No . 134
The Trusty Servant
The Second Master Speaks
The following address was delivered in Chapel by Nick Wilks ( Co Ro , 04-22 ) on Wykeham Day , 18th June 2022 .
I ’ m not sure if there will be some overlap in today ’ s congregation and the congregation I will be addressing at the Domum service in two week ’ s time . But since I have been asked to give the address at both I thought I would create a kind of diptych , reflecting today on school , in particular its foundation , and , in a fortnight , on home .
The renaming of Winchester Match as Wykeham Day is significant . I may have misread the Warden ’ s intentions , but it seems to me that the change subtly recalibrates our sense of what today celebrates . Cricket , certainly , but above all it embodies that extraordinary range and diversity with which Winchester avoids tribalism - with the possible exception of the Second Master ’ s favourite day of the year , XVs . It also embodies an important paradox – looking back to our founder and our founding principles just as we are about to embark on an exciting new chapter which the Headmaster assures us will in reality involve no changes at all . It should be said that the Independent Schools ’ Inspectorate may take a different view when they undertake their Material Change inspection later this year , but then this is a school which relishes debate and the widening of perspectives .
Nick and Jacqueline Wilks
Personally , I applaud the change of emphasis from Winchester to Wykeham . Winchester , after all , should not be synonymous with the school which bears its name , any more than the word America should be synonymous with the United States , as any Colombian or Chilean will tell you . What would we think if the tables were turned , and Peter Symonds suddenly decided to call itself “ Winchester ” on the grounds that it has three times as many pupils ? It ’ s healthy to constantly question our identity , and we cannot be sure of the answer to that question unless we ask it frequently , and interrogate ourselves thoroughly .
And recent national and international events have certainly made it essential to do just that . The pandemic , of course , but equally the climate crisis , Black Lives Matter , Everyone ’ s Invited , our response to refugees , and the war in Ukraine . These have been particularly challenging to understand in a community which rightly prides itself on its liberal values , but which cannot be immune from the powerful forms of cultural and social reassessment which are sweeping the globe .
These phenomena are indeed challenging , but meeting them head on revitalises what we hold dear . Winchester College was born out of turbulence , and would not have taken the form it did without this period of upheaval . We only have to look at the fortress-like outer gate to get a sense of what threats existed outside its walls , although the porters are more friendly now than I imagine they were in the Middle Ages .
A few years ago I did some research on the 1400 version of the Founder ’ s Statues in preparation for the publication 50 Treasures from Winchester College . Quite apart from the understated pigskin cover , I was impressed by three things . The first was the sheer iron will which runs