The day the King called at Sedbergh School

The Westmorland Gazette: A montage of photographs depicting King George V’s visit to Sedbergh School in 1917 A montage of photographs depicting King George V’s visit to Sedbergh School in 1917

Sedbergh School archivist Katy Iliffe highlights a visit by King George V to inspect cadets at the school during World War One

AFTER three years of back-to-back royal events, a wedding, a Jubilee and a royal baby, it is interesting to look back at how royal events were celebrated in the past.

Following a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, new information about Sedbergh School and the town is now available on the internet for the first time.

The 1917 visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Sedbergh was captured in the Sedbergh School magazine from a schoolboy’s perspective, with a detailed run-through of the royal couple’s day.

Seven years to the day after Sedbergh School’s Officer Training Corps had marched through market square to celebrate the proclamation of King George V they had the opportunity to march in front of him in the flesh.

The Headmaster, W. N. Weech, announced one Friday morning that the King would inspect the troops that evening while the Royal train stopped off in Sedbergh.

Normal lessons ended at 11am so that the rest of the day could be given over to marching practice, last-minute polishing and decorating the town.

The Headmaster of Sedbergh School met the Royal Party at the station and their arrival was heralded by the ringing of the bells of St Andrew’s church.

Although the visit was arranged to allow the inspection of Sedbergh School’s cadets, pupils from neighbouring Baliol School, Sedbergh Preparatory School, Cressbrook School and Casterton School were invited to attend the event.

After the inspection the headmaster escorted the Royal couple to their train and, on his return, announced that the King had requested that an extra week be added to the summer holiday.

Events of this sort all over the country to support those preparing to go to war gave young men the opportunity to feel valued and that their efforts counted.

Many of the boys on parade for the King in May 1917 will have been too young to see action in WW1 but all will have known those who died.

To learn more about the royal visit, Sedbergh School Officer Training Corps or those who lost their lives in the First World War visit www.sedberghschoolarchives.org to access the free online archive.

(Research undertaken by archive volunteer Katherine Chorley).

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