My father’s time at The Perse

Sir Michael Marshall - Chairman, Marshall of Cambridge
November 19, 2015

My late father, Sir Arthur Marshall, started his education at a small private infants’ school near his parents’ house in Milton Road and then went to the Perse Preparatory School in Bateman Street.  He used to go by open-top bus from the top of De Freville Avenue and later by bike, and sometimes walked the two or so miles via the Fort St George Midsummer Common Ferry.

He showed his prowess at athletics at a young age and won the 100 yards race at Fenners for which he received a silver spoon engraved with The Perse Pelican Crest.  Later, when at Jesus College, he represented the University at athletics, and was reserve for Great Britain in its 1600 metre relay team at the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

At the end of 1915 he transferred to the senior Perse School opposite the Catholic Church but as a non-swimmer he had to join those who had a white button on the top of their school caps!  He was proud to be a member of The Perse Officers’ Training Corps.

He was full of stories of some of the Masters at The Perse, including the flamboyant Monsieur de Glehn, a famous teacher of phonetics, who had changed his family name from ‘von Glehn’ during the war to make it clear that he was not a German.  He once appeared before a class with his flies unbuttoned: and a boy had the temerity to tell him of it, in English.  Characteristically de Glehn boomed “Why didn’t you tell me in French?”  And then, without a trace of embarrassment, drilled the class: “je suis déboutonné; qu’est-ce que je suis?” and made them go through all six persons, “Tu es ….” etc.

He was full of praises for the Headmaster, Dr. W H D Rouse, who really put The Perse on the map during that time and who exploded in fury when he learned that my father wanted to leave to board at Tonbridge School.

There were many subsequent associations with The Perse, including particularly with Stanley Stubbs who was Headmaster from 1945 to 1969, and who was very supportive of the Air Training Corps.  The Perse Cadets and the Cambridge Squadron of the Air Training Corps would often parade together and the Squadron is proud today of its Stubbs Perse Trophy.

He was also delighted that a number of The Perse boys have won the National Arkwright Scholarship to which we, as a Company, have often contributed.

My father was always very proud of the contribution which our Company was able to make to Cambridge in the days when there was so little industry here and it became a major employer developing our own apprentice schemes which carry on to this day. We are very proud of our contribution to the City of Cambridge and to the Nation.

I know that my father, who died in 2007, would have been very proud to see The Perse reach its amazing 400th Anniversary and with such a high reputation.

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