I have taken the liberty of reposting the message below which a former pupil posted on another thread because I felt it was so extraordinary it needed wider exposure.
THE ORIGINAL POST WAS AS FOLLOWS:
Considering the position Katharine Watson has taken on this board with regard to the abuses of the past, I was somewhat surprised to read her article in praise of Mr Debenham in the latest edition of Spectrum, the St James magazine.
This is the final paragraph:
"But all of us over this past few days had occasion to reflect that our lives have been touched, and in many cases transformed, by the presence of a very great man. And we all recognise that things will never be quite the same again. Men of his mould are very rare - increasingly so perhaps. He is at once a true Christian gentleman, a profoundly educated, humane and civilised human being, a polymath, a great teacher, and a man of deep wisdom. All of us at St James love and honour him more than words can say."
Is this really an honest description of a man who presided over a regime of violence and bullying and was personally responsible for beating so many children?[/i]
Yes, I have reflected often over the years on how greatly this man touched my life and the lives of many others.
He touched my life very directly. He beat me. I use the word 'beat' deliberately? as he did when, towering over me, grasping his cane in one hand and blowing steadily into the clenched fist of his other, he passed sentence? ?I am going to beat you BOY?. (He never used the term 'cane' - he preferred 'beat'). I was 8 years old. Why did he beat me? For lying, stealing, cheating or bullying? NO. Nicholas Debenham beat me many times over the years, but never for any of these officially prescribed offences.
As an 8 year old I received a beating because I spoke. I spoke to a classmate whilst washing my hands in the toilets. I spoke on a day that this "man of great wisdom" had decreed that no child should speak for the duration of the day.
This profoundly civilised man showed no humanity as he applied 'the hand of discipline' to mould his young charge. He beat us into shape; he beat out any resistance, any ounce of personality, and any expression of individuality. Yes he was a fine artisan this Christian gentleman.
As for the ?Hand of Love?? This wonky pot never saw it. Love? Love? In that place? Never. It was a cold, brutal, institution, presided over by the self-righteous - those who could do no wrong. Debenham like his serfs was blind to his hypocrisy and ignorant of his own failings. His was a regime of fear. It was also a regime of high farce ? one could only laugh (in private of course) at the shear lunacy of many of his pronouncements. His misogyny and blinkered view of the world was breathtaking, matched only by his arrogance. I have met many arrogant men since but none have even come close to him.
This polymath, this great teacher taught me one thing and one thing only: respect has to be earned; those who demand respect are rarely worthy of it.
Yes, things will never be quite the same again. Men of his mould are rare, and may they become rarer still - for the sake of other children, that they should be spared what we went through.
So Katharine, forgive me if I disagree with you, not all of us at St James love and honour him more than words can say.
PS: I believe that the ?Hand of discipline and the Hand of Love? are now available on video courtesy of the Education Renaissance Trust ? perhaps I could purchase a copy?