Visit to Rome (1970)



For several weeks before Easter the school visit to Rome was uppermost in the minds of all members of our party, and the preparatory meetings were performed amidst an air of intense anticipation. However, the uncomfortable weather of our day of departure, April the first, served to somewhat dampen previously keen spirits and to make it look as though Fate had made fools of us all. Even the channel ferry suffered from a list not unlike that of the junior boys, struggling along in constant combat with their own baggage.

Such was the situation when we boarded the French train at Calais but the next day, although completely taken up with the train journey, proved to be much more enjoyable, as the English weather which doggedly pursued us through Northern France, had turned back and, slipping away as we sped through the night, fled for home leaving us enjoying weather more suited to the holiday. Moreover the spectacle of the Alps provided several hours of interesting journeying, although everyone seemed pleased when we finally rolled into a sleeping Rome and eventually reached the comfort of our hotel.

The next day the holiday really started with a visit to St. Peter's Basilica. The weather was fine and everybody soon began to find their way around this magnificent city, with its beautiful churches and impressive monuments, remaining as an epitaph to the ancient civilisation which played such an important role in the shaping of world history. Indeed one of the highlights of the week was the visit to Pompeii, the ancient Roman city which was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius yet still retains much of its original splendour. The Castelli Romani the countryside surrounding Rome and the Vatican Museum were just two of the other arranged visits, and one group visited the imposing gardens at Tivoli.

But the climax of the week came with a specially arranged Papal audience. The scene inside St. Peter's defies description, as the Pope was conveyed on his lofty seat amongst the admiring throng. and few could have failed to have been overawed by the spectacle. This was the high point of the visit, after which we bade farewell to the Coliseum and the Forum, to the many splendid churches of the city St. Paul's, St. John's, St. Mary's and, of course, St. Peter's itself to the Vatican and the Capitol, to the gardens, fountains, and piazzas all the sights which conjure up marvellous memories and which had thrilled us for those six short days. Last of all we said goodbye to the Hotel Buenos Aires, which had been both a home and a base for us as we explored the splendour of the Eternal City. And so to home! and the journey now seemed to be a mere formality. However this proved far from the case and, after several tricky manoeuvres to find the right carriages, as each person rushed to stake his claim to a compartment, and after a headlong dash along Milan station to catch a train which should have left two minutes beforehand, the return journey proved as hectic as the outward one had been rough. Thus the prospect of setting foot once more on English soil now seemed as pleasant as it had been forbidding a few days previously. Three days later, with all our souvenirs unpacked and our stories told, we returned again to school and busily began preparation for the summer exams but the school visit to Rome, Easter 1970, will take a long time to forget.


1970 School Magazine

Steve Bacon writes -

"The staff involved with the Rome trip at Easter 1962 were Messrs. Winter, Dixon, Owen and Tilbrook.  It was a wonderful coincidence that we were there on Palm Sunday which is one of the fairly rare occasions when the Pope attends Mass at St. Peters.  Staff and quite a few of the boys went to experience the occasion.  We stood in the nave and were duly blessed by Pope John XXIII as he was carried past us on a ceremonial throne.  Again, I may be able to expand on the trip in due course."


Six Years of the School Fair (1962)

Recollections (from former pupils)

History of the School

Soviet Union Easter Visit (1975)