The spotlight at Egham Museum is firmly on Strode’s College from next week, with an exhibition documenting its roots and how it has changed over the years being displayed during the next few months to commemorate its 310th anniversary since being opened in 1706.
For this article, I wanted to focus upon one person in particular, a student of Strode’s College called Norman James Kelly. I found it so fascinating how the museum holds the pieces of paper that document his school years at Strode’s up until his entry into university, and so I will share a small excerpt of Norman’s school life, the full extent of which can be seen at the museum with a lot of other, really interesting documents from the college across the years!
He started Strode’s School, as it was called until it became a sixth-form college in 1975, in 1922, as documented by a letter to Norman’s father that said Norman had been accepted into Strode’s by way of a scholarship from Surrey Council (it took me a while to read this letter because some of the words were very difficult to decipher – the headmaster at the time’s handwriting truly was atrocious!)
The next record of Norman the museum has is a certificate from 1926/7 stating Norman had passed his exams in Latin, French, English and Modern European History among other subjects and had matriculated at Strode’s School!
We then have a letter of acceptance that tells us Norman was accepted into the University of London in 1927, which gives a nice sense of closure to his years as a Strodian, as the boys of Strode’s School called themselves (incidentally, The Strodian was the name of the school magazine, which the museum has copies of from 1920 and which you can check out too!) There is also a letter of recommendation praising Norman from Strode’s, but we’re unsure if that was for the university or for a job afterwards.
Finally, by a complete stroke of luck, we stumbled across a letter from 1994, which is addressed to a ‘Mr N.J Kelly’, who is now Rev. Norman Kelly and living in Rochford, Essex. The letter states that the sender would be delighted to see Norman at the Strode’s reunion dinner, which is a lovely ending for Norman’s story and even better because we know he didn’t just fade into oblivion!
It is truly wonderful to be able to imagine the lives of the other boys using Norman as a guide, and the extensive collection of Strode’s memorabilia is a marvellous insight into its history as we celebrate the 310th anniversary of Strode’s, which still stands, impressive and stately, in its original position today.