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‘It’s very special to be back’: Headmaster’s Address as boys gather in Chapel

Tonbridge’s pupils gathered for a ‘Whole School’ Beginning of Term Address in the Chapel last Thursday (2 September).

James Priory, Headmaster, had a warm welcome for all the boys, including those who are new to the School and were attending a Chapel service for the first time.  

Reflecting on seeing more than 800 people coming together for the first time in well over a year, in what he called “a beautiful and substantial” building, Mr Priory said: “It’s very special to be back here with you all and to feel the Chapel coming fully to life again”.

He added: “Most of all, welcome to those of you who are with us for the very first time and for whom Tonbridge today becomes your new school, new home. It’s exciting to have you with us and I hope you will be very happy here.”

In his talk the Headmaster traced the history of the School Chapel (the Chapel of St Augustine), which was created in 1900 and tragically destroyed in an accidental fire in 1988. The Chapel was eventually rebuilt, with this time last year marking the 25th anniversary of its reconsecration. Due to the pandemic and national lockdowns, it wasn’t possible to bring the School together in 2020, and so last week’s service was, Mr Priory judged, “a moment not just we, but this Chapel, have been waiting for.”

In looking ahead to the new school year, Mr Priory recalled the words of St Paul to a new congregation, to “Encourage one another and build one another up”, as he spoke of the strong sense of community that exists at Tonbridge. “Paul’s words have a resonance for us as we start the new year … look out for each other, be kind to each other, support and celebrate what each other does and means,” he told the boys.

“You’ve been brilliant at doing that so far and I know I can trust you to carry on in the same spirit.”

Pictured: The Chapel Service. James Priory is also pictured with Jonas Freeman (MH5), Head of School.