08 June 2010

Memories of Mr F E Gladwell

Thanks are due to the Old Symondians' Association magazine where this article appeared in autumn 2009. It had first appeared in the Peter Symonds' School Magazine.
The date of first publication is unknown but it was after 1964

“Mr F E Gladwell

Mr Gladwell came to Peter Symonds’ in 1946 after a distinguished academic career and his war-time service in the Intelligence Corps. Appointed to the German department, he later introduced the study of Russian into the School and organised at Sixth Form level a wide range of cultural and intellectual pursuits. For a number of years he arranged foreign travel for parties from the School and more recently was active in promoting and strengthening the link between Giessen and Winchester.
But most Symondians will remember his very great interest in everything connected with the theatre. Each Christmas from 1949 to 1963 he produced for the Dramatic Society a full-length play, among which the works of Shaw, with “Arms and the Man” and “Pygmalion,” at the beginning, and an ambitious “Caesar and Cleopatra” in the middle, will probably be mot often recalled. The climax of his productions was, however, the stating of his own translation of the Russian play, “The Bed Bug,” with well over 100 characters.
That was in 1962 in Varley Hall, on a real stage. But for 14 years the Dramatic Society had struggled to present its work on the inadequate platform in Northbrook Hall. It was there, all too often in really cold weather, that a team led at all levels by Mr Gladwell, cheerfully surmounted so many difficulties. In such unprepossessing circumstances, many a Symondian’s appetite for the theatre was whetted and many will gratefully remember it.
We hope his new appointment in London will permit F E G many opportunities of indulging his taste for the theatre.”

This was transcribed on Tuesday 8th June 2010 by Jim Wishart, co-manager with Doug Clews and Chris Cooper of the Peter Symonds Nostalgia web site at


  1. An interesting account. He taught me German from 1945-1950. I actually managed to get a pass in School Cert.
    This is amazing as I am no good at languages. My daughter has lived in Holland since 1985 and all I can manage is coffee,beer and cakes. Still that is sufficient as most speak English, as they start it in Junior school.

  2. This is terrific work, Jim. I have fond memories of Ernie Gladwell - as I once posted to Nostalgia some years ago - I suppose that stuff is now lost.

    I wonder what the "new appointment in London" was?

  3. I am not sure Chris, it may be here but as there is no search engine it is difficult to find. Anyone any suggestions?

  4. I have just discovered the 'viewing history' facility at the bottom of the page. Does everyone get that or is it just the managers? It is very useful and very surprising to see that there is life in the old site after all.

  5. He also taught German sufficient to obtain a pass at O level in the 1950`s and I took part in a couple of the plays. He was a very good teacher and also very approachable.

  6. Hi Mick
    Thanks for that memory of Mr Gladwell ...
    I also had him for German in Lower School, but Mr Lowman taught German in 1945, Mr Gladwell taking over from him in 1946 when Mr Lowman left ... Mr Hammond taught us in Upper School ...

    I have to say, that due to all 3 of these excellent teachers, my grasp of German was good and I enjoyed it immensely and, I am pleased to say I passed it in School Cert and I still remember a lot of it, enough to understand the written word at least

  7. Ernie Gladwell, remembered by so many no doubt for his excellent teaching ability, he got me through O level and I managed to fail French all on my own since i expected the reverse I must blame him perhaps for my subsequent marriage to an Austrian in Australia, but mainly i remember him for three wonderful excursions to Osnabruck, Lucerne and Italy where we were put on our best behaviour as we exited the Alpine tunnel into Italy and were confronted by the Carbinieri complete with rifles, fortunately the shock did not last and I have been something of a travel bug ever since


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