Ninety years ago exactly, on July 16th, the foundation stone for the School at Ricky was laid by the Duke of Connaught, the Grand Master and President of the Institution. Fifteen School prefects attended the ceremony, accompanied by some members of staff, travelling from Clapham for the occasion. The largest part of the audience were some 3000 Freemasons, clearly from across the world as an American Freemason there said “This is a sight I do not think I will ever forget…” Whether he meant the convocation of so many international Masonic representatives or the formal stone-laying ceremony is not recorded.
Formal it certainly was with a large marquee and banks of seating positioned approximately where the teaching corridor now meets the Dining Hall quad. The original mansion, Park House, and its gardens were still in existence, evidenced by photographs taken by those visiting prefects. As is still the case today, they were more concerned about photographing themselves than the event or the surroundings which were later demolished!
The only picture of the actual ceremony is a very grainy image from Machio 1931.
Of the ‘full Masonic ceremony’, we know that the foundation stone was placed in the centre of the dais. ‘Punctually at three o’clock the procession entered the marquee’ and everything thereafter followed a protocol including the placing of coins and a ‘roll of papers’ in the cavity in the stone. The coins are symbolic of wished for prosperity and part of most stone-laying ceremonies. Without levering the foundation stone from its current place and looking underneath, the roll of papers must remain a mystery.
‘The Assistant Grand Secretary handed the trowel to the architect Bro. Denman, who presented it to the Grand Master, who spread the cement on the lower stone. The upper stone was then lowered and adjusted by the Grand Supt. Works.’
All terribly formal and including ceremonial use of a maul, square, level and plumb rule. The maul ensures the stone is set into place, the square and level ensure its correct position and the plumb rule that it is level.
The stone is then consecrated with corn, wine, oil and salt. A quick dash through the Old Testament shows that Psalms LXXII, v.16 contains the reference to corn – “I scatter Corn on this Stone, the emblem of plenty …’; Numbers, Chap. XV, v.7 contains the wine reference – ‘I pour wine on this Stone, the emblem of joy and gladness … and may we ever dwell together in peace and unity.’ The oil is next (Exodus, Chap. XXX, v.25-26) with the words ‘I pour Oil on this Stone, the emblem of charity’. The salt is from Leviticus, Chap. II, v.13 – ’I sprinkle Salt on this Stone, the emblem of hospitality and friendship’.
The stone is then a foundation and the rest of the building may be constructed upon it.
The Duke of Connaught’s name is also preserved elsewhere in the School. One of the boarding houses is named in his honour (Connaught, not surprisingly) but also the Head Teacher’s residence is called Strathearn House after him. What is known as the ‘royal window’ in the Great Hall contains his coat of arms.
Prince Arthur was the seventh child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. His title, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, was bestowed on him in 1874. He was additionally Earl of Sussex and, as Governor General of Canada, was given the title Chief of the Six Nations by the Iroquois as well as the honorary name Kavakoudge, ‘the sun flying from east to west under the guidance of the Great Spirit’.
In the same year his ducal title was granted, Prince Arthur also became a Freemason, beginning an illustrious Masonic career including being elected Grand master no less than 37 times.
He died on 16 January 1942 at Bagshot Park, at the age of 91 years, the last surviving child of Queen Victoria.
The mention of Bagshot Park brings the Connaught connection of the title. Researching individual pupils –the girls being a major part of the School’s history – Bagshot Park came up in connection with the death of Hilda Edith Mary Hayward’s father in 1908. Richard Hayward’s probate gave his residence as Bagshot Park although his death had occurred at Frimley Sanatorium. Knowing that Bagshot Park was a royal residence (currently occupied by the Earl and Countess of Wessex), this set the curiosity antenna a-quivering, eventually uncovering more than one royal residence for the Hayward family.
Richard Hayward came from relatively humble stock in West Bromwich. His father was an ironworker and they lived in Richard St, Wednesbury in 1871. As his father was also Richard, there were a lot of Richards in this one household! The family was still there in 1881 but by 1891, Richard Jnr was in Carlton House Terrace, St Martin in the Fields as footman to Henry Byng, Colonel Equerry to the Queen. Quite how he made the leap from son of a tinman at the ironworks in Wednesbury to Carlton Terrace is probably destined to remain a mystery.
Carlton Terrace – or the geographical position thereof – has another connection to the School’s history. The land on which it was built had once been part of the grounds of St James’s Palace, and previously occupied by Carlton House, home to George IV (whilst Regent) – and next door neighbour of Bartholomew Ruspini!
Henry Byng died in 1899 and by 1901, Richard Hayward is listed as a valet to the Duke of Connaught. Whether he moved to that position after Byng’s death or before is unclear. In 1898 he had married Ada Jane Bailey so perhaps as a young married man he was keen to seek promotion. In 1901 Richard and Ada and their eight month old daughter Hilda are in Dublin at the Royal Hospital, Usher’s Quay. This is how the census records it although the Royal Hospital and Usher’s Quay do appear to be in slightly different places.
The Royal Hospital was a military establishment and the Duke of Connaught was there so this makes sense but it is unclear whether the one in Kilmainham today is the same place.
Richard Hayward was clearly a man going places as in 1906 he is recorded as a member of Stuart Lodge and listed as Personal Attendant to HRH Duke of Connaught in his residence of Clarence House.
Clarence House. Above left, in 1874 https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=735794; above right, as it is today as the London home of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall https://www.royal.uk/royal-residences-clarence-house.
Sadly, his career was cut short by his death in 1908 in Frimley Sanatorium. This was part of the Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest, Brompton, ‘built according to the best principles of the day, with four wings in an X shape so that all wards were south-facing, with plenty of large windows and balconies in order to support open air treatment …’ https://thefightagainsttuberculosis.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/a-sanatorium-in-focus-brompton-hospital-sanatorium-frimley/
Richard was buried in Bagshot St Ann’s but his family continued to live in Bagshot Park after his death as Ada and her son are listed there in 1911 in a seven room house. However, there is some discrepancy in the information as the Hayward son Richard (who was actually 5) is listed as being 38 and a gardener! It looks as if Ada started to fill the return in and signed it but another hand has added information and somewhere along the line complete garbage has resulted. The assumption can be made that the Hayward family had been given a grace and favour residence at Bagshot Park whilst Richard was working for the Duke and they continued to live there for a while after his death.
Hilda was listed as a pupil at the School in 1911. She was due to leave in 1916 but was retained as a pupil teacher in the Senior school to assist with music teaching and subsequently became the Silver medallist in 1917. She moved to the Junior School but, perhaps deciding that a teaching career was not for her, left in 1918 and entered the Accountant General’s Office. In 1923, ill health intervened and she was forced to give up work for a while but the following year she took up employment in an insurance office.
In 1938, she married Percy Rockliff, ‘Secretary to Approved Societies [&] Director of Public Companies’, and is found in the 1939 register at Dalbrook, Gordon Avenue, Harrow. There also appears to be a 2nd residence @ 7 Devonshire Place, Eastbourne. Members of the family are listed by The London Gazette as directors of a bank in 1938.
Hilda died on 28 January 1987 in Worthing, bringing to an end the Hayward connection to School history. Although the School motto did not exist at Hilda’s time as a pupil, it seems to have some resonance for a childhood spent in various royal palaces. Circumornatae ut similtudo templi is rendered by the King James’ Bible as ‘That our daughters may be as pillars, Sculptured in palace style’. If Hilda could be said to be ‘sculptured in palace style’ because of her Connaught connection, it makes her a polished cornerstone in more than one sense.