Southfields’ Sketches: Reflections from the Senior Chaplain

Remembrance Commemorations just barely through and the Christmas music hits the radio waves already! We are in such a rush it seems.

Guy Fawkes Day was celebrated in traditional fashion all around College with Houses offering various displays of fireworks on Monday night. Cotton’s show was clearly the most magnificent but I’m biased! And the hotdogs were divine.

Edward Twohig gave a marvellous talk in the Mount House Gallery, where he has a display of prints and artwork related to the cataclysmic shift between what was produced pre and post the Great War. From idyllic landscapes to torn faces the shock to Western culture is made palpable.

It was a real pleasure to meet Colonel Campbell Gordon (PR 1956-60), on Wednesday in the Archives. He has given a wreath in memory of his Grandfather, killed in the Great War. Four generations of Gordons have attended our College.

And it was great fun having the Dancy Shell over to Southfields for a visit. Laura Newton (DA Sh) is the granddaughter of the same architect who designed the Newton Building and Memorial Hall, as our College Archivist, Gráinne Lenehan informed me.

And I popped around to have a tour of DT. I am so envious of all the fun-looking equipment, tools and creative allsorts. I purchased a magnificent willow walking stick in the New Forest and I wanted a cap put on the end. To the rescue, the amazing Patina, the DT technician, who turned my request into a reality in minutes.

Thursday was the final morning of pupil installations of ceramic Poppies following the mid-week Chapel service into the huge planter outside of Memorial Hall. This has made for a lovely and fitting display.

After the service, our new College Organist Christopher Burrows and I, managed a coffee and he shared with me his plans for an upcoming Organ Recital to raise money for our own magnificent instrument which always needs care and attention.

Special thanks to Marcus Sharrad, Head of PE, who invited me to a wonderful ‘Scrum Lunch’ to encourage us all to consider a special Rugby charity. And on that Friday evening, I took my Form class to ‘Arcadia’, with its incredible set, the play is a ‘must see’. Congratulations to all the performers who have worked so hard.

On Saturday, the Development Office hosted a splendid ‘OM Club Day’. I officiated an Evensong service with the OM Choir offering two pieces: ‘Nunc Dimittis in Bb’ by Stanford and ‘Blessed be the God and Father’ by Wesley. We heartily sang Coe Fen and I Vow to Thee. A grand time was had by all, reminiscing about their time spent in Chapel when they were pupils.

In the evening, the Gala event of the week of celebration, a special thank you to donors who supported the refurbishment of The Memorial Hall, was opened by me with a moment of prayer, remembering the significance of ‘Names.’ The names of the 749 are now much more clearly displayed. It is only through their names, really, that we can now remember them. And this was the theme of my Sermon at the Remembrance Commemoration with the Blessing and Installation of the new CCF banners the following morning at 10.45am, which was sublime and poignant.

Before I wrap up for this week, I must add that on Saturday evening, it was great to be a part of the Upper Sixth event in the Marlburian. It is so heartening to see Marlburians having such tremendous fun and really ‘getting it right.’ Wholesome!

My special thanks to Rachel and Barney Rosedale who were my invited guests for the Sunday Night Speaker Series this week. They spoke to the Shell about the Quaker contribution to the allied effort in the First World War, particularly as stretcher-bearers. Pupils got a chance to experience a Quaker meeting – the stillness and silence was remarkable and moving. And they learned something about Pacifism – such an important message to be offered, even on Remembrance Day itself.

Rollo thinks my new willow walking stick is for him to chew. Nice try Rollo!

Reverend Tim Novis
Senior Chaplain
Twitter: @MCol_Chapel

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