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Public votes overwhelmingly to retain Henry VIII’s name on Monmouthshire school

25 Jan 2023 4 minute read
Portrait of King Henry VIII 1540c is marked Public Domain.King Henry VIII school in Abergavenny. Image: via Google

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

Henry VIII’s name will be retained in the name of a school after over 4,000 people backed keeping it.

Had Monmouthshire councillors dropped the Tudor king’s name from the title of the Abergavenny school they would have had to gain permission from the Welsh Government, Secretary of State for Wales David Davies MP and ultimately King Charles III himself.

But no such requests will be required after the county council backed the public’s choice to stick with the King Henry VIII School name when the comprehensive reopens as an all through school for children aged three to 19.

The former king – best known for his six marriages and for having ordered the execution of two of his wives – established a school in the town in 1542 and is credited as the benefactor and appointed its first headteacher.

But with the new three to 19 school under construction on the King Henry site the council had considered whether a new name should be adopted. It replaces the nearby Deri View Primary as well as the existing comprehensive.

Both schools will formally close on August 31, this year and the new school will be established from September 1 in time for the new academic year though pupils will remain in their existing buildings as the purpose built school isn’t expected to be ready until September 2024.

Poll

During November and December last year Abergavenny Town Council and Monmouthshire County Council ran a fortnight long poll to gauge the opinion of current pupils and the wider community on the name.

People could vote online and a ballot box was also placed outside Abergavenny Market Hall and a total of 4,487 votes were cast.

Of those 4,069 backed keeping the Henry VIII name, the second most popular choice was The Abergavenny Learning Centre with 228 votes while 177 supported naming the school Deri View and 13 people logged in but did not vote.

Monmouthshire councillors were told the intention was to “gauge the strength and depth of feeling” rather than determine the name.

Llanfoist Labour councillor Ben Callard, who thought he may be the only former King Henry pupil on the council, said he had some “conflict about naming the school after someone who represents entrenched inequality, murdered a number of his wives and then went on to split the Christian church, creating centuries of conflict.

“However, that taken, it’s been King Henry VIII for the last 481 years and I think it is a tradition in Abergavenny and I would support, in spite of the issues, continuing with the name.”

Bland

Malcolm Lane, Conservative councillor for the Mardy ward, said he was an old boy of King Henry when it was the grammar school would “hate to see the name change, it is part of Abergavenny’s history” while Park ward member Tudor Thomas (Labour) said he taught at the school and that “something bland like Abergavenny Learning Community Hub would be highly unpopular.”

Labour councillor for Rogiet said when Lord Raglan spoke at the King Henry Old Boys annual dinner, in the 1930s, he’d caused “some trouble” by praising King Henry and claiming it was “proof Monmouthshire was really part of England.

“This caused a vociferous reaction from the Abergavenny Welsh Society so I wouldn’t want to see more unrest as a result of this decision and so as long as we are fairly sure the sons of Glyndwr won’t try to burn down the new school I’d be quite happy.


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Stevie B
Stevie B
14 days ago

I can understand why people in Abergavenny wouldn’t want to change the name of their school. The name of the school is part of the town’s fabric and identity.

However, it is time Henry VIII is more widely recognised as one of the biggest criminals in British history. His destruction, looting and murderous acts in Welsh and English monasteries seems to be overshadowed by his image as a philanderer.

Arthur Owen
Arthur Owen
14 days ago
Reply to  Stevie B

His philandering was in no way responsible for his six marriages,they were all political acts.

Riki
Riki
13 days ago
Reply to  Stevie B

Yep, he tore up his own Family’s Country and over a thousand years worth of history on the order of the Vatican, Why? so he could have another wife, oh, and another one. Absolute creep and the epitome of a Traitor in any era.

Kenneth Vivian
Kenneth Vivian
13 days ago
Reply to  Stevie B

That he is reputed to have been riddled with syphilis is no evidence he was a philanderer.

Frank
Frank
14 days ago

One would not expect any different from Monmouthshire the county where people wake up in the morning hating the fact they are Cymraeg.

Frank
Frank
14 days ago
Reply to  Frank

You can give as many thumbs down as you like but it does not alter the fact that what I wrote is true.

Riki
Riki
13 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Indeed mate, I come from the east of the country but I’m very much in favour of supporting our Culture and language. It’s the soul of a people. The fact we Speak English is one of the main reason why many countries can’t understand that we are different to the English. It helped them Steal the term British of Us thanks to us being forced into speaking their language and having to use their terminology, such as “Welsh”. Tolkien did a great Piece in his Lecture at Oxford about how the English Gerrymandered their way to the title of British.

Kenneth Vivian
Kenneth Vivian
13 days ago
Reply to  Riki

The more illustrious history of Britons (the Welsh), who had already conquered the Frenchified English masses at Bosworth, proved attractive to shamefaced 15th century English masses who had capitulated totally to Norman rule since 1066. Britons …The Welsh….retained their identity and language in Wales but Henry 8 would not have understood the language of customs of King Harold.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
14 days ago
Reply to  Frank

How on earth do you deduce that- have you been round to ask everyone- what a stupid statement but then i would not expect any different from you

Gwyn Hopkins
Gwyn Hopkins
14 days ago

King Henry 8th was a tyrannical mass murderer. Why anyone or any school would want to be associated with and perpetuate the name of such a barbaric despot is unbelievable.

Eirwen
Eirwen
14 days ago

A shame they didn’t select a Welsh name but it is little England.

Riki
Riki
13 days ago
Reply to  Eirwen

This is what happens when 1. Children don’t learn their own Nations History. 2. Children are felt to be ashamed to speak their native Language. 3. Everything children consume is in the English language. It all piles up in self hatred and making them fell less than their English counterparts (which perpetuates when they grow up). And let’s not make out parents aren’t at fault either. Parents don’t do enough to push back on this agenda against the British people. I say British because that’s what we are, We are not foreign on this island. The only foreigners are those… Read more »

Riki
Riki
13 days ago

I think everything east of Casnewydd needs to Join England already! That’s what they obviously want going by the decisions they Make.

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