In Stories from the Hill

Nanci, Nick and I were due to travel to St Albans earlier this week to meet the oldest living Kingham Hill School alumnus John Roser (Bradford and Sheffield 1928-1932). The weather sadly put paid to our plans. But every snow cloud has a silver lining and I am hoping that for future blogs I’ll be able to include  up to date pieces to camera from Nanci on the hill. For this 7th blog not only do we feature Nanci (with Severn and Greenwich Houses as I knew them in the background) but one of our youngest alumni,Bradley Lowe (Plymouth and Sheffield 2009 – 2016). He left Kingham at the same time as I retired from teaching.

There will be a number of alumni reading this who have not re-visited Kingham Hill School this century, so our video this week gives a flavour of what is going on today at your old school.  I hope you’ll enjoy the school promo that I have included (not mine, by the way) and Bradley’s personal reflections of his time on the Hill. You will no doubt appreciate some of the old amidst the new and I’m sure the clip of the CCF tug of war competition will resonate with you all.

In addition to all of the building developments that have taken place (and they are still going on as I write ) one of the biggest changes that took place at KHS was the introduction of girls back in the 1990s. Note to self, I must interview one of the first girls who joined the school in 1992 . I wonder how many of you did a second take when you saw the photograph of the CCF parade above. Yes, pupils in skirts!


I met up with Bradley before Christmas at a central London church which I am not at liberty to name. In fact I was not even allowed to use a stained glass window, the nave or altar as a backdrop just in case the church could be identified. So I filmed Bradley up in the gallery and was supervised throughout by a member of the clergy. We also had a tight schedule owing to a service that was due to start within the hour.

You might think that this is all strange, especially when I tell you that I discovered and was informed that the church in question is part of the liberal wing of the Church of England. I explained that Kingham Hill School was a C of E independent school but got a funny / knowing look when I said it had an evangelical foundation. The church did not wish to be seen to endorse or promote the work of Kingham Hill School in any way.

The irony was not lost on me – there’s nothing quite like an illiberal liberal – but I kept my thoughts to myself. Thankfully I had a copy of the school’s “Founder’s Pupils Initiative” with a picture of Charles Edward Baring Young (1850-1928) on the front cover, which I thrust into her hand. It did the trick. The mood changed and everything went well as she began to digest the content and appreciate the work that I was doing. By the end of the interview we were all smiles and I was grateful to the church for the quiet space that they had provided. To be fair, I did rock up only an hour beforehand seeking permission to film on the premises.

I am prompted to write all of this in the light of the excellent David Hare NT Live play “I’m Not Running,” that I was able to see in my local cinema in Truro, owing to the postponement of the trip to St. Albans. The play at its heart is about single issue politics such as the environment and gender, where leaders can be loved, unlike party politics. There was a great line which really hit me between the eyes and which I paraphrase: “today’s moral high grounds are highly populated, but woe to anyone who deviates from the accepted truth one degree to the left or the right.”


So no “Guess the Church” competition –  just this “little freebie” of a video, as a former pupil recently described it to me in an email.

Video of Brad Lowe

“Just seen the video, it’s fantastic – a few tears have been shed!”

Brad Lowe

Next video: Stories from the Hill 8: Friends

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