MALVERN COLLEGE was founded in 1865. There was a certain German doctor, of the name of Stummes, of great hydropathic fame, in the town of Malvern, and it occurred to him that a public school, founded “on the unrivalled site,” to quote Mr. Foster’s article in the “Malvern Register,” “where now the stately school buildings preside over a dignified conclave of Master’s houses, respectfully ranged on this side and on that with green swards of shapely terraces and shelving banks,” would be both a great boon to humanity, and also, though this may have been an afterthought, the means of putting into his own pocket the honest pfennig. However, whether the motives that animated him were those of William of Wykeham or the canny speculator is a small matter. Suffice it to say that to him is due the inspiration that led to the formation of the School.
But the real founder, in the full sense of the word, was the late Earl Beauchamp, whose labours for twenty-five years as the first Chairman of the Council laid the foundation of future success, and prescribed the lines on which the school has always been conducted. His successor in the Chairmanship, Mr. G. E. Martin, has continued the same sound and vigorous policy with the best results, and to these two men Malvern owes a higher debt of gratitude than to any other individuals outside the actual staff. The College was actually opened on January 5th, 1865. There were but a modest twenty-four scholars then, eleven being day-boys, or home-boarders, to give them their official title.
The first Head Master was the Rev. Arthur Faber, Fellow and Tutor of New College, Oxford. He lived, as is the wont of Head Masters, in the School House, but at first received no boarders. There were in the beginning only two Houses, occupied by the Rev. Charles M’c Dowall and the Rev. F. R. Drew.
The school, once set spinning down the ringing grooves of change, soon proved by its success how sound had been the judgement of Dr. Stummes. By 1867 there were 105 boys, and a new boarding-house was required—a sure sign of increasing prosperity.
In the third term of 1867 two new masters were enrolled, who have, in their different ways, done much for the good of the school, Mr. Foster and Dr. Wachter. They still remain at work with undiminished vigour. A modern side was started in 1868, and a junior school in 1869.
Summer, 1870, marks a most important epoch. In that year Royalty, in the shape of the Prince and Princess Christian, came down to the College for the first time, and—with a kindness which probably settled for ever in the minds of Malvernians of that day the vexed question of the divine right of kings—procured an extension of the holidays. This speech-day was a very memorable one. Besides the visit of the Prince and Princess, there were other notable events. The Prologue, that excellent institution, appeared for the first time in the programme, and (si parva licet) the College die was stamped on the prizes.
Christmas, 1873, saw a new departure in examination work, for the whole school was examined by outside examiners. This was, of course, the thin edge of the wedge. The Board Examinations, with their innocently easy questions and iron-hearted examiners, who subtract marks at the rate of thirty per small mistake, were bound to come sooner or later. It is to the credit of Malvern that the evil day was staved off for no less than five happy years.
In 1880 Mr. Faber resigned the Headmastership; his successor was the Rev. C. T. Cruttwell. Mr. Faber was presented on speech-day with a pair of silver candelabra—the gift of past and present boys and masters. Moreover, a sum of £400 was collected outside the College, and a “Faber Exhibition” founded, which went to the candidate placed first in the annual entrance scholarship examination. “No school,” says the “Malvern Register,” “ever had a stronger, more industrious, and more methodical Head Master than Mr. Faber.”
In 1885 Mr. Cruttwell retired in favour of the Rev. William Grundy, late Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford. His term of mastership lasted till 1891, and was marked by rapid and vigorous progress. The numbers of the school reached three hundred and twenty-three, the Staff was increased in proportion, and the College so far overflowed its accommodation as to necessitate the old Sanatorium being converted into a class-room. But Mr. Grundy’s success was cut short by death on December 5th, 1891. A permanent memorial, bearing his name, exists in the Grundy Library, which occupies the whole upper floor of the old Sanatorium. The new Head Master was the Rev. A. St. John Gray. To him is due the erection of the College Chapel, which, though still incomplete in detail, is a really noble building. It was dedicated in June, 1899.
In 1897 the present Head Master, the Rev. S. R. James, of Haileybury and Trinity, Cambridge, succeeded Mr. Gray. He is best known, perhaps, as a Volunteer officer, being, indeed, the famous Major James of Eton. He was four years in the Cambridge Rugby XV., which he captained in 1878. For the rest, the fact that “Who’s Who” gives his recreations as cricket, racquets, fives, golf, yachting, cycling, and shooting, speaks for itself.
That Malvern should have become a big public school—it now numbers 480 boys—within thirty-five years after the date of foundation is a striking testimony to the excellence of its five Head Masters, but that it should have won the position in the athletic world that it has done is a still more remarkable thing, and says much for the energy and skill of Mr. Foster in early years, and of Mr. Toppin, who has, since 1885, managed the games.
Cricket is the great game at Malvern, and the school has attained that enviable position when anyone who has been a member of the first eleven finds a reputation ready-made on leaving school. “He must be pretty good. He was in the Malvern team,” is the sort of thing one constantly hears.
But there was a time when the cricket of the school was very far removed from its present high elevation. Dr. Stummes may have known a thing or two about Hygiene, but his games-education had been lamentably neglected. If he ever gave a thought to cricket and football—which is improbable—he must have stifled it before it could lead to any good result, for when the school was first founded, there was the poorest possible accommodation for games. “There was not a level spot to be seen anywhere,” says Mr. Foster, “not a court, not a shed: only a broad sweep of turf, tilted uniformly in one direction, with a slope of one in fifteen, and, worse than all, no money to do anything with.” The result was that to combat these natural disadvantages Malvern had to call in the aid of man. Every crisis is popularly supposed to produce a man to grapple with it, but this one put up a very poor specimen of his kind. Lillywhite, of Cheltenham, undertook to level the ground for £100. After which he scraped away a few feet at the upper end, and considered that honour was satisfied.
The remaining conveniences for the employment of time out of school were a few fives-courts, a primitive grub-shop, and “a small lean-to, open on two adjacent sides, which was dignified by the name of the “Pav.” The proprietor of the grub-shop was one Bowkett, nicknamed “Buggy.” Mr. Foster hints that the four-and-twenty Malvernians who formed the College gave this gentleman a somewhat exciting time. During off-hours, however, he used to employ his time in open-air preaching, an occupation which, we will hope, was a solace to him.
The first real improvement in the grounds was the increased privacy afforded by the diverting of the road which ran from the entrance right across the College field.
The next reform was a more radical one, nothing less than the making of a terrace one hundred yards square in the middle of the Senior turf. It is easy to see from the present state of the ground that this was absolutely essential. In those days they played cricket and football on the same piece of turf, and this turf was like the roof of a house, and very narrow and circumscribed. It sloped everywhere, and sloped with a will, and the Malvern bowlers quickly found that they had got hold of a very good thing. The ball pitched in the neighbourhood of point at one end or short-leg at the other would infallibly find its way to the wickets—much to the discomfiture of the batsman, who rather fancied himself at “letting ’em alone” in the true Trent Bridge style. Besides which, the fieldsman who dropped a catch had his excuse ready to hand.
After the Senior turf had been levelled in 1872, similar improvements rendered the Middle and Junior grounds more efficient.
Malvern of to-day is a very different school from what it was in 1865. The grounds have now hardly their equal among the schools for beauty, while, as far as trueness is concerned, the Senior turf would compare favourably with any wicket in England, for which all credit is due to “G.,” otherwise George Arber, one of the best of men and groundmen. The grounds are a series of terraces—four broad green steps cut out of the hill side, which slopes to the East. On the first of these stands the College itself, a grey stone building, covered with ivy. For so recently erected a structure it manages to assume an appearance of antiquity most successfully.
On the right as you go in is the Prefect’s Room, and if ever Prefects were pampered with padded seats and other sybaritic accessories, these Prefects are those Prefects.
The Chapel stands on the south of the College, the School House on the north.
The second step is a sort of prairie dotted here and there with a few big trees and some practice goal-posts, and ending in a gravel path, along which seats are placed. There is a steep bank, and then the cricket-field, a long, narrow strip of turf.
With regard to the growth of cricket in the school, it is a curious thing, that the levelling of the Senior Turf effected no immediate change for the better. Malvern cricket in the seventies and eighties was distinctly mediocre, though the keenness of the school saved it from any suspicion of degeneracy. From 1879 to 1890 Repton had a series of victories to their credit, broken only by an even draw in 1887. The spell ended in 1891. In this year Malvern gained a handsome victory. Since when, to quote Addison, they have used no other.
This change may be attributed almost entirely to the arrival of Mr. Toppin, to whom Malvern cricket owes a great debt. “He introduced into the game a thorough system and organization,” says the “Malvern Register,” “It became gradually, under his supervision, an intense reality, and when once the wheel of fortune turned, it turned completely. The game as it is played in the school leaves but little to be desired from the point of view of school cricket. The practice games are well arranged and kept up to the mark, and every boy is reached by a careful system of inspection of the lists of the various clubs.”
This club system is a most sensible arrangement. Both cricket and football are compulsory, and are played on six days in every week. In the summer term club games are played on three out of the six days, the other three days being devoted to net-practice and house matches. After tea on half-holidays there is House fielding. In winter, club games alternate with House games. Each club consists of some thirty members, chosen, in the junior portions of the school at any rate, with an eye to uniformity of size. Thus the spectacle of the juvenile Saul, a head and shoulders above his fellows, scoring goals and centuries through superiority of physique rather than skill, is fortunately absent from the Malvern games. Each club has its captain, and the lists are thoroughly examined about once a fortnight by the captain of cricket. If one player has played too often, a rest for a day or two is prescribed. If he has played too little, the captain, like the thirty thousand Cornishmen, will know the reason why. In this way the authorities are kept constantly informed of the progress made by each individual cricketer in the school, and the promising batsman or bowler is soon under the official scrutiny, especially if the captain be the master of the remarkable intuition and sound judgment which marked B. A. White, the universally popular skipper of 1899 and 1900.
On half-holidays when there is no first eleven match, a scratch game is played among the first and second teams. This is called the Senior Game. In this and all club games it is a rule that when a player has made thirty he has to retire. In this way a game can be got through in an afternoon, even on the Malvern ground, where bowlers have a notoriously bad time. A man who has made the required thirty is, of course, considered “not out” in the averages. The player with the best average in these games for the season of 1900 was H. S. Gunn.
On the Senior turf, too, is the Colt’s game, the importance of which can hardly be exaggerated. In it all promising cricketers have a trial under the watchful eyes of the cricket authorities; any boy who has distinguished himself in the lower clubs is drafted into this game to have his merits tested.
Below the Senior turf is the middle or Junior turf, east of which stand the College baths. On this ground there is a tree that gets behind the bowler’s arm, or, rather, the bowler’s arm gets in front of the tree, and indignant batsmen write to the “Malvernian” suggesting that it shall be whitewashed or blown up with Lyddite.
The Cricket authorities at Malvern are very generous in the matter of prize bats. Each of the clubs has its average bat, from the thirteenth even unto the first. Then there is a fielding-bat for the First XI. W. S. Bird, the wicket-keep, annexed it this year—a most happy consummation, in that the custodian of the sticks usually gets very little for his pains, except the bitter things that bowlers say against him when he does not “snap them” properly.
Bats are also given for the highest score in a first eleven match (this year B. A. White’s 136 v. Repton), the best batting average, the best bowling average, individual scores over 50 in an inter-school match, and also for six or more wickets in a school match.
That obligarchal and secret-society-like body, the Games Committee, is in power at Malvern, as at other schools. Each House is represented, the Committee being composed of the athletic flower of the school.
The past year has been almost an annus mirabilis for the school. The Football Eleven only lost one match, that against Radley. This defeat was largely due, a prominent member of the team told me, to the fact that the goal-keeper would heave the ball into the net.
Football at Malvern is almost as flourishing a game as Cricket. Perhaps it is quite as flourishing; but it seems less so, because great footballers, especially at Association, do not come before the public eye nearly so much as great cricketers. But Malvern has turned out quite her fair share of Blues. Such names as W. W. Lowe, C. J. Burnup, “Tip” Foster, W. L. Foster, and Day are famous in winter as well as in summer.
At first the football of the school had a somewhat chequered career. The Winchester game used to be played, but, however great the success it enjoys among its rightful owners, at Malvern it did not flourish. Perhaps, if the same rules had been adhered to for two seasons in succession, something might have been made of it; but, as it was, each captain altered the rules to suit his own taste and fancy. The result, as may be imagined, was that the School had no chance of improving at football. In 1873, therefore, Mr. Howard, an old Wykehamist and a member of the Staff, organized a reform. A formal meeting was held, and the fiat went forth that for the future Association pure and simple should be played, and that without any improvements and embelishments at the hands of future generations of captains.
This new scheme proved a great success, and in the Oxford and Cambridge football elevens of 1894-5, Malvern claimed three of the Light Blues, while one O.M. received his Blue at Oxford, but was unable to play in the ’Varsity match.
Football is the only game which is not played in the actual grounds of the College. The football ground is beyond the railway which runs at the foot of the College grounds proper. One of the chief features of the Grounds is the pavilion. It is a most imposing building, with a balcony running along its front. Those privileged to sit here do not miss much of the match, or the surrounding country, for that matter. There is a view of miles and miles of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire scenery. Behind the balcony is the dining-room, with its photographs and lists of teams. Not far from the pavilion stands the scorer’s box, a minute building of the summer-house type, crowned, like the College, with much ivy, and reputed to be exceedingly warm in the dog-days. The boundary furthest from this marks the end of the third terrace. It is the top of another steep bank. This bank used once to be unprotected, and the ball would fly down it like a thunderbolt—a terrible bane to fieldsmen in those parts. Now, however, there is a fairly effective wooden fence along it, which stops all hits along the carpet, but can easily be passed by a lofty drive, as Malvernian batsmen know. Prince Ranjitsinjhi, in the “Jubilee Book of Cricket,” notices that many Malvernians have a habit of playing across, and attributes it to the fatal charms of this bank. It is fine to see the use made of this boundary when Malvern want to win a match against time, and send in their hitters to do it.
The Racquet Court, built in 1872, through the energy of Mr. Foster, is in a corner near his house, and, as is only fitting, the most distinguished Malvern racquet players have been members of his family. As everyone knows, the Public School Racquet Cup is at present in the keeping of the College. B. S. Foster and W. H. B. Evans, after beating most of the schools at intervals during the term, wound up with a brilliant series of victories at Queen’s Club, defeating Winchester, Harrow, and Rugby with an ease that marked them out as the best school pair seen at Queen’s for many years past.
The school year concluded with a very successful Cricket season. B. A. White, with five old colours and five new ones to aid him, beat half of the ten teams that came against the College, drew two matches, and lost three, notably the Haverford match. It was a splendid team, as the averages show. White heads them with 580 runs for ten completed innings.
Then come Worsley with an average of 33, Foster 32, Sanderson 31. The next five are in the twenties, Canny 29, Rogers 26, Gunn 25, Bird 22, and Evans 20. Sitwell and Osborne complete the list with 16 and 7 respectively. The bowling averages are headed by B. A. White with four wickets for 20, though Osborne receives the prize-bat.
Mention has already been made in the columns of the “P.S.M.” of the Repton match; but such a collection of records deserves another word, especially in an article dealing entirely with Malvern. White and Sanderson put on 219 runs without being separated in eighty-seven minutes. The first wicket fell at 233. White was finally l.b.w. with his score at 136—“one of the finest exhibitions of clean, hard hitting,” says the “Malvernian,” “ever seen on the ground.” But faster scoring than this was to come, when Bird and Foster became partners. To quote the “Malvernian” again, “Foster ran yards out to anything from the slow bowler. Anything pitched up he drove clean along the carpet, anything short he cut, sometimes off the middle-stump or almost off the top of the bails. A cross-bat shot to square-leg was not infrequent, and balloons were distributed galore. The game was a curious mixture of judicious science and slashing abandon.” Foster’s 102 took him just over half an hour, and the whole innings only lasted from twelve to half past four, including lunch! When Repton went in, Canny and Osborne both did bowling records. In all, the Repton match cost the Malvern authorities six prize-bats.
House matches loom large in the athletic programme at Malvern. The two largest Houses are the School House and Foster’s; but, as far as cricket and football merit go, there is never any one-sidedness about these encounters. This year the Cricket Cup fell to Toppin’s, the Football to Foster’s.
There are also junior House-matches at football. These come off in the Christmas term. To neutralise the superior numbers of the School House and No. 5, the other Houses are allowed to utilise the services of players up to the age of sixteen, while the two above-mentioned only play those under fifteen and a half.
Training for football at Malvern is marked by its brutal disregard for comfort which is the birthright of every Englishman. The unfortunate devotees rush up and down the Malvern Hills with a fury that is positively astonishing. The photograph which accompanies this article gives an excellent view of these hills, and the mere thought of running up the side of them is enough to make a stout man shudder. Many there are, it is true, quorum pars parva fui, who have reached the summit even of the Worcestershire beacon. But of these the majority mount the harmless, necessary “moke,” while the rest go up luxuriously in carriages. Malvernians, however, scorn such effete comfort. They take the steepest parts at a brisk trot, though after a few minutes the hillside probably seems almost perpendicular to them. But they have their reward. Once accustomed to this mountaineering, they must look on a hard game of football as something in the nature of a rest. Wherefore, as the Prologue says,
“Still we must tell, to make our tale complete, How Shrewsbury and Repton met defeat.”
A quotation from the prologue brings us naturally to Speech Day, the greatest day in the school year. It is held now in the middle of the summer term, but there used to be a time when it wound up the term. The experiment of holding it in the middle of term was first tried in 1876. After three years’ trial this arrangement was superseded in favour of the old plan, but in 1893 was again adopted, and has remained ever since.
On Speech Day the special school prizes are distributed. There are many of these, both classical and modern. The classical prizes are the Ingleby and the Martin (for ancient history). The Dowdeswell is the chief mathematical prize. The Chance exhibition is for modern work. There are also special prizes for Shakespeare, French, German, and English Essay, and, unlike most schools, Malvern boasts an annual Prize Poem.
The proceedings open with the recitation of the prologue by the Senior Prefect. This year G. B. Canny, captain of football, second in cricket, and a scholar of Queen’s, Cambridge, was the reciter. The prologue is a speech of about seventy lines in rhyming couplets. It gives a complete review of the great events of the past year, and always abounds in happy touches, which, though conveying, as is natural, more significance to the Malvernian than to the outside world, are not without a meaning for the most uninitiated.
Such lines as:—
“Kent waits with eagerness but ill-concealed
To see our dashing captain in the field,”
which occurred in the prologue of 1898, are readily understood. After the prologue come the plays, French, Greek, and English. The proceedings end with speeches by the Head Master and the guest of the day, who then distributes the prizes.
Malvern is not a boating school. It is true that in 1875 an attempt was made to start a boat club, and twenty-seven enthusiasts became members. But the idea did not prove a success, the club expired unwept, unhonoured, and unsung, and it is far from probable that any revival will be attempted.
The Sports always produce keen competition, but the number of Malvernians who have made their mark in this department are few compared with the great men of cricket and football fame. This may be due to the fact that, unless an athlete goes up to the ’Varsity, he has not very much chance of becoming famous, and several of Malvern’s most shining lights have not been able to go up. However, E. A. Dawson, the present president of the Oxford Athletic Club is an old Malvernian, and three other O.M.’s secured their running Blues at the last Inter-’Varsity Sports.
Besides the ordinary hundreds, quarters, and jumps, there are certain cross-country runs to test wind and limb, notably the Ledbury run, which was first instituted in 1879. Paper-chasing is also a Malvernian sport.
The Artillery Cadet Corps, which numbers about 200 members, was started in the last term of the year 1883. Mr. Foster was the first commanding officer. Many more celebrated O.M.’s have been subalterns in the corps, notably the two eldest Fosters, P. H. Latham, W. W. Lowe and C, J. Burnup.
Malvern is a very compact school. The same material is used to a great extent for every game. Taking only one family, H. K. Foster was captain of cricket, football, fives and racquets, and lieutenant in the corps; W. L. was in cricket, football and racquets teams, and lieutenant in the corps. R. E. and B. S. were in cricket, football and racquets teams. At non-school games, moreover, such as golf and lawn tennis, they are not at all behindhand.
Like most other schools, Malvern has its Mission. Indeed, the Malvern mission was one of the first. It was started in December, 1878, at the suggestion of Mr. Foster. Its original intention was to assist Bishop Patteson’s work in the Melanesian Islands, but it has been brought nearer home since, viz., to Canning Town, E., and has become more thorough and systematic.
To encourage the songsters of the school, there is an inter-house singing cup. The choir was first started (like most other institutions) by Mr. Foster. The present choirmaster is Mr. R. E. Lyon, an old Malvernian and one of the regular staff of masters.
The gymnasium, built in 1876, does not flourish as it should. Malvern sent up no representatives for gymnastics to the Aldershot Competition, though it was represented in the boxing by Galloway, a middle-weight. This, however, is probably only a temporary depression, and time may bring even a silver medal. The debating society leads a very precarious life. It occasionally ceases to exist, on one occasion for two years. At present, it has again relapsed, and the “Malvernian” publishes indignant letters, sorrowful letters, jocular letters, and every other sort of letter on the subject, from “Dear Sir, What has become of the debating society?” to the two-column wail of some O.M. who had known it in brighter days, when it was in working order.
Last comes the “Malvernian” itself, born in 1869. Its motto is (or should be) “Live and let live,” and the Editors act up to this motto admirably. Not their’s with mordant pen to rend to pieces “Our Contemporaries.” I trow not. Magazines may come addressed to the Editor, putting the literary half brick into his hand, and simply inviting him to throw it at them. Parodies of “The Absent-Minded Beggar” may pour in, even unto seventy times seven. The Editor reads them, smiles gently, and in the next number of the “Malvernian” “begs to acknowledge the receipt of the following magazines.” Not a sneer! Not a reproof! Even the “Penn Charter” leaves him unruffled. Such conduct smacks of the Millennium.
“Sapiens Qui Prospicit.”
[Note—Before closing, I should like to thank the authorities, and especially Mr. Bullock, for the very kind way in which they assisted me in preparing this article; and in saying this, I am not merely “making the customary acknowledgements,” but expressing a very real feeling of gratitude. The photographs are by the skilled lenses of several Malvernians.
[It will be observed that in the above article the history of Malvern College and the school life there have been treated almost entirely from an athletic point of view; this is done of set purpose, and not with any idea of neglecting the more serious side of education, in which records show that the school fully holds its own with others.]