“One thing is needful”
Reunions are about companions getting back together, about friendships shaped and formed by common memories and associations that belong to the reason and purpose of institutions. The word, companions, has its roots in the sharing of bread, com panis. I am sure that there has been much in the way of the sharing of bread and, by extension, no doubt, wine, during the time of your reunion!
2016 marks a special year. It is, if I may be so bold to suggest, the Year of Edgehill. It marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of Edgehill in June of 1891. That alone is cause for celebration but it is also the 40th anniversary of the amalgamation of King’s and Edgehill to form King’s-Edgehill School; and that, too, is cause for celebration.
Sir Kenneth Clark in his celebrated BBC TV documentary, Civilisation, comments that civilisation greatly declines in the absence of women. It is, he says, “absolutely essential to civilisation that the male and female principles be kept in balance”. In the Year of Edgehill we celebrate the qualities of Edgehill School for Girls. They are the qualities of grace and elegance, a certain class and refinement, a kind of dignity. Those qualities are the gifts which Edgehill brought to King’s and which strengthened and deepened the ideals of gentleness, learning, and manhood, or better humanitas. I would like to suggest that it is captured in a word, sprezzatura. It is Castiglione’s word from The Book of the Courtier, a book about civilised life and behaviour, about a kind of courtliness. Sprezzatura is about doing difficult things with consummate grace and ease; in other words, making the difficult look easy. Such is the grace and charm of Edgehill and what Edgehill brought to King’s.
It is not simply about manners and morals but the deeper principles upon which those qualities depend such as the defining ideals of King’s and Edgehill. They are expressed in their complementary mottoes. Fideliter, ‘faithfulness’, is the Edgehill motto befitting what was originally a Church School for Girls but as joined with King’s motto, Deo Legi Regi Gregi, ‘For God, for the Law, for the King, for the People’, it suggests something of the content of that faithfulness. It has very much to do with character and service, with leadership and sacrifice.