There is this book that I found in the depths of the archives. It is quite interesting, as it was written after the school has been in existence for 45 years and it was collaborated upon by people who were closely involved with it, sometimes both as students and teachers. But to me, the most interesting were the memories of Derwent Coleridge, the founder of St Mark. He talks about the way the whole area was when they first arrived. He says that it was ‘market-gardens and meadows intersected by creeks and ditches covered with green water weeds.’ It is really hard for me to imagine the middle of London to ever been like that. But the invasive expansion of London was apparent even back then, as he says: ‘it was country already condemned to turn into suburb…’
He recollects everything about the college itself: the grounds, the buildings, the teachers and pupils. Even Mrs Harvey, who was the matron in charge of the domestic servants. It made me think that she must have been an incredible figure. Colerige says that once, hearing rumours of burglars on the grounds, even that she was ‘…elderly and rheumatic, (she) went around the passages with a poker.’
He also casually reminisces about the music evening that they had, when he listened to Sir Arthur Sullivan singing. Yeah, Derwent my man, I’m not jealous of that at all:-) I swear sometimes it feels like we had our fingers in ALL the pies at some point.
But the memories of others as they remembered St Mark and Coleridge were as interesting. Especially what A.C King said, that he was ’…delighted in taking every opportunity of introducing his assistant masters to any man of note…’ He must have been proud of them and it looks to me like he did everything to help their careers and the school’s reputation.
I wonder what Coleridge would say if he could see us now? I bet he would be proud of us getting full university title last year. I think he would be happy with what his legacy had become. As for me, I enjoyed the book and I will definitely come back to Coleridge because there is more to say about him.
Gent, G.W. (ed) (1891) Memories of S Mark College. Chelsea: G. White Printer