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Cardinal Vaughan School Centenary



My great, great uncle, Cardinal Herbert Vaughan, achieved many things in his life, perhaps the pinnacle of which was his building of Westminster Cathedral which stands as a testimony to the flourishing of Roman Catholicism in Great Britain today. 


The first foundation stone for the Cathedral was laid in 1895. Cardinal Vaughan died in 1903 and the Cathedral was opened for the first time for public service for the funeral of its founder. As a tribute to Cardinal Vaughan many people across London and farther afield gave generously for a fitting memorial, which it was decided should be the founding of a school - another project he had wanted to undertake. Thus, on September 21st 1914 The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in Holland Park opened its doors to just 29 boys. The outbreak of the First World War (aka. The Great War) had just been declared. It seemed an inauspicious start!


Today the school, more colloquially known just as ‘The Vaughan’, has almost 1000 girls and boys and is consistently rated as one of the highest achieving schools in the country. As a Comprehensive school it is unique in that it draws its intake from across the whole of London and is not limited to those who live in the catchment area. It has an impressive record of annual Oxbridge entrants among its pupils that would be the envy of many fee paying Public Schools. The ethos of the school can be summed up in its motto: Amare et Servire (to love and to serve).


In September this year a celebratory mass was held at Westminster Cathedral. The principal celebrant for which was Cardinal Vaughan’s current successor, His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols. The cathedral was packed. The music was provided and the singing led by the nationally acclaimed Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School’s Schola Cantorum. The centenary celebrations were held at The Royal Albert Hall in October this year.


Although I concede that he might be challenged by some of the modernising propositions contained in‘The Other Side of Loss’ nevertheless, as a progressive reformer himself, I like to think that my illustrious ancestor would approve of his great, great nephew’s latest endeavour! 

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