison of the French 9th Army had taken position as per May 11 on the left bank of the river Meuse from Hastière (Belgium) to Vireux-Molhain (south of Givet, France) with HQ located at Vaucelles (Belgium). ([4])

Making his way to the nearest village, P/O Allitt was at once challenged by a French soldier who held him up with his bayonet under the impression that he was a German parachutist and put him under arrest in the guard room. He explained that he was an English flying officer, but they were taking no chances until a French officer arrived and escorted him to his HQ at Vaucelles (Belgium)
Sergeant Wathey landed in a big tree down which he climbed with difficulty in the dark. Making his way laboriously, with many a stumble, through the undergrowth of the wood, he suddenly felt himself slipping and rolling downwards. When at last he came to a stop he found he was on the edge of water, so he wisely remained where he was until daylight. In the dawn he saw he was on the bank of a river (the Meuse), so he set off again to the west, falling in with two Belgian peasants whom he accompanied along the road. From time to time German aircraft flew over the road and machine-gunned them, but each time they managed to escape. After tramping for eight miles Sergeant Wathey was challenged by some French soldiers who promptly arrested him, having no doubt that he also was a German parachutist. Marching him to headquarters, they handed over their prisoner.
Corporal Jolly had the strangest experience of all. He landed on a steep slope, which happened to be the roof of a house, down which he slid. The lines of his
parachute were entangled somewhere above and as he tried to make his way forward he felt something give and break at every step he took. Floundering along in the dark, he could not understand where he was or what was happening and at length he came to the conclusion that he was walking on ice. Not until he fell a few feet did he realize that he had walked the whole length of the roof of a greenhouse! .
He banged on the door of the house. There was no answer. Then he walked into the village where some people, as soon as they saw him, shouted “Boche!" and bolted for their lives. At last he induced the village constable to take him in charge, and eventually all three of the crew met as prisoners at headquarters about fifteen miles away. Here they were properly identified and released, to be entertained most lavishly with wine, when it was food they needed. They will not soon forget the French General kissing them on both cheeks as he bade them adieu before they drove off in a British staff car to the nearest Royal Air Force aerodrome, at Reims (France), where they were looked after until an aircraft arrived from their base to pick them up next day. ([5])

W/C Luxmoore remained at the controls of his aircraft so that a crash in the village of Finnevaux, 11 kilometers south, south of Dinant in Belgium, could be avoided.
When his aircraft hit the ground in a meadow close to the road from Houyet (Belgium) to Givet (France), only 360 yards from the houses in Finnevaux, it exploded and took fire causing the death of the Wing Commander. His badly burned body was buried in the communal cemetery of Finnevaux,

Finally it should be mentioned that the family was per September 11, 1940 still unaware of the Wing Commander’s death and hoping that he might also have bailed out and made prisoner. ([6])





It is only shortly after the liberation of Belgium, early September 1944, that the family was informed of the W/C’ s burial place and decided to leave his grave as it was (in Finnevaux), where it would be looked after by the War Graves Commission, and not to move it to a “War Cemetery” ([7])

His grave in Finnevaux is maintained by a grateful commune, under the supervision of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the commune has honored his name on the War Memorial in the center of Finnevaux.

Sadly enough the heroic attitude of W/C Arthur Noble was never officially recognized by UK authorities and no medal was awarded, while both Jolly and Wathey were awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal and Allitt was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross; all these men were subsequently killed in action on the 13th of June 1940, the 12th of February 1942 and the 23rd of February 1944 respectively. ([8])





([1]) Source : Lancing College War Memorial
([2]) Source : letter from P/O Allitt to Mrs. A.Luxmoore
"Dear Mrs Luxmoore, 
Your address, through Wing Commander Jordan, has just reached me or I should have written sooner. I think he has already told you that I was with your husband last week. Although I can tell you little more than you already know, I thought you might like to hear from me as I was in his aircraft. We took off at about 10.30pm on Saturday and, when over Germany about two hours later the aircraft was hit and badly crippled. Fortunately none of us were hurt. Thanks to the magnificent piloting of the Wing Commander we managed to reach friendly territory in Belgium, where he ordered us to abandon the aircraft by parachute. He of course was the last to leave. Throughout he was apparently unperturbed, and I feel that there is every chance that we may yet hear from him. Only flying people can appreciate to the full his superb handling of the almost completely disabled aircraft. The rest of us owe our lives to him, and could not express in words our admiration and gratitude. This was our eighth raid together and I shall miss his leadership and comradeship terribly. I do hope you will accept my sincere sympathy in your great anxiety. If there is anything I can do to help please let me know.”
()[3] Source : Extract of the book “So Few” by David Masters (published 1999)
([4]) Source : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/22e_division_d’infanterie_(France)#Bataille_de_France
([5]) Source : Extract of the book “So Few” by David Masters (published 1999)
([6]) Source : following letter by the W/C’s father, Lancelot Luxmoore, dated September 11, 1940
Prisoners of War,
Foreign Office,
Whitehall,
London.
Dear Sirs,
I understand that there is now a regular procedure for making enquiries at the American Embassy in Berlin regarding prisoners of war in Germany and enemy occupied countries.
I should be much obliged if you would make an enquiry of this sort concerning acting Wing. Comm. ARTHUR NOBLE LUXMOORE B.A.F. No, 86112, who was reported missing on May 12th. The facts so far as I have been able to ascertain them are that he was returning from bombing operations somewhere in enemy territory in a Hampden Bomber No. P.1326; one engine of the bomber was out of action and after losing height three of the crew landed unhurt by parachute and were near enough to friendly country to get back, one walking about eight miles before meeting French troops with the numerals 62 or 9 who took him to the H.Q. of the 9th French army.
This took place at approximately 1.20 a.m. in the neighborhood of a village called HOUYET, east of DINANT, ARDENNES. Wing. Comm. A.N. Luxmoore remained in the plane and it is believed that he would have made a similar landing himself.
The enemy were advancing at the time and I wish to ascertain whether he was taken prisoner and is still alive and whether the American Embassy can obtain any information about him from the enemy.
In the case of any information becoming available would you please communicate with me at the above address.
I have tabulated the facts on a separate sheet for your convenience.
Yours faithfully,

([7]) Source : letter from the W/C’s father, L.Luxmoore, to Mrs. A.Luxmoore, the W/C’s wife
([8]) Source : Lancing College War Memorial

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lawford Lunch at the Drapers' Hall


The Lawfords at Drapers' Hall 2014 Click to enlarge. For names, see below

A fine lunch was arranged at the Drapers' Hall on 28th April 2014 for 30 descendants of Samuel Lawford (1739 - 1835).

Penny Fussell, the Archivist, gave a talk on the Company and a tour of the Hall. Jeremy Lawford talked about the Lawford family history and Nigel Lawford about the family's long links with the Drapers' Company, beginning in with Valentine Lawford, who was Master in 1775.

Herry brought along a portrait of Edward Lawford, who worked at the Drapers' Hall for over 50 years as Clerk and Solicitor to the East India Company.

Edward Lawford 1787 - 1864)
Around that time the family members of the Company included four lawyers, two bankers and two stockbrokers and it continued to provide many members of the Company (at one time 26) for the next hundred years or so. See also The Drapers' Livery Company here 

Jeremy Lawford gave a fine overview of the family's known history beginning with Robert Lawford of Co. Warwick, Gent and laying to rest the epithet most often associated with Edward Lawford (above). He has published a number of detailed papers on different aspects of the family's history. See also Lawford Family History here

Those attending the lunch are shown in the photo above:

The cousins assembled - L to R:         
Sylvia Colbeck (Nigel's sister)
Nigel Lawford
Mark Lawford (Nigel's son)
Louise Lawford (Mark’s wife)
Philip Lawford
Simon Martyn
Roshni Russell
Fiona Waugh
Marcus Price (Nigel's nephew)
Mary Findlater
Simon Colbeck (Sylvia’s husband)
Patrick Findlater
Paula Lawford
Jeremy Lawford
Giles Russell                                         
Paddy Cottam                                                      
Anne Lawford                                                     
Mike Lawford                                                            
Richard Maxwell-Lawford                                   
Mary Maxwell-Lawford                                                                      
Piers Lawford                                                       
Helena Maxwell-Lawford                                               
Vincent Lawford                                                                                                                                               Nicholas Maxwell-Lawford                                          
Dierdre Quinn                                                                        
Herry Lawford                                                      
Margaret Lawford                                                   
Rosie Findlater (hidden)
Missing: Andrew Lawford

Charles Tilbury                                                 

The lunch coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Golden Wedding of my grandparents, Capt VA Lawford and his wife Jane


Grandparents' Golden Wedding at Quickley June 1953 
Back row: Denys, Valentine, Vincent, Paddy Cottam, Adrian, Patrick, Jeremy. Sitting: Daphne, Sylvia Findlater, Grandfather Vincent, Grandmother Jane, Peggy, Annette. In Front: Piers, Herry, Michael, John Findlater, Patrick Findlater, Fuff (Luxmoore). Quentin and Mary Findlater were both absent
The photo below is of the family who attended from that event

Back row: Piers, Michael, Vincent, Jeremy and Herry
Seated: Mary Findlater, Paddy Cottam and Patrick Findlater
(John Findlater was not well enough to attend)

Additional photos of the lunch can be seen here.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Lawford Links with the Drapers' Company 1725 - 1950s



Lawford links to the Drapers’ Company from 18C by Nigel Lawford


1. The Lawford links in the 18C began with Valentine who was apprenticed in 1725 to a draper called Martha Ellison – a woman, please note. His father was a humble leather dresser in Southwark so he started with nothing but his wits & probably good looks, which of course are dominant characteristics of the Lawford male...

· Married an heiress in 1739 and

· Became a Clerk of the South Sea Company – Chief Clerk of the Old Annuities - & added this position to his trade activities.

· Built up a portfolio of around 30 properties in London.

· Rose to be Master of Drapers in 1775 and

· Died in 1783

· The Draper links were continued by his three sons, most notably Samuel

who is our common ancestor. Samuel was

· Born 1749 and

· Admitted to Drapers as Apothecary by trade in 1773.

· He married his heiress in 1775 and

· Built up his property portfolio branching out to Wales.

· Became Master of Drapers in 1809 and

· Died in 1835

· Samuel brought his sons into the company over time and by January 1801

there were five family Drapers in total – an Apothecary, Upholsterer, Soldier, Farmer & Banker

A truly motley collection, but the apothecary was supremely well connected in the City

2. In the first half of 19C

· Lawford membership greatly expanded as three of Sam’s sons developed as City professionals, and Edward became Clerk to Drapers. This was the period when the Lawfords had greatest presence within Drapers and their City presence was built around three principal businesses:

· legal services, through Lawfords solicitors of Drapers Hall

· banking, through Curries & Co of Cornhill, and

· stockbroking, principally through Steer, Cuerton, Lawford & Co of Cornhill (but nephew George was also building up his own firm of G. Lawford & Co)

· Edward led the Legal services.

· In 1804 when he was 16 Samuel fixed five year articles for him with Henry Smith, who was then Clerk to Drapers & solicitor to HEIC & Drapers. The Clerk incidentally was the general manager/ company secretary of the Company.

· He completed articles in 1809 and in

· 1813 joined Henry Smith in partnership at the age of just 25.

· By 1820 he was probably Assistant Clerk.

· HS died in 1826 & Edward succeeded him as Clerk & Solicitor to HEIC & Drapers.

· In 1828 Edward brought brother John into partnership and the practice expanded.

· Both their eldest sons trained as lawyers and in 1842 Henry & John Lindsay became partners.

· In 1854 Edward resigned & left Drapers' Hall.

Edward therefore

· Worked in Drapers Hall for 50 years from 1804 and

· Was Clerk there for 28 years from 1826.

· The Hall was a London residence for his family from 1826, so the family lived there as well as at Eden Park.

· From 1842 Drapers' Hall Hall provided the working premises for the four man legal partnership together with trainees and support staff

Edward’s family lived at Drapers' Hall, worked there, entertained and played there, and were a constant presence at the heart of Drapers. And in due course three of his nine children married into Draper families.

· Samuel Junior led the Banking services.

· Born 1777 and

· Became a partner in bankers Lefevre Curries Raikes & Co in 1806.

· Brought two sons into his business – Samuel & John, although only J stayed the course.

· Became Master of Drapers in 1850

· Thomas Acland, son of Sam Junior, led the stockbroking services.

· Born 1816 and in 1848 married the daughter of James Turing Bruce, who was head of the discount house Bruce Buxton & Co., one of the 4 majors.

· In 1845 joined Capel & Cuerton as a partner in their long established firm and this became Steer Cuerton Lawford in 1847 when George Steer joined the firm, after the death of John Capel. (John was a first cousin of the James Capel who founded the famous City partnership of that name)

· During the half century to January 1851 the number of Draper Lawfords rose from five to 17, and of the total in 1851 eight were City professionals - four lawyers, two bankers and two stockbrokers. Also included in the 17 were one priest, two soldiers and one insolvent lawyer resident in Wales.

1850 probably saw the strongest Draper presence of the Lawfords at any time, with Edward as Clerk & solicitor to the Drapers, and Samuel Master, with successors to both of them waiting in the wings.

3. In the second half of the 19C

· the Draper presence was significantly reduced with Edward retiring and the family legal practice relocating to Austin Friars just adjacent. Family Draper numbers nevertheless increased overall to about 26 in 1901 as the large Victorian families paid their dividend and Lawford stockbrokers flooded the membership.

· Lawford lawyer numbers were reasonably stable but bankers fell to just two at a junior level.

· The three principal companies of 1851 were still prominent but as the 4th generation expired the Lawfords spread out and the stockbroking firm of George Lawford rose alongside Steer Lawford.

· Lawyers: Lawfords solicitors now split up. Henry moved to Austin Friars and was joined in partnership firstly by James Waterhouse around 1856 and then by his son Godfrey after 1877; Henry died in 1887. John Lindsay Lawford practiced alone then merged with Crowder & Maynard in 1856. Herbert Bowring, son of George, began to practice as a solicitor and rise within the ranks of the Drapers’ Co.

· Bankers: Samuel had retired from Curries and when John Lawford died in 1875 the family involvement ended. John’s son Arthur entered employment with Martin’s Bank but was not to progress beyond bank clerk level.

· Stockbrokers: Steer, Lawford grew, with Herbert Fortescue joining Thomas Acland in 1870, and Thomas died in 1884; Herbert’s brothers Ernest & Archibald joined the LSE but in different firms. George Lawford & Co expanded to include Rowland, Edgar and Benson, and then George died in 1895. 4 other Lawfords arrived at the stock exchange in various guises.

· There was just one Master during this period – in 1885 stockbroker George, son of John of Downhills, was honoured with the role.

· By January 1901 the number of draper Lawfords had expanded to 26 and of these 16 were City men, with 4 lawyers, 2 bankers & 10 stockbrokers. The trend away from prudent professionals had been pronounced, and one lawyer was soon to try his own hand on the stock market with disastrous consequences; this was Godfrey.

4. Lawford links in 20C

· After 1901 my information rather dries up – perhaps because Lawford membership of Drapers declined substantially. The 5th generation were there in large numbers but I have little information on the 6th – the generation of Evelyn Lawford.

· Lawyers: the legal tradition was maintained initially by Herbert Bowring, son of George, and he became Master in 1925. Godfrey retired from the Austin Friars partnership and the firm continued in being into the 21st century as Field Fisher Waterhouse.

Godfrey’s son Evelyn became a mining engineer and rose to be a director of RTZ. He joined Drapers in 1938 and features as the last Lawford Master in 1957.

· Stockbrokers: Herbert retired to Scotland around 1910, with his collection of tennis trophies, and disinherited his only child, who was last heard of challenging his father’s will from Papua New Guinea. In 1921 Steer, Lawford merged from strength with Mullens Marshall, the Government Broker, and continued in being until absorbed by Warburgs late in the century.

· Bankers: these appeared to die out initially with the passing of Arthur, son of John, but I think they have been revived by later members who have carried the flag into the 21st C.

· Generally, Lawford Draper numbers seem to have reduced drastically and at the end of 20C the number of Valentine’s Lawford descendants on livery had probably declined to 3 or 4.

Nigel Lawford. April 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Winchester College Society 50 Years On Dinner

School, Chapel and Chantry Cloisters
The Winchester College Society held a 50 years-on dinner in School on 15th March 2014. In fact it was for the leavers in the 1963, 1964 and 1965 years and about seventy people attended. The Warden-Elect, Charles Sinclair and David Fellowes presided and Herry replied for the old boys.

Sixes played in Meads
We watched Sixes being being played in the afternoon (OTH v Commoners) and attended Compline in the Chapel before dinner.

Compline in chapel


The Dinner


For more photos from the day, click the heading

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjUGBUrR
Warden-Elect, Gentleman,

What a pleasure to be back in these hallowed halls again, and this time amongst people who are no longer trying to turn you into a muddy pulp on the football field. But to get my first inconsequential point in early, the irony of the name ’Winkies’ rather wears off after a while? Can we not find another name for it? I suggest something like ‘Posts’ or even possibly ‘The Hot Game’....

It’s very good to see such a good turn-out of old friends here, though recognizing some of them has been a problem – and I’m sure that’s mutual, but as we approach our 70th years, we should hold to the old prayer: ‘God give me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do - and the eyesight to know the difference’. Actually, I ran into very few timesome Widmerpools in my time here, but am reminded of the story of the two men who had hated each other at school and ran into each other again 40 years later on the platform at Waterloo Station. One had become an admiral and the other a rather portly bishop and both were in full fig. Seeing the admiral, the bishop called out: ‘Tell me, station-master, what time does this train get into Southampton?’  To which the admiral replied: “Madam, in your condition, you shouldn’t even be travelling.’

Now if I have anything remotely serious to say about the school tonight, it is about character.  I’ve always believed strongly in the old idea that ‘The purpose of education is character’ - and it was interesting to see its history examined in a recent edition of The Trusty Servant. The concept of course comes from Plato’s ‘Republic’, which brings it somewhat closer to home, that having been part of the life’s work of the headmaster in our time, Desmond Lee, though he is perhaps better known to this audience for his pretty daughter, Polly! Though I believe good character to be substantially inherited and imbued from our parents, it must also derive from our schooling – particularly from the fundamental moral character of the school and the qualities it instills in its pupils. And I think that the school in our day did instill a decent moral character – and I’m sure still does. I won’t attempt to define good character tonight, but surely the quality of not dipping one’s hand into pots of other people’s money ranks high. I’m sure that no OWs have been involved in the current FOREX and LIBOR scandals – and even past excesses such as baby syndicates’ at Lloyd’s. All such ‘opportunities’ must be passed up with lofty distain. And even don’t get me started on the moral corruption of American-style bonuses. In our day all you expected was a ‘well done’ from your senior partner, and to be offered a monetary bonus might well have been taken as an insult. Bonuses were something offered to the builder to get him to finish one’s house on time.

But of course, it’s too easy to be righteous about other people’s character and morality. I am reminded of the two bishops having a drink together at the Athenaeum and discussing modern morals. One says to the other, ‘I never slept with my wife before I married her, did you?’ to which the other replied, ‘I really can’t remember old boy. Remind me, what was her maiden name?’

Now, I think we can all agree that it helps develop your character to face some adversity in life, but leaving your prep-school, where you were probably top dog, and being surrounded by larger, stronger, faster and cleverer people than yourself was undoubtedly a ‘good thing’. You also learned to your chagrin that those who were especially bright were more often than not bloody good athletes as well. So any childish notions of fairness got trampled on pretty quickly too. I wasn’t especially good at the principal sports, being small for my age until about 16, and so coxed eights on that narrow ditch the Itchen Navigation, but I became quite good at tolling, and was taught a valuable character-building lesson in the year that I was fancied to win the senior steeplechase – I think the same year that the great Nick Ward-Jackson enlivened the sport by completing half the course on a fine grey. Anyway, I was cantering home and acknowledging the roars of the crowd, when Simon Beloe, who had trailed me all round, pounded up and overtook me on the finish line. I will only say that we are friends to this day, so I must have learned something, even if when I speak his name it is usually in the same sentence as the word ‘swine’.

Of course you go on learning further character-building lessons throughout life. We must now all be grandfathers, and learn much humility from our grandchildren. I particularly like the story of the little boy who asked his grandfather if he would make a noise like a frog. ‘Why?’ asked his grandfather.  “Because’, the little boy replied, ‘Mummy and Daddy say that when you croak, we can get a new car’.   

That brings me rather too neatly to the Goddard Legacy Society, the relatively painless way in which we can all ensure that as wide a number of future generations as possible can have their characters developed by this marvelous school, and I join the Warden-Elect in urging us to take advantage of it before we croak.

I now invite you all to rise and drink the toast ‘Stet Res Wiccamica’.


Herry Lawford (G. 1959-1964)     

School