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Christmas at Poundswick

December at Poundswick was a month of contrasts; a busy month and a huge commitment for those who were up for it. It started with exams, which with luck were over by the end of the first week. Then, with the academic pressure off, there were Christmas parties - usually one for each year, a Christmas Dance, a formal Christmas Carol Service and a more informal evening Christmas Concert to which parents and friends were invited, a play or revue which needed vast amounts of preparation, support and rehearsal, Christmas decorations all over the school, including an immense tree in the hall. And then, when it was all over and school had broken up for the Christmas holiday, the really dedicated would come back to help dismantle it all and get things back to normal for the following term; a small group of staff and pupils in an informal "muck-in" that, in a different way, was as much fun as what had gone before.

You knew that Christmas had arrived when half a day's classes were cancelled for the Christmas Carol Service. This was a very formal affair based on the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in which the Christmas story is told in a sequence of alternate lessons and carols interspersed with appropriate prayers. It was always conducted by the Headmaster himself with staff and pupils reading the lessons. It started with the Bidding Prayer on page 50 of The Daily Service, which I have reproduced here; I hope it brings back some Christmas memories.

On a sad note, it was immediately after conducting this service in December 1972 that Mr. Gilpin, Poundswick's first Headmaster, returned to his office and was taken ill. Within a few minutes he was dead and Poundswick had lost a leader and champion, the likes of whom it would never see again.


Click on cover picture
The evening Christmas Concert, to which parents and friends were invited, was a very informal affair with its emphasis on traditional Christmas music. The programme for the 1963 concert included an insert with the words on it so that the audience could join in.

As an example, I've included below the inside pages of the 1963 programme.


Note that in the early sixties even a Christmas Concert started with the National Anthem. When was the last time you went to anything that started with the National Anthem? What a shame that this tradition has been lost.

Elsewhere, other pupils (well, some were the same!) had been rehearsing for weeks to put on a play or Christmas Review. A particularly spectacular one called Christmas Trifles was produced in 1962.
Click here for details. In later years the sixth-form reviews became a regular feature of school life. Can anyone tell us anything about them?