Old Ruthinian Association

Ruthin School

The Town of Ruthin did not exist in the sixth century, the population centre at that time was in Llanrhydd where a Cell of Christian Priests had gathered following the Teachings of Saint Meugan. A Church was built and dedicated to St. Meugan which is today referred to as Ruthin’s Mother Church! The Priests cared for the local residents introduced them to the Bible and Christian Religion, taught them its principals, and prepared their Boys for an adult life as a Christian Priest. Teachers by any standard or other name.

This modern photograph of St. Meugan’s Church shows a building which was thoroughly renovated during the 19th Century. I have failed to find a photograph or drawing of the original building. The Site was originally well chosen, the land is fertile and well drained. A hundred yards or so to the left of this picture a stream of very clear water wends its way to eventually flow into the River Clwyd.

If this was the first home of Ruthin School the position could not be bettered in the Vale of Clwyd.

Five hundred years later and Ruthin Town had become established. The King had set up a form of Government Nationally, run by his chosen Nominee in every Region. In Ruthin he created Reginald de Grey, one of the Marcher Lords, who ruled Welsh lands along the English boarder with Wales.

This man was respected only by the growing number of Englishmen he appointed to serve him. He was mean and cruel to the native Welsh population. To say that Ruthin School was Founded by the followers of St. Meugan can not be proven, but in 1310, King Edward I was in Ruthin accompanied by John Peckham Archbishop of Canterbury, Anian Bishop of Bangor, John of Wales and Henri le Mestre, Henri the Master - Ruthin School was an established School and was absorbed into the Consecration of the new St. Peter’s Collegiate and Parish Church.
The Cloisters built as an extension to the new Church, with direct access into it.

The Cloisters, became home to Ruthin School following the building of the New St. Peter’s Church in 1310 at the heart of the town of Ruthin and the consecration of that Church as a Collegiate establishment.

Over two hundred years later, with major changes following the Reformation, Education in Ruthin was changed again.

Gabriel Goodman, D.D., born in Ruthin had become Dean of Westminster by the age of thirty-one. In 1574 he re-founded Ruthin School, built a New School, wrote the Statutes for it’s Governance and appointed the Teachers. This School served the Town of Ruthin and surrounding countryside until the Government Education Acts of the 1870’s, when many Schools like Ruthin were absorbed into the new State System. Ruthin School fought a long battle to remain Independent, and eventually won.
The School built by Gabriel Goodman in 1574

Goodman’s Crest, found on many of his papers and in many of the surviving volumes of his personal library which were discovered in the Old Cloister in a desperate condition.

C. Lyn Jones, B.Sc., O.R., a junior Teacher in School who had a personal collection of Old Papers and Books had studied how such artefacts should be treated and cared for. The last years of his short life were spent caring for these ancient volumes. Kingman Brewster the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James was shown the Collection when he opened School’s New West Wing in 1980, was most impressed with Lyn’s care.

From the middle of the 19th Century, School Prizes were always books. The content varied greatly, but all were hard covered. The front cover would bear this Crest impressed into the cover and gilded. Many have been returned to the O.R.A. and are a treasured part of our History.

Gabriel Goodman sought to strengthen the School’s financial position by formalising the regular payment of part of the Tithes of Llanelidan. The document below was his reward.
The Letters Patent of Elizabeth l dated May 24th, 1595, granting half of the Tithes of the Rectory of Llanelidan to Ruthin School.

During the last decades of the 19th Century, Goodman’s School became unfit for purpose. The facilities of 1574 were found inadequate and improvement was impossible due to lack of space. Bathing and sanitary provision was virtually non-existent. There were open fire grates at each end of the large downstairs room. Their effect was minimal. The dormitories devoid of heat! Such food as School Provided was invariably poorly cooked and barely warm. A New Modern building was required. After great efforts by the Governors, Staff, past parents and local residents, financial contributions were sought. Old Boys gave most generously.

The Result A New School opened in the Autumn of 1893 with all the latest facilities capable of accommodating eighty boarders and twenty day pupils. Space to live and breathe at last.

The joy and celebration attached to our new school was to be short lived, for the black clouds of the First World War started to gather, slowly at first, then with great speed as the German Nation continued an aggressive policy of taking over smaller Nations.

The call to arms when it arrived saw Old Ruthinians enlist in British Regiments, the Royal Navy and the Royal Naval Air Service. In the great Scheme of things from such a small school, the number of Old Ruthinians who enlisted was almost 100 per cent. Nominations for Two Victoria Crosses were submitted for Ruthinians. Twenty-five Military Crosses awarded, thirty two Military Medals and so many lesser Medals. Sadly, so many did not come home. During the British Victorian African Wars at least eight lost their lives. By 1918 forty-one Ruthinians had given their lives for King and Country.

Thursday, May 31st, 1923.

Ruthin School Sports Say

The Opening of the Memorial Pavilion


Lord Kenyon (Lord Lieutenant), The Mayor of Ruthin, Alderman W. G. Lecomber; Alderman T. G. Roberts; Dr. H. F. Byford; Alderman Robert H. Williams; Baldwin Griffith Clerk of the Governors; D. H. Roberts Clerk of the Charities; W. J. Jones Treasurer of the Charities.

The Pavilion was a much needed improvement to the Games Department, the cost being about £1,030, obtained by voluntary subscriptions from Old Boys, the School Staff, Governors and present pupils. There is no mention of the name of the Architect.

Over the front entrance is the following Inscription “1914 To the Memory of those Old Boys of Ruthin School who died during the Great War, in the service of the King. 1918 ”

It is also intended for a scroll to be placed inside the building with the names of the following heroes and members and Old Boys of the School who made the supreme sacrifice:

Thomas Baker; Frank Gilderoy Batters; Hubert Standley Belcher; Thomas Burd; William Casson; Llewelyn Samuel Downing; Hywel Edwards; Robert Thomas Hugh Ellis; Thomas Price Ellis; Frank Graham Evans; John Victor Evans, Rowland Alex Llewelyn Gallon; Donovan Baldwin Griffith; Paul Edward Howell Griffiths; James Randal Gylencreutz; Frank Hitchin; John Arthur Hughes; William Price Hughes; Aneurin Ingman; John Jenkins; Arthur Gwilym Hughes; Herman Hill Jones; Philip Hebden Lecomber; Alexander Leslie; Henry Moore; Lennox Muirhead; William Kenwick Nunnerley; Herbert Ernest Malcolm Owen; Edward Ernest Parry; James John A. Phillips; Robert Pughe; Gwilym Henry Roberts; Thomas Roberts; Thomas James Simpson; Heber Thomas; John Emyr Thomas; Stanley Albert Breen Turner; Georges Wright; Owen Lloyd Williams;

The Lord Lieutenant was supported by the Headmaster E. W. Lovegrove, M.A., (Oxon.) and Mrs. Lovegrove. The Mayor of Ruthin; The Hon. Mrs. Brodrick; The Reverend Canon Basil H. Jones of Llanfair D.C.

In his address the Headmaster said it was the most important occasion in the History of the School, for they had met to honour those old boys who had gone from the School, to give their lives for the King. He considered that any inscription at the head of the scroll should be the School Motto “Die Gratia Sum Quod Sum” - By the Grace of God I am what I am. To his mind every one of the 37 boys who laid down their lives had come to a noble end. The Governors had considered that the best memorial they could offer, was to erect a pavilion on the school field where the boy’s happiest hours were spent. he was quite sure every one of the departed boys would agree with the School in what they had done in commemoration. The Headmaster formally presented Lord Kenyon with a silver key as a memento of the occasion.

The New School of 1897 designed by John Douglas a Chester Architect.

School had an O.T.C. in 1878 which became a Combined Cadet Force when the Government re-organised the part played by school age boys in Military Affairs. Loathed by many and enjoyed by many, so many pupils found the C.C.F. a gateway into an enjoyable and rewarding career. Guy Lloyd Carter rose to Air Commodore, Graham Webster a Sub-Mariner, R. Gwyn L. Williams an R.A.F., Wing Commander, who retired having Piloted one of the last Concorde Flights from J.F.K., Airport back to Britain.

The Old Ruthinian Association

A brief History compiled from Papers, Schoolmasters and Old Ruthinians I have discussed this subject with during the years I served as Recorder.

John of Wales, OFM (Wales, 13th century - Paris 1285), a.k.a. John Waleys and Johannes Guallensis, was a Franciscan theologian who wrote several well-received Latin works, primarily preaching aids, in Oxford and Paris in the late-thirteenth century.

Born between 1210-1230, almost certainly in Wales, He entered into the Franciscan order, and incepted in theology in Oxford sometime before 1258. After this, he taught there until 1270 when he moved to Paris, where he remained until his death around 1285. He was a moral theologian and a great admirer of the ancient world, incorporating many classical authors into his works.

He wrote several works in Latin, with a great success. The most important ones are the following:

Breviloquium de philosophia, sive sapientia sanctorum (Short treatise about philosophy, or wisdom of the saints), translated into Catalan in the 15th century.

Compendiloquium, which is a summary of the history of philosophy.

Communiloquium or Summa collationum, which is a kind of manual for priests and preachers, and which was also translated into Catalan in the 14th century.

Schools in Wales during his lifetime were rare, very rare. He received an education somewhere. Ruthin? It is possible. Why did he accompany Edward I when he came to Ruthin for the Consecration of the New St. Peter’s Church as a Collegiate and Parish Church in 1284?


The Ruthin School Magazine

No 44 – October 1897


SEPTEMBER 26th, 1786

MaddocksJohn Vronyw M.P., Chancery Bar President
Williams John Junior President
Chambres-Jones John Bryneisteddfod
Clough Thomas Rector of Denbigh
Edwards Thomas Captain
Griffiths Pwllheli Rev’d.
Hughes Gabriel
Hughes John Spier
Hughes Thomas D.D.,Canon Residentiary of St PaulsRev’d.
Humphreys Robert Rev’d.
Jones Plas yn Llan, Llangynhafal
Jones John Plas yn Llan, Llangynhafal
Jones John Cefn Coch
Jones Peter M.A. Rector of Derwen 1781 - 1809
Jones W. Attorney – Marshal of the King’s Bench
Jones Castle Street, RuthinRev’d.
Lloyd Ambrose
Maurice Robert Llanbedr D.C., 1807 B.A. Llanelidan 1796 - Rhuddlan 1800Rev’d.
Morris Robert Rector of Llangwyfan 1770 - 1790Rev’d.
Owens Robert Llanbedr
Parry Thomas
Parry William M.A.Late Headmaster Warden of Ruthin 1784
Roberts NewmarketRev’d.
Roberts Denbigh
Salusbury John Galltfaenan
Salusbury Thelwall
Salusbury Thomas Cotton Hall and Llanwern Eldest son of Sir Robert Salusbury, Bt.Captain
Shuckforth David Captain, Royal Navy Retired 1796
Walters John Fellow of Jesus Col., Oxon. Rector of Efenechtyd 1789 Headmaster
Wynne Thomas Mold

That the Meeting of this Company be held annually, on such day and at such house as the Presidents for the year do appoint, and, as in case they differ, the Senior President to decide.

That the Senior President do nominate the succeeding Senior President and the Junior.

The Editor gratefully acknowledges his obligations to The Ven. Archdeacon David R. Thomas, M.A., F.S.A., O.R., for the list of Old Scholars who assembled at the Anniversary Meeting in 1786.

The Taxatio Ecclesiastica records that on St Peter's Day, June 29th, 1284, Edward I, was in Ruthin, and met with John Pecham, Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Anian, Bishop of Bangor, John of Wales, Reginald de Grey, the Marcher Lord he had appointed, who held Ruthin Castle, and Henri Le Mestre. Ruthin School was in existence!

Old Ruthinians have on occasion throughout the past seven hundred and thirty-three years held some of the highest Offices of State. Throughout Britain's Shires, Towns and Cities they have risen to prominence and served their communities. Likewise, they have served in the Armed Forces with distinction. Between 1910 and 1914, the School Roll averaged fifty-seven boys, and between 1930 - 1939, it averaged forty six. Our Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918 has thirty-nine names, and that for 1939 - 1945, twenty. Two were recommended, for the V.C.

In 1974, the O.R.A., appointed the Very Reverend Dean Vorley Spencer Ellis, M.A. Oxon., O.R., Patron of the Association. Just short of his ninetieth year he still regularly took Services, and had a wealth of stories of Ruthin School, Staff and Old Boys. He recalled the first O.R. Dinner he attended, December 31st, 1899, to celebrate the 'new century'. The senior O.R. present, a wealthy Staffordshire businessman, was making his family's fifty first annual return to Ruthin. His father attended twenty- five Dinners from 1847, and this would be his twenty eighth! He brought with him his 'batman - butler, and sufficient wine and port for the entire table of twenty to celebrate. "All it cost me was my train fare, for we stayed in School.

During the first War the Dinners continued, though most present were retired and ten was a good attendance. From 1939 to 1946, it was more difficult to travel and the menu was whatever the Castle Hotel could provide. One year, there were just three of us, but the line was not broken".

Thirty years or so ago, at an Old Ruthinian London Dinner, I was approached by an Official of A.R.O.P.S., the Association of Past Pupil's Societies, who asked why I saw fit to 'so grossly exaggerate the numbers attending our Annual re-unions?' My reply was 'if you don't believe me, telephone Ruthin Castle, they will confirm them.' I then asked why he made the accusation? Well how many are dining tonight, he replied. I said twenty six, and invited him to our dining room. He was speechless. Apparently some of the grandest British Public School Re-unions struggled to achieve double figures!

What is it about Ruthin School that instils such loyalty. Perhaps, as a small school, friendships formed are stronger. Perhaps the Schools' constant shortage of funds throughout those first seven centuries, and thereby its precarious existence, caused the staff's determination to exist, to be somehow imbued in their charges.

We do not claim to have held recorded meetings, but on November 7th, 2009 we held the one hundred and seventy second Annual Dinner!

Today, the Association's 'raison d'etre' is to foster the friendships formed at Ruthin School - the youngest O.R. at the 2009 Annual Dinner was nineteen, the eldest, eighty-eight!

We are justly proud of our record of support to Ruthin School, which since the last War has seen donations of materials, service, skills, and finance. I firmly believe that the Association has a sound relationship with School, which, through the application and dedication of the Staff has brought about the current sound position. The School is full, results are the best ever and standards are still rising!

Living in God's chosen acre - the Vale of Clwyd - it is easy to take one's surroundings for granted. Several years ago, C. Denis Lunn, past O.R.A., President, past Chairman of School Governors, commented "Richard, as a Banker, I served my time in Iran. The only reunions I have missed were those which business prevented me from attending, for I came back to Britain at least once, and sometimes twice a year. However whenever I am in Ruthin, I am reminded of Shakespeare's words from Richard II, Act II, Sc iii, John of Gaunt :

This Royal throne of Kings, this sceptered Isle.
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi - paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall...

Eheu!, fugaces labuntur anni.
Alas!, the years glide swiftly away.

One of the many stories told me by Vorley Spencer Ellis O.R., Dean of St. Asaph 1938-1957 was of the behaviour of some O.R.s attending the 1899 - 1900 O.R. Dinner. The Headmaster had agreed that accommodation would be provided at School for O.R.s. A group of these Old Boys bought a Barrel of Beer at the Anchor Inn and rolled it up to School to consume. Settling into the Dormitories allocated they discovered a group of Boarders who had not gone home for Christmas. These Boys were warmly invited to the O.R. Party and a good time was had by all.

The following morning, the O.R.s were summoned by the Headmaster into the large room downstairs at the front of School, where a blazing fire burned in the grate. He was barely able to contain his rage. The O.R.s were told to empty their pockets onto the table which he walked round, collecting train tickets and cash. The train tickets he threw onto the Fire, and the cash he said would go some way to clearing up after them. They were then told to leave and he stood outside and watched them until they were off School Grounds. His rage was two-fold. One bringing alchol into school and two, encouraging under age boys to drink! Spencer recalled he walked all the way home to the Rectory in Llansannan. Other O.R.s., fared far worse.

C. Denis Lunn, O.R., Past Chairman and President, Past School Governor once said to me that in his lengthy and successful career he had met many Banking Colleagues who had attended the top British Independent Schools and had found them devoid of spirit.

In 1984, Ruthin School celebrated seven hundred years of educating Boys from the Town of Ruthin and the surrounding Countryside. Many had worked their way to the very top of their chosen professions, Lord Kenyon, Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice. Sir John Trevor, Master of the Rolls, Speaker of the House of Commons. John Wynn, Bishop of St. Asaph and Bath and Wells. Sir Arthur Bankart, Surgeon to Edward VII and George V. A Rear Admiral, he had been the Fleet Surgeon at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. William Cason was killed in Action 1916, and recommended for a V.C. Sir Lewis Casson Actor and producer. Randal Casson Secretary to the Governor of Burma, Mathematician of Note. Philip Hebdon Lecomber, Killed in Action 1918, recommended for the V.C. Commander Eric G.L. Robinson, Pilot to the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin for his visits to Germany to meet Hitler. Sir Ian Richmond, Professor of Archaeology at Oxford. R.W. Barber, M.A. Cantab., Captain of Lancashire and Warwickshire County Cricket Clubs, played in 28 Test Matches for England. M.G. Roberts, Capped for Wales at Rugby Football. R.P.N. Koldeway Senior Under Officer, Sandhurst 1965. R.G.L. Williams Senior Under Officer, Cranwell 1965. School and O.R.s are proud of the Work and Service of pupils through the Centuries.

On Friday March 16th, 1984 H.M. the Queen and H.R.H. Prince Phillip had Lunch in School, having met the Governors and Teaching Staff before Lunch, I as Recorder of the O.R.A., was presented to both, following the O.R.A. President Hubert G. Williams, Stephen H. Sington, Chairman and David H. Cotes, Treasurer, shortly before the Royal Party left School.

The Royal Visit took place because of the action taken by the O.R.A. Throughout 1982 how to celebrate seven hundred years occupied most of the time O.R.s spent in Committee Meetings. The Queen was proposed and unanimously chosen. What would she do at School? The drawing of the 1892 New School showed a Clock on the Tower, and the Committee determined to put one there. At this point the Headmaster had to be consulted. He was firstly grateful to the O.R.A., as apparently the Celebration had been discussed at length at Governor’s Meetings, but, wake up, the Queen visit Ruthin School, it would never happen. David Cotes our Treasurer saved the day! At our next meeting he arrived with a quote for a Clock for the Tower of £739, fixed from Messrs Joyce & Co., Whitchurch. They also proposed a fee of £38 to insure the Clock from Order to fixing. We had the cash, Mr. Hill was once more consulted and he consulted with the Governors who agreed to the proposal. David Cotes then produced sheets of paper showing buildings visited by the Queen, yes some very grand, but many old and somewhat shabby.

I wrote to the Lord Lieutenant of Flintshire Col. James Ellis Evans, the Queen’s Representative for the County who did not reply in writing, but telephoned me and said he was not in favour of such a visit and that was to be the end of the matter. He had totally ignored the many senior Old Boys who had vast experiences of such visits. John Grey Lloyd, LL.B., said write to the Lord Chancellor, and gave me his address. The letter was sent and promptly answered, stating that a Royal Visit to North Wales had been requested by other organisations and was under consideration. It was not long before I found out that a Cadet Unit in Colwyn Bay and Flintshire County Council had sought a Royal Visit.

Un-known to me, Prince Philip was to accompany the Queen to North Wales, and he said not another Army Dinner, we will eat with the Boys at Ruthin School. Mr. Hill summoned me immediately, “now look what a problem we have”. I approached Tony Warburton, O.R., of Ruthin Castle, and he provided all the necessary finery for a Royal Luncheon, and supervised the meal on the day!

Another interesting matter is that Joyce & Co., Whitchurch installed the Clock at the price agreed in 1982 even though the Health and Safety Laws had been considerably strengthened and far more Scaffolding and man-power was by 1984 required.

The School Dining room would struggle to accommodate all the essential visitors, and I felt very sorry for Mr. Hill when he told me that there was only room for four O.R.s. Tony Warburton was present when he said this, and he said why don’t the O.R., dine at Ruthin Castle? Problem solved! On the day one hundred and thirty-eight O.R.s and Partners and two senior Policemen involved in the Visit had a magnificent Lunch.

Why the Police? During a Royal Visit many Roads are closed for security reasons. Our party would have to walk back to School. By providing a hot Lunch for the Policemen permission was given for two Voel Coaches to transport us back to School!

I firmly believe that the Royal Visit was a roaring success. Sadly the sun was hidden by low clouds which deprived one and all the Vista of the Vale of Clwyd on a sunny day.

During the 1820s and 1830s various groups of Boys who had been educated at Ruthin School gathered in The Wynnstay Arms, Ruthin, for a Dinner which was thoroughly enjoyed by all present. The idea could have stemmed from a Dinner held to welcome the new Century in 1800. Earlier several Students from Oxford and Cambridge, who had served in the Army met in Ruthin in celebration of John Churchill’s Victories at Blenheim in 1704, Oudenarde, 1708 and Malplaquet, 1709. Battles in which several Old Ruthinians had fought. According to Rev’d. David Richard Thomas, M.A., O.R., they gathered to pay Tribute to those O.R.s who fell in those Battles. The Wynnstay Arms previously The Cross Foxes had a very strong appeal to O.R.s as an Hotel where they were warmly welcomed well fed and accommodated.

The Register of Names has been created from the lists of past pupils created by the Recorders of the O.R.A., and placed in School for safekeeping with the Headmaster. Alfred S. Hill, B.Sc. Headmaster of Ruthin School 1967 – 1985., was pleased to be given a new list, and handed me the surviving old lists. O.R.s who have been pleased to clear space taking boxes of papers from their School Days, and from the population of Ruthin I met during the twenty years I ran the Family Ironmongers Shop in Ruthin, who had stored similar papers from the Boys in their Family who had been educated in School.

I am indebted to Keith M. Kenyon Thompson, B.A., B.Ed., F.Col.P., who wrote the History of our School, Ruthin ‘School the First Seven Centuries’.