Wycliffe College

We were sorry  to learn of the death  of a regular  correspondent and loyal OW in Arthur   French  who  was  a  day  pupil  in  both  the  junior  and  senior  schools between 1931 and 1939. His commitment to the school was unusually close for he was the son of a staff member, E.J. (‘Froggy’) French- Art Master from 1920 to 1945. Unsurprisingly, Arthur had to carry the soubriquet of ‘Tadpole’ when in the lower forms.  Unfortunately, his mother  died  when  he was nine and  the close-knit  community of Wycliffe provided security  for him, his father  and  his two younger  siblings, Marion  and Philip (J & DB 1937-45).

Arthur   had  a  good  school  career,  spending three   years  in  the  Sixth  Form, becoming  a School  Prefect  and  Head  of his House  and  winning school  prizes for Public Service, Mathematics and Science. He was Secretary of Lit Soc, when minutes were both detailed and compendious and he remembered having responsibility for the school swimming pool in the holidays when Mr Jenner was   away   – de-chlorinating, removing the   surface   leaves   and   repelling outsiders.

One of Arthur’s outstanding features was his meticulousness, particularly with records.  He  was  a  mine  of  information on  a  very  wide   range   of  subjects, particularly history  and genealogy and it is unsurprising therefore that he spent his professional  career  in Education. He left Wycliffe in 1939 with an Open Scholarship in Mathematics at Queen’s College, Oxford. Although he  took  a First Class  in  Moderations, his final  year  was  truncated, as was  the  wartime pattern, to provide the ‘short course’  or ‘war  degree’.  It was during one of his vacations that he spent his time packing up the books from the Wycliffe library prior to its evacuation to Lampeter. He followed them on his bicycle.

As a Conscientious Objector and pacifist, Arthur spent the early years of the war in full-time Civil Defense in Kilburn, London, supervising air raid shelters –  and  it  was  here  in  1942  that  he  met  Joy  Adams   whom   he  subsequently married. Joy unfortunately died in 2007, but they had four sons:  Chris, Roger (who died young), Patrick and Daniel.

After the Blitz and  the Battle of Britain, conditions in London  eased  and  Arthur was   able   to  begin   his  intended  life  in  teaching,   largely   still   a  reserved occupation. He spent 1943-45 at Wycliffe College Junior School and then 1945-6 at Marling, before taking   up a year’s appointment at Gloucester Technical College.  He  was  then  free  to exercise  his compendious knowledge in helping the Museums Service,  first  as Assistant  Organiser for  Derbyshire (1947-9) and then as the first Organiser for the West Riding.

This led to his being invited in 1955 to lecture in Education at the Ministry of Education Teachers’ College (later Makerere College) in Uganda. He stayed in the country for some fourteen years, learned the local tongue and was a regular Lecturer on Uganda TV. He travelled widely, supervising students on teaching practice throughout the country.  In 1969 he was seconded to the USA as Visiting Lecturer at the Teachers’ College, Columbia University in New York.

Arthur   returned  to  the  UK  in  1969  to  become  a  Lecturer   at  Bishop  Otter College, Chichester and  the first Warden  of Crawley Teachers’ Centre  in West Sussex  – a  job he  did  for 13  years,  specialising in counselling, inter-personal skills and  relationships training. Throughout this time he was also a member  of the  Board  of Theological   Education, the  Advisory Council  for  the  Church’s Ministry  in the Church of England  and  a member  of the Chichester Diocesan Education Committee.

He retired from his Education responsibilities in 1983 and, with Joy, moved to Ipplepen in Devon.  Here   he  could  immerse   himself  in  work   for  the  local community, study History  and  his own  family  history  and  update himself on modern communication technology.  His acquisitiveness for new knowledge never left him. Sadly  Joy died  in 2007 but  Arthur  stated  that  “I  intend to use loneliness constructively- particularly helping ‘the  oldies’.

Arthur’s commitment to  others,  to  his  principles and  to  his  Faith  remained strong  and  in  his  actions  and  career  he  epitomised many  of  the  Wycliffian values  and  attitudes that  he  would   have  imbibed   subconsciously from  the school and  WAS when  he was a boy living on the campus. He died on Sunday 10th January 2016, peacefully in his sleep, at Brambledown Nursing Home, Denbury, and Devon at the age of 95.

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