Nottingham High School was founded by Dame Agnes Mellers in 1513, and, in the Foundation Deed, she provided that a Commemoration Service should be held in St Mary’s Church ‘on the Feast of The Translation of St Richard of Chichester, namely 16th June’ each year. In fact, the Service is now held on the nearest Saturday to that date, and the 500th Founder's Day was certainly celebrated in style last Saturday, 15th June.
The day began with a School Captains' breakfast, attended by over 60 Captains and Vice-Captains, spanning six decades from 1951 to today. This was held in the wonderful surroundings of the Nottingham Contemporary Arts Centre.
Next came the Founder's Day service at St Mary's Church in the Lace Market, which was full to capacity with over 1,500 members of the Nottingham High School Community, including boys, ONs, parents, staff and guests. The service included a sermon by the Revd Canon J E M Neale, who was Vicar of St Mary’s Church from 1991 to 2003, and the world premiere of the anthem, Gaude et Laetare, specially commissioned for the 500th aniversary and sung by the Nottingham High School Choir, in the presence of the composer Cecilia McDowall.
During the service a special Quincentenary commemorative plaque was unveiled. Commissioned by David Jackson ON and Michael Keywood ON, the plaque symbolises both the 500-year association of the School with St Mary's Church and the School's royal connection, from its founding charter under King Henry VIII to the present day. The plaque will be displayed permanently in the Trinity Chapel of the Church.
The Foundation Deed also provides for the distribution (out of a total sum of 20 shillings) of certain moneys to the Lord Mayor, Vicar and others and for the purchase of bread, cheese and ale for consumption by the officials attending the Service (known as the Cheese 'n' Ale ceremony, which this year was held in a marquee on the school front lawn). Any balance remaining was required to be given to the poorest scholar but is now given to a ‘Representative Scholar’ of the School, who this year was Reuben Amoaku.
To download a copy of the Chair of Governor's speech from the Cheese 'n' Ale Ceremony please click on the document below.