On Thursday 19th September, Marc Morris, author and historian, made what has become his annual visit to Framlingham to share his expertise on castles and medieval history. On a miserably wet afternoon, he gave two hour-long sessions to groups of Year 11 students poised to begin Controlled Assessments on the Castle: we regretted the lack of cover within the curtain wall, but Dr Morris’ lively and accessible delivery, with academic expertise lightly worn, again won over his students towards an enquiring approach to their subject. In the evening, the talk on Edward I, a great and terrible king, was equally engaging, a good case being made for this crusader, conqueror of the Welsh, father of 18 legitimate children, 15 by his beloved queen Eleanor, and would-be conqueror of the Scots. It was pleasing that not only students but also a good number of other parents and friends of the College were able to make up an appreciative audience for this excellent presentation.
William Hall won the 2013 Historical Association’s ‘Key Stage 3 Local History Award’ for his engaging and highly personal Year 9 project on the USAAF base at Metfield, Suffolk, in the Second World War and its impact on the local community. The judging panel were ‘fascinated by his research into such a recent phase of local history’. As a result William has been invited to receive his award at the HA presentation ceremony at the Union Jack Club on 15th October. Bertie Southworth’s entry on his great-grandfather, Reginald R. Smith, and his role with the Green Howards in the Normandy Landings was ‘highly commended’ and he also received a book prize (Cruel Crossing – Escaping Hitler across the Pyrenees by Edward Stourton) and Spirit of Normandy Trust certificate.
This is very much part of a pattern – although we missed out last year, in previous years we have received significant numbers of HA awards, not only at Key Stage 3, but also at Years 11 and 12.
A lively meeting of the History Society was held last week on St Valentine’s Day, when members of Year 12 considered the first four wives of Henry VIII.
The earlier queens were deemed women of considerable ability, Catherine of Aragon as capable of acting as regent, and Anne Boleyn as able to hold her own for many years in Henry’s court. However, the later wives elicited great sympathy too, perhaps over-praised for their needlework skills, but placed in very difficult situations. Jane Seymour in the end won the popular vote, having fulfilled her wifely duties admirably, and being united in death with Henry in his tomb in Westminster.
The four pairs of students presenting all quitted themselves well, and with Mr Robinson as compere what could go wrong?
The History Society was addressed on Wednesday 30th January by three students, Flavia Munteanu from Moldova, Andrei Balalau from Romania, and Kateryna Karpenko from the Ukraine. They were invited to talk to their fellow English students about the histories of their respective countries since 1945.
It was not surprising that an hour was barely enough for the powerful message to pour out, in totally fluent English, how these countries had suffered in so many ways under communist regimes, not only physically, but psychologically and spiritually. The suffering on the grand scale of thousands and millions was brought home by references to individual family members’ experiences.
The meeting had been given the title ‘Stalin’s great grandchildren’,: how surprised the old dictator must be after sixty years in his atheist’s grave, at the passion of this younger generation for freedom.
On the evening of Thursday, 15th November, the History Society met for a session where students from Year 13 offered presentations related to the Historical Enquiries they are preparing as part of their A level course.
Flavia Munteanu and Charlotte Gower gave characteristically idiosyncratic performances on sixteenth-century Spain, while James Green and Matthew Warren demonstrated contrasting styles on topics from twentieth-century German history.
The experience was clearly valuable for them as well as for an appreciative audience.
Well done to those involved.
This term’s second meeting of the History Society on the evening of Thursday, 27th of September, saw seven Year 12 and four Year 13 students giving presentations on the Papacy between 1307 and 1534.
The Avignon Papacy and the Great Schism were analysed and then there were evaluations of the controversial Renaissance popes from the Borgia and Medici families. All the students put their ideas over effectively and engagingly, and an audience including five staff and some twenty pupils learnt a lot in a happily relaxed atmosphere.
On Wednesday 12th September, Dr Marc Morris returned to the College on what looks set to become an annual visit because he goes down so well with all sorts and conditions of audience. On a windy, cloudy afternoon, he gave two tours of the castle to Year 11 historians, really setting them up with questions as well as answers about the Bigods’ time in Framlingham.
In the evening, he gave an excellent talk on the Norman Conquest, accessible yet provocative to novice and scholar alike, and his suitcase emptied of books sold at the end testified to the level of interest he had aroused. It was good to see an audience of students, parents, colleagues and friends enjoying serious scholarship so lightly worn. Did Harold really get an arrow in his eye? Read Marc Morris’ The Norman Conquest!