Attention: You are using an outdated browser, device or you do not have the latest version of JavaScript downloaded and so this website may not work as expected. Please download the latest software or switch device to avoid further issues.

News > From the Archives > King's History - The Planning and Construction of the Memorial Buildings

King's History - The Planning and Construction of the Memorial Buildings

In a new series of reports, our School Archivist, Andrew Leach, tells us some interesting facts about the history of King's Bruton... its pupils, its buildings and its memories.

The Memorial Buildings

‘Here in this place, though Kingdoms rise and set,

While these walls stand, the School shall not forget.

These are the final lines of an epilogue recited by the Head Boy, Edwin Morgan, at the end of Corpus Christi Day, June 19th 1924, a day that saw the Provost of Eton, Dr M.R. James, open the almost-complete Memorial Buildings, then the largest development in the School’s history. This ambitious project was conceived a decade earlier when the previous Headmaster, David Norton (junior), felt it was time for King’s to have a ‘Big School’, a place where the whole community could assemble. He wanted it to be both a celebration of the School’s 400th anniversary in 1919 and also a Memorial to honour Old Brutonians killed in the First World War.

A development fund was set up, and in 1917 an Appeal Letter went out stating that the new building would cost at least £6000 and that £1700 had already been promised. The site for the development was to be in the field across the road from the Headmaster’s House (now New House).

By May 1919 the fund had reached £2700 and Mr A.J. Pictor, a local architect, was asked to submit a preliminary design - this showed not only a large Assembly Hall, but also a library and a set of classrooms.

On Corpus Christi Day, 19th June 1919, the Bishop of London came down to lay the Foundation Stone and to join in the 400th Anniversary celebrations. However, inflation pushed up the estimated cost of the project to £7000, and although Mr Pictor made a few adjustments to his plans to reduce costs, it was another four frustrating years before sufficient money had been raised to allow the Governors to give the go-ahead with the build.

During these years some even doubted that the Memorial Buildings would ever be built. One boy living in the Headmaster’s House wrote the following in 1920:

Work, however, finally began in 1923, and by the summer of 1924 the bulk of the building had been completed, enough for an official opening.

The final part was the library, paid for by James Lyon, who asked that it should be known as the Norton Library; this was opened early in 1925.

That is not quite the end of the story; within a few months the Memorial Hall’s wooden floor began to buckle and after negotiations with the builders, a new floor was laid. The School was able to make good use of the discarded wood by using the best of it for panelling in both Old and New Houses. It had been a struggle to realise David Norton’s dream of a ‘Big School’ but ultimately it was certainly worth it.

Now, each November, on or close to Remembrance Sunday, the School focuses on the Memorial Hall panels where details, not only of the Old Boys who were killed in the First World War but also of those killed in the Second World War and subsequent conflicts, are inscribed.

The School shall not forget.

Similar stories

170 OBs reunite at the annual London Lunch

A jolly time was had by all at one of the largest turn outs of OBs yet. More...

History was made on Tuesday, 30th January 2019, when 81 Old Brutonians attended a lunch, hosted by the Headmaster, at La… More...

Architect Samuel Young, (O11/16) remembers his time at King's and frequenting the Sun Inn. More...

Andrew Sage talks fondly of his time at King's and where he surprisingly left his mark... More...

Whilst most people travelled to the London Lunch 2019 via train, bus or car, David had to take a slightly longer journey… More...

Have your say



Plox, Bruton BA10 0ED, United Kingdom

Quick Links

Social Media

This website is powered by