St George’s School and the wider world

Reports on political and social unrest in England and the British Empire in the early decades of the 20th century may be found the St George’s school magazines.  Some of the writers demonstrate attitudes which would be unlikely to appear today. Old Boy J.S. W. Dean writes in 1908 that he hopes to return to England to play in the Old Boys’ cricket match, but if these “conspirators in petticoats” [suffragettes] are not brought to their senses, England may be too dangerous a place for him to think of returning; however if the present government doubles the police he may apply for leave.  Another Old Boy, at Oxford, comments that he has “been subjected to the tyrannical onslaught of militant suffragettes and of those who, failing to qualify for the old age pension and dissatisfied with the scheme newly introduced, could cross the Channel and try to qualify for a pension in the land of our friendly neighbour”.

School life in the Easter Term 1912 was affected by national unrest.  On March 13th 1912, the Windsor Castle State Apartments and St George’s Chapel were closed because of possible a suffragette raid.  The following Sunday , March 17th, was observed as a special day of intercession on account of the prevailing labour unrest and in the same period a voice trial of choristers had to be postponed because of difficult railway connections caused by the coal strike.

The school was little affected by the General Strike of 1926.  One boy was unable to travel from Scotland, but all food came in as usual and the boys formed a defence corps and started daily drills.

In 1930, Old Boy K. F. Roberts writes from Rawalpindi that so far, in spite of many dangers about, it is mainly a Muslim Community.  On the day of Gandhi’s arrest several thousand Hindus assembled in a bazaar were being incited to violence when a loud exhaust sound from a passing lorry caused them to flee.  Roberts jokes that he intends to have made some rattles resembling machine gunfire which will be used in future to save ammunition.

Jill Hume, Archives Volunteer

The Queen's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.