THE FORMER HEADMASTER WHO CHRISTENED THE KING
Reptonians headed off for Exeat last weekend and were joined by more than 20 million people who watched Prince Charles become King Charles III. The celebrations and reflections that surrounded this monumental event included, for Repton, the extraordinary thought that the new King was christened by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, none other than Geoffrey Fisher, Repton’s Headmaster from 1914-1932.
Fisher, who was just 27 years old when he became the 23rd Headmaster of Repton, oversaw a number of pivotal events for the British royal family. He officiated the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Phillip in Westminster Abbey in 1947, to then crown her Queen Elizabeth II six years later. The christening of the future King came between those two events, and once again it was Dr Fisher who was entrusted with this significant honour.
Repton village is itself famous as the capital of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, and in the eighth and ninth centuries would have had a royal residence for the Viking monarchs alongside Repton's abbey. King Aethelbald and King Wiglaf were both buried at Repton, and the ancient axe and sword ceremonially buried with another Viking king stand proudly displayed in the Old Priory. This is the building in which Repton School was founded in 1557 by Sir John Port, himself a member of Queen Mary's 1553 parliament.
King Charles's namesakes have in their own ways shaped the experience of the School. Sir Henry Firebrace, a pupil at Repton from 1629-1633, became a court official and tried to help King Charles I escape Cromwell's house arrest in Hampton Court Palace, and later attended him on the scaffold at his beheading. William Cooke, a pupil at Repton from 1661 – 1668, was Groom of the Closet to King Charles II. In the 1840s and 1850s the Headmasters of Repton were still allowing pupils a day off for Oak Apple Day in honour of Charles II, so it seems fitting that an extra Exeat was granted in Charles III's honour.
As Repton has been associated with kings and queens for centuries, it has had its fair share of royal engagements. King Edward I stayed here in 1291, Repton's Headmaster represented the School at Queen Victoria's Jubilee service in Westminster Abbey, and the whole school caught a special train from Williington in 1891 to take up specially reserved seating in Derby's Market Place when Queen Victoria visited the city.
Of course, in the modern era, the Windsors have continued to engage with Repton. Queen Elizabeth II paid an official visit to Repton in 1957 to honour the School's 400th Anniversary. Indeed, on that occasion a very young Prince Charles was given a model train as a gift on behalf of the School. Since then the Duchess of Kent has opened the Music School and the Garden boarding house, Prince Edward visited in 2007 for the 450th anniversary of the School's founding, and in 2013 the Duke of Kent opened the newly built Science Priory.
In closing, the School would like to say that Repton is delighted to join the nation in congratulating their majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla, and we wish them both all strength and happiness as they begin their reign.