Marlborough College

Windows at night by Sasha Ward

The Mount House Gallery at night

The Mount House Gallery at night

As you drive from the west into Marlborough along the A4 the road kinks through the buildings of Marlborough College. On the bend the windows of The Mount House Gallery are visible from a distance and are lit up at night, until the end of this week, with the faces of forty of the 749 Old Marlburians whose deaths were caused by the First World War. One of those incredible WW1 statistics that we hoped to bring to life with this window display which is part of the exhibition "Have You Forgotten Yet?" The title is from the poem "Aftermath" by Siegfried Sassoon, an OM who survived the war although his brother Hamo, (2nd across, 2nd up in the left hand window below) did not.

Evening view of the windows

Evening view of the windows

The window vinyls look great from outside when the building is illuminated, and from inside the gallery in the daytime. I devised a patterned scheme for background colours and for the heads that were chosen from the photos the men had taken before they left for the front. We chose the heads on looks - direction of gaze, variety of age, no hats, no obvious uniforms - laying them out on the screen and getting to know their faces, before we read their individual stories in the citations that accompany the photographs in the Rolls of Honour housed in Marlborough College. Discovering the fate of each individual in this way was incredibly poignant. 

Daytime view from the inside

The individual stories are varied. You can be moved by a phrase ("shot through the heart") a death on Armistice Day, or his youth when he died. Here are four examples with portraits alongside.


HENRY FRANCIS SEVERNE, eldest son of A. de M. Severne, Esq. of Wirksworth, Derbyshire, was born February 16th 1892. He was at MC from 1906 to 1909. At Marlborough he was noted for his fine swimming. After leaving he became a mining engineer. On the outbreak of war he joined the 6th Sherwood Foresters and got his commission in September 1914. When his regiment was sent to the front he was mentioned in despatches of May 1915, and was awarded the Military Cross for saving the life of an Officer. On May 16th 1915 he was shot through the heart by a sniper at Kemmel, Belgium and was buried there.


GILBERT THOMAS GORE McMICKING, the son of Major G. McMicking D.S.O., M.P., of Miltonise, Wigtownshire, was born 1st August 1894 and was at MC from 1905 to 1912. In 1913 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, and took a commission in the Cambridgeshire Regiment. When war broke out he was studying at Weimar and was at once interned. He spent three and a half years in captivity at Celle, suffering many privations, especially during an attempt to escape in February 1917. In January 1918 he was moved to internment in Holland, where he died, after a short illness, at Bois-le-Duc on Armistice Day, 11th November 1918.


JOHN STUART WAGNER, the son of J.H. Wagner, Esq. of Ditton Hill, Surrey, was at MC from 1914 to 1917. On leaving Marlborough he joined the ranks of the Middlesex Regiment and served with them until October 26th 1918 when he died of pneumonia in a military hospital.


ARTHUR BRYAN PHELPS McCLENAGHAN, 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Wiltshire Regiment, was at MC from 1909 to 1914. He was the eldest son of the Reverend G.R. McClenaghan of Bildeston Rectory, Suffolk. He came to A House in September 1909 with a foundation scholarship and by 1914 was a school prefect and Captain of Mitre at cricket. In September 1914 he joined the 1st. Wiltshire Regiment and was killed during a charge at Hooge, on 16th June 1915, aged 20.

WM at Marlborough College by Sasha Ward

This is where William Morris was at school for 3 years, he lived in A house (interior, above left) with its simple winding staircase - now no longer a boarding house and filled with flags. The College Chapel has one window commissioned from Morris & Co. in 1875. As usual what I look for are the WM designed background patterns, a lovely dark green with bright orange fruit in the centre and a familiar looking acanthus leaf below.

In the library archive is a shelf of rare Morris related books, including a vellum bound Kelmscott Press "Sidonia the Sorceress" presented by WM and shown below. (Click to enlarge)


"The fact is, my dear fellow, that at present the absolute duties of my life are summed up in the necessity of taking care of my wife and my daughter, both of whom in one way or other are in bad health. My work of all kinds is really simply an amusement taken when I can out of my duty time". From a letter from WM to John Bruce Glasier, 1892.

In the 1890s this amusing work was mainly for the Kelmscott Press, and as I read these late letters I became increasingly interested in the ornamental capitals that he was designing at that time. There are different plant types used seemingly randomly around the letters, as you can see in the open pages above, and also different ways of integrating the letter with the background foliage. 

The four letters on the left (above) are separate from the foliage, the next two show stems twining around the letters (and making them less legible as far as I'm concerned), while the two on the right are pierced by the stems of flowers and vine tendrils. There are lots of these pierced letters, their appearance is, to me, disturbing and 3-dimensional.