Victoria College (French: ''Collège Victoria'') is a fee paying States of Jersey-provided school in membership of the HMC, in St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands. The castellated neo-gothic architecture (architect: J. Hayward) is a landmark overlooking the town.
Following the visit of Queen Victoria to Jersey in 1846, the merits of a private college for the instruction of Jersey's male youth were recognized. The grounds of the Mount Pleasant property were purchased to provide a site for the building. The architect J. C. Buckler was selected for the project,but as a result of unacceptable budget over-runs, he was replaced by John Hayward of Exeter. Hayward's Gothic Revival design - a tall medieval hall framed with hexagonal turrets - is predominantly faced in grey and pink granite with sandstone tracery.
The foundation stone of the new college was laid with great ceremony on Victoria's birthday 24 May 1850. Most shops in Saint Helier closed for the day and 12,000 spectators were estimated to have attended the occasion. A military parade crossed the town of Saint Helier to the site of the ceremony, followed shortly afterwards by the members of the States of Jersey who adjourned the legislative sitting to attend. The Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey joined the dignitaries at the Temple in the grounds of the site. The Bailiff of Jersey laid in the foundations a box containing copies of the Acts of the States relating to the college, Jersey coins, and two medallions, one of silver, the other of bronze, depicting the arrival of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in Jersey in 1846, and a copper plate engraved with an inscription of the date of the founding of the college and the names of States Members, Officers of the Royal Court and the architect. With the foundation stone, carved with Masonic symbols, in place, the Lieutenant-Governor ceremonially laid the stone by striking it with a trowel. All the Members of the States in turn then proceeded to tap the stone with a mallet three times.〔''La Chronique de Jersey'', 25 May 1850〕
The college was opened on 29 September 1852 with 98 students enrolled,〔''La Chronique de Jersey'', 29 September 1852〕 rising to 125 on 1 October 1852.〔''La Chronique de Jersey'', 2 October 1852〕 The opening ceremony once again involved a military parade. The Lieutenant-Governor and the States of Jersey again assembled in the Temple, and processed to the Great Hall where the Bailiff addressed the audience. He recalled the Royal visit of 1846 and stated that the intention of memorialising that visit had inspired the construction of a college for the instruction of youth and of promenades for the recreation of the public. He stated that the interest shown by the Queen and the Prince in the college had led them to present two portraits. The Lieutenant-Governor then formally presented the portraits of the royal couple which were unveiled. The quality of the portraits, copies of Winterhalter, was criticised in the press.〔
Although French was still the sole official language in Jersey, and indeed speeches at the inaugural ceremonies had been in French,〔 the new college was consciously patterned after the English public schools. The medium of instruction was English from the beginning and was therefore one of the causes for the decline of French as the élite sent their sons to the new college.
Queen Victoria visited the college on her return to Jersey in 1859. The British monarch remains Visitor of the college, visiting as recently as 2002.
In the 1860s, the ancient grammar schools of Saint-Mannelier and closed and their endowments were later used to fund scholarships at Victoria College.
The college was controlled by the Assembly of Governor, Bailiff and Jurats until 1921 when the States took over the assets of that Assembly (including the college) along with most of its powers. The Governing body now consists of a board of Governors, some States appointed, others taken from parents of current pupils.
The main building of 1852 was supplemented with a new quadrangle to provide extra classrooms (architect: Edmund Berteau, States Engineer - 1911).
The WWI memorial, a statue of Sir Galahad (1924) by Alfred Turner with a quotation from Tennyson, stands in the new quadrangle. The WWII memorial in the form of a plaque is located inside the main building, at the bottom of the central staircase. Every Remembrance day the College holds a service to commemorate the pupils who died in the two wars, placing a wreath of poppies at the base of both the statue and the plaque.
In 1935, the Howard Hall, built with the benefactions of T.B. Davis to commemorate his son, Howard Davis, who died during WWI, was opened by the Prince of Wales. Davis had set up the Howard Leopold Davis scholarship trust in Jersey. One of this educational trust's provisions was that it should benefit boys who, like he, had attended an elementary school. The majority of boys benefiting from this trust went to Victoria College and a number went up to Cambridge or Oxford. In 1934 Davis decided he wanted his old friend, John St Helier Lander, a Jersey artist, to paint a portrait of King George V, to commemorate the endowment of the scholarship. When the commission was complete, the artist and Davis visited the College to discuss where the portrait might be hung. When Davis discovered there was no room remaining in the College's great hall he decided to build another hall for the school. On 18 October 1934 Davis and his wife laid the foundation stone to Howard Hall. It was built of granite from Ouaisné and matched the gothic style of the older Victoria College buildings. Inside there was seating for 238, almost exactly the number of boys at school when the building was opened. The paneling and woodwork were of teak, and the clock an exact replica of that at the Greenwich Observatory. On 23 July 1935 the Prince of Wales came to Jersey to open the Hall and unveil the portrait of King George V. The Hall was refurbished in 1996 and now exists as the Howard Davis Theatre where numerous types of drama are performed by the pupils.
During the German occupation of Jersey during the Second World War, the college was commandeered for the ''Reichsarbeitsdienst''.〔Balleine's History of Jersey, Marguerite Syvret and Joan Stevens (1998) ISBN 1-86077-065-7〕
College House, a boarding house attached to Victoria College (architect: Edmund Berteau, States Engineer - 1901), was used by the occupying German army for the Feldkommandantur as military headquarters during WWII. It was subsequently incorporated into the new Jersey College for Girls building when that institution moved to a site adjacent to Victoria College. Despite some initial opposition from staff and parents at Victoria College to this development, the pupils of both schools now share Design and Art facilities.
The College's 125th anniversary was commemorated by Jersey Post in 1977 with an issue of stamps on 29 September 1977.
In the late 1990s, the school was engulfed in a scandal as a teacher, A.J. Dykes, was accused and sentenced for six counts of indecent assault and one count of possession of an indecent photograph of a child. The headmaster, J. Hydes, resigned as a result of the handling of issue.〔http://www.jerseylegalinfo.je/Judgments/JerseyLawReports/Display.aspx?Cases/JLR1999/JLR990146.htm〕 The Sharp Report, completed as a result of the issue〔()〕 reviewing the case noted that "The handling of the complaint was "more consistent with protecting a member of staff and the college's reputation in the short-term than safeguarding the best interests of the pupil." As a result, firmer guidelines on child protection were implemented under the new headmaster, R. G. Cook.
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