Old Hornseyans School War Memorial

While the Alabaster War Memorial and the Celtic Cross Memorial were the only two First World War memorials installed in the church immediately after the war, the church was home to another memorial for a time.

The school which straddles the space between Mattison and Pemberton Roads in Harringay, now South Harringay Junior School, was once the Hornsey County School, which had grammar school status. The school set up an old boys group called the Old Hornseyans Association in 1908, which decided to honour the 54 former Hornsey County School scholars who had fallen in the First World War. They set up a War Memorial Fund in 1916 to provide a Memorial Scholarship Fund and a memorial tablet to be placed in the school hall. £1,500 was raised from people connected to the school and the Old Hornseyans Association commissioned a memorial featuring a bronze sculpture of St. Michael surrounded by children. The sculpture, by Richard Goulden, is similar to another of his works outside St. Michael’s Church on Cornhill, in the City of London. The four bronze plaques show the names of 50 former scholars who fell in the First World War and another 37 from the Second World War.

In 1953, Hornsey County School ceased to be a grammar school and, after a period as the Hornsey County Secondary School for Girls, plans were made in 1968 to transform the buildings into the junior school that is still housed there today. The memorial was, in 1970, moved to St. Paul’s, Harringay, where it remained until the fire which destroyed the building in 1984. The memorial survived the fire, although it was damaged, and there ensued considerable discussion between the church and the Old Hornseyans Association about where would be the best place in the new, very modern church building to house the more traditional styled memorial. The dispute rumbled on for so long that in the end it was determined that it should be housed in Hornsey Town Hall, in Crouch End, where it remains today in the first floor lobby outside the council chamber.

Mrs. Emily Burke wrote about the memorial in her book on the history of the first 25 years of the Hornsey County School:

No school, I think, can have a more beautiful Memorial Tablet than the one which, at each school assembly, faces the pupils of the Hornsey County School. It speeds them on their way as they go forth at the close of term to joyous holidays ; it conveys its impressive message to them on their return to a fresh session of work, telling of those who went forth to duty rather than pleasure, and did not return, save in memory. It is the work of Mr. Richard Goulden, and represents in bronze the figure of St. Michael. The Saint stands with uplifted sword between two columns of names, the names of “Our Schoolfellows” who between 1914 and 1918 so worthily practised the School Motto, Vincit Qui Se Vincit, which is carved at the base. Groups of children shelter in confidence close to St. Michael, suggesting that these Old Boys who faced all the horrors of war, some the bitter fate of prisoners and captives in the enemy’s hands, suffered in the firm belief that somehow or other, through their sacrifices, a finer and happier future might come to the world.

The bronze Tablet is mounted on a slab of English oak, and since it was placed in position and unveiled, dedicated and presented to the School with unforgettable ceremonies in 1922, the Hall has been suitably panelled to be in keeping with its most precious possession. The platform has been enlarged and dignified seating for Headmaster and staff placed there. On each Armistice Day, however, the seats are vacant for the Memorial silence. Those who usually occupy them stand in the body of the Hall with the pupils, and the Tablet, with the wreath of Flanders Poppies, put there each year by the Old Hornseyans, is alone.”

After the Second World War, two additional side panels and three small single name panels were cast to record the names of those further Old Scholars who gave their lives in 1939 to 1945. From 1953, when the school became a girls’ school, ceremonies continued to be held on Armistice Day at which a member of the Old Hornseyans would place a wreath on the memorial.

The transfer of the memorial from the school to St. Paul’s, Harringay was arranged because of the close links between the school and the church, which had been the venue for many school services, including the beginning and end of year services and Founders’ Day services. While the school was not a church school, Revd. J.H. Greaves, the first vicar of the parish, had been on the School Board (later the Education Committee) which oversaw the building of the school and remained a school governor until his death in 1930. The vicar of St. Paul’s was a governor of the school, ex officio, until the school closed.

The memorial was located on the west wall of the north aisle of the old church, and a faculty was obtained for its installation, to be performed under the supervision of Mr. F.G.F. Nutter. The plans for the installation of the memorial refer to it having been made by Sir Edwin Lutyens, R.A., which is inconsistent with other records relating to the memorial. Lutyens was one of the principal architects of the Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission), so it is feasible that he could have had some role even if he was not the principal designer of this memorial and, given that Richard Goulden was also a prolific memorialist, it is possible that they knew each other.

Plan of Old Hornseyans Memorial in old St. Paul's Church - note the reference to Lutyens on the right.

Plan of Old Hornseyans Memorial in old St. Paul’s Church – note the reference to Lutyens on the right.

Plan of location of Old Hornseyans Memorial in old St. Paul's church.

Plan of location of Old Hornseyans Memorial in old St. Paul’s church.

A service of re-dedication was held on 26 April 1970 and was attended by 120 Old Hornseyans. Memorial services continued annually, incorporated in Sunday Evensong, during which there was a special ceremony when clergy, representatives of the Old Hornseyans, choir and others processed to the memorial.

Old Hornseyans Memorial installed in old St. Paul's Church

Old Hornseyans Memorial installed in old St. Paul’s Church

The fire which destroyed the church damaged the memorial, but it was sufficiently intact to be able to be saved. A Mr. Giddings was asked to take care of it and it was transported to his workshops in Leytonstone for restoration. When Mr. Giddings restored the memorial, he moved the two panels of Second World War names so that they sit underneath the names from the First World War rather than either side. The reason for this is not known, but it may have been so that the memorial would fit in the space in the new St. Paul’s church which was originally designated for it.

The Old Hornseyans memorial in the workshop, with fire damage

The Old Hornseyans memorial in the workshop, with fire damage

The Old Hornseyans memorial in the workshop, with fire damage

Closeup of the Old Hornseyans memorial in the workshop, with fire damage

Hornsey Town Hall is currently closed, pending a decision on its future use, so the Old Hornseyans School War Memorial is not accessible to the public. For this reason, we have not yet been able to check the extent of the crossover between the names on the Alabaster War Memorial that was installed in St. Paul’s, Harringay in 1922 and those on the First World War section of the Old Hornseyans memorial. However, a close up of the picture below shows that there is at least one name that features on both: F.A. (Francis Albert) Odd, who was a mercantile clerk who lived on Coningsby Road and joined the 7th Battalion, the East Kent Regiment (the Buffs) as a private. He was killed in action in France on 3 May 1917, aged 24, and is also commemorated on the Arras Memorial in France.

In theory, given the parish-wide scope of the St. Paul’s war memorials, all of the names on the Old Hornseyans memorial should also be on the St. Paul’s one if the men or their families still lived in the parish during the war (assuming they were of the parish when they were at the school, also). A first look at the photograph reveals that there are names on the Old Hornseyans memorial which were not listed in the parish magazine as being on the St. Paul’s memorial, so further research is required to see if we can make the memorials tally up.

The Old Hornseyans School War Memorial Photo Credit: Hugh Flouch

The Old Hornseyans School War Memorial
Photo: Hugh Flouch


3 thoughts on “Old Hornseyans School War Memorial

  1. Pingback: News, Updates and Events: Evensong, Peace and Research | Harringay Remembers

  2. Pingback: News, Updates and Events: Posters and a Clear Out | Harringay Remembers

  3. Pingback: In Memoriam: Frank Alfred Odd | Harringay Remembers

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