A glorious mix of over 150 former pupils and staff came together for a joyous celebration in October to mark the 75th anniversary of the Prep School’s opening in 1948, and of education provision at the stunning Brandeston Hall.
Guests spent the afternoon reconnecting, reliving happy memories and recounting school day tales, whilst being treated to a heart-warming church service, tours of the school and a quintessential afternoon tea in the Rowley Hall, where a special exhibition of ‘old school’ memorabilia was on display.
Of the many guests in attendance, the school was lucky enough to welcome ten of the first boys to join the school in 1948, who provided their recollections of life at Brandeston Hall, under the first Headmaster, D.D. Kittermaster.
Led by College Chaplin, The Revd Canon Brynn Bayman, the church service provided the opportunity for guests to give thanks for the school’s rich history and enduring commitment to education. Current Head of the School, Jonathan Egan welcomed guests and gave thanks for the foresight of the OFs who founded the school. He was followed by former Brandeston Hall Head (and long serving staff member at Framlingham College) Martin Myers Allen, who gave an address filled with reflection, gratitude and hope for the future, fitting for the milestone celebrations.
The atmosphere was one of reverence and unity, as song from the Prep School’s choir, a beautiful rendition of the White Cliffs of Dover by OF Olivia Pitcher and a selection of hymns echoed through the full church’s walls, bringing together the past and the present in a truly beautiful way.
Following the service, the current Year 8 pupils gave guests informative tours of the school as it now stands, including showcasing the new Early Year’s building, outdoor education setting, library, drama and dance studio as well as the modern art and D&T workshops, after which guests were taken to the Rowley Hall for the final element of the celebrations.
The afternoon tea, complete with traditional scones with clotted cream and jam, and a special 75th Anniversary celebratory cake, provided the perfect setting for the community to come together and celebrate not only the school’s history but the future that lies ahead. Many enjoyed reliving their memories through the selection of archived material on display, including photographs from across the decades as well as old school magazines and reports.
Guests were then treated to speeches from distinguished alumni including Andrew Wright, the youngest boy at the school when it opened its doors in September 1948.
He recounted his first memories of Brandeston Hall, arriving by steam-train from London Liverpool St, with what seemed like ‘hundreds of bigger boys’, as a collection of ‘war babies’ – children born before /during WW2 (The Blitz of London and other cities being just five years before their arrival at the school). His speech was filled with nostalgia, wisdom and humour and reminded everyone of the impact the school has had on countless lives over the years.
He concluded saying that he was happy that many of the friends he made at Brandeston and Framlingham College are ‘still my friends today’ and that for him ‘my school-days were truly amongst the happiest days of my life.’
Norman Porter, another of the first pupils to attend the school in 1948, represented current President of the Society of Old Framlinghamians Nick Whitehead, saying a few words on behalf of the Society.
Members of the Society of Old Framlinghamians (SOF) were the visionaries and founders of the school in 1945-6, all of whom had returned from the war and who were determined to honour the memories of those OFs who did not return – by financially helping the education of their surviving children. The purchase of Brandeston Hall was the OF War Memorial Fund.
With members on the Governing Body, the SOF knew that the Governors wanted to build or find a separate Junior School for the expanding number of boys wanting to come to Framlingham College, and that they had identified Brandeston Hall, requisitioned by the War Office (ie Min of Defence) but just released to its previous owner, as the best and quickest option.
Under the leadership of Air Marshal Sir John d’Albiac, the SOF President, the SOF agreed to launch a Joint Appeal with the College in 1947, which raised £20,000 and they made over the OF War Memorial Fund to the College, so that the purchase of BH could go ahead immediately. With the finance secure, the College bought the Hall from Charles Austin, for £12,000 (reduced to £8,176 due to damage caused by the military). So a Hall house, which Charles Austin’s forefather paid £35,000 for in 1842, was bought by the College for £8,176 in 1947.
The OFs who worked so hard to make this possible with Sir John, included Mark Liell, John Sheldrake, Jim Smith, Howard-Smith, Norman Wright and Vinty Bromage, all of whom served the SOF and the College in many roles during the next 40 years.
Norman recounted his own memories of his early school years and gave a tribute to a school which means so much to so many. He stated that the celebration was the perfect setting to focus on what the school means, in different individual ways, to each and every person who has a connection to Brandeston Hall.
He then presented a special 75th birthday card to current Head, Jonathan Egan, contained within it an ode to Brandeston Hall, which he stated he ‘hope speak for all of us, from all our different perspectives, distilling the essence of the reasons why we’re here today.’
An incredibly proud day for all who came, the event marked an important and significant year in the Prep School’s history. The event provided a real opportunity to be reminded of the enduring spirit of Framlingham College Prep School and the enduring values and traditions that have defined Brandeston Hall for seven and a half decades.