As the only surviving member of your predecessor Galpin’s staff of 1899-1903, I feel I ought to pass on to the younger generation of King’s School my knowledge of an incident of which I was told about 1900. It seems that, some little time before I came, there had been a fire in the part of the Cathedral which contains the tomb of the Black Prince. When he (Dr. Galpin) heard the cry of “Fire”, one of the masters named Hodgson – afterwards Canon Hodgson – ran at once for a ladder and went in and “rescued” from above the tomb these accoutrements of which replicas have just been dedicated.[1] When I was at Canterbury, Hodgson was Master of the Preparatory School, which in those days was housed in the Archbishop’s Palace [now Walpole House] – an address which the Hodgsons duly stamped, I remember, on their notepaper.

I gather from the newspapers that the School is thriving, and its Boat Club – which, by the way, I started: I still possess the photograph of the Four of 1900 or 1901.

Your kind letter prompts me to reply with the enclosed … a word or two more of reminiscence. The masters’ common room in my time was in the Grange, and after dinner we played bowls on the lawn. Old Mason – known to the boys as “Tar” (for Tartar) – claimed the bowls were his own and expected to be asked for them. As he was merely the survivor of a syndicate of masters who had bought them for the use of the common room, we younger men revolted and took them without his leave; which ended in war – he keeping his and we buying a new set, and neither side speaking to the other more than was necessary – all this so like the umbrella episode in Mr. Perrin and Mr.Traill that I have wondered if Hugh Walpole was ever a master at King’s School after I had left.[2]

Dr. Galpin’s study was divided by a curtain into “the holy place” and “the holy of holies”, and we masters used to assemble every morning in the former and wait till he came out of the latter to make any announcement before we all went into “School” (above the arches) for prayers. One morning, thinking he had not come in from his breakfast, I stamped on the door and said “Shop”, whereupon, rather to our consternation, he emerged. This was long remembered against me, as was a phrase I coined at confirmation times, when Galpin, whose small stature made him careful of his dignity, was long said to have put on “his confirmation face”.

When I told you that I started the Boat Club I should have said “with C.W. Bell”, though he dropped out very soon, getting married… In those days we had to race one boat behind the other with two winning posts at Fordwich, ending a J-shaped course. Which brings me to Arthur Bryant’s History of England, where he describes Becket’s return from exile and the welcoming crowds all along the road “from Canterbury’s own port of Sandwich”. I have suggested that this must be a mistake for Fordwich, and he agrees.

[1] The Achievements of the Black Prince.

[2] Walpole taught briefly at Epsom College.

These reminiscences were published in The Cantuarian in 1954.