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News > History & Politics > Patrick Francis (PH 66-71) writes new history of Sherborne School

Patrick Francis (PH 66-71) writes new history of Sherborne School

Author highlights shared history between Tonbridge and Sherborne


A new history of Sherborne School has been written by OT Patrick Francis (PH 66-71) who taught history at Sherborne for 40 years until his retirement in 2017.

Patrick points out that Sherborne and Tonbridge have much in common. Both schools received royal charters in the 1550s during the reign of Edward VI but remained small-town grammar schools with purely local reputations until they were transformed into prominent public schools in the second half of the 19th century.

Similarly, both owe much to their Victorian headmasters, Dr Welldon of Tonbridge and Dr Harper of Sherborne. Subsequently, two Old Shirburnians have been at the helm at Tonbridge (Charles Tancock from 1898 to 1907 and Michael McCrum from 1962 to 1970, before he went on to Eton). There has also been one OT head at Sherborne – David Emms, between 1970 and 1974, after which he became master of Dulwich College.

In addition, both schools played 1st XI cricket and 1st XV rugby matches against each other in the years before and after the First World War. And block fixtures in rugby took place again for a few years in the 1990s until the travelling time involved made it all too difficult.

The first half of Old Yet Ever Young – A New History of Sherborne School concentrates on the century from Dr Harper’s arrival as headmaster in 1850 to the end of Ross Wallace’s tenure in 1950, whilst the second half contains a chapter on each decade in the history of the school between 1950 and 2000. A final chapter covers developments since the start of the new millennium.

It is a history of Sherborne, not only as an educational institution but also as a human community to which so many individuals have contributed over the years in such a variety of ways - to the academic and intellectual life of the school; to its spiritual and pastoral welfare; in music, drama and art; and on the sports’ pitches.

Like all major schools Sherborne can boast some illustrious alumni. Amongst those whose schooldays feature in the book are:

  • Alan Turing, the Bletchley Park codebreaker and father of computing, who arrived at Sherborne on his bicycle during the General Strike of 1926;
  • Poet Laureate, Cecil Day Lewis;
  • John Le Mesurier, best remembered as Sergeant Wilson in Dad’s Army;
  • David Sheppard, cricketer (one of two OS England captains) and Bishop of Liverpool;
  • athlete, businessman and politician, Christopher Chataway;
  • author and former spy, John le Carré, who died this month;
  • theatre director, Richard Eyre;
  • actors, Jeremy Irons and Hugh Bonneville;
  • lead singer and songwriter with Coldplay, Chris Martin.
Old Yet Ever Young runs to 420 pages and contains more than 350 photographs. All net proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Sherborne School. To order a copy for £25, please use this link.


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