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‘On an eminence…’

Celebrating 150 years of Framlingham College

2 Great Expectations 1864–1939 ‘The children not yet borne with gladness shall Thy pious actions into memorye call.’


he inscription on Sir Robert Hitcham’s tomb in

the Earl of Stradbroke. The land on which the College

the parish church showed remarkable foresight

was to be built was originally part of the Castle estate,

in 1636, as generations of Framlinghamians

left by Sir Robert Hitcham in 1636 to Pembroke Hall,

have benefited from his legacy. Many former pupils

Cambridge, and a charter was granted by Queen Victoria

and benefactors have also wonderfully supported

in 1864. The architect was Frederick Peck of Furnival’s

the College, enabling it to develop into the splendid

Inn, London (who just happened to be Richard Garrett’s

institution it is today.

son-in-law!) and the design an interesting example of Victorian mock-Gothic, an engaging contrast with the

The Foundation

genuine medieval castle across the mere. Peck’s design

There was a long-term need for better education in

for Trent College was very similar.

Suffolk and the death of the Prince Consort, ‘Albert

The purpose of the school was quite clearly laid

the Good’, in 1861 was taken as the opportunity to do

down in Garrett’s correspondence: ‘The Institution

something about it. The College was to be the Suffolk

is designed to afford a practical education, at a small

memorial to Prince Albert, which was appropriate,

cost, adapted to the needs of the middle class, and

as he had once visited Suffolk and had expressed his concern about the lack of educational establishments in agricultural counties. Consequently, when it was founded, the College was known as the Albert Memorial College or the Albert Middle Class College. ‘Studio sapientia crescit’ (Through zeal wisdom grows) was chosen as the school motto, the original armorial bearings of the school were: ‘Sable, a chevron between three crowns Or,’ and ‘The boys [wore] a black School cap, with the arms in gold’. The individuals most involved in the setting up of the school were Sir Edward Kerrison, Richard Garrett and


Cricket 1st XI, 1902.


calculated to be of utmost advantage to Young Men destined for agriculture or business generally. It will be in connection with the Church of England, certain exemptions being made to the children of Dissenters.’ The choice of Framlingham for the site for the College was surely swayed not only by the available land, but by the fortuitous arrival of the railway in 1859. The branch line, which connects with the main line from London to Lowestoft at Wickham Market, meant that prospective pupils could access Framlingham from a much wider hinterland than would otherwise have been the case. The impact of the railway locally was very significant for agriculture and local business, not to mention two fine public houses, the Railway Inn and Station Hotel. Like the College the railway would evolve: from the East Suffolk Railway through the Great Eastern to the London and North Eastern Railway. In the 20th century this would live up to its sobriquet, the ‘Late but Never Early Railway’ (LNER), and British Rail would maintain this level of service after nationalisation in 1947. Even so the railway in its early days was a vital lifeline for the


The Fram Flyer, with the College crest on the front.

Chapter 2: Great Expectations, 1864–1939

FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE Framlingham Castle is one of the finest examples of

Castle that Mary Tudor

a medieval ‘keepless’ castle in England. With its 12th-

was proclaimed Queen in

century curtain wall, magnificent gate-tower and 12

1553: ‘the only successful

further mural towers, Framlingham was the chief seat of

rebellion in Tudor

the Earls and Dukes of Norfolk (sic) for well over 400

England’ C.S.L. Davies).

years. From its formative developments in stone in the

In 1572 Framlingham’s

early 12th century, through its slighting in 1173–5 and

decline was accelerated

re-development from c.1190 into its present form, this

with the execution

imposing edifice reflected its owners’ might, enclosing

of Thomas Howard,

the residential buildings befitting the status of such

4th Duke of Norfolk,

aristocratic families as the Bigods, the Mowbrays and

for treason, and

the Howards. In the late 15th century, ‘it could and did

from the 1580s it was

act as the political focus for the entire region – a court

downgraded to a prison

in miniature’ (Roger Virgoe).

for religious recusants.

As the country moved away from the Wars of

The Castle

the Roses (1455–85) into a period of relative peace

was subsequently

and prosperity under the Tudors, the need for such

bought by Sir Robert

strongholds amongst the once ‘over-mighty’ nobility was

Hitcham before being

diminished. As a result, from the early 16th century the

bequeathed to Pembroke

Howards attempted to bring this emphatically medieval

Hall, Cambridge, in 1636.

structure up to date with a number of red-brick

It was neglected thereafter and most of its interior

additions. These included windows, a new causeway,

buildings were pulled down. Fortunately it has since

surrounds of the coat-of-arms above the main gateway

been resurrected to something approaching its former

and, most amusingly, a series of elaborate Tudor

glories and visitors can enjoy the wonderful views

chimneys impertinently perched on top of the ancient

from the wall-walk across the mere to the College.

mural towers.

Generations of Framlinghamians used to be able to visit

Framlingham remained the centre of the ducal Below: View of the Castle from the College over the Mere.

Castle gate-house with Howard coat-of-arms.

the Castle gratis simply by flaunting their College ties,

estates until the Howards, in search of greater comfort

though sadly now the increased efficiency of English

and ostentatious display, completed their new palace at

Heritage has all but raised the drawbridge on this time-

Kenninghall in 1525. Even then it was at Framlingham

honoured tradition.


8 A Comedy of Errors


erhaps down to the 1970s one feels that some

grew, the Chapel could be full and pews, especially near

elements of high culture triumphed at the

the back of the nave, could be more or less discreetly

College despite rather than because of facilities,

creaked by the eight boys squeezed into them as a form

but there is no doubt that the past 30 years have vastly widened the opportunities for students interested in

of protest against the length of the discourse. The Chapel itself was cruciform in its original

music, drama and the visual arts. The fact that these

shape, with the north wing housing the pipe organ,

have become serious exam subjects at GCSE and A

the altar in the apse at the east end behind the

Level has meant that some students can specialise in

communion rail, and the school choir with its boy

them, and advances in technology have changed the

trebles set in rows facing each other. All this was

ways in which they can be approached. Equally the

altered with the extension of the building under

opportunities to go to concerts, theatre productions

Rimmer in the 1980s, with the altar moving out of

and art galleries are legion. It is perhaps fair to say that

the apse and the choir seated there facing the main

in these areas the experience of pupils at the College is

congregation in the nave, now supported by our

much richer than in earlier years.

second electronic organ. Much of the alteration was sensitively done, though the pink roof and upturned

In Quires and Places where they Sing

chamber pots used as light shades leave much to be

Society has grown more secular, and such religion

desired. OFs gave generously for the chairs in the

as survives in England and Europe has grown more

north transept and, apart from the poor sightlines

disparate and individualised. However, the role of

for a few seats close to the main pillar, the building

chapel in College life remains almost unquestioned,

generally functions well for a school of over 400.

even if the nature of what goes on there has changed

If outsiders wonder at the place of chapel in

greatly. Perhaps the College’s original vagueness

Framlingham they might wonder more at the nature

about being a Church of England school but

of the men who have served as Chaplain. The likes of

welcoming dissenters is actually a strength in modern

Rupert Kneese were, perhaps inevitably, replaced by

times, when catholicity in the sense of embracing

gentler men. Vivien Singh served in Porter’s last years,

universality is essential.

and then Rimmer appointed Richard Law in the early

This has meant some loss. In the 1960s there were

1970s. There were the usual healthy tensions between

two compulsory services each Sunday, Matins and

the Chaplain and the Ordinary, but Richard brought

Evensong, and those services would recognisably follow

his own form of holiness to the task, while being an

the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. In one of those

officer in the CCF and battling away in the classroom;

services there would be a substantial sermon, often

his wife as singing teacher and three children as pupils

preached by a visiting clergyman. As school numbers

could widen his understanding of his flock.


Second Master, Tony Lawrence, addresses the congregation in 1993.


‘On an eminence’ : Celebrating 150 years of Framlingham College

In 1984 Michael Booker took over: having been Precentor of St Edmundsbury Cathedral and Minor Canon for 15 years, Michael was happy to make Sung Eucharist the central service on most Sundays. In his later years he had much to do at Brandeston after the Reverend Roger Dixon’s retirement. Michael’s retirement in 1999 after 15 years of devoted service as Chaplain led to two brief tenures, those of Reverends Charles Jefferson and Mark Haworth, after which Mrs Randall seemed to despair of ordained men as she despaired of Bursars. And so Nick Chaplin was appointed to run the finances, while the chaplaincy went to a layman, Steve Waters, a safe pair of hands on the pastoral front and a man willing to be involved in many areas of College life. He has also taken particular care over the memorials on the Chapel walls, adding names omitted to old memorials and overseeing the consecration of new ones to Prince Karadja, along with Sir Patrick Howard-Dobson’s coat-of-arms. Otherwise in the last 20 years, the change in

these things. Many singers claim the foundations of

Sabbath observance is perhaps greatest. So many

their later success were laid in a chapel choir, and in

students, if not day students, are weekly boarders, so

recent years, Laura Wright’s singing at Twickenham

only rarely are major services held on Sundays. The

rugby and Christina Johnston’s starring on the opera

Music department had to adapt to this, with ‘Choir’

stage in Prague are reminders of what willowy oaks can

activities moving chiefly to weekdays, but this has

grow from choral acorns.

enabled the strong choral tradition to be maintained

If then major Sunday services are rare, they are

there. Whether the congregational hymn singing can

perhaps the more special when they do take place. In

continue to match that of earlier times is more open to

the Michaelmas Term, Remembrance Sunday always sees

question, but Framlingham usually finds ways of fixing

the Chapel filled with College students and the wider Framlingham community, and traditional hymns will get the full treatment, without bombast – students of all nationalities can feel part of such a service of dedication. Liturgical choral works can be performed in chapel, the annual carol service is well supported, and these grand acts of worship are offset by many smaller gatherings. In opening his great work of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity in the 1590s, Richard Hooker wondered whether the Church of England would survive, suggesting, however, that the difficulties it had been able to overcome were evidence of divine protection. Generations of Fram students have hoped their Sunday cricket would end too late for them to attend chapel, or that their exam timing would excuse them from attendance, and yet when all is said and done, would miss it if it were not there. Once in another Somerset rectory due to be sold to the laity, this verse was found:


Above: Laura Wright with members of the England rugby team at Twickenham in 2013. Below left: Michael Booker and Beetle.

Chapter 8: A Comedy of Errors

SIR PATRICK HOWARD-DOBSON (RENDLESHAM, 1933–40) ‘Sir Pat’ was one of our most distinguished OFs. He came to Framlingham after being a chorister at King’s College Choir School, Cambridge, and had a superb all-round school career, ending up as Head Prefect. Commissioned into the Queen’s Own Hussars in 1941, he saw war service in Burma and Italy, but this was only the prelude to a remarkable rise through the ranks. He became Commandant of the Staff College, Military Secretary and Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, before retiring as a full general in 1981. Knighted in 1974 he was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1979. A man of strong Christian faith, his ‘retirement’ comprised a plethora of responsibilities including being President of the Royal British Legion. However, he was also an active Governor of the College from 1975 and Chairman from 1987–92. His children and grandchildren came through the College and his son, Peter, is now also a Governor.

The Lay Chaplain, Steve Waters, with James Mee, Mrs Gwen Randall and Rabbi Doctor Andrew Goldstein at the Commemoration Service for Prince Constantin Karadja in 2009.

Sir Patrick HowardDobson (1921–2009) and his armorial bearings at Westminster Abbey.

If you see a church that’s empty


Tho’ its doors are open wide

John Cooper Green recalls his time as Director of

It is not the Church that’s dying

Music at the College: ‘When I went to Framlingham

But the people who have died.

in 1980 there was no music school, and the majority of the teaching took place around the Athlone Hall.

One suspects that as long as there are Framlinghamians

The main hall was used for class teaching, with the

coming through the front door, they will continue to

two back rooms, the toilets and foyer for instrumental

turn right along the corridor to the Chapel.

teaching! Amongst the students was Richard Perry, who had come to the College from St John’s College Choir School, Cambridge. Richard had just gained an Associated Board Gold Medal for Grade VI Singing. He was later to gain an alto choral scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford, and then Trinity College, Cambridge, and is now a consultant neurologist at UCLH. The music groups at that time were the Choral Society, Chapel Choir, Barbershop Group, Wind Band and an occasional String Quartet run by Michael Cooke. Andrew Cronin had recently joined the Music staff and was developing the brass and wind bands. He was also a good bass and founded the Barber Shop Group (Fram Friseurs) which was continued when he left by Howard Robinson. There was the occasional student taking A Level Music but O Level was not on the syllabus and was


'On an Eminence...' Celebrating 150 Years of Framlingham College  

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