Fur-trimmed robes and feathered hats, a Beadle, gold mace and huge silver ceremonial sword are not part of the usual school experience for an 11 year old. But for Alex, a new pupil at King Edward’s, Witley, it was all part of Admissions Day, the annual ceremony where pupils who have joined the famous Surrey school are formally admitted to the 464-year-old foundation in the presence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London in a fantastic display of pomp and pageantry.
“It was great, but a bit nerve-wracking”, Alex later admitted. “We are all in the Chapel, which is completely full with our families, friends and guests. During the service we have to stand to take a promise to be good students, and then are sworn in to become members of the school. When your name is called by the Headmaster, you come forward individually, stand on a mat with the School’s shield and shake hands with the Treasurer over the school’s ceremonial Mace. It does make you feel proud to be joining a school with such a great history and important people, and it’s a day I’ll never forget.”
Admissions Day provides new pupils to King Edward’s with a first taste of the historical links the School enjoys with the City of London dating back to 1553. The tradition of each pupil placing their foot on the mat showing the School’s shield symbolises the first step on their journey at King Edward’s Witley and their promise to strive for excellence and uphold the traditions of the School. Shaking hands over the Mace, which is blessed at an annual service at St Bride’s Church, represents the support and strength that will accompany the pupil as they progress through the School.
The School’s Treasurer, Mrs Justine Voisin official admitted 151 new pupils to the School in the presence of their families and other distinguished guests including the Rt Hon Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of the City of London; Aldermen; and the sheriffs of the City of London; the Mayors of Waverley, Godalming and Haslemere; the Bishop of Dorking and Governors. Also attending were the School’s Head Girl, Carolina Estevez and Head Boy, Mohammed Umair Qasmi, and the Head Boy and Girl of Barrow Hills, King Edward’s partner school.
The Right Reverend Dr Jo Bailey-Wells, Bishop of Dorking preached the sermon, and Dr Andrew Parmley, the Lord Mayor of London, delivered the Mayoral Address, commenting in particular on the great opportunity pupils have to reach their potential at the School. The Lord Mayor also mentioned how very impressed he was with the School’s choir, who sang wonderfully at the service.
The ceremony in the School’s beautiful on-site Chapel was followed by a reception in the main Dining Hall for everyone.