Like his father and uncles, Jack Renouf attended Victoria though, apart from Uncle Fred, he was the
only one to seize the academic opportunities available which does create some added family friction
in ‘Against The Tide’.
The college provided an academic education for those boys with the appropriate aptitude but also
catered for the needs of a much wider range of ability. There was a strong emphasis on civic duty
and military training.
The Prince of Wales inspected the Officer Training Corps on 23rd July 1935.
Note the statue of Sir Galahad atop the memorial in the quad.
During the First World War 631 Old Victorians served in the armed services. Of these, 126 laid
down their lives for King and island.
Former students had served in earlier conflicts and five of them had been awarded the Victoria
The foundation stone of the new college was laid with great ceremony on Queen Victoria's birthday,
the 24th May 1850. Most shops in Saint Helier closed for the day and estimates of the number who
attended the occasion range from 12,000 to an unlikely 20,000.
A military parade crossed the town 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 Bailiff 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.
Free Masonry had always been strong in the island and many politicians were members of the
various lodges. Jack’s father is intimately involved as were most of the College masters.
Although French was still the sole official language in Jersey, and speeches at the inaugural ceremonies had been in French, the new college was consciously modelled on English public schools. Lessons were conducted in English from the outset, which was one of the causes for the decline of French as the élite sent their sons to the new college.
The College was officially opened on 29th September 1952, exactly 100 years to the day before Hautlieu Grammar School which provided its first serious competition for academic excellence in the island. While scholarships had always been available, Victoria College was a fee-paying school, unlike Hautlieu which was entirely funded by the States of Jersey and free to all who passed the selection process.
The opening dates are a coincidence as 29th September is my birthday and in 1988 I was appointed deputy head of Hautlieu, my old school, and organised its 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2002. Senior members of the island’s government including the Bailiff, all Old Victorians, were guests at our anniversary celebration dinner but were too polite to point out that their alma mata was exactly 100 years older than ours!
Victoria’s 50th Anniversary Dinner in 1902 held in the Great Hall where Jack later performs as Shylock in the Merchant Of Venice much to his father’s discomfort.
Victoria attracted many overseas students and a boarding house was opened on the College Field in 1902. Here the OTC is enjoying its annual inspection and trying to keeps its boots of the cricket pitch!
Victoria provided Jack with the perfect mix of academic, sporting and military opportunities which prepared him well for the trials awaiting him in adult life. Had it been a co-educational school, it might also have helped him with the crucial task of separating lust from love.