Trusty Servant Nov 2021 Issue 132

No . 132 November 2021

The Headmaster writes :

The following is the text of the Headmaster ’ s address in Chapel on Goddard Day , 18 th September 2021 :
Over the lockdown , we have sought to understand ourselves . The Winchester A-Z is one result of that , as an impressionistic analysis of our unique community . Today ’ s address is another attempt . It takes the addresses of past years a little further in examining the mission of previous Headmasters , concentrating today on the interwar years .
These were years of what I will call our crusading Headmasters , Rendall , Williams and Leeson . They wished the school to alter or affirm what it gave to the nation , but they differed over the means . Rendall was a crusader for the arts ; Williams for the church ; and Leeson for schools and the state . Rendall ’ s sacred place was Renaissance Fiesole ; Leeson ’ s was Fulbert ’ s school at Chartres ; and Williams ’ s one can imagine as being an English church beside an English village green , preferably late in the cricket season , with right- and left-arm spinners alternating at each end in front of the cream canvas sight-screens , wedding bells drifting enticingly on the breeze . Rendall I spoke about last year . So today is the turn of Leeson and Williams .
Alwyn Williams , Second Master for eight years and then Head from 1924 to 1934 , was known as History Bill . Viewed as a teacher of unparalleled talent he left Winchester to become Dean of Christ Church , Bishop of Durham , and Bishop of Winchester . He never had children , and authored only one book , The Anglican Tradition in the Life of England . He operated behind the scenes rather than on them . ‘ Few men of his stature have so shunned the limelight ,’ wrote Walter Oakeshott , who knew that habit better than most .
Williams ’ s successor , Spencer Leeson , was Headmaster from 1934 to 1946 . He listed his twin hobbies as the stained glass of Chartres and more work . He was an exceptional administrator hugely admired by his peers , who re-elected him year after year as HMC Chairman . Ordained late in life , he swiftly became Bishop of Peterborough . He was the last Headmaster to become a bishop , and the last Headmaster to be in holy orders , just as Rendall had been the first to be without them .
Williams ’ s limpid and lucid style is nothing if not concise and elegant . Religion and citizenship are inextricably intertwined , almost to the point of Erastianism . To be English is to be Anglican , and vice versa . The secular influences are the philosophy of Burke , and the image of the English temperament as portrayed in Shakespeare ’ s history plays . To a certain extent , religion is not something to be worked out , but something that simply is . This is the church of George Herbert , Thomas Ken , and John Keble , a church which is effortless in its articulation , and admirable in its modesty . It toils not , and neither does it spin .