A Victorian View of Warwick School
By G Frykman, School Archivist
24 May 2005
The following annotations have been discovered in a copy of Leach's book History of Warwick School held by Warwick Library in their Local Reserve Stock. Many of the annotations, charmingly describing what school life was like in the 1890s, have been initialed GEJ, and there are also references to the year 1947 and King George VI. There is only one boy in the Admissions Register from the late Victorian period with the correct initials, and it would appear, therefore, that the original owner of the book must have been George Ernest Jackson.
George Ernest Jackson was born the son of a Banbury parson, Rev G E M Jackson, in 1877 and was a boarder at the school from 1893 to 1896. The evidence suggests that he must have made these annotations in his old age. It is fair to record that Jean Field, in her book Kings of Warwick, mentions these annotations, and she quotes a few of them. The page numbers quoted are those in Leach.
Dr Way hated the new pronunciation of Latin which had started to creep in, and on a Speech Day he ridiculed it by giving an example of the sublime to the ridiculous, which under the new idea turned the majestic Veni, vidi, vici into "Weny, weedy, weeky"!
p xiii Names of school
Warwick School King's College, Warwick Myton School (on the Myton Road, no other reason as far as I know). GEJ.
p 136 [three sheets of note-paper sown in]
Leamington was "out of bounds" without a permit, which was easy to obtain. One fine day a footman arrived from my relatives with a note asking me & my brother to tea for a party. I could not find the Head or Form Master any where so decided we would go. Sans our party suits and most other things. As we were walking back 2 Masters met us and asked us for our permit which was non est. They then said you know you are out of bounds and I said Yes Sir. Very well, they replied, we shall report you to the HM with which we proceeded on our way. Next morning Dr Way, who knew my relatives the Milnes quite well, sent for me and asked me for a full explanation, which I gave, explaining all the circumstances. What are rules, my boy? Laws, Sir. For what are Laws or Rules enacted? To be kept, Sir. What are bounds, my boy? Places beyond which you must not pass, Sir. So you broke the Rule and passed the Bounds? Yes, Sir. I'm not sure whether to cane you or not but since you endeavored to find me and also your Form Master without success and since I know where you went and can verify it I do not intend to punish you on this occasion but remember Rules are Laws which must be kept under all circumstances. Run away now, my boy! Later in Form with one of the "Beaks" (Masters) who reported us to Dr Way - Well, I hope you got duly punished! To which I gave the following oracle - "Please, Sir, Dr Way is very strict and very just", which left him completely in the dark! GEJ.
p 167 [re Boblic]
eg Bablake School, Coventry 1947.
p 212 [Opposite a picture of Rev W Grundy, headmaster from 1881 to 1885]
[re Satisfecit, ie work having to be re-done]
So did Dr Way. A bad system in practice as it tempted boys to forge the Master's initials on their S: paper and I never heard of any such boy being found out in Way's day!
Same as in Way's day.
p 215 [re Barry Meade, Senior Master]
A funny old bird but quite harmless! His head was too full of maths for common sense.
p 219 [re Rev J P Way, headmaster from 1885 to 1896]
The finest HM the school ever had - and a gentleman in every sense of the word - firm, just and kind - with a sense of humour! Theological views - Lib Evangelical. I liked him very much as a boy. He made Warwick School and brought the right atmosphere with him to make it a really good public school. He recd his DD degree towards the close of his time at Warwick School. GEJ
[re Mrs Way] Known as "Gerty" she was considerably younger than JPW and had a lisp - and was quite nice.
[re "cribbers" being punished] They would be! Woe betide any dishonest cribber! Way was very strict on this and rightly so. Cribbers were always caned. GEJ
[re meals in hall] After hall there was quite a competition as to which boy held the door open for her and Dr Way as they returned to their own house. Outside this door was another door leading to the private passage way and their house and my seat in hall being fairly near the first - I let other boys hold this open and made my way to the other door and was always rewarded with thanks and a smile from "Gerty" and the Dr!
p 224 [re Robert Davies]
Had a good heart under a rugged and rather surly manner. Known as "Bear" Davies - I liked him.
p 225 [re J Liddell, referred to by the boys as "John"]
Son of a wine merchant. Rather flashy in dress when off duty - florid with a black moustache which contrary to traditions (apart from Sgt-Majors) - he waxed. A bit silly but no fool. His favourite expression when trouncing a boy for bad work in class was "You double distilled essence of donkeydom" in which one may trace something of the wine merchant's vocabulary. "John" was not a special term of affection. GEJ.
p 226 [re Warwickshire Volunteers]
I was a Sgt in this - Tempy Sgt-Major at Aldershot Camp - plus sword. GEJ.
p 230 [re A G Warren]
A short man & music master known as "Totty" Warren. GEJ.
p 231 [re the bazaar held at Warwick Castle to pay for the new chancel]
I was a seller at this & raffled a picture for £25 valued at £5.
p 232 [re F G J Page, later Master of the Lord Leycester Hospital]
The Rev F G J Page was tall & fair with classical features and quite a good sort.
p 233 [re the playing field]
I learnt to ride my first bike on it - in 5 mins!
p 234 [re Herr Ulrich]
The French & German master was Herr Ulrich - a nice old thing who punished bad behaviour in class by giving the culprit 50 French verbs to write out, which on any argument rose rapidly from 50 to 500 - reduced to about 10 when class ended! GEJ.
p 236 [re Rev R Percival Brown, headmaster from 1896 to 1902]
He did not go down and was unpopular. Had a brother a don at Selwyn Coll Camb who was much the same. RPB was not the type to succeed where Dr Way left off. Dr Way had his favourites, myself among them, but caned them just the same - possibly more severely when they deserved it. I had it for taking some eggs from a sitting pheasant in Lord Warwick's Park!
p 240 [re F C van Cortlandt]
F C van C one of my friends - very untidy in his dress.
p 241 [re L F Cass]
Did not like him - nasty tempered chap.
p 243 [re sporting records]
A Addenbrooke, V A Keighley, K W Barlee - friends of mine.
p 244 [re paper chases]
Good fun & we got very dirty! GEJ.
[re the Corps]
Our service rifles were Martins-Henry - Kick you into a ditch but wd stop anything. I missed getting my marksmanship at Stratford on Avon by 1 mark only.
[re J W Forbes]
Scarlet & blue trousers with red stripe dark blue spiked helmets white pipe clayed belts etc. When Forbes was appointed to officer the Corps, he used to go out on the playing fields by moonlight to get used to his sword and practice saluting with it. We boys could see it flashing in the moonlight from the dormitory windows!
[re names on the South African War Memorial]
G W R Nettleship, J H Longbotham - contemporaries of mine.
[re Latin howlers]
What price "aegrotat animo magis quam corpore"? "He didn't care a groat any more for the major than for the corporal!"
p 249 [re Ettington]
The Shirley family used to be at Ettington.