ARCHBISHOP HOLGATE SCHOOL (c.1957) film no: 2208
This film documents different aspects of school life at Arch Bishop Holgate School, many of which take place outside of the classroom. The film shows both the serious, and not so serious, school activities such as making models, participating in sporting events, and sliding on ice.
Title – Do you lie awake and count sheep?
A man is sitting up in bed.
Title – Or do you read comics?
A boy in his pyjamas is reading a Buffalo Bill comic.
Title – Try going to sleep! Do you want to look like this?’ (Pointing to a picture of a teacher) Who does!
The boys on the athletics field practicing and competing in track and field events. Following this is a short sequence of a house Rugby match with parents watching. At the end of the game, the players pose for the camera.
Title – Winter sports
The boys, along with one of the teachers, line up in the school playground and slide one after the other on the ice. First they are timid, but then the confidence grows until they dance and spin on the ice. The boys are clearly enjoying themselves ahdn having fun sliding on the ice.
Title – Model Aeroplane contest
In a classroom, school pupils and teachers admire a display of model aeroplanes which are hung from the ceiling.
Title – The model railway
A train goes around a model railway in a model village.
Title – On the river
Some boys are out on boats on the River Ouse in York, and they make their way through the city centre. Several teams of coxed four row past, as well as a coxed eight. Some boys go out in their swimming costumes on what looks like an old bed frame acting as a raft. Finally the film ends with a hockey match.
This was a time of major upheaval, after Henry broke from Rome, declaring himself to be the Supreme Head of the Church of England in 1534. Holgate became Archbishop of York in 1545, the first Protestant Archbishop of York, and the first to be married (aged 68), to prove his conversion – only to dissolve the marriage when the Catholic Mary came to the throne in 1553. This latter did not save him from being stripped of his post for having broken the vow of celibacy, and sent to the Tower. Yet despite the Protestant context of the founding of the school (leading to the translation of the Bible into English), Holgate still maintained the old tradition of requiring his headmasters to know two of the original Biblical languages, Hebrew and Greek, and of course Latin, to which it was translated by Jerome in the fifth century AD. Coincidently, presumably, 1546 was the same year that the Catholic Church’s Council of Trent pronounced its definitive version of the Bible canon. Upon his death in 1555 Holgate was still able to leave money to endow a hospital in Hemsworth, near Wakefield.
This film predates the 1936 Education Act, which finally implemented parts of the Hadow Report of 1928, creating Secondary education, and the more modern grammar school. Grammar schools themselves go back, in one form or another, to when the Romans were in England, with, as their name suggests, an over-riding emphasis on classical languages. But well before the advent of the 11 plus exam, the school itself had built up a good reputation, taking in children from all three surrounding Ridings, many of them boarders.
In 1858 the then Holgate's Free School moved from Ogleforth and joined with Yeoman’s School to set up at Lord Mayors Walk, at what is now the old part of York St John University. It was set up as a Model School, under the auspices of York and Ripon Training College – see the Context for Ripon Training College (1955). The School moved from here in 1963 to its present location on the Hull Road in Heslington, next to the new University of York which was established in the same year.
All the films made by Robert Millington indicate that pupils at the school were given reign to express themselves – especially on the stage. It is unclear whether this has anything to do with the school acquiring the nickname ‘the Archies’ sometime in the early 1950s. Given its encouragement of theatricality, it is perhaps not surprising that some former pupils went into acting – such as Peter Woodthorpe who was the voice of Gollum in the 1978 animated film version of the Lord of the Rings. Judging by an online noticeboard (see References) past pupils seem to hold the school in affection – which of course is not always the case!
H C Barnard, A History of English Education from 1760, 2nd edition, University of London Press, 1961.