William Loring, academic, soldier and first Warden of Goldsmiths

Found among  the papers of the long defunct literary agency Michael Hayes of Cromwell Road S.W.5  - parts of a manuscript memoir by one L.R. Reeve of Newton Abbot, South Devon. Mr Reeve was attempting to get the book (Among those Present: Very Exceptional People) published, but on the evidence of the unused stamp Hayes never replied and  L. R. Reeve published the book himself through the esteemed vanity publisher Stockwell two years later in 1974.

L R Reeve had in a long life met or observed a remarkable selection of famous persons. He  presents 'vignettes' of 110 persons from all grades of society (many minor or even unknown) they include Winston Churchill, Dorothy Sayers,  H H Asquith, John Buchan, the cricketer Jack Hobbs, J.B. Priestley, H.G. Wells, Marconi, E.M. Forster, Duchess of Atholl, Marie Stopes, Oliver Lodge and Cecil Sharp -- 'it is unnecessary to explain that  many I have known have not known me. All of them I have seen, most of them I have heard, and some of them have sought information, even advice from me."

Reeve states that the unifying qualification all these people have is '… some subtle emanation of personality we call leadership, and which can inspire people to actions  unlikely to be undertaken unless prompted by a stronger will."

Reeve was educated at Golsmith's College and was a teacher throughout his life and deputy head of 3 London schools, headmaster of Loughborough emergency schools, ex-president of London Class Teachers Association  and very early member of the British Psychological Society (55 years)... I calculate he was probably born in about 1895. His style is markedly unexciting but he has much information unavailable elsewhere.. He sent 6 typed manuscripts to (from the smell) the chain-smoking agent Hayes…This is the last, sadly. An affectionate portrait of one of his earliest teachers Captain William Loring who died a hero's death at Gallipoli in 1914. However there will follow a little more info on L.R. Reeve as a copy of his Stockwell published book has miraculously appeared (not the copy currently online at a surreal $350.) It shows that only 35 of his portraits actually got published, probably due to considerations of space..


  Captain Loring was tall, dark and intellectual, and one of the most distinguished-looking men of his time. From the very beginning of my studies at Goldsmiths' College, the largest, training college in England, I noted that his presence at any gathering which attracted my attendance always created the most interest. Moreover, whenever I saw him, alone or with others, my eyes were focussed in his direction more than anywhere else. One felt that he possessed an intensity, an immaculate honesty and an inflexible justice in all his dealings. At the moment I can think of only one other man who stimulated my interest so powerfully. That was Dr J. S. Myers, whom I shall mention later.
  I never saw the Warden Other than dignified; yet his dignity was not exaggerated, for his daily manner was natural and without any apparent effort, and I think that on one occasion when I was present his self-possession was rather tested, for soon after we juniors had begun our college education we were all invited, one group at a time, to take tea with the Warden. When my group's turn came I was the prefect and felt more than a little awkward. In fact the only member really at ease was the host himself. I remember even today his consummate tact and even flow of conversation, his clever questioning and his perfect timing in terminating the social hour at the rfght moment. My last few minutes were an agony. Ought I, on behalf of the others, to thank the Warden for his hospitality? No previous experience came to my aid so the right procedure was fifty-fifty. Anyhow I expressed our appreciation for the event and felt much happier later when I found that most of the other prefects had acted similarly when they took tea with the college's highest authority. I repeat, none of us was really at ease, yet I am sure we looked back with pleasure at a courteous invitation and perfect hospitality.
  No one in my hearing ever accused Mr Loring of sarcasm. It was never a weapon in his armoury for maintaining discipline. Yet when the need arose he could exercise his authority firmly and take appropriate action. He was respected by everyone of the thousand odd staff and students in all departments. Furthermore, there was no facetiousness mixed with his undoubted wit: a faculty he rarely exercised in college; yet I remember as a junior that at one debate he took the chair, and just before closing the proceedings he delighted his young audience by rendering a long quotation relating to the evening's theme and concluding, "There! it's years since I learned those lines and I am glad to find my memory isn't too bad." It was evident too that our chairman enjoyed every moment of the debate.
  The next year, when I was secretary to the college debating society, I had to organize a mock parliament: my worst headache, but still a delightful memory. Asking the Warden whether he would take a leading part in the proceedings, he very cordially agreed and most properly chose the role of Speaker. No one on the college staff could have done it better, and I am sure that many Speakers who sit in their regalia in the House of Commons, could they have seen the Warden's faultless control and directives would have appreciated his effectiveness. Was his triumphant evening, I wonder, due to King's College, Cambridge?
  Then, it would be remiss not to refer to his interest in social activities. Unlike some lecturers, whose interest outside the lecture room is very casual, Mr Loring showed his concern for the full expression of sporting events. He was a spectator at football, rugby, cricket, in fact most sports which led to the all-round development of young people, and his obvious educational target must have penetrated into the mind of the most unobservant collegian.
  From his aristocratic, intellectual appearance one might never have suspected any military background, yet he had fought in the South African War. When the 1914 nightmare commenced one would have thought that if any man could justify exemption it would have been the Warden responsible for a college associated with over one thousand students. No exemption was sought by Captain Loring, who decided to answer the call of a duty which he considered even greater than that of the master of a large college. Hence Captain Loring listened to the call of the pipers for he reported to the headquarters of The Scottish Horse. Here I may say that I shouldn't think the word 'example' would be a very prominent reason for his decision to undertake active service. He simply decided he ought to join the army. He was killed in the Dardanelles.
Perhaps it was about 1930 when a friend and I were marvelling once more at the superb architecture of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, that we came across the Roll of Honour, a very lengthy list of some of England's finest young manhood. I asked my companion if he could see the name of Loring. He could; and I noted that the name was near that of Rupert Brooke. Since then I have often wondered whether the Warden would have felt a sombre pleasure at the idea of his name being adjacent to that of England’s best known contemporary poet.
  Culture, integrity, tact, courage, wit, humanity, artistry are of course emblems of most of man’s greatest claims to be above the animal level. Captain Loring had them all, and none who knew him could scrutinize the perfect bust at Goldsmiths’ College without experiencing an emotional and proud moment.

One thought on “William Loring, academic, soldier and first Warden of Goldsmiths

  1. Piet

    Excellent. Just one thing– I am pretty sure that it was 1915 that Loring died, as Goldsmith's celebrated his 100th anniversary this year. Piet.


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