The most spectacular person on the staff was the Reverend L. G. Mason, known as ‘Tar’ or ‘Tar barrel’ for his enormous girth. He was really the cartoonist’s joy and it is a pity the famous ‘Spy’ never saw him to draw.
To see him waddling across the Mint Yard was a fine sight. To enable him to reach the books on his desk he had a large half-circle cut in it. He was a great disciplinarian and indeed alarming. Should he perceive the eyes of any boy wandering from his Latin grammar to gaze at the lawn through the French windows, upon the grass and trees outside, he would roar “Eyes in the Boat”. Indeed such a dire memory did he leave to many of his classes that one member who became Bishop of Hong Kong, on returning to the school to visit Tar’s old classroom, shrank back and refused to enter the room, as it entailed such horrible memories.
Tar had a particular dislike of dogs and one belonging to Colonel and Mrs Dickinson the Seneschal of the Cathedral, who then lived in Lattergate, had a hound whom the maid seemed always to let out into the Mint Yard just as Tar had reached an eloquent moment in his translation of Vergil. As soon as the bay of the dog was heard he would instruct the head-boy of his form to seize his largest Latin dictionary, rush out and heave it at the dog. “Go and cast your dictionary” he would say “at the Seneschallic Hound”. This was obeyed with alacrity.
The Reverend L. H. Evans was a great scholar and to sit at his feet during his English Literature classes was a delightful experience. He inspired a love of literature in many boys. He was named ‘Winks’ because as he spoke to you he winked, and when one asked him a question he always paused and then said slowly “Say it again, Money”, thus giving himself sufficient time to think out a right answer.
Doctor Galpin was Headmaster of the School from 1897 to 1910. During his time the school prospered enormously, the numbers were very nearly doubled, and what was known as the ‘new Hall’ was built and the Harvey Laboratory. Doctor Galpin was very efficient, what he undertook to do he carried out. He was know as ‘Greaser’ due to an unfortunate greasy manner.
During his time there came an occasion when Archbishop Temple, the official Visitor of the School, was invited to pay his visit. It seems he had told the Governing Body that he did not approve of Holiday tasks. During his speech to us in the large schoolroom he said “Work while you work and play while you play” and then proceeded to say “Boys, do not do your holiday tasks, and when the Headmaster asks you for your holiday task I think it will be sufficient if you reply that the Archbishop of Canterbury told you not to do it”. This caused a great sensation and next day all the newspapers came out with a report of the speech.
Mr Cape was know, I know not why, as ‘Tunkey Cape”. He once asked a boy in his form to walk into Butchery Lane to obtain something for him in a shop there. There were exclamations from the whole class. “Sir, we are not allowed to enter Butchery lane”. No one could tell Mr Cape how this rule came about, but it eventually appeared that at least half a century earlier a boy had sold some of his school books to a book seller there and the school was forbidden to enter the man’s shop again. Thus, though half a century or more had elapsed since this episode the tradition still persisted.
Mr Latter was a powerful Rugger player who gave instruction in the game, and once in a scrum a boy was heard to say to another whose head he had hit: “I am so sorry”. Latter stopped the game and said “you will now go to the pavilion, I presume, to fetch your hat, and having put it on will immediately remove it again and say “I am deeply sorry to have caused you any inconvenience”.
Mr Rosenberg was probably the best mathematical master in any school in England. In his mathematical class he would explain how Newton discovered the Theory of Gravity and could weigh the Earth. One day as he was going ‘full blast’ in these matters to his class, he paused and observed that Curteis Ryan was sound asleep. There was a roar that shook the room and it evidently echoed outside in Palace Street as from without came the voice of an urchin “’ave you ’urt yourself Guv’nor?”
Dean Farrar was still alive when I came to the School, but only just. So infirm was he that the Captain of School had to stand beside him in the pulpit and turn over the pages of his sermon as he preached. A year or so later he died and the whole school attended his funeral. I well remember hearing the Great Bell from Bell Harry Tower toll the same number of times as his age, and the sound of that great bell is heard over half of Kent.
There was a terrible fire at Eton College in which some boys were burned, due to old iron bars preventing their escape from their House. This set all the schools looking into their fire escapes, and there was much practising sliding down chutes and jumping into blankets from windows. In Winks’ House, it was deemed prudent to cut an opening for a trap door in the middle of the main dormitory, and thence one descended by a ladder into the Studies below. At night we used to throw down a boy’s bedclothes and he had to bring them all up again by the main staircase, with the danger of encountering Winks on the way.
Moline, later Archbishop of Perth, Western Australia, used at one time go to be coached in mathematics by Mr Reay in his rooms. Arriving there one day he found the room empty and on the mantelpiece a notice with the word AYLING. Moline therefore left, appreciating that Mr Reay was ill. The next day Moline was asked by Rosenberg why he had not attended at Reay’s rooms for private maths.
“Sir, I saw on the mantelpiece that Mr Reay was ill.”
AYLING were famous equippers of oars, etc., for boats and Mr Reay was responsible for these and had reminded himself by his notice that he had to attend to some matter about this equipment.
Bruce Money (1889-1977) was at the King’s School from 1901 to 1907. He became a company director, with an enthusiasm for local history. He was a generous benefactor of the School Library. These recollections were published in The Cantuarian in 1971.