The Trusty Servant May 2017 No.123

N o .123 M ay 2017 More than a Gate: the Legacy of George Ridding 150 years ago, George Ridding succeeded George Moberly as Headmaster. Why remember Ridding? The Editor, Tim Giddings, asked Archivist Suzanne Foster, and at the same time wondered what might be prised out of our new Headmaster, known for his interest in the 19 th century. TEG: SF: What’s the basic biographical detail, Suzanne? Born 1828, the son of a Fellow. Elected Scholar of Winchester 1840. Read Classics and Mathematics at Balliol. Fellow of Exeter College for 10 years. Returned to Winchester as Second Master in 1863 and became Headmaster in 1867. Subsequently Bishop of Southwell. Died 1904. TRH: TEG:   SF: He was extremely generous to the School, but also astonishingly ambitious in reorganising it, I believe? Indeed –to such an extent that the Warden of New College dubbed him as the Second Founder. He arranged for four new boarding houses (D, E, G and H). By the time they were finished in 1869, a further two houses (F and I) were in preparation. He installed the library over the main archway, thus vacating Chantry, which he restored as a chapel. He built Perhaps we should add that he married the Headmaster’s daughter, Mary Louisa Moberly – who was probably born on the lying-in couch you’re both now occupying. Alas, she died in childbirth after only a year of marriage, and Ridding married again in 1876, to Laura, Lady Palmer, a distinguished and intelligent woman of noble birth and considerable private means. 1 new fives and rackets courts, a gymnasium and Gunner’s Hole. He bought the water meadows south of Meads and drained and levelled them to create New Field. He restructured Chapel, and turfed the Fellows out of the upstairs rooms in College, which then became bedrooms for the scholars. TEG: Extraordinary. This is the place that The Wykehamist in 1908 called ‘probably the most conservative institution in the world’. So how did Ridding manage such changes? TRH: I’d say by an extraordinary mix of reactionary nature and revolutionary nurture. He had the same crucial qualification that Budge Firth thought fundamental for Moberly: ‘He could hardly have succeeded at all, had he not himself been a Wykehamist. There are always limits to what Winchester will take from a non- Wykehamist.’ Ridding’s father had been Second Master and the Warden was his godfather. He had even been born in College. But the lucky thing for us is that for one crucial moment he fell off the conventional conveyor belt, and into Lady Fortune’s good lap. He failed to get into New College and so ended up at Balliol. The great