Tag Archives: King’s School

Artemis Cooper to speak at King’s School Canterbury, 14 November

Patrick Leigh Fermor at school, Kings’ Canterbury

Artemis Cooper, the author of Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure, will give a talk on Wednesday 14 November at 7.30 pm in the Clagett Auditorium, Canterbury Cathedral Lodge.

Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) was one of the King’s School’s most distinguished old boys. He was in The Grange from 1929 to 1931. He went on to be a war hero and is regarded as one of the greatest travel writers.

The biography was published by John Murray on 11 October.

Artemis has already produced Words of Mercury, a selection of Leigh Fermor’s writings, and is now editing what survives of the planned third volume of his autobiographical trilogy, following on from A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. It is due to be published in the autumn of 2013 and will be called The Broken Road.

Tickets for the talk cost £5 and are available on-line from The King’s Box Office, or in person from 1 Mint Yard, or on the door. Copies of the book will be available at the talk.

From the King’s School website.

Related articles:

A combination of prefab, garage and potting shed

Some Memories of King’s .. And the final word goes to?


Alan Watts on Paddy’s schooldays

I am very grateful to Jasper Winn (author of Paddle: A long way around Ireland) for sending me this scan from Alan Watt’s autobiography In My Own Way in which he refers to his time at King’s with Paddy in the 1930’s.

Tom, hi,

You have possibly already seen this contemporary account of the young Paddy at school. Alan Watts – self-styled mystic, very credible explainer of eastern religion, and 60s guru to a swathe of Californians and beyond – was a fellow pupil. His – Watts’ – extensive writings tend to be accurate in detail and observation, though creative in colour and tone, and perhaps in any conclusions drawn. Still one of the few people who wrote about Paddy from first hand knowledge at such an early point in his life.

I hope that the high def photo of the relevant pages from Watts’ autobiography In My Own Way makes for legible reading.



A combination of prefab, garage and potting shed

It is not Prince Charles alone who has opinions about architecture. From the King’s School website archive …

Patrick Leigh Fermor had been a boy in The Grange. Although his school career ended abruptly and prematurely, he always retained great affection for the place and in particular for the buildings.

In 1977 the School was planning to build two new houses in the Precincts: Luxmoore and Mitchinson’s. Leigh Fermor wrote to the Headmaster Peter Pilkington expressing his disappointment with what was envisaged in the Mint Yard: “The first impression made by this side of the project is of a combination of prefab, garage and potting shed…. What would William of Sens have thought? And Harry Austin?”

His response was not merely negative, however. Ten pages of ‘Notes on the Projected New Houses at the King’s School, Canterbury’ included several illustrations of possible alternatives in a variety of architectural styles. Despite his intervention, the School went ahead with the scheme.

Thirty years later, Sir Patrick returned to King’s to open the New Grange on the St Augustine’s site.

Patrick Leigh Fermor Memorial Order of Service

The memorial service that took place on 15 December at Saint James’s, Piccadilly was a moving tribute to Paddy, whilst at the same time being a tremendous celebration of his life, and the music, poetry and people that he loved. The order of service is here for you to see.

If there has to be a highlight it was John Julius Norwich and his daughter Artemis Cooper singing versions of D’Ye Ken John Peel and Widdecombe Fair translated into Italian by Paddy. After this Lord Norwich gave a lively and affectionate Address about his good friend of over fifty years.

Artemis has to be congratulated for organising such a successful memorial service which gave a nod to Paddy’s boyhood by including the excellent Crypt Choir of King’s School Canterbury.

There was a final message to us all from Paddy himself:

“Love to all and kindness to all friends, and thank you all for a life of great happiness” – Patrick Leigh Fermor

King’s School Canterbury: Death of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor

Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, one of the school’s most distinguished former pupils died on Friday 10 June.

Published on the King’s School Canterbury website 12th June 2011

Born in 1915, Paddy Leigh Fermor was in The Grange from 1929 to 1931, when his school career came to a premature end. For his own view of the school see the final passage in Memories of King’s. He had a distinguished war career, especially in Crete. His involvement in the kidnap of General Kreipe was later the subject of the film Ill Met By Moonlight, directed by another OKS Michael Powell.

He is widely regarded as the best travel writer of the twentieth century. A Time of Gifts (1977) and Between the Woods and the Water (1986) describe his journey across Europe in the mid-1930s.

He returned to the school on several occasions, most recently in 2007 to open the new Grange boarding house.

Many tributes to him can be seen here: Patrick Leigh Fermor.

Related articles:

Some Memories of King’s .. And the final word goes to?

Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor opens new facility at King’s School Canterbury

Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor opens new facility at King’s School Canterbury

An article found on the King’s School website. Paddy opens a new boarding house to replace the one where he spent his all too brief time at King’s!

First posted on the King’s School Canterbury website on 9th September 2007

Paddy opens new Grange House at Kings School Canterbury

The New Grange was officially opened at 12.15 pm on Sunday 9 September by Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor DSO OBE. Sir Patrick was a boy in the original Grange from 1929 to 1931, shortly after it became an independent house in 1928. He unveiled a plaque with an appropriate Latin inscription*, and spoke of his early days in The Grange and the effect of the School and the Precincts on his upbringing. He then cut a ribbon to declare the house formally open.

*in translation: “On 9th September 2007 Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, once a pupil in the original Grange (and even then an outstanding free spirit) and, later, greatly daring in war and creative in letters, through his life an example to the young people of this School, inaugurated this building, so that the glory of the latter House might be greater – if that were possible – than of the former.”

The house is next to Harvey House on the St Augustine’s site. It overlooks the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey.

Some Memories of King’s .. And the final word goes to?

We all know that Paddy was asked to leave King’s School Canterbury for what today would be called ‘inappropriate behaviour’; holding hands with ‘a ravishing and sonnet-begetting beauty’ of twenty four years of age. She was the local greengrocer’s daughter. In this short contribution to the school website recalling Paddy’s memories of King’s, she does not get a mention.

Patrick Leigh Fermor at school, Kings Canterbury

“Copious reading about the Dark and the Middle Ages had floridly coloured my views of the past; and the King’s School, Canterbury touched off emotions which were sharply opposed to those of Somerset Maugham in the same surroundings; they were closer to Walter Pater’s seventy years earlier, and probably identical, I liked to think, with those of Christopher Marlowe earlier still. I couldn’t get over the fact that the school had been founded at the very beginning of Anglo-Saxon Christianity – before the sixth century was out, that is: fragments of Thor and Woden had hardly stopped smouldering in the Kentish woods: the oldest part of the buildings was modern by these standards, dating only from a few decades after the Normans landed. There was a wonderfully cobwebbed feeling about this dizzy and intoxicating antiquity – an ambiance both haughty and obscure which turned famous seats of learning, founded eight hundred or a thousand years later, into gaudy mushrooms and seemed to invest these hoarier precincts, together with the wide green expanses beyond them, the huge elms, the Dark Entry, and the ruined arches and the cloisters – and, while I was about it, the booming and jackdaw-crowed pinnacles of the great Angevin cathedral itself, and the ghost of St. Thomas à Becket and the Black Prince’s bones – with an aura of nearly pre-historic myth.”

Patrick Leigh Fermor (KS 1929-31),A Time of Gifts (1977)

Philhellene’s progress: The writing of Patrick Leigh Fermor

As you know I trawl the net for Paddy related material to create the best online source of information about PLF and his friends and associates. Some of you may have come across this essay that attempts to analyse Paddy’s style and his literary achievement. In my view it is just one of many that emphasise how great the man is and how unequalled is his prose.

First published in New Criterion, Jan, 2001 by Ben Downing

I have carried the soldier’s musket, the traveler’s stick, the pilgrim’s staff. –Chateaubriand (what a great quote for Paddy!)

The captive must have been exhausted and afraid, but when, on the fourth day of his grueling forced march across Crete, he saw dawn break behind Mount Ida, the sight was so beautiful that it brought to his lips the opening of Horace’s Ode I.ix: “Vides ut alta stet nive candidum/ Soracte,”(1) he murmured. Then, just as he trailed off, one of his captors came in to take the poem over, reciting the rest of its six stanzas. At this, the captive’s startled eyes slanted down from the peak to meet those of his enemy, and, after a long thoughtful silence, he pronounced, “Ach so, Herr Major.” For the captive was a German soldier–the commander of the island’s garrison, no less. General Karl Kreipe (to give him his name) had been abducted on April 26, 1944 by a band of Greek guerrillas led by two English commandos. Over the next three weeks, the kidnappers picked their way across Crete, eluding the thousands of Nazi troops who hunted them, until eventually they were met by a British boat and whisked to Cairo, where Kreipe was handed over and the two commandos promptly awarded the D.S.O. One of these men was W. Stanley Moss, who in 1950 published a riveting account of the escapade, Ill-Met by Moonlight, later filmed by Michael Powell. The other was a certain Patrick Leigh Fermor. Disguised as a shepherd and (like Zeus in his Cretan boyhood) living largely in caves, he had spent much of the previous two years on the island organizing the resistance. Leigh Fermor it was who finished the quotation.

But where had he, who’d never completed high school, learned Horace so well? Had Kreipe asked him this, Leigh Fermor could have answered, savoring the irony, that he’d committed the odes to memory during his teenage Wanderjahr a decade earlier, when, just after Hitler’s rise to power, he’d walked clear across Germany (among other countries) with a volume of Horace for his vade mecum, often reciting the poems to himself as he tramped. About that experience he’d not yet written a public word, and would not do so for many more years. Similarly he held off recounting his aubade with Kreipe. At last, however, in the 1970s, he broached the subjects of his continental traverse and, in an aside to that account, of his fleeting bond with Kreipe. Some things are best waited for: the book in which Leigh Fermor set these matters down, A Time of Gifts (1977), along with its sequel, Between the Woods and the Water (1986), represent not only the capstone of his career but, in my opinion, the finest travel books in the language and a pinnacle of modern English prose, resplendent as Soracte or Ida in deep snow.

The deplorable fact that most Americans, even well-read ones, have never even heard, as I also had not until recently, of a figure who in Britain (to say nothing of Greece, where he lives to this day) is revered and beloved as war hero, author, and bon vivant; who is, in Jan Morris’s words, “beyond cavil the greatest of living travel writers”; and who, in those of the historian John Julius Norwich, “writes English as well as anyone alive”–all this spurs me to correct our oversight of the sublime, the peerless Patrick Leigh Fermor.

His turbulent early life is recounted in the introduction to A Time of Gifts. Shortly after his birth in 1915, his mother and sister went to join his father in India, while he was left behind “so that one of us might survive if the ship were sunk by a submarine.” For four years he was billeted with a Northamptonshire farming family, an experience that proved “the opposite of the ordeal Kipling describes in Baa Baa Black Sheep.” A halcyon period, this, but the taste for boisterous freedom he acquired in the fields made for trouble later on: “Those marvelously lawless years, it seems, had unfitted me for the faintest shadow of constraint.” Especially intolerable to him were academic strictures of any kind, and there ensued a long series of dust-ups and expulsions, hilariously related. At ten he was sent to “a school for difficult children,” among which misfits he lists

the millionaire’s nephew who chased motorcars along country lanes with a stick, the admiral’s pretty and slightly kleptomaniac daughter, the pursuivant’s son with nightmares and an infectious inherited passion for heraldry, the backward, the somnambulists … and, finally, the small bad hats like me who were merely very naughty. Continue reading