In the recent past, I published four articles which were, I hope, bite sized sections of a much larger whole. They were all about the High School before the Great War, and then during the first few years of the conflict. All of the material came from the reminiscences of Roy Henderson, an Old Boy from this time. None of these articles would have been possible without the original research by my friend and colleague, Simon Williams, who interviewed Roy Henderson at length. Simon, of course, has done some incredibly detailed research about the school’s casualties in the Great War. This can be found in the Nottingham High School Archive. Take a look, for example at the material he has found on Harold Ballamy, perhaps, the High School’s saddest and most pointless loss of the entire conflict. Poor Harold is also remembered by Nottinghamshire County Council, who incorporate much of what Simon Williams has produced.
When I composed the four articles, I deliberately chose not to include anything negative from what Mr Henderson said. I cannot, however, fail to include this almost surreal tale. Hopefully, you will find it interesting to read it and then try for yourself to work out what is really going on, what the real motivations are behind people’s behaviour, and what is happening behind the scenes.
Firstly, a little background information.
Roy Henderson’s father was a minister of the church. The family lived at No 3, Lenton Road in The Park Estate in Nottingham. This part of Nottingham is about as rich as it gets in the city. One website says that “If Nottingham were Los Angeles, this would be its Beverly Hills”.
Recent house prices there reached £535,000 (No2), £820,000 (No9) and £840,000 (No11). Another house in the road is currently for sale for £1,150,000. One website currently values No 3, Lenton Road at £816,382:
Arthur Willoughby Barton was the son of Professor Edwin H.Barton, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a Professor of Experimental Physics. He lived in Private Road, Sherwood, where very large Victorian houses change hands nowadays for around £500,000:
After the High School, Arthur went to Trinity College, Cambridge and gained First Class Honours in Physics. He was then a research student at the Cavendish Laboratory, where he helped Lord Rutherford to split the atom.
Harold Connop was the son of an Elementary School teacher, Mr Arno B Connop, and Mrs Ada Connop. There seems to be some confusion about the address. Some sources give it as 33,Westwood Road, a street in Sneinton, one of Nottingham’s working class areas. It is the first house on the left with a white door:
In 2001, this terraced house, with, perhaps just four or maybe five rooms, sold for £25,000. It is now worth around £57,000. Another address listed for Harold is 20, Stewart Place, a location which has now been demolished, probably in the slum clearance under the Socialist government immediately after the Second World War. Ironically, these houses were originally built by a local philanthropist, as “good houses for poor people”. This kind gentleman was the Reverend Robert Gregory, who was eventually to become Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Harold’s education at the High School was financed solely by scholarships, awarded on the basis of intellectual ability. He entered the school as a Sir Thomas White scholar, and then became a Foundation Scholar. Two years later, in 1913, the Sir Thomas White Scholarship was renewed and then subsequently extended for a fourth year.
Harold won prizes for six different subjects and the Form Prize for the Fifth Form in 1913, and the Sixth Form in 1915, 1916 and 1917. Here is the school in 1915:
In his public examinations in 1913, he gained First Class in six subjects, and subsequently five distinctions at Higher Level. He became a Prefect in 1915, and Captain of the School in 1917. In the words of Roy Henderson, he was:
“a first class scholar and very good rugby player. He was a fine three quarter in rugby, and a very fast runner.”
Harold won a scholarship to Corpus Christi College at Oxford University, and was also awarded an exhibition, worth £65 annually for four years. At Oxford he was regarded as “the first Scholar of Corpus Christi College”, in other words, the cleverest and best one there:
Compared to both Barton and Connop, Roy Henderson was, quite simply, not in their league. He enjoyed school, but himself admitted that he was never very good academically and was totally hopeless at exams. The high point of his career came in the Sixth Form, when he finally won a prize for an English essay on “Militarism”. Henderson only won because the rest of the Sixth Form boycotted the competition, saying “It’s the only thing Henderson can do…let him have it.”
Around this time, Roy Henderson, along with William Donald Willatt, founded a new school magazine called “The Highvite”. As editor of the original school magazine, Connop was apparently furious at this new rival. Henderson didn’t get on very well at all with Connop, for a reason which Henderson was not willing to divulge, even after the best part of seventy years. Henderson added that Connop was not very well liked in the school as a whole and he was never a particularly popular figure.
William Donald Willatt was one of six brothers at the High School, the sons of John Willatt, who lived at 4, Pelham Road, Sherwood Rise. John Willatt was a wine merchant, whose business was presumably prosperous enough to pay the school fees of his six sons.
I do not know why Harold Connop was so unpopular although at least three, possibly four, reasons spring easily to mind. I will tell you about the quarrel next time.
16 responses to “Young Men behaving Badly and a Touch of Class (1)”
Looking forward to the argument!
I noticed that the style of housing you have pictured here is now ‘all the rage’ here in my town. Almost all the new townhouses and condos are built right at the sidewalk.
Yes, the motivations of these young men can only be guessed at after all these years, but it is one of the very few occasions where this is possible. Usually archives are just statements of fact rather than records of thoughts and motivations.
I am blown away by the Park. My son lives there (but not in a mansion) but sadly will be moving on soon an a round the world trip!
It’s certainly an area for the extremely rich. It has a lot of history in its streets especially the tunnel to Derby Road, or the fact that Albert Ball used to live there.
Some of those Mansions are really wonderful. I would love to live in a house with a tower and a turret!
Fascinating, John. I await the next instalment
Hopefully, you won’t be disappointed Derrick.
Enlightening Article John.
Thanks a lot. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Yes. I found it fascinating to see the behaviour of well educated young men more than a hundred years ago. And it was very intriguing to me that I could only reduce the reasons for their behaviour to four or five different ones.
They were not all saints were they!
Some of the reasons why I enjoy reading you so much, John, is because you put flesh into the bones of history. It remembers me when I began to read diaries of British and German soldiers of the Great War during my PhD and I began to see beyond the big names of history and to dwell into small private and fragile lives.
Thank you so much!
And thank you too. Life isn’t all about great kings and generals. It’s so nice, as you say, to look at individual human beings, who, I’m sure your diaries will have shown you, are not very different from each other and not very different from us.
When I was a self-employed gardener I used to work in The Park and Private Road. They are quiet and peaceful compared to the city that surrounds them.
I used to take our squash players down to the squash club a few years back and, yes, it’s a very quiet place where you see hardly anybody. Many of the suburbs of Nottingham are very similar though, with hardly anything happening during the daytime.