|Robert Pearce House|
The Robert Pearce House motto of Vigor Unis Multorum Robor (Courage of One, Strength of Many), is as valid today as it has ever been, the history of House being one of pulling together in good times and bad for the good of the House community.
On Saturday 20th May, in celebration of their House Centenary, Pearcites spanning eight decades of attendance, returned to their House, for many, their home, during their time at the College. Returning to raise a toast to those that went before them, their contemporaries and those that followed and are still to follow in their footsteps in the halls of the house.
Offering a warm welcome to nearly 180 OS and their guests, Head of Bishop’s Stortford College, Kathy Crewe-Read, shared an update about the thriving College Community. Painting a picture of a flourishing co-educational community of 1250 pupils with 10 Houses (5 boys & 5 girls) in the Senior School alone. An enlightening thought for many guests whom had attended the College when the community equalled roughly 130 in the Prep School, 330 in the Senior School and was of course boys only!
Closing by thanking all for returning in celebration of this landmark anniversary, the Head shared the positive opportunities available to all Old Stortfordians by becoming active members of the Stortfordian community. Emphasising in particular the opportunities to share valuable expertise with fellow OS by signing up as a Mentor or in turn the opportunities open to those seeking an OS mentor to support early or changing careers.
RPH Housemaster Richard Honey, custodian of RPH for over twenty years, spoke from the heart as he shared the history from its naming after Secretary to the Governors and MP Robert Pearce in 1923, opening with 37 boys, through the hardships of the war years to late 1970s architectural additions.
Reflection of the devastating 2015 fire which saw the House almost raised to the ground was highlighted to demonstrate the true spirit and ethos of the house. Through resilience, hard work and determination, the cherished House was restored to its former glory. Richard was touched to share the personal comfort he felt following the post fire outpouring of OS emotion where numerous Pearcites contacted him to share personal memories and their great affection for the House that saw them mature from boys into men within its walls.
Mr Honey went on to share that the characteristics of a house go beyond the bricks and mortar. That the camaraderie and sense of community that has been fostered in Robert Pearce over 100 years have been the foundation of many successful careers and life-long relationships. With a strong track record in sport, RPH has produced a number of academic scholars, impressive artists, outstanding actors and musicians, as well as Heads of School. Many of whom have gone on to make a big impact in all aspects of life beyond the College.
Mr Honey resolved that Robert Pearce has been a home away from home for generations of young men who came to the College to learn, grow, and forge lasting friendships. A house community that he has, and always will be proud to be a part of.
A rousing round of applause concluded our guests time in the Ferguson Lecture Theatre, the old indoor swimming pool to many, before our alumni moved outside for the ubiquitous group photograph, capturing the Centenary celebrations in perpetuity. Assembling in swift and uniform formation, as they would have done in their school days, our guests took their place on the steps in front of the iconic Mem Hall Doors.
Enthusiastic Senior School pupils waited on Middle Green for the conclusion of the photograph before whisking small groups of guests on informative tours of the College campus, highlighting changes over time but also sharing sights that remain unchanged over the 155 year history of the school. Pupil led tours concluded at RPH where thanks were shared amongst guests and their willing tour guides and RPH became the central hub of the rest of the celebrations.
The main door of the rebuilt house faces onto the campus rather than onto Maze Green Road and is fronted by a stunning grass courtyard which for this momentous occasion had been transferred into an event space with the addition of a marquee.
Bubbles of all varieties, delightful champagne for adults (kindly donated by an anonymous RPH OS benefactor) and bubble wands for children, were enjoyed alongside a delicious al fresco lunch. The sun was shining and spirits were high as generations of Pearcites mingled inside and outside reminiscing about their times in house. Friends old and new raised a glass to the house that bonded them together.The wonderful family atmosphere as warm as the spring sunshine.
Current RPH boys, now 70 in number, were a true credit to the house, Mr & Mrs Honey and to the College as they diligently ensured that all our guests were well looked after throughout their visit and were able to have informative tours of the house, many of whom, were seeing the rebuilt house (with state of the art en-suite facilities amongst other things) for the very first time and were looked after throughout their visit. All returning OS pleased and relieved to see the rescued House boards taking pride of place in the entrance atrium - many taking photographs of their own names.
It is testament to the affection within which the Honey’s are held that so many of their ‘boys’ returned to see them, many travelling some distance to do so. They were the most welcoming and affable hosts to all guests across the generations.
The afternoon progressed in jovial form until it was time to say a fond farewell.. not forever… just until the next time. Many guests continuing their reminiscences together in the bars of Bishop’s Stortford.
It was a genuine pleasure to welcome back so many guests with such strong links to RPH, having either been a pupil member of the House, a Housemaster, Matron, tutor or the families of those that had led the House across the years. We were delighted that so many across the generations joined us to mark the landmark Centenary of Robert Pearce House.
It is true to say that the centenary celebration and with it the sharing of countless stories and vivid memories that were made within the walls, and the countless more that will continue to be made in the years to come will live on in the memories of all in attendance for many years to come.
Robert Pearce House - One hundred years done, many more fabulous years to come!
Event Photograph Gallery Below.
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