It’s been an exciting week in Archives with the arrival of a most wonderful item for the collection, a testimonial to Rev. James H. Harvey signed by the pupils of Dean Close Memorial School. Harvey was one of the first teachers to work here having arrived in 1886. He travelled from London accompanied by 8 boys that he brought with him to start at the new School where his friend, Rev. H. Flecker, had become the first Headmaster.
He was a well-liked and respected member of the school staff. The Decanian magazine gives an account of the presentation during the end of term concert on June 29th 1896 when he was given two silver lamps with the accompanying album which included all the names of the donors. In his farewell speech Flecker spoke of his regret in a break of a friendship which had lasted over many years, while C.M. Hardingham, representing the School, spoke of the huge contribution Harvey had made to the ‘religious, intellectual and athletic life of the School, and the personal loss they felt his departure to be’.
The Album is everything we hoped it would be and more. The front cover has the original initials for Dean Close Memorial School and inside is a simple, but elegant front page with the school motto.
There follows a delightful excerpt in which the boys wrote about their sadness that Harvey was leaving and wished him well for the future…
‘We would have you feel that you bear from us to your new calling the sincerest affection and most hearty good wishes for your-well-being.’
Each boy has then signed the book which includes the autographs of Herman Elroy Flecker, later James, son of Dr Flecker the first headmaster, and poet in whose honour the blue plaque is placed on the front of school. Rupert Brooke, the former Head of School who was killed during the Boer War. H.G. Frean who was killed in WW1 and H.T. Rainger who went on to become the architect of Dean Close School for 34 years…the list goes on.
The book is a truly unique item as we have no other testimonials to staff from the period and a remarkable addition to the collection.