The Rev. E.M. Young, Headmaster 1878-1892.

The first Commemoration Day was held at Sherborne School on 30 July 1878.  The event was instigated by Headmaster Edward Mallet Young (1839-1900) to recognise the benefactors of the past and to make the School more conscious of its history.

During his tenure as Headmaster E.M. Young was determined ‘to make Sherborne a school of the very first rank’.  It was Young who wrote the words for the School song ‘Carmen  Saeculare’, better known today as ‘The Carmen’, which was sung for the first time at Commemoration Day in 1887.

The day of the first Commem in 1878 began at 11 am with a service in Sherborne Abbey where the sermon was preached by the Henry Bousfield, the newly appointed Bishop of Pretoria.  Thankfully, the weather was fine and the visitors then assembled on the lawn in front of School House where the School Musical Society (founded in 1871) gave a promenade concert to fill up the time during which the School Governors held their meeting in the School Library.

Prize giving was held in the schoolroom and ‘every available seat was speedily occupied’.  The Sixth Form prizes were presented by Mr J.E. Nixon and the Rev. W. Lock, and Professor James Buckman presented the prizes for the best turning and carpenter’s work.  The Headmaster presented the swimming medals and gave his thanks to the Captain of the Games, Francis Eden Lacey (Abbeylands 1872-1878) [a Cambridge blue who played for Hampshire for 20 years and went on to become Secretary of the M.C.C. (1898-1926), he was also the first man to be knighted for services to cricket].  The Classical Medal, the Leweston Prize, and the Prize for Latin Verse were presented by Mr Nixon, and the Parsons’ Prize for Divinity was presented by the Rev. Lock.  After a few words from the Headmaster ‘the assemblage dispersed with hearty cheers for the Governors, the Masters, and the Examiners.’

In the afternoon the final day of a two day cricket match between Past and Present Shirburnians and the County of Dorset was held. The game ended in a draw.  The teams comprised:
Past and Present Shirburnians: C. Sainsbury, H.P. Price, F.E. Lacey, A.B. Crosby, H.S. Crosby, C.G. Barton, C.S. Whitehead, H.M. Merriman, E. Gerrish, W.M. Barnes, E. Bristow.
County of Dorset: Rev. G. Vandermeulen, Mr W.S. Baldock, Mr D. Pontifex, Green, Mr T.W. Wilson, Parmenter, Mr C.R. Vaughan, Mr A.R. Aspinall, Mr T.E. Raven, Mr B. Woodforde, Mr E. Cassan.

The ‘new’ Pavilion built in 1877.

The day ended with a concert by the Musical Society, ‘which brought the day’s proceedings to a most successful close.’

Since 1878, Commemoration Day has become a permanent fixture in the School calendar. The day has inspired poetry:
Commem (1910)
The King’s School Commemoration (1986) by S.P.H. Haigh.

Listen to a recording of the Quatercentenary Commemoration 1950:

Images of Commem over the intervening 140 years:

For further information please contact the School Archivist.

Return to the School Archives homepage.