Guildford Grammar School
and the Queen

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Guildford Grammar School and the Queen

Brad Evans, Acting Principal, Guildford Grammar School

“…The Queen was delighted to learn of the reaction to her gift of the replacement for the bible given by King George V, and was touched and moved by your expressions of loyalty and sends her good wishes for the future to those who teach and those who study at Guildford Grammar School”
Extract from correspondence from Buckingham Palace via Sir William Frederick Heseltine, former Private Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II,
to Guildford Grammar School, 19 January 1981

Unexpectedly a predominant feature across all forms of recent media, which I doubt any of us were able to overlook, has been the world’s response to the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. In reflecting on the event itself and the responses from various groups there are some key themes which I do think it is relevant to explore and unpack regardless if people are Royalist or Republican, Anglican or of other faiths, happy members of the Commonwealth or from the many groups of people member of a group of people who has been adversely affected by the colonial acts associated with British rule.

One of the lenses taken in considering this event, in the context of leading a school has been about values. In considering the Guildford Grammar School values- spirituality, teamwork, integrity, compassion, excellence and respect, it is clear that through her life of public service Queen Elizabeth II displayed and demonstrated many of the values that we seek to instil in our students and model as staff.

In considering our School’s response to this news, it was also a privilege to uncover a series of communications which demonstrate the close links Guildford Grammar School has in fact had with her Majesty directly through our history which did include a request for, and the provision of a replacement lectern bible for the our school Chapel, after the original lectern ‘Windsor Bible’ which had been gifted by King George V in 1913 (one of only two, ever issued outside of the UK) was destroyed in a fire in the Chapel 1980.

In October 1980 the headmaster John Moody wrote to Queen Elizabeth telling her of the destruction of the Windsor Bible as it has now been known during the disastrous fire on Friday 3 October. The fire gutted the Sacristy destroying all the vestments, furniture, and records. The Queen’s private secretary Sir William Heseltine wrote back to the headmaster informing him that the Queen would like to replace the bible. The bible was ready for despatch by December 1980 and was a Lectern bible which had been used for a number of years in St George’s Chapel. It was embellished by the Queens bookbinder with the badge of the Order of the Garter and signed by her majesty. The headmaster wrote to the Queen in January 1981 thanking her for the “joyous sequel to the tragic loss”. The Queen was delighted to learn of the reaction to her gift and was touched by the expression of loyalty.

The School was fortunate to receive a replacement bible from St George’s Chapel in Windsor, embellished with a bookbinder contained the Queens badge and personally signed! This bible was the centrepiece of the memorial services we held at the school towards the end of term, with students having the opportunity to pay their respects while entering an departing the Chapel of St Mary & St George.

GGS and the Queen 1
GGS and the Queen 2
GGS and the Queen 3
GGS and the Queen 4

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