Remembrance and Retirement in Dorchester

Thomas Hardye School

Thomas Hardye School


At 11am on Remembrance Day [Thursday 11 November,] over 2,000 students and 200 staff will stand in silent tribute in front of the Thomas Hardye School memorial gates in Queens Avenue, Dorchester, honouring those Old Grammarians and Old Hardyeans who gave their lives in war. The tradition began in 1957 at Hardye’s School and has continued at the modern Thomas Hardye School

The names of all the old boys who fell in conflict will be read by four pupils from the school. Then for the last time, Headmaster Dr Iain Melvin OBE will lead the minute’s silence and the brief Act of Remembrance, culminating in the last post sounded by the bugler. It will certainly be a poignant moment for Dr. Melvin, who retires at Christmas.

Thomas Hardye School is the only school in Dorset- and possibly anywhere in the South West- to maintain this respectful tradition, held for 53 years and inherited from the old Hardye’s School in Culliford Road. It began when the stone pillars and iron gates were consecrated in 1957. The Memorial Gates and pillars were rescued from the old school in 1995 and re-erected outside the new Thomas Hardye’s School at the end of Queens Avenue, complete with the twin stone wyverns- the School’s historic symbol- carved by the late Ken Batty, art master for many years.

“This memorial to those whose names are inscribed on the Rolls of Honour was erected by the old boys, parents and Governors. Dedicated 18 July 1957.” Inside the new School are the two rolls of honour, one for Old Grammarians who fell in the Great War and the other honouring those in subsequent conflicts from 1939.

Many Old Hardyeans will be present and Michel Hooper-Immins, Weymouth-born President of the Hardyeans [old boys] Club will lay a wreath at the Memorial Gates, as will the Chairman of Governors and the Head Boy and Girl. The combined cadet force band will march and stand in the centre of the square in front of the school.

“It was 50 years ago in 1960 that I attended my first Act of Remembrance outside those marvellous iron gates and the stone pillars with the wyverns on top. It snowed that day in November 1960 and I remember we all got very cold,” reminisces Old Hardyeans President Michel Hooper-Immins. “Whereas we were around 750 pupils in my time, there are now some 2,200 students and staff who file quietly out of school just before 11am to take their places silently to honour those who died in world wars and subsequent conflicts. It is a supremely dignified tribute by today’s young people. I know Doctor Melvin is very proud of them.”

“It will be Iain Melvin’s last Act of Remembrance after leading this fine school for 22 years,” continues Michel Hooper-Immins. “Doctor Melvin and his staff have so much of which to be proud. Much praise is due to this giant of a man in teaching terms, who has guided Thomas Hardye School to sustained excellence for 22 years. He has always been very welcoming to us Old Hardyeans and we will miss him. I know all of us wish him a happy retirement and hope we will see him at our functions from time to time.”

Founded in 1905 as the Old Grammarians, the Old Hardyeans- also known as the Hardyeans Club- is one of the most successful old school associations in the county, bringing together the old boys of Dorchester Grammar School and Hardye’s School, plus ex-students of the modern Thomas Hardye School. In the times of Queen Elizabeth I, it was Thomas Hardye [with a final “e”] described as an yeoman of Frampton, who endowed Dorchester Grammar School in 1569. Hardye’s [shopping] Arcade today stands on the site. The Grammar School moved to Culliford Road in 1928- renamed Hardye’s School from 1954. The new Thomas Hardye School in Queens Avenue opened in 1992, encompassing the best traditions of the two previous schools- but admitting girls for the first time since 1569! Writer Thomas Hardy OM, who lived at nearby Max Gate, laid the foundation stone of Hardye’s School in 1925. He was no relation to Thomas Hardye, founder of the school, nor of Admiral Thomas Masterman Hardy!

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