Can a school change and still be the same school?

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By Clare Jarmy, Head of PRE and Head of Academic Enrichment and Oxbridge

125 logo trans - Copy (Small)Giving school assemblies is always such a joy, especially tackling topics that really matter to us as a community. On our minds this year, in the context of the 125th anniversary of the school, and with Magnus taking the reins in September, is institutional identity. Is Bedales the same school it was 125 years ago? With so much change over the years, how can Bedales still be the same?

In Philosophy, we ask this question of ourselves – we are changing too, with cells regenerating all the time, so am I the same person? Perhaps memories are what keep us the same person?

I applied this to the case of Bedales, and demonstrated that there is a long institutional memory at the school. I asked students to stand up if they had been at Bedales for more than 5 years, then to stand up if they had a parent at the school, or grandparent, or sibling. By then, almost everyone was standing up, and we could see how much collective memory we have of the school.

Similarly, we still have overlapping memories leading back to Mr Badley himself. Keith, other staff and OBs, knew Tim Slack. Tim Slack knew Mr Badley. We then, by knowing those around us today, become part of that chain of memory that leads back to the foundation of the school.

This could get quite backward-looking and nostalgic. After all, as John Henry Newman said, ‘to live is to change’, and Bedales is always seeking to renew itself (Mr Badley wanted the school to rebuild itself every seven years). We must, then, remain Janus-faced, looking back to and understanding our past, yet ever looking forwards to how we shape the school in the future.


Spellbinding Evening for the John Badley Foundation


By Veryan Vere Hodge, Head of Development

Old Bedalians, parents, students and friends came together on 21 March for a magical evening at the House of MinaLima in Soho, London.

Guests were treated to private tours of the enchanting four storey Victorian townhouse, which showcases graphic art of the Harry Potter films, created by founders of design studio MinaLima: Miraphora Mina (OB 1978-85) and her business partner, Eduardo Lima. Guests also had a chance to meet with Miraphora and Eduardo for Q&A sessions.

The House of MinaLima provides an illuminating insight into both the creative and technical aspects of graphic design, and the exhibition space, which is set over three floors and linked by a narrow, winding staircase has a distinctly Bedalian feel.  The lucky raffle winner of a limited edition ‘A Hum of Bees’ print, from MinaLima’s Collective Noun illustrations, was Adah Parris, a friend of Valerie Saint-Pierre (OB 1983-1990) and all guests went home with a wonderful goodie bag courtesy of MinaLima.

Huge thanks to Miraphora, Eduardo and their brilliant team for offering Bedales such a wonderful opportunity, to everyone who came to the event, and to parents Mariangela Franchetti, Philippa Page and Patrick Heneghan for their help on the night serving refreshments.

We are delighted to report that the evening raised over £1,500 for the John Badley Foundation which transforms lives through full bursaries.  If you would like to find out more about the Foundation’s work, or join the 1893 Club by committing a regular gift, please do get in touch.  Thank you.

View photos from the evening, here.

OBs and the Battle of the Somme 1st July – 18th November 1916

By Ruth Whiting, Head of History 1963-2000

Throughout the United Kingdom war memorials reveal the devastation that the Battle of the Somme brought to every town, village and community; Bedales is no exception.  11th November had no significance for the Bedalians of 1916 but by that date eight OBs had been killed in the battle (two on the same day 30th July).

The oldest boys and girls in the school remembered vividly boys who had been their heroes on the sports field, in the Studio or academically when they themselves were at the bottom of the school.  One (Trevor Harris) had left school only at the end of July 1914 and had a younger brother still at Bedales.  John Fothergill had left his farm in New Zealand to join the N.Z. Rifle Brigade.  Noel Harrison left Birmingham University and Alec Forbes his promising future at the Architectural Association.  Garth Smithies Taylor, about to join the family’s internationally famous optical lens firm, agreed with his friend John Russell (who survived) that they could not sit comfortably by whilst others risked their lives.  Later he, like Alec, transferred from the relative safety of the Army Service Corps to front line battalions and lost his life.  The last to die, Edward Allen, was probably wounded on the last day of the battle and died of his wounds three days later.

At Bedales in Remembrance Jaw on Wednesday evening and on the steps of the Memorial Library at 11am on Friday the present school remembered the 66 students, 2 ex-teachers and 2 members of the domestic staff who lost their lives in WW1 and the 18 Bedalians who made the same sacrifice in WW2.

All the casualties of the Somme, except Edward, have already been commemorated on the 100th anniversary of their deaths and you can read more about them in the WW1 section of the History of Bedales on the School website.  For those coming in to school there is a small exhibition about the nine in the Memorial Library.

Lest we forget

Librarian Jane Kirby and I wanted to commemorate those Bedalians who died in WW1.  I suggested we marked the 100th anniversary of their deaths and we agreed this should include a small presentation in the Bedales Memorial Library, the School’s War Memorial, designed by Ernest Gimson and opened in 1921. We have very limited archival resources but close study of The Bedales Record (published annually in September) and, from 1907, The Bedales Chronicle, produced information about most of the OBs. I use my membership of and other genealogical sites to begin research into family backgrounds and regularly consult surviving material at The National Archives, The British Library and the Bodleian.  Many of the OBs feature in published works (usually to be found in our Library), and in several cases I have been loaned material by surviving descendants.

Bedales is unusual in commemorating an ex-pupil, Ferenc Bekassy, who died in the Hungarian Hussars, and an ex-teacher of German, Herr Hinne, who was killed in the German infantry.  I have added to the 63 ex-students and 2 members of staff, two ex-members of the domestic staff, previously ignored.  17 people have already been acknowledged (go to History of Bedales: WW1 on the website) so there is still a large task to be completed.  If any readers of this Bulletin have information about ancestors who were at Bedales and died in WW1 we would be delighted to receive it.

By Ruth Whiting

Old Bedalians reunite in Oxford

The second of last week’s OB reunions based on universities took place in Oxford on Thursday when nine OBs currently studying at Oxford met up at the Old Bank Hotel.  First, second and third year undergraduates attended. Also with them were headmaster, Keith Budge, and four current and two former members of staff together with OB Oliver Jacobs (1952), Emeritus Fellow of Engineering at St John’s College. Other subjects represented included Fine Art, Physics, English, Modern Languages, Biological Sciences and Medicine. The eclectic mix made for much interesting conversation as school links were renewed and the value of the Bedales network in offering shared experience, professional guidance and opportunities for mentoring made clear.

By Philip Parsons, 6.2 Housemaster and Alumni Officer

Sharing experiences at university reunions

Exeter OB reunion

Continuing our series of OB reunions based on universities, nine Old Bedalians all connected in some way with Exeter University met on Monday evening in The Old Fire House in Exeter with two former and two present members of staff.  The OBs included Rebecca Langlands (1990), currently Associate Professor in Classics at Exeter and Helen Sail (nee Bird, 1982), currently Head of Geography at Exeter School and colleague of Graham Banks (former housemaster and Head of English at Bedales). More recent OBs at Exeter were reading English, Modern Languages, Drama, Medicine, Biochemistry and Engineering and all had experiences to share. It was a very pleasant evening, and a very useful way of updating each other on developments at Exeter and Bedales and maintaining the extended Bedales family.

By Philip Parsons, 6.2 Housemaster and Alumni Officer

Rosemary Consort

On 20 September the arches of St Peter’s rang with the praise of Dagon, pagan god of the Philistines. As vicar Will Hughes said in his closing comments, this was probably a first for the church. However, there was praise for Jehovah too, as the Israelites and Philistines battled it out through the choruses of Handel’s Samson, in the capable hands and voices of Louisa Denby’s Rosemary Consort. The occasion was the last event in the Consort’s 2014 fundraising concert series in aid of Cecily’s Fund which supports the education of Zambian children orphaned by AIDS, and was established by the family of Cecily Eastwood OB who died tragically in 1997. The Rosemary Consort is a flexible group of singers and professional instrumentalists whose members are drawn from all over the UK, and from all walks of life; Saturday’s chamber choir of nineteen, with organ, brass quartet, and drums showed just what a talented group it is. Even so, it was perhaps risky to open with Gabrieli’s motet Plaudite, psallite, which divided the choir into twelve parts. Intent on their scores, the singers had little chance to express the jubilation of the words, and there were some nervous changes of metre. However, the splendid closing ‘Alleluia’, echoing on after its final chord, showed the power and vibrancy that the choir could command. In the slower phrases of Gabrieli’s eight-part O magnum mysterium the singers captured the hushed awe of the music; trumpets and trombone joined to end the group with a confident and rousing performance of his large-scale Jubilate.

The contrast between these extrovert works and Purcell’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary could have felt like an anti-climax. As it was, the Consort choreographed the solemn anthems and brass interludes to create an even more intense atmosphere. As they sang Purcell’s Hear my Prayer from the back of the church, carefully shaping the expression of every phrase, the empty space at the front might have been waiting for the Queen’s funeral procession to arrive; while the brass intoned the phrases of the March, the choir created that procession. Between the Funeral Sentences and the closing anthems, soloist Catherine White gave a superb performance of Purcell’s theatrical, virtuoso setting of a Latin ode to the Queen – handling its spectacular high notes and elaborate ornamentation with apparently effortless clarity.

The seven choruses from Samson that formed the second half of the concert offered a whistle-stop tour of Handel’s oratorio, from the rowdy Philistines, via the prayers and appeals of the Israelites, to the dramatic dénouement and the final chorus of praise. Vigour and expression abounded in the singing; indeed, so many ‘main courses’ in quick succession were in danger of bringing on musical indigestion, and the brief solos by Chloe Allison (Micah), Alex Ledsham (Samson) and Simon Herbert (Manoah) added welcome contrast – as did the return of Catherine White to sing the celebrated duet between soprano and trumpet, Let the bright seraphim. Throughout the work, trumpeters Brendan Musk, Chris Parsons, and Ellie Lovegrove added brilliance and character to the festive movements, and Helen Smee provided an assured and colourful accompaniment on the organ.

At the end, there were many reasons for enthusiastic applause. The music had been magnificent. A speech by Alison and Basil Eastwood, founders of Cecily’s Fund, had warmed everyone to the great work their charity does. And after four years singing, playing and fundraising under Louisa Denby’s leadership, the Rosemary Consort is taking next year off. Let us hope we shall see and hear it again in 2016.

By Philip Young, former Bedales Director of Studies

Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.