The Laying of The Foundation Stone on January 21st, I836
Of all the events that have taken place over the years, this occasion must have been the most grandiose. From the reports of the day it is possible to recreate this day:
Procession from the Horns’ Tavern, Kennington.
Policemen to clear the way.
Beadles of Lambeth Parish.
8 past committeemen (4 abreast and each carrying a gold-headed wand with a white favour at the top)
Full Military Band. (4 abreast)
Past committeemen. (4 abreast with wands and favours) Past trustees. (4 abreast with wands and favours
Past chairmen. (4 abreast with wands and favours) Stewards of the day. (4 abreast with wands & favours)
Under matron. Schoolmistress.
Girls. (2 abreast)
Under Master. Schoolmaster .
Boys. (2 abreast)
Surgeon . Editor of Morning Advertiser.
Ministers of St Mark’s, Kennington.
16 Present committeemen. (4 abreast wearing pink
6 present trustees. (3 abreast with rosettes)
Clerk of works.
Architect and Junior.
Solicitor . Chairman of the Committee . Secretary
A nobleman. Rt Hon Lord Viscount Melbourne, Prime Minister to King William IV. A nobleman.
The Rt. Hon Charles Tennyson D’Eyncourt MP
Benjamin Hawes MP
Policeman to close procession.
Programme of the Ceremony
The band plays “See the Conquering Hero Comes”.
Enter Lord Melbourne.
Anthem: “Lord of All Power and Might”.
Senior boy reads address.
Chairman reads inscription on brass plate to Lord Melbourne.
GULIEMO QUARTO REGE
The First Stone of The Licensed
Anno Domini MDCCCIII etc.
The chairman then exhibited to Lord Melbourne the glass vase containing coins of the realm, and plans and elevations of the building.
Laying Of The Stone.
Children sing thanksgiving hymn written for the occasion.
Lord Melbourne’s Address
Procession returned to the tavern.
In the evening a dinner was held at The Horns Tavern, Kennington. Tickets 12/6 (~60p) including one bottle of wine.
Legend has it that Charles Dickens was present at the stone laying and that his report appeared in a newspaper the next day. However, Dickens worked for several newspapers at the time, including The Morning Advertiser itself. Whether Dickens penned the following report is not known. This does not detract from the fact that it gives us a very clear and detailed picture of the occasion:
“The coup d’oeil of the procession was imposing and gratifying in the extreme; and the order and interest of the scene lost none of their effect and advantages by the peculiarly favourable state of the weather. The day was comparatively mild and clear. Several patrons of the procession were irresistibly impressive – but none more so, (after contemplating such varied classes of society joining in this act of enlightened charity, viewing them from the humble tradesmen up to the Prime Minister), than the children – girls, then boys – already in this distinguished and rapidly advancing school.
Their general appearance had obviously the most gratifying effect on the company assembled, not only in the rooms of the tavern, but all along the road. No badge of charity marked the costume of the children to deprecate the value of the duty performed by the more successful competitors in the struggles of the world. The dresses were neat, respectable and most comfortable, such as would do no discredit to the children of the most opulent tradesmen; no grotesque coats or frocks, no yellow stockings, nor farcical dwarf cap. On the contrary, while an example is set of what ought to be done in such institutions, the children were attired as if they belonged to respectable tradesmen, who could afford to defray the expenses of their board and education and thus not made every hour to feel they are “the objects of charity”, but have the nobler sentiment instilled into them, that the more prosperous protect them, and thereby impose on the children the obligation of becoming exemplary and successful members of society in order thereby to pay off the obligations they may be under, by going and doing likewise in their turns.”
The School in 1836, from a copy of NAAFI News 1949. (Photo courtesy of NAAFI)
On May 3rd, 1836, King William IV granted the “Royal Charter of Incorporation” and the Society became the “Incorporated Society of Licensed Victuallers”
In March 1837 the new school was handed over and the children returned from Grove House, Camberwell, where they had lodged during the building work.
King William became the first Royal Patron of the school, thereby forging a link with the Royal family, which exists today.
Boys and girls uniforms in 1837, on the accession of Queen Victoria.
The paintings are of dolls held in the school by Maung Tin Aye, son of The Burmese Ambassador in 1969