As a part of my London trip I was able to partake in the activities of King’s Week in Canterbury. King’s Week is a unique festival of music, drama, art and recreation. Held every year in the last week of the Summer Term of The King’s School, it attracts thousands of parents, friends and visitors. Events, ranging from jazz to dance, from classical music to a variety of plays, and pupil and staff presentations, are staged in attractive settings around the School. For the hundreds of pupils involved in many capacities, King’s Week provides focus in the period after examinations and a glorious climax to the School year.
I sat in the Great Cloister of Canterbury Cathedral to listen to King’s Serenade Choir singing acapella a varied selection of secular music from madrigals of the sixteenth century to present day arrangements. It was a magical evening under the stars in the shadow of the cathedral.
I also attended the Lark; a student play about Joan of Arc. It was high drama to see Joan defending herself in a courtroom that eventually leads to martyrdom. This was hosted outdoors in the Mint Yard on a 4 sided stage.
I strolled the old cobble streets of Canterbury window shopping and looking for souvenir spoons. We stopped for drinks and dinner one evening in The Parrot established in 1370. At one time it was 7 dwelling inside the building which of course is now the pub. It still contains the staircase from 1470, low ceilings with large wooden beams.
The Jazz Concert was an exhilarating evening. Held in Shirley Hall this is a student directed concert featuring the Big Band, Modern Jazz, the King’s Men and the King’s Swingers. The music was truly delightful and toe tapping!
Here at Kings, I was then honored to attend the Leaving ceremonies of a friend. It was a beautiful day that started with a service in Canterbury Cathedral, then moving to a champagne reception on the school house lawn with family and friends. Next it was time to remove all the students’ belongings from the boarding house. Finally to cap the evening with a Leavers Ball held out in the country on a beautiful estate lawn filled white tents and chandeliers. The Ball was a feast for the parents and lots of music and dancing for the students. I think this tradition of Leaving Kings is even better than a graduation ceremony.
The King’s School sits in the shadow of Canterbury Cathedral and has from the beginning of time been associated with education. In 1170 Thomas Becket was murdered in the Cathedral and soon afterwards miracles began to take place. Thus Canterbury Cathedral became one of Europe’s most important pilgrimage sites. Today the Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury and still very much a living working church with daily services. For Anglicans worldwide the Cathedral is their Mother Church.
Canterbury Cathedral as seen from King’s School.