Past Speaker: Prof A.C. Grayling

The Purvis Society was originally formed in 1939 with, to quote from The Cranleighan magazine of the time, “the purpose of helping to preserve that quality of thought and interest that Mr. Purvis had fostered during his long stay at Cranleigh”.

John Stanley Purvis was born in 1890. He started teaching at Cranleigh in September 1913, having been an Exhibitioner of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. He enlisted in early 1915 and left for military service in France in December 1915. He wrote a well-known poem, “From Steyning to the Ring” in 1915 and made several sketches on the battlefield, including one dated 15th September 1916 which showed the first time tanks were used in warfare – the tank is shown as a dark blob as it could not be clearly delineated for security reasons.

He was wounded, and visited the School to talk about his experience of the First World War early in 1917. On his return to Cranleigh in 1918 he taught History and became Housemaster of 1 North in 1919. He wrote and directed the School Pageant of 1928, was ordained Deacon in 1932, Priest in 1933 and after his retirement in 1938 he became Canon of York Minster (1956-68) and translated the York Mystery Plays in 1957 (for which he received the OBE in 1958). Canon Purvis died in 1968.

All Academic Scholars belong automatically to the Purvis Society, although other members of the School are extremely welcome to attend meetings, particularly in the Sixth Form, and it has been gratifying to see large audiences for all this year’s presentations.

Junior Scholars enjoy working lunches chaired by members of Common Room. There is no overriding theme as such, but a little dash of controversy hurts no one! Discussion has been lively and engaging, and colleagues find these sessions as enjoyable as do the pupils. Scholars are expected to attend but the rest of the School is most welcome.