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Churchill’s Headmaster: The ‘Sadist’ Who Nearly Saved the British Empire by Edward Dutton

Author:Edward Dutton [Dutton, Edward]

Language: eng

Format: epub

Publisher: Manticore Press

Published: 2019-04-30T04:00:00+00:00

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Churchill’s Headmaster: The ‘Sadist’ Who Nearly Saved the British Empire by Edward Dutton

Edward Dutton

Moreover, Churchil ’s school

reports cannot be put down to

 

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Churchill’s Headmaster: The ‘Sadist’ Who Nearly Saved the British Empire by Edward Dutton

Author:Edward Dutton [Dutton, Edward] , Date: June 23, 2019

,Views: 60

Author:Edward Dutton [Dutton, Edward]

Language: eng

Format: epub

Publisher: Manticore Press

Published: 2019-04-30T04:00:00+00:00
Edward Dutton

Moreover, Churchil ’s school

reports cannot be put down to

some unreasonable school master.

Churchil ’s division tutor was H.

Martin Cooke, whom we met

earlier, according to Churchil ’s

school reports. Although Maurice

Baring does not refer to him by

name, this master was one of the

two ‘friendly masters’ that left St

George’s to establish St Vincent’s,

Eastbourne in 1886. This means that

Churchil , whose division master

was H. Martin Cooke, mainly had

Claude Schuster

a ‘friendly’ teacher, sufficiently

friendly to induce some St George’s boys to abandon their school for

his new one. Yet Churchill still behaved atrociously. This ‘friendly’

master may even have played down the extent of Churchil ’s

delinquency in the reports that had to be read out in front of the

whole school every few weeks. Referring to Churchill as ‘Very

truthful but a regular “pickle” in many ways’ (Churchil , 1966), he

comes across as a sympathetic character. But Cooke presumably

needed to balance this with enough honesty not to be unfair to the

well-behaved children, meaning that Churchill was still sometimes a

guest in Sneyd-Kynnersley’s study.

Dreadful Legends . . .

Regarding Churchil ’s naughtiness — as well as Sneyd-Kynnersley’s

sadism — there is a clear tendency for legends to develop. Maurice

Baring joined the school in autumn 1884. He recal s (Baring, 1922,

p.71) that:

‘Dreadful legends were told about Churchil , who had been

taken away from the school. His naughtiness seemed to surpass

anything. He had been flogged for taking sugar from the pantry

195

Churchil ’s Headmaster

and so, far from being penitent, he had taken the Headmaster’s

sacred straw hat from where it hung over the door and kicked it

to pieces. His sojourn at the school had been one long feud with

authority. The boys did not seem to sympathize with him. Their

point of view was conventional and priggish.’

The clue is in the word ‘legend.’ One can easily imagine how reality

becomes exaggerated, especial y among boys as young as 8, and

when the boy in question is the son of a household name. There

is no first hand evidence that this incident happened. To destroy

a member of staff’s property would have been so egregious as to

merit correspondence with the parents or even expulsion. It is also

inconsistent with the report for the summer term being reasonably

fair, as one assumes that a straw hat implies that it was summer.

However, Churchil ’s report for the Summer term of 1884 is quite

positive by Churchil ’s standards. So, the incident would have to have occurred in the summer of 1883. But, if that were so, would it be so

fresh in everyone’s memories when Baring started at the school, over

a year later? A reasonable conclusion is that this ‘legend’ is indeed a ‘legend,’ though there might be some kernel of truth to it. Maybe

Churchill – who was ‘greedy at meals’ – was punished for smuggling

sugar out of high tea and took revenge by knocking the headmaster’s

hat off the door and running away.

It is surprising that nobody has questioned this piece of St

George’s lore. But, as we have seen, much about St George’s, Ascot,

is not questioned. Most obviously, the ‘sadistic’ Sneyd-Kynnersley,

described by Randolph Churchill and Roger Fry and portrayed

in Young Winston, only appears to get more evil with time, just as Churchill becomes ever more heroic.

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