No. 17 – The teachers’ revenge, 1870s – a 100 objects miniature

Bristowe’s exam

This miniature presents the most ephemeral of ephemera: a scrapbook of snippets cut out of junior boys exams by an unknown Don at Radley in the 1870s. Exams are the horror at the end of every teacher’s year.  Object no. 9  Thank you letter, 2011, examined the history of formal exams and external qualifications.  But the end of year test existed long before exams were subject to external scrutiny or led to nationally recognised standards.  Back in the 1870s, a boy could remain in the same class for years before he passed an exam that allowed him to move up to another class.  The teacher tasked with forcing an education into such a boy needed his own methods to retain his sanity.  In Radley College Archives is a scrap book of cuttings from exam papers.  Did the teachers who collected these feel they were banging their heads against a brick wall, or did they fall about howling with laughter in the Common Room as they added yet another gem to their collection? Here are some of the most sparkling moments as gathered together in Facetiae Radlienses e responsis per examinations factis extracta St Peter’s College 1869

No. 16. Receipt for £672. 1770

In April 1770 Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown received £200 on account from Sir William Stonhouse of Radley Hall, Berkshire.  In December that year Sir William paid another £200, with a further £200 on 3 April 1771. Brown later received a draft on Sir William’s bankers, Messrs Hoare & Co., dated June 9th 1773 for a final payment of £72, which he described in his Accounts Book as ‘a balance of the above account and in full [payment] of account demands.’ The account was then crossed through in the Accounts Book, which probably signifies that the work was completed, paid for and the contract closed.  There can be no doubt, therefore, that Capability Brown was employed by Sir William Stonhouse to carry out landscape ‘improvements’ at Radley Hall over four years between 1770 and 1773, with the bulk of the work probably completed within the year April 1770 to April 1771. In the year in which the Tercentenary of the birth of England’s most significant landscape garden designer is being celebrated nationally, it is time to explore the story of Radley’s lost landscape: to examine what remains, discover how it was lost and found again, and, most significantly, to ask ‘What could you buy for £672 from Capability Brown’?  Read on >>>

Reconstructing Capability Brown’s work at Radley Hall: North & South views

Reconstructing Capability Brown’s work at Radley Hall: romantic and picturesque – serpentine walk and Gothic buildings

Reconstructing Capability Brown’s work at Radley Hall: fish pond into lake: water features from formal to picturesque

Loss & Rediscovery: Capability Brown’s landscape at Radley

image © Royal Horticultural Society, Lindley Library

 

No. 15. Equality in death: the Servants’ War Memorial, 1924

Servants memorial hi res

This is a highly contentious carving.  Not only does the word ‘servants’ evoke the class distinctions of the Edwardian era, but the very separation of this group of names on the War Memorial reinforces that separation in contemporary eyes.  Yet when it was created it was as an act of deep reverence and honour. Radley is one of very few schools which included the serving staff on its War Memorial. At its dedication in 1924 it was part of the great democratisation in death which saw the creation of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission at the end of World War 1.

The whole debate of what form a War Memorial should take began at Radley as early as January 1917 and was not concluded for another 30 years.  In that time the committee had resigned twice, the builders had failed their contract, the architect had died and another war had been fought.  Utility or Sentiment?  What is a War Memorial all about? … read on >>>

No. 14. Planting Plan 1948

Century Clump

Century Clump

This is a scrap of paper glued onto a piece of old cardboard, annotated in red and black ink.  It is very easy to lose or discard it; extremely easy to overlook it.  What it records can be passed by just as easily.  Indeed, so used are we to the landscape around us, to the trees, the paths, the pitches that every golfer playing on Radley College Golf Course, every visitor for a school match, every dog-walker and every member of the College, has walked past this with barely a thought. Yet its purpose is grandiose, ambitious, permanent: a grove of eighteen oak trees each planted to commemorate that greatest of cricketing targets – to score a century in a school match. In thirty-seven years only thirteen boys achieved it. This is the planting plan for Century Clump.  … The full story

No. 13. Magazine cover 2014

Cover POst032
Cover designed by Caspar Lumley, K Social, 6.2, with advice from professional designer Mike Brain.  The cover celebrates 150 years of publication of the school magazine.  How much has changed in that time, and how much stayed the same?  The magazine itself seems to have changed out of all recognition, yet still covers the same material – the everyday life of the school.  When it was first produced in 1864, the school was just seventeen years old, struggling to survive. The magazine was entirely written by the boys and sales were necessary to cover its own costs, with profits being used to subsidise school sports and the library.  150 years later, it has a print-run of 5000 copies, is distributed free, and is the most prestigious publication produced by the school.… read on

 

No. 12. The Richards Gold Medal

No 12 Richards Gold Medal 6Some of the objects which are essential to the story of Radley have very little by way of individual history. So the articles about them form a series of ‘mini-objects’. The first of these is the school’s premiere academic award: the Richards Gold Medal. This is a story about the relationships between schoolmasters and schoolboys in the earliest days of Radley… read on

No. 11. A chicken roll

chicken roll1Object No 10 was a riddle. Object No 11 continues the theme. It is one of the great mysteries of Radley. When this series was first proposed, object No 11 was among the first items to be nominated. It is so iconic that its inclusion in ‘The history in 100 objects’ was cited by the Warden in his end of term assembly. But the object itself baffles. Its hold over the average Radleian is inexplicable to the average adult human. The very photo shows just how unappetising this commodity really is. Yet it is a commodity. It has been used as a reward, as a bribe, in negotiations over lessons, as the impetus behind a strike. It is the stuff of nostalgia. This is a tale that encompasses gluttony, embezzlement, debt and bullying.

It is a soft bread roll filled with minced chicken in mayonnaise, with the minutest amount of lettuce garnish imaginable. All hail, the mystery of the chicken roll. THE FULL STORY

No. 10. A riddle, 1847-1947.

I have four faces, but when I was born I had no face at all.
I am an icon, but what I represent has changed with the years.
I am a landmark, but I cannot be seen from any vantage point.

I have four courts but only one remains.
I have three bells named after Christian saints and
I have been shot at dawn.

I have been a stage.
I have been a roundabout.
I am central.

Boys went unfed, staff unpaid, beds unbought, to pay for me.
I am the oldest.
I was the first.

Who am I? – Click here for the answer

No. 9. ‘Thank you’ letter, 2011

17.8.11

‘Dear Garry
22 A*s in Maths and 6 + 4 more respectively in Further and Additional – a really impressive performance, set alongside the most important statistic in my eyes – 60/62 grades were A*/A/B in Single Maths, a truly amazing statistic. Very well done to you and to all the team.

As ever,

Andrew,

An apparently simple postcard from the Director of Studies to the Head of an Academic Department, penned in AER’s signature purple ink – instantly recognisable to anyone at Radley from 1993 until 2012. On the face of it, a casual note. Digging deeper, it reveals a complex story about a fundamental debate in education over the last 160 years. Object no 7 covered the school curriculum before the advent of public exams; object no 8 looked at the role of an extra-curricular academic discipline and the impact of the enthusiasm of individual teachers. Object no 9 looks at the day-to-day business of education: the formal curriculum and the place of comparative testing between schools for pupils to achieve measurable qualifications – the public exams for A Levels. But the story of exams, results, league tables, only skims the surface of this postcard. For this is the story of exams from the ‘other’ side – not from the pupil’s point of view, concerned with the results of an individual – but from the teachers’ side. Although the postcard is addressed from one individual to another, it is about teamwork, and about saying ‘Thank you.’ For it acknowledges that, although not all taught the actual A Level classes, all the members of a department have contributed equally over a pupil’s career, and all are to be congratulated and thanked. To Read More Click Here

No. 8. The Transit of Venus. 6th June 2012

The Transit of Venus 2004 credit Charles Barclay

The Transit of Venus 2004 credit Charles Barclay

No 8 in our list of objects is an event rather than a physical object.  An event so elusive, so transient, that you can blink – and miss it.  And yet an event so regular that the challenge to record it, and to measure it accurately, has moved empires.  This is a story of the shrinking world and the expanding universe. A story that links James Cook’s great voyage to Tahiti in the 1760s to measure the distance between the Earth and the Sun, with Removes sitting in a classroom at Radley in the 2000s using the global network to harness a telescope in Hawaii to photograph the births and deaths of stars in other galaxies.
This is the story of a hobby; of long nights spent star-gazing; of the influence of great teachers on keen pupils; of the pursuit of academic excellence outside the formal curriculum; and of an event that no one now living will ever see again. THE FULL STORY