Victoria College is a welcoming academic community situated in an elevated location overlooking the town and coast, and home to excellent teaching and learning.
Victoria College Jersey has an unusual story. Established as a public school of English character on a self-governing, French-speaking island, it has been affected throughout its history by the peculiar circumstances of this situation.
Despite severe disruption by the German occupation of the Channel Islands during the Second World War, the College now flourishes as a modern school with around 1,000 pupils.
The English system of public schools was essentially a creation of the mid-19th century. They were a mixture of old and new foundations, of boarding and day schools, but gradually came to see themselves as bound by common interests.
Their sense of unity was promoted by the establishment in 1869 of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) membership of which remains the accepted criterion of public-school status.
Victoria College took its place among them but was undoubtedly unique in the circumstances of its foundation. Although there were other public schools which could not claim more than a few years’ existence, or which were intended mainly for day boys, only Victoria College and the older Elizabeth College in Guernsey, had been founded on self-governing islands off the French coast.
Explore our timeline below to learn more.
Our Visitor: the British Monarch
Royal Visits Remembered
Victoria College has been privileged to receive royal visitors since the first visit from HM Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on 13 August 1859. This visit was preceded by HM King George V and Queen Mary on 12 July 1921, HRH the Prince of Wales on 23 July 1935, TRH the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester on 26 July 1952, HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on 25 July 1957 and 25 May 1989, HRH Princess Anne on 22 May 1972 and Prince Edward and Sophie Countess of Wessex on 1 October 2002.
The British Monarch is the official Victoria College Visitor. This rare privilege, bestowed on the College in 1860 when Queen Victoria was on the throne, allows the monarch to become the ultimate authority of the school and recognised as “the highest appellant of College matters and concerns”. When a monarch visits it is called “exercising the right of the Visitor” and we were fortunate, that during her reign, the late Queen Elizabeth II did this on three occasions.
Uponn his ascension to the throne, King Charles III becomes the Official Visitor of Victoria College.
The Queen’s Visits
Her first visit as Queen was in 1957, the first of two she would make with her husband, the late Duke of Edinburgh. On Thursday 25th July at 2.25pm, the Royal Standard was unfurled above the College and the Royal Party drove through the main gates “surrounded by Victorians past and present”. The car stopped at the arch and the door was opened by a member of the College Scout troop. The Royal Party was greeted by the Bailiff and the then Headmaster, Ronald Postill. The Sir Galahad memorial was inspected before the Queen entered via the Great Door, signed the visitors book and met the prefects on the landing.
Once seated on the stage it was noted that “Her Majesty, who had been glancing rapidly around the walls of the Hall” turned her attention to Philip Le Brocq, the Head Boy, as he made the Loyal Address on behalf of the College. The Queen smiled as he then noted how his own father had been Head Boy for the visit of her grandfather, George V, in 1921.
“As the Prefect backed down the stairs, Prince Philip, smiling broadly, shifted in his seat and watched with sympathetic appreciation”. The Headmaster then announced that the Queen ordered a commemorative holiday of four days for the College – which was greeted with three cheers. The brief first visit was over, the Victorian noting “there can have been no one in College that day who did not surrender himself, perhaps with more depth of feeling that he had expected, to the quiet and gracious charm of Queen Elizabeth.”
Although the Queen did visit Jersey in 1977, her Silver Jubilee year, it was in 1989 that she returned to Victoria College. On 25th May the grounds were filled with pupils from the College, the preparatory school and JCG. The visit got off to an awkward start when the Royal Standard was raised ten minutes before the Royal Car had arrived and had to hastily be lowered and re-raised accordingly. The Queen, greeted by Headmaster, Martyn Devenport, was introduced to two of the College’s longest serving members of staff, Miss Aubrey and the former caretaker, Mr Lewis. For this visit, a dais had been set up outside the main building and it was here that Head Boy, Michael Hedditch, made the Loyal Address. This visit had been arranged to allow the Queen to be able to present, in person, the awards that bear her name. One boy’s parents, Mr and Mrs Chan, had flown from Hong Kong for the occasion. Once again, the Queen asked for a school holiday (although only one day this time though) and once again this was loudly approved of by the assembled students. Again, the Victorian recalls “this brief contact with a representative of a thousand years of British heritage is one which all present are unlikely to forget”.
In 2001 the Queen made what would prove her final visit to the College. Unlike her previous visit this started with a flurry of activity, under an overcast sky, as she arrived 10 minutes early. Boys were quickly corralled and the Royal Standard rose with some speed. Dressed in vivid yellow, the Queen certainly was unlikely to be overlooked. After meeting both present and former Headmasters – Robert Cook and Philip Stevenson – she toured the library before exiting through the Great Door took to the dais, accompanied by a fanfare provided by the College musicians, which again had been set up in front of the main building.
Following the Head Boy’s loyal address she presented the Queen’s awards for History, Mathematics, Science and Modern Languages. A vote of thanks was followed by three cheers and a rendition of the College Carmen that was sung with “surprising volume”.
After signing the visitors book the Queen was given a brief exterior tour of the building named after her great-great grandmother and inspected the gathered CCF. As the car pulled out onto Mont Millais little did anyone know this would be the final visit from this visitor.
The Foundation Stone was Laid1850
The foundation stone of the school was laid on Queen Victoria's birthday, 24 May 1850. Most shops in Saint Helier closed for the day and 12,000 spectators were estimated to have attended the occasion. A military parade crossed the town of Saint Helier to the site of the ceremony, followed shortly afterwards by the members of the States of Jersey who adjourned the legislative sitting to attend. The Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey joined the dignitaries at the Temple in the grounds of the site. The Bailiff of Jersey laid in the foundations a box containing copies of the Acts of the States relating to the college, Jersey coins, and two medallions, one of silver, the other of bronze, depicting the arrival of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in Jersey in 1846, and a copper plate engraved with an inscription of the date of the founding of the college and the names of States Members, Officers of the Royal Court and the architect. With the foundation stone, carved with Masonic symbols, in place, the Lieutenant-Governor ceremonially laid the stone by striking it with a trowel. All the Members of the States in turn then proceeded to tap the stone with a mallet three times.
Victoria College Established1852
The school was opened on 29 September 1852 with 98 students enrolled. The accompanying ceremony featured a military parade, and the Lieutenant-Governor and the States of Jersey again assembled in the Temple and processed to the Great Hall where the Bailiff addressed the audience.
He recalled the royal visit of 1846 and stated that the intention of memorialising that visit had inspired the construction of a college for the instruction of youth and of promenades for the recreation of the public. He stated that the interest shown by the Queen and the Prince in the college had led them to present two portraits. The Lieutenant-Governor then formally presented the portraits of the royal couple.
Visit from Queen Victoria1859
First impromptu visit from H.M. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert took place on 13 August 1859. What is recounted in D.J. Cotttrill's book, describes the event as very short notice, crowds were 'difficult' to control and there was some confusion on which gate the royal couple would arrive. No address had been prepared and there was no visitor's book ready for the Queen, who had to sign her name at a desk on an ordinary sheet of paper. A proper book was later sent to receive the signatures of the royal couple. Nevertheless they were left in no doubt about the loyal feelings of Jersey people and of College boys, who lungs were in full play. The weather was splendid, and Victoria greatly admired the view from the front of the College.
Elizabeth College, Guernsey v Victoria College, Jersey Cricket matches1862
The series of Cricket Matches between the boys of Elizabeth College and Victoria College begins in 1862. There was a match in 1861 in Guernsey, but this cannot be properly regarded as a school match, as the Victoria College boys received very material help from three of their masters; still, that match is of interest as a beginning, and although it is excluded from the statistics, it has been given a place of honour in the Battling and Bowling Statistics Cricket Matches from 1862 to 1898.
"It is unfortunate that the matches have not been played regularly. From 1862 to 1872, the match was played twice a year, with one omission in 1865, In 1887 the match was again revived as a regular fixture and have continued so, up to the present year. In all, 53 matches have been played. Victoria College has won 26, Elizabeth College 21 and 6 have been drawn.
The compiler has much pleasure in acknowledging his obligation to the Manager of the "Jersey Times and British Press", Mr P M De La Mare, an Old Victorian, for his kindness in placing all the old fields of the "Jersey Times" at his disposal. The compiler is also indebted to Mr E C Ozanne, an Old Elizabethan, who was Captain of the Elizabeth College eleven in 1868, in correcting the initials of the Elizabethans and in settling various points in connection with the matches. It is hoped the record of the matches will be found both complete and accurate." W Renouf.
Visit from King George V1921
H.M. King George V and Queen Mary, accompanied by Mr Worrall, during the Royal visit to Victoria College on 12 July 1921.
A new out-of-school activity was scouting, after hesitant beginnings in 1920-21 the College troop developed rapidly under the guidance of W F Morris and A L Bickford-Smith. Already on a sweltering July day in 1921, they were on show 'in their smart new kit', forming 'a picturesque dad round the grey granite' of the man building for the royal visit, the first since 1859.
Visit from Prince of Wales1935
H.R.H. the Prince of Wales visits on 23 July 1935, to unveil the picture of King George V by John St. Helier Lander. The painting was presented to Victoria College by Thomas Benjamin Frederick Davis, a Jerseyman who had made a vast fortune in commerce in South and East Africa. He devoted his energy to works of philanthropy, many of which commemorated his younger son, However, whom he had lost in the First World War. TB Davis characteristically decided to provide a lecture hall in which to hang the picture. His wife laid the foundation stone in October. The Howard Hall was built of granite from Quaisne and matched the Gothic style of the older buildings. Insider there was fixed trip-up seating for 238, almost exactly the umber of boys in the school when it opened. To crown the enterprise, Davis arranged for the Prince of Wales to visit the Island to open the hall and unveil the picture. Everything was done to make the occasion worthy of so popular a Prince.
In early 1940 the school remained largely unaffected by the outbreak of war in Europe, and although many young Jerseymen had left the island to join the war effort, several English parents had sent their sons to board at the school, believing the Channel Islands to be the safest place in the British Isles. However, developments in the war throughout May that year and the eventual collapse of French resistance meant it became clear the island was in danger.
The Channel Islands were demilitarised in the belief that this would best protect the lives of the islanders, meaning many feared the imminent occupation of the islands by German forces.
While many other schools in Jersey left evacuation decisions in the hands of parents, Victoria College decided to evacuate some boys and their masters to the UK where they stayed for the remainder of World War II attending English public schools including Shrewsbury School and Bedford School.However, around 130 boys and several masters remained in Jersey, and the school continued to operate during the occupation.
Early on during the occupation, the German forces commandeered College House building for the Reich Labour Service, but otherwise did not significantly disrupt the normal routine of the school for much of 1941. However, in September that year, German forces took possession of the remaining school buildings, forcing the students and masters to relocate to Halkett Place school.
Around a year later, another blow was dealt to the school as several English-born masters and staff were deported to Germany, though substitutes were found and the school remained open. Soon thereafter, however, in October 1942 the German forces returned the buildings to the school. Only minimal damage had been done to the buildings, with the hall windows partially painted black, and by 1943 the school had restored the building to its original state.
Life in Jersey became increasingly worse for the remainder of the occupation, as there was no gas nor electricity and food supplies were increasingly scarce. As a result, afternoon schooling was discontinued, homework not issued, and sports were only played on a small scale.
In 1950 a new pavilion was opened on College Field, the gift of George Oscar Laurens OV in memory of his son, Geroge Herbert Francis Laurens, and all the other Old Victorians who had fallen in the Second World War. It was of generous proportions, with a large clubroom o the first floor. The official war memorial presented b the Association of Old Victorians took the form of an art school, a much-needed facility asked for by Mr A H Worrall when he first became Headmaster in 1911.
Visit from Queen Elizabeth II1989
H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visit on 25 July 1957 and 25 May 1989.
Back in 1972 the College possessed one of the finest science blocks in the British Isles. It was opened in May of that year by Princess Anne and named after her. The continuity of royal interest in the College was expressed when she signed the visitors' book already containing the signatures of Victoria and Albert and of her parents, who had made a brief visit in 1957.
The Queen and Prince Philip visited for the second time on the 25 May 1989. A platform was raised in front of the school to allow a greater audience to be present, and the weather proved was fine, if windy. As well as other dignitaries the Queen met the long serving Miss Aubrey and the College's famous ex Head Porter, Mr Frank Lewis B.E.M. After a delayed beginning the event lasted 15 minutes and ended with her Majesty, in accordance to tradition, commanding that the school be given an extra day's holiday.
Visit from Queen Elizabeth II2001
We were delighted to welcome H.M. Queen Elizabeth II (official Visitor of the College) to Victoria College on 13 July 2001, this being the third occasion the reigning monarch has visited Victoria College.
On this occasion, Her Majesty The Queen arrived at 11.20am at the Sir Galahad monument, where our CCF cadets were on hand to greet her cars. Her Majesty was introduced by the Bailiff to the Headmaster at the time, Mr Cook and his wife, Mrs Cook. Mr Cook presented Her Majesty to the Director of Education, Mr Thomas McKeon, the Chairman of Governors and Mrs Pirouet and to the Headmaster VCP.
Following introductions and presentations, the Royal Party was walked through Victoria College where they were greeted with a Fanfare at the Dais. Following the Headmaster’s introduction, Her Majesty received the Loyal Address from the Head Prefect, Mr Jonathan Le Rossignol, and Her Majesty presented the Queen’s Awards:
- The Queen’s Gold Medal for Mathematics: Mr Shaun Farley
- The Queen’s Gold Medal for Science: Mr Sudipta Pal
- The Queen’s Gold Medal for Modern Languages: Mr James Southall
- The Queen’s Senior History Prize: Mr William Austin-Vautier
- The Queen’s Junior History Prize: Mr Christophe Le Quesne
The Headmaster proposed a vote of thanks and informed the College of Her Majesty’s Command that the College should have a day’s holiday on Monday, the Head Prefect conducted three cheers. The visit concluded with Her Majesty signing the Visitor’s Book and was presented with flowers by the Head Boy of Prep. The College and guests concluded the occasion by singing the College Carmen.
Boaters make a return2003
It was a year of looking towards the future and reclaiming a bit of the past for pupils and staff at Victoria College. At the annual prize giving, staff, pupils and school governors gathered alongside the Lieutenant-Governor; Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire, and the Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache, to reward the achievements of pupils and to acknowledge the school's 151 years.
"As part of the ceremony, the prefects body reintroduced the wearing of college boaters for ceremonial occasions, and the introduction of the fifth house, Diarmid, to the school system in an aim to reduce class numbers and was recognised as a success" said Headmaster Robert Cook.