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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is celebrating his re-election today, but 350 years ago one of our pupils was doing the same!


Thomas Willett (1605-1674) was the fourth son of Andrew Willett who also attended King’s Ely. Andrew was a clergyman and writer who was known for his Calvinist views and was at one point imprisoned for his opposition to a Spanish marriage for Prince Charles. Thomas was Andrew’s fourth son and we know that he did not follow his father from King’s Ely to Cambridge University and into the clergy, a privilege reserved for his oldest brother who took over the family parish in Barley, Hertfordshire. Instead Thomas went to Leiden, and then to the new Plymouth plantation arriving in 1629 He seems to have quickly established himself and was placed in charge of their trading post with the Native Americans at Castine in what is now Maine. His marriage to Mary a daughter of Major John Brown, a leading citizen cemented his standing and he shortly afterwards became a large ship owner, trading with New Amsterdam.

Thomas Willett’s grave

He was elected one of the assistant governors of the Plymouth colony. As a proof of his worth of character and commanding abilities, he was frequently chosen to settle disputes between the rival colonies of England and Holland; he also became captain of a military company. Early in 1660 he left Plymouth, and, establishing himself in Rhode Island, became the founder of the town of Swansey. He played a vital role in the peaceful surrender of New Amsterdam to the English on 7 Sept. 1664; and when the colony received the name of New York, Captain Willett was appointed the first mayor in June 1665 with the approval of English and Dutch alike. The next year he was elected alderman, and became mayor a second time in 1667.

He was a member of the New York governor’s executive council from 1665 to 1672, retired in 1673, and died in 1674, at the age of sixty-nine. He is buried in the Little Neck Cemetery at Bullock’s Cove, Riverside area of East Providence, Rhode Island.

Old Eleans Annual Dinner 2017

We were delighted to welcome Dominic Le Moignan(2002) as speaker at our Annual Dinner this year. Dominic spoke about his work as Director of GovRisk in the field of anti-corruption, financial crime prevention and justice reform, and wowed us with a film of ‘The Capulet Ball’ created by Queen Mab Productions where he services as Creative Director. Dominic gave three wonderful toasts – to loving parents, to a sense of the ridiculous and to beating the Perse!
We would like to thank everyone who attended, especially those from the classes 1966-68 who were celebrating 50 years since leaving the school.

Frank Cowley
Frank’s daughter Helen got in touch with us earlier this week to let us know the sad news that her father had passed away earlier this week. Those of you who go to our Annual Dinner may well remember Frank and his wife Pam who frequently joined us on these occasions.
An obituary written by Helen is on our obituaries page

Anthony Morbey

Dear All,

I fear I have yet more sad news for you.

Anthony Morbey, Old Elean, former parent, grandparent and governor, died tragically in a road traffic accident last night.

Anthony was very well known to the King’s Ely community and he and his family have great given great support to the school over past decades.

Anthony will be sorely missed and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Alison, his four children, Annabel, Alex, Alastair and Antonia, his grandchildren Isobel and George and his sister, Rosemary, who worked here at King’s Ely for many years.

Sue Freestone


Old Eleans return to school as members of staff

Three Old Eleans enjoyed their time at King’s Ely so much that they have returned to join the school’s workforce. Phoebe Bradbury, Emma Saunders and Florence Wynn are all Old Eleans – the name given to former pupils of King’s Ely – and are among several new members of staff to join the school this term.

Emma has joined King’s as a Teacher of Fine Art and Textiles. After leaving school in 2011, she studied Fashion Design at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. She then went on to study for her PGCE in Design and Technology at the University of Cambridge.

Speaking about her return to King’s, Emma said: “I am extremely excited to be coming back to teach at King’s. I remember my time at school with such fond memories, exciting lessons and continuous fun times within the boarding house, so I am feeling incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to provide the same experience for the pupils within my lessons, as well as the pastoral duties within Hill House.”

Phoebe left King’s in 2014 and went on to St Mary’s University, Twickenham, to study Psychology and Sport Science and to row for the high performance club, Molesey. She has returned to King’s to teach Physical Education as part of her PGCE, and to be a rowing coach and resident tutor of Hill House.

Phoebe said: “I am very happy to be back in the King’s family. I thoroughly enjoyed being a pupil in the supportive and friendly community that the school offers.”

Florence, who left King’s in 2012, is returning as a Nursery Practitioner. After leaving school, she took a gap year, during which she worked at Toppings Bookshop in Ely before heading off to France to work as an au pair. After her gap year, she studied English Literature at the University of St Andrew’s in Scotland.

Speaking about her new appointment at King’s, Florence said: “Having been at King’s for 12 years, the one part that I missed out on was the nursery, so I am filling in the gaps! It is certainly very nostalgic and wonderful to be back in Ely again. It is exciting to be involved with the ‘first step’ of the school, as it were, and I am looking forward to helping the little ones develop their own strengths and personalities at this formative stage.”

Principal of King’s Ely, Sue Freestone, commented: “It says much for the experience that Florence, Phoebe and Emma enjoyed as students here that they have returned to join the staff. We are delighted to welcome them and all who are new to King’s Ely. We look forward to working with them and learning what they bring to the culture and energy of the school over the coming months and years.”

A tribute to John Isaacs

Yesterday we received the news that another dearly loved member of our community has passed away; John Isaacs served as the School Chaplain from 1985 until 1994. John had originally moved to Ely in the 1960s to work with the renowned lute-maker Ian Harwood. His passion for music led him to his first position at King’s Ely, teaching flute, clarinet and recorder. John was a fine craftsman as well as an accomplished musician, making Renaissance instruments and playing with the Consort of Viols in Cambridge.

Later, John trained as a minister and was ordained priest in St. Mary’s Church. His work there led him into greater contact with the school and he hosted King’s Ely pupils for services over the years. Taking over from John Powell as school chaplain in 1985 was a natural step, and his enthusiasm for his work reinvigorated the spiritual life of King’s Ely. He and his wife Philly-Jane opened the doors of their home on Wednesday nights to encourage students to share their faith and concerns, growing together in fellowship. Former colleague and friend Adella Charlton remembers these evenings with great affection. ‘Everyone would be crammed in together and out in the hall was a huge heap of shoes’. John delighted children at Acremont House with his stories and flute playing, at Junior School his assemblies were equally popular and were nicknamed ‘Sing-along with Isaacs’.

Reporting on his first year at the school in ‘The Elean’ John wrote that his report would be different from all the others, there were no team names or houses to mention, no goals to tally or critical reviews of worship – ‘We do not have a clear-cut measure of spiritual success. The chaplaincy can exist only because the School considers it important that pupils should have every opportunity of knowing the power and love of God in their lives’. John may not have felt that he could measure his success, but we know that the hundreds of pupils who took part in services led by him, prepared for confirmation under his guidance or sang along with him at assemblies will feel differently; many of them measuring the beginning of their spiritual life from a meeting with John.

John moved on to the parish of Denver in 1985 and served there for 9 years. He was also a chaplain at Gonville and Caius College. Latterly he retired to Ely and we enjoyed the company of John and Philly-Jane at almost every concert, dramatic event and musical occasion the school presented.

As a chaplain John believed his parish was the whole of our school community: children, staff, parents and grandparents. His loss will be felt deeply and by many. We send our thoughts and prayers to his wife Philly-Jane and to their daughter Rebecca, as we remember John’s life as a musician, lute-maker, dedicated priest and charismatic, warm and generous man.

Neil at The Old Eleans Club Annual Dinner in October last year

Neil Shanassy – A sad message from Sue Freestone

It is with great sadness that I bring you the news that Mr Neil Shanassy died unexpectedly on Sunday night.
Neil joined King’s Ely in September 1961 to teach Geography, Maths and English. Over the course of 36 years he served at various times as Housemaster of Wilkinson, Oppidans A, Walsingham and School House. He spent many years as Head of Geography, seeing the school through structural and technological changes. Outside of his teaching and pastoral duties he became Head of the Common Room, served as Librarian and latterly was the school’s Senior Master.
Neil was passionate about sport and coached the Under 15 Rugby team throughout his career. He and his wife Helen would throw suppers for his team at the end of each year, an event to which the boys he coached eagerly looked forward to with eager anticipation.

Neil will be remembered by his former colleagues as always willing to help, reliable and modest. Upon his retirement in 1997 his colleague and friend Tony Bland wrote that it was ‘in a real sense, the end of an era’. He was a man who left a huge impression on those he worked alongside, as well as the hundreds of pupils he taught and guided through King’s Ely.

After retirement he and Helen remained active in the school community. They regularly attended alumni events, which delighted his former pupils, to whom he was always affectionately known as ‘Shan’.

We remember Neil as a thoughtful, kind and generous man, who will be sorely missed. Our prayers are with Helen, their children Emma and Tim and their families at this difficult and painful time.

Laurence West-Knights QC is appointed as a Circuit Judge

Congratulations to Laurence James West-Knights QC (OE, prep school, 62-65) The Queen has appointed Laurence to be a Circuit Judge on the advice of the Lord Chancellor, the Right Honourable Elizabeth Truss MP and the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Right Honourable The Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd. The Lord Chief Justice has deployed him to the South Eastern Circuit, based at Snaresbrook Crown Court with effect from Friday 7 July 2017.
He was called to the Bar (Gray’s Inn) in 1977, became a Fellow of the Charted Institute of Arbitrators in 1993, took Silk in 2000 and was elected a Master of the Bench of Gray’s Inn in 2003. After attending King’s Ely he went to the Perse School, Cambridge and then Hampton School, and read Economics and Law at Emmanuel College Cambridge. He has 3 children and lives in London. He campaigned for and was a founding Trustee of BAILII (, the world-renowned free legal website. He also spent 15 years in the Royal Naval Reserve, joining as an Ordinary Seaman and retiring as a Lieutenant Commander.

Old Elean Oliver Jarvis gears up for Le Mans

Photo credit Eddie Macdonald

After nine seasons with Audi, Oliver will be racing for the combined Jota Sport and DC WEC team. DC is owned by Action legend Jackie Chan! Jota Sport were winners at Le Mans in 2014, and were placed second in 2015 and 2016. He will be driving the new ORECA-Gibson 07 with his team mates are Renault Formula 1 test driver Ho-Pin Tung and former world karting champion Thomas Laurent.
Speaking about his new team Oliver said “This is the perfect combination for the year ahead because I am racing with a manufacturer and continuing in the WEC in a prototype. I love the WEC and have made many friends there, and I also love driving prototypes.”
In qualifiers the team has earned the 9th spot on the starting grid. We wish Oliver and his team the very best of luck.

Cambridge Spring Drinks

On Friday 12th May we held our first Spring Drinks event in Cambridge. The Old Eleans Club were delighted to welcome over 70 members of all ages, (our youngest guest was 18 and our oldest nearly 80!). We hope that everyone enjoyed their evening, reconnecting with old friends and making some new ones. You all made it a hugely successful evening and one which we hope to repeat next year!

King’s Barbers 25th Anniversary Reunion Concert

Hayward Theatre, 11 March 2017, 7.30pm

Tickets are now on sale for the 25th Anniversary Concert of the King’s Barbers.  This promises to be a fantastic occasion with former Barbers joining the present group of 17 boys to entertain and to do that which they do best, singing together. The will be revisiting some of the classics from
the early days of the Barbers’ repertoire, but also some of the more modern ‘contemporary a cappella’ songs that the group has performed in the more recent past. 

Former Barbers wishing to sing/attend are also invited to a Reception in the Old Palace after the concert. Please contact Peter North directly ( for more details and to book places. (Each performer will also receive two free tickets to the concert)

Tickets for the concert are available from the King’s Ely Box Office and are £10 for adults, children go free. 
Telephone 01353 653931 or email to book.

Old Elean is crowned Hotel Du Vin’s ‘Chef of the Year’

Phil Hase, Head Chef at Hotel du Vin in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, was crowned Chef of the Year at the Hotel du Vin and Malmaison Hotel group’s Best of the Best Awards 2017. The awards recognise the top talent within the group’s estate of 32 hotels.

Phil was a pupil at King’s Ely from 2002 to 2005 and started at Hotel du Vin as Chef de Partie at their Cambridge hotel before moving on to the Edinburgh hotel then Henley, as a Senior Sous Chef in 2015.

He was promoted to Head Chef at the Newcastle hotel for a year before returning to Henley-on-Thames last summer as Head Chef. Phil is one of the youngest Head Chefs in the group and on winning the award he said: “I am honoured to win this award. I have worked for Hotel du Vin for just over four years and it is a great accomplishment to be awarded Chef of the Year.”


Kaleidoscope Exhibition – celebrating the creativity of our alumni

A colossal horse head maquette by Edward Waites in the Old Palace Courtyard

Friday 21st October saw the long awaited Private View of our Art Exhibition. The event was officially opened by the Newmarket based painter Jacquie Jones and displayed the artwork of 15 former pupils. Over 150 guests came to see an astonishing and inspiring variety of exhibits and a further 300 members of the public came through the doors of the Old Palace at the weekend. 

The designs on display ranged from the sculptures of Eddie Waites and the iconic album covers of Aubrey Powell to the exquisite jewellery from James Veale and Jeremy May and the power of Emily Jarvis’ portraits. We also had exhibits from; Cassie Hone and George Oxby who presented their fashion work, ceramics from Alex Allpress, garden design from Kamelia Zaal, upholstery from Fiona Sutherland, photography from James Linsell Clark, fine art from Charlie James and Adam Marsh, embroidery from Connie Wynn and a variety of pieces from Max Openshaw. The talent on show was stunning. Our Principal Sue Freestone noted ‘It bears testimony to the school’s commitment to enabling young people to be what they are meant and have the capacity to be.’







We are completely indebted to Jeanie Schaniel, a former art teacher at King’s Ely Junior for her hard work in making this show possible, and of course to our incredibly skilled artists who were kind enough to share their work with us.

For those of you who couldn’t come to the show further photos are online at

Click here for a pdf of our exhibition catalogue

Norwich City partner with King’s Ely

An exciting new partnership between Norwich City FC and King’s Ely was launched in November and is the first of its kind for Cambridgeshire. The new alliance between King’s Ely and Norwich FC’s Regional Development Programme (RDP) will mean that students can access a number of RDP schemes, including children’s community programmes and youth development player pathways. The partnership will also benefit children from other schools across the Ely area as the RDP develops its community outreach and builds on a strong link with Ely College, where the current Football & Education 16-19 programme takes place.

Commenting on the new partnership, Norwich City FC’s Football Development Officer and Centre of Excellence Manager for Cambridgeshire, Alex Kaufman, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with King’s Ely, who are a well-established facility in the heart of Ely, and match the ambitions of both ourselves and the school by developing young people through creativity and learning. The facilities King’s Ely have are fantastic and we are pleased to be able to use these on a weekly basis to reach out to the community.
Report by Jordan Day

Summer 2016 Porta Extra

Welcome to the Summer 2016 edition of The Porta Extra – our alumni publication. Please click on the cover image below to access the publication from your PC.

The Porta Extra Summer 2016

Death Of Richard Fawcett

We are sorry to report the death of Richard Fawcett, who passed away suddenly on Friday 5 August. The Fawcett family has appointed Mr George Francis to be a point of contact for any Old Eleans who would like to pay their respects.
His contact details are 01508 570262 and

Richard was the youngest son of Headmaster BEN Fawcett and during his time at King’s Ely he also served as a chorister. He attended the Fawcett Years lunch in 2015 to launch the BEN Fawcett Memorial Bursary Fund and the book ‘King’s School Ely 1955-69 The Fawcett Years’.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Richard’s family, but especially his wife Melanie, brothers Hugh and Philip, and sister Mary.

Old Eleans’ Cricket v King’s Ely 1st XI Match – Saturday 2 July

Join us on School Field from 12 noon on Saturday 2 July for a family day out. A hog roast and drinks will be available. Bring a picnic, rug and chairs and cheer on the Old Eleans as they take on the schools finest cricketers.

If you plan on joining us then please RSVP by email to either or

Welcome to the Winter 2015-16 edition of The Porta Extra – our alumni publication. Please click on the cover image below to access the publication from your PC.

The Porta Extra Winter 2016

We Will Remember Them

The community of King’s Ely gathered in the cathedral today to honour all who have fallen in the service of their country.
Through prayers, songs and readings we paid tribute those who gave their lives. Poppies drifted down from the Octagon as a trumpeter played the last post, and a list of names of former Choristers and former members of King’s Ely who died in wars in the Twentieth Century was read by current students.
It is easy to forget how much the world we live in has been shaped by war, that the freedoms we enjoy today were hard won and that peace was dearly bought.



Welcome to the Summer 2015 edition of The Porta Extra – our alumni publication. Please click on the cover image below to access the publication from your PC.

The Porta Extra Sumer 2015

London Spring Drinks Evening

Thank you to everyone who came along to our Spring Drinks Evening in Aldgate on April 23rd.

We had a fantastic response and over 90 Old Eleans attended; the youngest being just 20 and the oldest… well it wouldn’t be polite to say!

We were lucky to have a balmy spring evening so we could make the most of the pub courtyard at The Old Tea Warehouse. Old friends reunited and new contacts were made. We were delighted to have such a mix of generations together, and to see so many new faces.

Unfortunately the organisers had to dash to catch the 10.30 train back to Ely; from reports the next day it seems the party continued into the early hours.

You all made the evening a huge success and we hope you will join us next time.

Ian Matheson

Dear All,

We were saddened to learn of the death of Ian Matheson, long-time servant of the school who began here in 1960, and eventually became Senior Master until his retirement in 1994. Ian died following a long illness on Thursday, 12th March.

His funeral will take place in Ely Cathedral on Monday 30th March at 2pm, followed by refreshments in the Monastic Barn.

A page has been set up to share memories of, and tributes to Mr Matheson.

If you would like to add to the page please email

Honouring B.E.N. Fawcett

Last week we honoured the memory of Benjamin E.N. Fawcett, Headmaster at King’s Ely from 1955 to 1969.

A new book ‘King’s Ely 1955-69: The Fawcett Years’ researched and written by Old Eleans Nigel Dutt and Seán Bennet, was presented to the School and to the Old Eleans’ Club. The presentations were made by OE Tony Wright, who wrote the foreword. A new plaque to the memory of the former Headmaster was unveiled by two of his sons, Phillip and Hugh Fawcett. The plaque is in the monastic barn, a fitting location, since its conversion to a dining hall was one of many projects BEN Fawcett undertook during his term.

We also announced a new initiative – ‘The BEN Fawcett Memorial Bursary

The Fawcett family have kindly given their approval for the bursary scheme to be established in memory of BEN Fawcett and we very much hope that the idea will appeal to those Old Eleans who were at school during his Headmastership. If you are interested in contributing to the Bursary, please contact us and we will send you further details.

Email: Tel: 01353 610531/544

Welcome to the Winter 2015 edition of The Porta Extra – our alumni publication. Please click on the cover image below to access the publication from your PC.

The Fawcett Years

An account of Headmaster BEN Fawcett’s years at King’s Ely has been researched and written by Old Eleans Nigel Dutt and Seán Bennett. Many OE contemporaries of the late 50s – 60s have contributed their recollections to the book, with a foreword by Tony Wright. Part biography, part social documentary, the account sheds light on a much-admired character whilst telling the story of the school’s transformation and growth amidst the austerity of post-war Britain.
‘Headmaster, Classicist, Cricketer, Christian gentleman’ were the qualities attributed to BENF by Rev Arthur Taylor at Speech Day 1969, following the Headmaster’s recent retirement due to ill-health. He sadly died shortly thereafter.

‘King’s Ely the Fawcett Years’: price £15. To order a copy, please contact

Careers E Mentoring Launches to Sixth Form

Calvert Markham with Sixth Form Students
Sixth Form students saw the launch of a new online initiative which provides mentoring opportunities through a network of King’s Ely professionals (parents and Old Eleans) who have volunteered to give advice on university and career paths. The secure web-based platform was launched to Sixth Formers this week at a special assembly, presented by Chris Murray from MentorMatchMe.

Old Elean, Calvert Markham, who is a visiting professor at Cass Business School and has sponsored the pilot scheme at King’s Ely, spoke to students about the importance of professional networking and the opportunities this brings for career advancement. His general points for students were:

– You may have firm ideas about what you want to do, but keep an open mind, later on you may have to change your ambitions.

– Keep checking out the market place, even if this reinforces that you are in the right job.

– Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, a negative experience can help you recognise what you really want to do.

– Follow your interests and do work that you enjoy.

– A mantra for all good business: Do Good; Make Money; Have Fun (never overlook the fun aspect).

He said ‘I see the benefit of mentoring as having the support of an experienced person to talk things over with, unlike a parent or friend who comes with an agenda. They can help you recognise opportunities, what the options are, and the factors you need to consider.’ He added

‘Remember that it is your decision, and good decisions rely on good information.’

The students were able to see how to create their own profile on the MentorMatchMe system, and this is then matched within the King’s Ely mentor base.

A huge ‘thank you’ to our sponsor and to all parents and Old Eleans who have signed up as mentors, for further information and to register, email