Victoria College is a welcoming academic community situated in an elevated location overlooking the town and coast, and home to excellent teaching and learning.
Victoria College Jersey has an unusual story. Established as a public school of English character on a self-governing, French-speaking island, it has been affected throughout its history by the peculiar circumstances of this situation.
Despite severe disruption by the German occupation of the Channel Islands during the Second World War, the College now flourishes as a modern school with around 1,000 pupils.
The English system of public schools was essentially a creation of the mid-19th century. They were a mixture of old and new foundations, of boarding and day schools, but gradually came to see themselves as bound by common interests.
Their sense of unity was promoted by the establishment in 1869 of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) membership of which remains the accepted criterion of public-school status.
Victoria College took its place among them but was undoubtedly unique in the circumstances of its foundation. Although there were other public schools which could not claim more than a few years’ existence, or which were intended mainly for day boys, only Victoria College and the older Elizabeth College in Guernsey, had been founded on self-governing islands off the French coast.
Explore our timeline below to learn more.
Our Visitor: the British Monarch
Royal Visits Remembered
Victoria College has been privileged to receive royal visitors since the first visit from HM Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on 13 August 1859. This visit was preceded by HM King George V and Queen Mary on 12 July 1921, HRH the Prince of Wales on 23 July 1935, TRH the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester on 26 July 1952, HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on 25 July 1957 and 25 May 1989, HRH Princess Anne on 22 May 1972 and Prince Edward and Sophie Countess of Wessex on 1 October 2002.
The British Monarch is the official Victoria College Visitor. This rare privilege, bestowed on the College in 1860 when Queen Victoria was on the throne, allows the monarch to become the ultimate authority of the school and recognised as “the highest appellant of College matters and concerns”. When a monarch visits it is called “exercising the right of the Visitor” and we were fortunate, that during her reign, the late Queen Elizabeth II did this on three occasions.
Uponn his ascension to the throne, King Charles III becomes the Official Visitor of Victoria College.
The Queen’s Visits
Her first visit as Queen was in 1957, the first of two she would make with her husband, the late Duke of Edinburgh. On Thursday 25th July at 2.25pm, the Royal Standard was unfurled above the College and the Royal Party drove through the main gates “surrounded by Victorians past and present”. The car stopped at the arch and the door was opened by a member of the College Scout troop. The Royal Party was greeted by the Bailiff and the then Headmaster, Ronald Postill. The Sir Galahad memorial was inspected before the Queen entered via the Great Door, signed the visitors book and met the prefects on the landing.
Once seated on the stage it was noted that “Her Majesty, who had been glancing rapidly around the walls of the Hall” turned her attention to Philip Le Brocq, the Head Boy, as he made the Loyal Address on behalf of the College. The Queen smiled as he then noted how his own father had been Head Boy for the visit of her grandfather, George V, in 1921.
“As the Prefect backed down the stairs, Prince Philip, smiling broadly, shifted in his seat and watched with sympathetic appreciation”. The Headmaster then announced that the Queen ordered a commemorative holiday of four days for the College – which was greeted with three cheers. The brief first visit was over, the Victorian noting “there can have been no one in College that day who did not surrender himself, perhaps with more depth of feeling that he had expected, to the quiet and gracious charm of Queen Elizabeth.”
Although the Queen did visit Jersey in 1977, her Silver Jubilee year, it was in 1989 that she returned to Victoria College. On 25th May the grounds were filled with pupils from the College, the preparatory school and JCG. The visit got off to an awkward start when the Royal Standard was raised ten minutes before the Royal Car had arrived and had to hastily be lowered and re-raised accordingly. The Queen, greeted by Headmaster, Martyn Devenport, was introduced to two of the College’s longest serving members of staff, Miss Aubrey and the former caretaker, Mr Lewis. For this visit, a dais had been set up outside the main building and it was here that Head Boy, Michael Hedditch, made the Loyal Address. This visit had been arranged to allow the Queen to be able to present, in person, the awards that bear her name. One boy’s parents, Mr and Mrs Chan, had flown from Hong Kong for the occasion. Once again, the Queen asked for a school holiday (although only one day this time though) and once again this was loudly approved of by the assembled students. Again, the Victorian recalls “this brief contact with a representative of a thousand years of British heritage is one which all present are unlikely to forget”.
In 2001 the Queen made what would prove her final visit to the College. Unlike her previous visit this started with a flurry of activity, under an overcast sky, as she arrived 10 minutes early. Boys were quickly corralled and the Royal Standard rose with some speed. Dressed in vivid yellow, the Queen certainly was unlikely to be overlooked. After meeting both present and former Headmasters – Robert Cook and Philip Stevenson – she toured the library before exiting through the Great Door took to the dais, accompanied by a fanfare provided by the College musicians, which again had been set up in front of the main building.
Following the Head Boy’s loyal address she presented the Queen’s awards for History, Mathematics, Science and Modern Languages. A vote of thanks was followed by three cheers and a rendition of the College Carmen that was sung with “surprising volume”.
After signing the visitors book the Queen was given a brief exterior tour of the building named after her great-great grandmother and inspected the gathered CCF. As the car pulled out onto Mont Millais little did anyone know this would be the final visit from this visitor.