The Origins Of Founders Day

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Before the departure on the march each boy was presented by the Chairman of the Governors with a button-hole of white flowers or "white gift" (Queen Elizabeth 1's pun upon the Founder's name). At the end of the service the boys used to file out of the church past the Founder's Tomb, casting their flowers at the foot of it, but with the increase in numbers early this century that part of the ceremony was abandoned, and wreaths are now laid by the school chaplains.

At the Tercentenary Service in 1896 as Archbishop Benson was praising the Founder, a dissident member of the public, for whom there was then room among the congregation, raised his voice in protest, declaring that Whitgift was an ecclesiastical tyrant. He was promptly ejected.

In 1940 the march was drastically curtailed due to the threat of air attack but the year 1943 saw the resumption of the customary march. However, sporadic nightly raids in 1944 caused the march to be abandoned once more and the Hospital suffered some bomb damage.

The march down to the church, which had at one time afforded some entertainment to the citizens of Croydon, had become in the 1960's an anachronism, a hindrance to traffic, an annoyance to road-users and an embarrassment to the marchers themselves. The boys soon made their own way to assembly points outside the church. Old Palace School was first represented in 1994, the year after it's admission to the Whitgift Foundation.

It had been the custom of each Archbishop of Canterbury, shortly after his installation, to preach on Founder's Day in his capacity of Visitor to the Whitgift Foundation.
Lord Runcie observed this custom in 1981 and the present Archbishop, Dr. Carey, in 1994.

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