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News > Dukie Visits > The Tradition of Colours

The Tradition of Colours

Chris Charter and Anthony (Jack) Stacey received the new Colours on Grand Day 1965
14 Mar 2024
Dukie Visits
Presentation of Colours July 1965
Presentation of Colours July 1965

On Friday 15th March, the school will be embarking on the tradition of Drill Comp, where, as you all will remember, each house competes for the honour of guarding the Colours on Grand Day. Who will win this year? I can tell you that I have seen the girls' houses practising every night this term, come rain or shine!  So I thought it would be poignant to add some background about the colours and a recent story of two Dukies who visited back in October, who had the honour to receive the new Colours on Grand Day 1965.

The tradition of the Colours being presented to the school started almost 200 years ago in 1825 when they were first presented by King George IV in person to The Royal Military Asylum, Chelsea, as the school was then known.  The distinction of carrying Colours was similar to those borne by infantry regiments. They were carried at the head of the School for 72 years until new Queen’s and School Colours were presented by the then Duke and Duchess of York on behalf of Queen Victoria in 1897. A new King’s Colour was presented by the then Duke of York on behalf of George V in 1924 some fifteen years after the school moved to Dover. A new School Colour followed in 1934 with a new King’s Colour being presented in 1939. Subsequently new Queen’s and School Colours were presented in 1965. The most recent set of Queen’s and School Colours was presented by HRH The Duke of Kent on behalf of her late majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Grand Day 2003 as part of the School’s bicentennial celebrations.

As each new Colour is presented its predecessor, according to tradition, is laid up in the School Chapel. The original 1825 set hangs over the pulpit and lectern.

Two of  only a handful of Dukies to have been in the priviledged postion of receiving new Colours, Anthony ‘Jack’ Stacey (1957 – 1965 K, Wn) and Chris Charter (1957 – 1965 M, R) contacted me in October to arrange a visit to the School to coincide with their attendance at the Headmaster’s Dinner (formerly Clocktower Dinner). Chris and Jack are two of our regular donors to the Dukies’ Foundation and the dinner is held in recognition of all those who support the school in whichever way they can.

Prior to their visit, Chris informed me that both he and Jack had received the ‘new’ Colours on Grand Day, 24 July 1965, presented to the School by Adjutant General Sir Hewson KCB, CBE, DSO. Reference to this day can be found in the Yorkist, September 1965, pages 44 & 45 which has been digitised and is available to view on  as well as being shown in the School Museum.

On visiting the Chapel, I took photos of Chris and Jack standing under those same Colours, which are laid up in the Chapel above the West Transept. Next, we visited the Dining Hall and the School Archive.  Chris’s dad who was also a Dukie, George Charter 1923 – 1932, had left his School sporting medals to Chris which he kindly donated to the School Archive. Whilst visiting the archive, I was able to show them their school files, including Chris’ father’s file  

It was an absolute pleasure to meet both Chris and Jack and walk around the site reminiscing about their School days and the honour they felt at having been two of only a few Dukies to have received new Colours.

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