Royal seal of approval for school’s 400th anniversary

March 21, 2014

MONMOUTH School’s 400th anniversary received a Royal seal of approval when His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex opened its new state-of-the-art teaching block, named after its founding father, William Jones.

Prince Edward’s visit yesterday afternoon came a day after Monmouth was named the third best place to live in Britain by The Sunday Times, with praise for its high achieving Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools’ group.
Founded on the same Wyeside site it occupies today with a bequest from Wye Valley-born merchant William Jones in 1614, the Royal visit is part of a year-long series of events for the school, marking four centuries of educational excellence.

Prince Edward – a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, which has administered the School since its beginnings through the William Jones’s Foundation – unveiled a bronze bust of the founder in the new building’s foyer, sculpted by Roger Andrews, the artist who created the statue of Sir Tasker Watkins VC outside the Millennium Stadium.

The likeness is based on a 16th century portrait of the Newland-born benefactor, who made his wealth trading from Germany in linen and wool.

After taking lunch with the Headmaster, Dr Steven Connors, and other dignitaries, Prince Edward met Head of School Will, deputies Toby, Wesley, and senior prefects Benjamin, Morgan and Rory before taking a tour of the new multi-million pound, four-storey teaching block, comprising 20 classrooms, a lecture theatre and administrative offices.

Guided by Dr Connors through the new building – which includes high-tech air regulation and temperature systems to maximise the learning environment plus solar panels on the roof – Prince Edward talked to pupils and staff, and visited lessons in the Religious Studies, Maths and English Departments.

He saw pupils taking a lesson with Head of Religious Studies, Rhiannon Wynne, on Buddhist artefacts, sixth form students studying with Head of Maths, Dr Huw Evans, and a class studying Shakespeare’s Henry V – the royal son of Monmouth – with Head of English, Mr Robert Picken.

Prince Edward also met Haberdashers, Governors and representatives of the building architects, Buttress Fuller Alsop Williams, and contractors, ISG.

Stepping out onto the steps to a fanfare from school musicians, and greeted by the whole school, HRH said: “If I can congratulate you on 400 years as a school on this site, it’s a terrific anniversary. It’s a great pleasure to be here and see this splendid new building.”

The Prince called for a loud cheer from pupils as he unveiled the plaque, and received a rousing response as he officially marked four centuries of William Jones’s educational legacy.

Prince Edward said it was his third visit to the school, having previously opened the Blake Theatre and the new Grange building.

Thanking the Prince, Dr Connors said: “Today we honour our founder William Jones by naming this magnificent building after him. The William Jones building by its name and its traditional exterior symbolises our great past, 400 years of achievement.

“And by its internal structures, with its state-of-the-art eco-friendly air and heating systems, including solar panels on the roof, it symbolises the future which makes this a magnificent teaching and learning environment.”

Prince Edward then crossed to pupils on the lawn for a quick chat before heading to see the newly re-developed Alms Houses, which were originally part of William Jones’s legacy.

Staff, pupils, Governors and Haberdashers later attended a service in honour of William Jones in Newland church, the parish of his birth.

On Wednesday, March 19, 400 years to the day that King James I signed the Letters Patent in 1614 to establish the School, 1,500 pupils and staff from the Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools headed for a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.