Stowe: The History of a Public School, 1923-1989

Brian Rees

Stowe: The History of a Public School, 1923-1989

Stowe was granted two priceless -gifts at its birth: some of the most handsome buildings and surrounds in the country and, in J.F.Roxburgh, a headmaster who combined inspiring leadership of staff and boys with style and salesmanship. The school had expectations of greatness thrust upon it from the first. Roxburgh met this challenge by assuming Stowe belonged in the top rank - and getting all to act upon that assumption. But like the dignified swans upon Stowe's lakes, there was much frantic paddling going on below the surface. Continual improvisation was needed to make a workable school out of a stately home, whilst the finances remained on a knife edge thanks to the eccentricities of the school's evangelical founder, the Reverend Percy Warrington. After a bare decade of fully fledged life Stowe was faced with the demands of the Second World War. It met them, as did the Old Stoics who were more than decimated in the fighting. With the retirement of Roxburgh in the late 1940s there began the gradual change from the characteristic features of a 'countryhouse party' where elegance, intellectual and social, filtered down from above, to a modern and more doggedly purposeful institution. This history of Stowe, published in its seventieth year, points out that the school has always had to live by its wits, had to 'try harder'. So it faces the considerable challenges of the next seventy years combative and experienced. Lirian Rees started his teaching career at Eton from 1952 to 1965 and then became headmaster of Merchant Taylors, Charterhouse and Rugby, but hitherto has been unconnected with Stowe. He is thus well able to evaluate Stowe's achievements and link its unique history to the general movements and moods of the times. 4.5 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
Stowe: The History of a Public School, 1923-1989

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre History
Format Hardback
Pages 384
RRP £20.00
Date of Publication
ISBN 978-0719548284
Publisher John Murray/ Stamp Publishing
 

Stowe was granted two priceless -gifts at its birth: some of the most handsome buildings and surrounds in the country and, in J.F.Roxburgh, a headmaster who combined inspiring leadership of staff and boys with style and salesmanship. The school had expectations of greatness thrust upon it from the first. Roxburgh met this challenge by assuming Stowe belonged in the top rank - and getting all to act upon that assumption. But like the dignified swans upon Stowe's lakes, there was much frantic paddling going on below the surface. Continual improvisation was needed to make a workable school out of a stately home, whilst the finances remained on a knife edge thanks to the eccentricities of the school's evangelical founder, the Reverend Percy Warrington. After a bare decade of fully fledged life Stowe was faced with the demands of the Second World War. It met them, as did the Old Stoics who were more than decimated in the fighting. With the retirement of Roxburgh in the late 1940s there began the gradual change from the characteristic features of a 'countryhouse party' where elegance, intellectual and social, filtered down from above, to a modern and more doggedly purposeful institution. This history of Stowe, published in its seventieth year, points out that the school has always had to live by its wits, had to 'try harder'. So it faces the considerable challenges of the next seventy years combative and experienced. Lirian Rees started his teaching career at Eton from 1952 to 1965 and then became headmaster of Merchant Taylors, Charterhouse and Rugby, but hitherto has been unconnected with Stowe. He is thus well able to evaluate Stowe's achievements and link its unique history to the general movements and moods of the times.

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Reviews

The Spectator

Charles Sprawson

The author, Brian Rees, was originally commissioned to write the book by the governors. They wanted an objective account. As a writer who had taught at Eton, then been headmaster of Merchant Taylors, Charterhouse and Rugby, he seemed the ideal choice. But when the book was on the point of completion, they mysteriously changed their minds and went back on their decision to publish it, giving no reason. The author was forced to have it published himself. The governors should now be grateful for such a beautifully written and enthusiastic tribute.

04/02/2009

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