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Students fill Abbey to celebrate Nathaniel Woodard

Friday, 25th November 2011

Students fill Abbey to celebrate Nathaniel Woodard

A service to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of educational visionary the Reverend Nathaniel Woodard (21st March 1811 – 25th April 1891) was held in Westminster Abbey on Thursday 24th November 2011.

A mixture of 42 schools and academies came together to celebrate the Church of England priest who founded eleven schools for the middle classes in England during his lifetime.

The service was opened by the Junior Choir who sang the Introit Arise and shine forth and The Woodard Diptych, an icon which was commissioned for the Woodard 2011 celebrations, was carried through the Abbey to the High Altar during the collegiate procession.

The Bishop of Chichester, Visitor; The Right Reverend Anthony Russell, President; The Reverend Canon Brendan Clover, Senior Provost; The Right Reverend Lindsay Urwin OGS, Provost of the South, together with other senior clergy of the Woodard Corporation, were robed and seated in the Sacrarium.

The Bidding was given by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said:

we assemble today to give thanks to almighty God for the birth two hundred years ago of Nathaniel Woodard, to celebrate the achievements of the Schools and Corporation he founded, and to pray God’s blessing on Woodard schools now and for the future.

Sir Robert Woodard KCVO DL together with Sam Kelly and Cerys Jones pupils of Lancing College Preparatory School, read The Woodard Preamble which was written during Woodard’s lifetime but not promulgated. It was established as Preamble to the Roll of Members in 1916.

Testimonies were given by Taylor Carey, former pupil of Lancing College and Canon David Bilton, Chief Executive Officer of Woodard Schools. Thomas Bridges, Woodard Composer of 2011 and pupil of St Olave’s Grammar School read 1 John 4: 7-14 and Tom Fremantle DL, Chairman of Woodard Schools read Matthew 7: 24-27.

The Address was given by the Dean of Westminster and prayers were led by the Reverend Michael Macey, Minor Canon and Precentor.

The service was sung by the combined choirs of the Woodard Schools and the Junior Choir. The organ was played by Andrej Kouznetsov, Organ Scholar, Westminster Abbey. Music before the service was played by pianist Moon Yiu, winner, Senior Category, Woodard Musicians of the Year.

During the service the Woodard Schools’ Banners were borne through the Abbey.

Woodard’s aim was to provide an education with a fundamental foundation based on ‘sound principle and sound knowledge, firmly grounded in the Christian faith’. His objective which he passed on was ‘to extend education to all classes.’

Today, Woodard Schools form the largest group of independent Church of England schools in England and Wales with 46 schools in the group, and as part of the Woodard Corporation, strive to promote Nathaniel Woodard’s educational principles of ‘education to all classes’.

He was surrounded by and shocked by social conflict, poverty, deprivation and lack of aspiration in a chaotic society and he set out to try and transform this situation. He firmly believed that education was the only way to aid this transformation and began his life long work of founding schools. In 1870, he was made Canon of Manchester Cathedral in recognition of his efforts and received a generous stipend with this position. He used the majority of this towards funding the building of his schools.

See also:

Order of Service (PDF, 342KB)


Woodard Schools website

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