Welcome to the Christ College Archive. Items relating to the history of Christ College are collected, recorded and looked after in the Christ College Archive, with the aim of making them available for the enjoyment of pupils, Old Breconians and all those who have an interest in Christ College and its history.
The majority of the Christ College Archive collection comprises objects, photographs, documents and textiles generously donated by Old Breconians. Several thousand individual items – ranging from early team photographs to examples of uniform, and from personal memorabilia to published sources – reveal aspects of the life of Christ College over many decades from the mid-19th century to the present.
Although administrative records are far from complete, Christ College Archive also includes extant school registers together with sources which record the development of the school from the 19th century to the present, including volumes of the school magazine, The Breconian.
Specific research enquiries are most welcome. Please contact the Archivisit, Mr Gareth Evans, with any background information that would usefully support your enquiry:
Mr Gareth Evans, School Archivist
Christ College Brecon, Powys LD3 8AF, UK
Tel: 01874 615440
Development of the Archives
“The Christ College archive is a diverse and fascinating collection of items relating the school’s history that will be of interest to all those who have connections with Christ College. However, it has only become a reality only within the last few years…”
In previous decades the development of any sort of meaningful collection was entirely dependent on the interests of individuals. During the 1950s the “History of Christ College Society”, led by Mr D Inglis, was active and, as a result of the Society’s efforts, items donated by Old Breconians early in the 20th century were recorded and stored in a cupboard in the Library. In subsequent decades the small collection was added to but, for much of the school’s history, creating a sustainable school archive was perilously close to an impossible task.
That did not deter Mr J D Payne, former Head of Classics and Housemaster of Alway House. Following his return to Christ College during his retirement, he energetically created a momentum within the school that did much to set a path for future development of a school archive. In his role as Secretary of the Old Breconian Association, he was especially influential in securing the interest of Old Breconians, many of whom generously contributed items to what was still an embryonic collection. The sheer volume of items donated and John Payne’s determination to find an appropriate home for them were important factors in developing a sustainable archive that would be accessible to pupils, Old Breconians and researchers.
In 2007 a successful bid was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund with the aim of increasing accessibility for all those interested in the history of the school. Under the management of Anna Lang, the school librarian and archivist, the consequent grant of £48,000 was used to convert the mezzanine in the Kendrick Edwards Library into a centre of operations for managing the many items that were being collected and donated. A band of volunteers was trained and, under Anna’s enthusiastic supervision, inroads were quickly made into sorting and scanning archival material collected.
The significant grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund was an important turning point in the development of the archive but it was also a culmination of the efforts of many individuals whose continuing dedication and commitment helped to create an archive that could be enjoyed by future generations.
That a school archive exists at all is, in no small measure, due to the strenuous efforts of Old Breconians R J Boulton (School House, 1926-1930) and D T Smith (Hostel, 1950-1957). The decades of meticulous research undertaken by them is an inspiration. A real debt is owed to each of them, not least because they persevered in collecting published sources and creating detailed records during those periods when the recent past seemed to have little importance in a school that was focused on modernising itself.
Equally inspiring is the project undertaken in 2007 by Peter Watkins (School House, 1948-1952). The resultant collection of memories and photographs from Old Breconians who were at Christ College during the Headmastership of Canon A D James (1931-1956) offers unique insights into a specific era of the school’s history. His unstinting labours have also given valuable direction to the way a school archive can evolve.
As a result of the dedication of these individuals, the sterling efforts of former Archivist, Anna Lang, and the willingness of the volunteers who worked on the project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Christ College Archive has became a reality in a way that could hardly have been imagined in previous decades. Named in honour of an Old Breconian whose remarkable work did so much to sustain the collection, the R J Boulton Archive Room was officially opened on Old Breconian Day in 2009 – a day that also marked the retirement of Mr J D Payne. The opening by Peter Watkins OB was a momentous step forward in ensuring a safe future for a fascinating collection of items relating to Christ College and its history.
By 2011 the early success of the Christ College Archive necessitated a move from the R J Boulton Archive Room, which was fast running out of storage space. The move to the new Collections Centre in the Academic Block was executed in the Michaelmas Term of 2011 under the supervision of Felicity Kilpatrick, who was appointed Archivist following Anna Lang’s departure earlier in the summer.
The archive collection is now suitably accommodated in a dedicated suite of rooms where items are carefully managed and appropriately stored. The new Collections Centre has become the functional core of Christ College Archive but its heart remains in Big School where the R J Boulton Archive Room has evolved into an atmospheric backdrop for exhibitions and semi-permanent displays.
After decades of uncertainty, Christ College has a sustainable archive that is fully supported by the Senior Management Team, the School Governors and Old Breconians. It also has a promising future. Its diverse programme of Archive-related events aims to strengthen connections between generations of pupils and Old Breconians, and enable wider access to all those who have connections with the school.
War List WW1
“At the unveiling of the memorial cross in chapel yard on speech day 1922 it was said that 447 Old Breconians served their country between 1914 and 1918. By collating details published in the breconian and in other school records, it has been possible to assemble a list of 447 Old Breconians known to have served.”
Christ College’s War Memorial Cross, Chapel Yard in the 1920sWar List WWI is published here for the first time. It is intended as a starting point for research into the events and experiences of the war through the lives of Old Breconians who served. Stories which reflect impact of the war on individual Old Breconians will be attached to their records as the commemoration of 1914-1918 unfolds. War List WW1 can be found by clicking the link at the end of this article.
Rolls of Honour 1914-1919
In December 1914 the first list of those who were “Serving with the Colours” was published in The Breconian, together with names of the first Old Breconian casualties: P A Kell (at sea; 22nd September 1914) and C G Lyall (in France; 18th October 1914). Further lists were published in each subsequent issue of The Breconian.
In November 1916, Canon A E Donaldson published a separate booklet, Roll of Honour and War List (List 1916), which was “an attempt to put together a complete record of what Old Breconians are doing in the war”. List 1916 contained the names of 324 Old Breconians. A supplement to it, which was published in The Breconian of April 1917, provided corrections. By the time the final list was published in The Breconian of July 1919, 431 Old Breconians had been listed.
CG Boothby (School House 1908-1913) killed in France 28th April 1916. One of 57 Old Breconians in the Roll of Honour 1914-1918These names form the core of War List WW1, to which have been added further names gathered from a variety of school records, such as references to war service in obituaries in the OBA News and later numbers of The Breconian. Also included are Old Breconians who have been brought to our attention by other researchers. One of these is George Udney Yule. Having won the first scholarship from Ripley School Court in Surrey, he came to Christ College in 1894. Lieutenant Colonel George Udney Yule DSO died in Bombay on 22nd December 1918, aged 37; his name was added to the Roll of Honour read at Christ College in the Remembrance Service in 2013.
Canon A E Donaldson
There is almost no doubt that the majority of the work of creating the original Rolls of Service for 1914-1918 was undertaken by Canon Donaldson. Originally appointed in 1902 as a temporary Master for one term, he remained at the school until his retirement in 1955. He was Second Master to three successive Headmasters and also served as Chaplain, Housemaster, Master of Classics and English and Games Master. In 1912 he became ‘Recorder’ of the Old Breconian Association, responsible for recording and circulating details of Old Breconians. He was a meticulous ‘recorder’ – of cricket statistics, of attendance at Chapel, of House accounts, and of pupils. In the time of war, this well-established and highly respected member of staff became the natural depository of information about Old Breconians who had enlisted. As an already well-established member of the teaching staff and an active member of the Old Breconian Association, he would have known almost every one of those about whom he was keeping records. Christmas Card 1914 – sent to men on active service from Canon Donaldson.
Details for inclusion seem to have been passed through all available channels: Canon Donaldson himself was a prolific letter-writer and would no doubt have received direct news from former pupils; Old Breconians also sent letters to the school magazine, some of which were published in The Breconian; the annotations in Canon Donaldson’s personal copy of List 1916 suggest that much of the news was sent to him by parents, and serving men who had met other Old Breconians while training or on active service. It is also easy to imagine him scouring other sources, such as local newspaper reports and the London Gazette, for news of pupils whom he had taught in the classroom or guided in his roles as Housemaster and Chaplain. Using his characteristic broad-nibbed ink pen, he carefully recorded deaths and injuries alongside news of honours and commendations. Researchers of the past, present and future owe him an immense debt of gratitude.
Using War List WW1
The list as it appears here is simply a collation of information recorded between 1914 and 1919. There are inevitably errors and omissions because of the way the information was collected at the time. It is, therefore, merely a starting point for further research; facts should be verified from primary sources, such as Medal Rolls and Enlistment papers.
The entries in List WW1 have been formatted as follows:
- Details in bold are those recorded in the retrospective school register compiled by Canon Donaldson in the 1950s. The register is referred to as ‘AED Register’ in footnotes. In the absence of earlier registers, two of which were removed by a departing Headmaster in 1895, these records are the main source of information about pupils in school prior to the First World War.
- In some entries there are only details in bold, with no service record shown; this is because there is no record of service in The Breconian, even though it may have been referred to elsewhere (such as in an Obituary). In the case of Charles Marsh Beadnell, for example, his considerable record of service as a Surgeon Rear Admiral is omitted because his name is not recorded in the documents used to compile this list. Also in Bold only are those whose service record is known but not recorded in The Breconian, such as that for the Rugby International Jack Phillips. References for these entries are shown as footnotes.
- Information in the square brackets shows the relevant references to the month and the year of The Breconian in which the details are published. The Breconian was published three times a year and letters refer to the edition of April, July or December; thus [A1917] refers to The Breconian of April 1917. [List, 1916] refers to a War List published as a separate booklet in November 1916. Corrections to it have been made according to the ‘Supplement to the War List’ printed in The Breconian of April 1917.
- Details of service in plain text are simply as recorded in The Breconian or List, 1916. No additional information has been added and any errors have not been corrected. For example, the month or year of death is as recorded in the relevant number of The Breconian even though the actual date of death may now be known.
- Details in italics have been added from other sources where it is appropriate to include additional relevant information. For example, details for William David Abbot have been added because there is no record of his service in The Breconian even though he appears on the Roll of Honour in the ante-chapel.
- Also in italics is the age of the Old Breconian. This has been worked out from the Register or BMD records. It is included for context and refers to the date when the detail was published. For example, [A1917. Age 18] simply means that the Old Breconian was 18 in April 1917. The age is not shown where there was insufficient information to allow its calculation. Age at death, where relevant, is also in italics and shown in brackets e.g. (Aged 19).