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Kingham Hill school, A unique and special gem of a school

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I have a special place in my heart for a hidden gem of a school that pupils, parents and staff alike love and carry in their hearts long after they may have left. 

With its unique location and environment Kingham Hill nestles in its own 100 acre estate surrounded by stunning cotswolds farm land and peaceful villages yet only a couple of miles from a quaint little railway station that links it to the outside world. Kingham Hill ,a co-ed, non-selective secondary school with a strong Christian ethos ,  is in its own bubble but this is indeed a feature of the place, everyone knows each other and so the pastoral care is immense. 

With only  just over 350 pupils, the School is deliberately small, with a palpable sense of kindness and honesty within the whole community.The unofficial school motto is ‘work hard, play hard, serve well’, and everyone is encouraged to abide by these words at every opportunity.

 Founded in 1886 by Christian philanthropist Charles Edward Baring Young, Kingham Hill School promotes more than just academic achievement and strives to ensure each individual pupil finds their own inner excellence in every aspect of themselves, pupils emerge from this cocoon splendidly unique and ready to conquer the world equipped to have happy and successful lives. 

High quality education is delivered within top class learning facilities where every pupil has endless opportunities to learn, excel and realise their potential. ‘ ‘Knowledge is power’ and ‘Hillians’ leave as powerful young adults. Coupled with small class sizes, the School provides academic challenge and support for every child. Cited by The Telegraph as a ‘Top Small Independent School’ for highest A-level results, the Department for Education ranks the School in the top 5% nationally for pupil progression from GCSE to A-level. Kingham Hill School was recently selected for the 2019 Parliamentary Review due to its outstanding practice in various industry sectors.

The School celebrates diversity and classes include the US Program, which offers pupils the opportunity to study at a British boarding school whilst completing an American High School diploma. This program is the first of its kind in the UK, and was developed in conjunction with the US Department of State. The whole school celebrate with a thanksgiving dinner and I have experienced those from other cultures sharing their celebrations such as mooncakes, red envelopes at Chinese new year and an orange and coin in a shoe left outside a dorm on St Nicholas eve. 

The beautiful gothic style houses that are dotted around the site house the boarding pupils and are nowhere near as large as in many schools. Whilst grand on the outside the inner is warm and exudes a family sense of belonging and care. House parents ,matrons and tutors are all available so that every pupil has all the care and attention they need. 

Promoting the idea of independent living Sixth Formers are not expected to wear uniform but their own business wear, they have chances to frequent a  Sixth Form bar with the headmaster serving behind the bar.They plan meals,have social events, oversee prep in the boarding houses and set themselves high standards as role models.

Dotted around the beautifully kept grounds are a cricket square, pavilion,tennis courts, floodlit astroturf pitch, an assault course , , dance and drama studio and of course plenty of room for rugby , football and hockey pitches. The headmaster , NIck Seward, also runs a school motorsport team with 10 karts.A combined cadet force  feature heavily in the school and many a lark has been had in the school woods and off site.

The school has zones that celebrate their own areas of expertise. A beautiful well stocked library, complete with a dedicated librarian ,sits at the top of the site next to the beautiful and serene Chapel. Next to that is ‘Veritas’ a dedicated building for  Maths and Science.  Wander down the path and you find the Catering dept. Food really isn’t in the ilk of Tom Brown’s Schooldays! There is a food committee so that pupils and staff can all have input to the dedicated catering team and make suggestions.  The art and DT departments produce many of the beautiful works of art that adorn the school walls . An impressive new Sports Hall features a climbing wall, squash court, changing rooms and viewing platform. 

The school farm is a wonderful place for pupils to meet care and love animals, if children have had to leave pets at home the horses, rabbits,goats ,pigs, sheep guinea pigs and cats are a welcome addition to school life. Many of the house parents have dogs and they are often walked by eager volunteers! 

Of course academic achievement is vitally important and the results speak for themselves, A level results for 2020 saw 56% A*-A and 76% A*-B. and GSCE results included 53% 9-7 (A*-A). 

The Covid lockdown in March was a chance for the school to move to ‘Virtual KHS’ enthusiastically and successfully employed, the school moved to online learning including a virtual sports day, music concerts and the eagerly awaited Speech Day.

Fees per term are £5,965 rising to £6,795 for day pupils and £8,450 – £10,435 for weekly boarding (Sun night to Fri morning). Full boarding starts at £8,450 rising to £11,450. Some scholarships are fully funded, and there are also means-tested places from 50% – 75% fee remission. 

For me the quote by Grenville Kaiser sums up the ethos of the school

Let your intentions be good – embodied in good thoughts, cheerful words, and unselfish deeds – and the world will be to you a bright and happy place in which to work and play and serve.

You can arrange a Covid-safe, private visit anytime by calling 01608 658999.

Kingham Hill School, Kingham, Oxon, OX7 6TH. Tel:01608 658999.

I'm a slightly deranged middle aged widow, living in the Cotswolds with two fabulously funny little dogs. A mother, grandmother, sister and friend. Determined to survive by writing to remember, to forget and to cope with grief. the memory of my husband supporting me, guiding me and probably laughing at me if there is a ‘somewhere’

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Exeter Cathedral; interesting things you can see

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In England there is certainly no shortage of cathedrals, some splendid. Among the most beautiful are undoubtedly the Cathedral of Exeter or St. Peter’s Cathedral, which is located in a place of prayer that is over 1500 years old. The current cathedral, however, dates back to around 1100 after the arrival of the Normans, although now of that date we have practically only the two towers.

Another part of the cathedral dates back to 1270 when Exeter Cathedral was refurbished in a typically English Gothic. The cathedral was unfortunately hit by a German bomb in 1942, St James’s chapel was completely destroyed along with several medieval objects, some of which have been rebuilt piece by piece.

Fortunately some important historical artifacts had been taken away, in fact an attack on the cathedral had been foreseen, probably all these churches and cathedrals were hit in an attempt to demoralise the people.

What can you see at Exeter Cathedral?

You can still see the 50 mercies or genuflexors which are small shelves leaning against the wall that supported those who had to stand a long time to pray. These date back to the 1200s and are the oldest complete group in the UK. Also in this group is the figure of an elephant, the oldest in the United Kingdom.

There is the famous astronomical clock which dates back to 1484, the ancient library which dates back to 1100 and the gallery with 12 statues of angels playing different instruments.

The towers also have bells, the north tower contains a bell called Peter which however is no longer rung completely and the south tower has 12 bells which are among the heaviest in the world.

When you are at the cathedral you can be taken to the top of the roof and the North Tower, you have to climb 251 steps so you have to be fit but the views are spectacular. You must book in advance and here you will find the instructions.

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UK

Savoy Hotel in London; facts that will surprise you

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From the start, the Savoy Hotel in London had all the comforts of the time: electricity, running and hot water, elevators and rooms with bathrooms. 

The well-known hotel is located on land given by King Henry III to Peter, Count of Savoy in 1264. The latter belonged to the same House of Savoy as the kings of Italy.

Savoy Court just outside the hotel is one of the few places in the UK where you have to drive on the right and not on the left. The reason is that the Savoy Theater is to the right of the hotel and taxis can pass from the hotel to the theater without turning.

During the Second World War the Savoy probably had some of the best bomb shelters in London. Winston Churchill often brought his government here.

There are still 263 en-suite rooms but since 2005 the Savoy belongs to Fairmount Hotels and not to the Savoy Group as it once was Curiosities of the Savoy Hotel in London.

The hotel was opened in 1889 to accommodate American tourists who came to see operettas at the Savoy Theater, another piece was added in 1903-4

The Egyptian prince Fahmy Bey was killed at the Savoy Hotel in London in 1923 by his French wife. She was never convicted because at the trial it was revealed that her husband was cruel to his wife and had threatened to kill her.

The Savoy still houses one of London’s best hotel restaurants, called The Grill Room.

Next to the hotel is Carting Lane where a lamp (you can now see a replica) is said to have been powered by gases from the sewer. It is said that the Savoy’s guests had the lamps lit up. In fact this was only partially true, most of the gas came from the gas pipe and not from the sewer.

The first manager of the Savoy Hotel in London was Cesar Ritz and the first chef Auguste Escoffier, famous for inventing the Peach Melba in honor of the opera singer Nellie Melba.

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UK

A London’s secret: Kings College Chapel

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Kings College Chapel is located in London on the Strand, it’s open to everyone and not very well known. Built in 1864 by the famous neo-gothic architect George Gilbert Scott who was also responsible for St Pancras station and hotel, the Albert Memorial among many things.

King’s College University was founded in 1829 by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington. The original building also included a chapel for praying but  it was deemed too humble and was decided to build a new one. Gilbert Scott practically had to insert this chapel into an existing building, not an easy task.

Photo: © Copyright John Salmon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The chapel is extremely opulent with a lot of use of red and gold colors, it has also been recently restored and you will see it at its best. Also take a look at the organ which dates back to around 1860 and produced by the Messrs Wills company. In the 1930s the organ was in poor condition and was repaired by Mr. Wills’ nephew who had built it 70 years earlier. In the 1970s it was completely renovated again, so what you see now is an organ that is over 150 years old.

Here you can see a 360 degree virtual version. There are regular religious rites in the chapel that are open to all, the chapel only works during the academic year. The chapel is located on the first floor of the Kings building directly above the Great Hall.

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