KES honours former head boys to mark completion of £2.2 million building project - The Stratford Observer

KES honours former head boys to mark completion of £2.2 million building project

Stratford Editorial 6th Nov, 2017   0

KING Edward VI School is honouring two former head boys.

The Richard Spender Building, the centre-piece of a £2.2 million project at Shakespeare’s former school, has been named after the former Old Edwardian and war poet killed during the Second World War.

The three-storey building will be home to both the English and computer science departments, as well as housing a new library and sixth form study, which is to be named in honour of acclaimed actor Tim Pigott-Smith who died earlier this year.

The Department for Education-funded project, supported by the school’s trustees, is also allowing the creation of a state-of-the-art design studio and two additional science labs on the site.

Richard studied at the school between 1930 and 1940, where he became head boy in his final year, and where he excelled both academically and in sport.

Instead of going to St Catherine’s College in Oxford to study history, he enlisted in the army, but was killed while serving in North Africa in 1943, aged just 21.

He had already started to make his mark as a poet, with work published in The Observer and Times Literary Supplement.

KES is also celebrating his life and work and as part of its Remembrance Day activities with the publication of The Laughing Cavalier, a new biography including a collection of his poems, together with an exhibition, featuring his original notebooks and writings, at Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall.

The Laughing Cavalier – a nickname affectionately given him by a friend reflecting his larger than life character and humour – has been edited by school archivist Richard Pearson and deputy head Perry Mills.

Tim Pigott-Smith OBE, one of the leading actors of his generation, attended KES between 1962 and 1964, and also served as head boy, head of house, and was a member of both the school rugby and football teams.

His best known role was that of sadistic army colonel Ronald Merrick in the epic TV series Jewel in the Crown.

He was also seen on the small screen in everything from Dr Who to Downtown Abbey, and on the big screen in Gangs of New York, Remains of the Day, and Quantum of Solace among many others.

Born in Rugby, he grew up in Stratford where his journalist father Harry was editor of the Stratford Herald.

He returned to play the Chorus in the school’s production of Henry V in the Swan Theatre in 2013, to mark the lives of those KES boys who lost their lives in the Great War.

Headmaster Bennet Carr said: “This building is dedicated to two remarkable Old Edwardians who, though separated by generations, are united by a

common heritage and, like Shakespeare, a passion for the English language.

“This major project has enabled us to make significant improvements across the campus and will ensure that our students will not only benefit from a

marvellous new Library and bespoke Sixth Form accommodation, but will also have full access to 21st century facilities in science, computing and


Tim’s wife Pamela Miles will officially open The Richard Spender Building and the Tim Pigott-Smith Library on Thursday evening ahead of the school’s annual Remembrance Concert.

The Laughing Cavalier is available to buy from Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall and Waterstones in Stratford.

Visit for further details on the exhibition.


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