MR. FREDERICK JOHN MIDDLEM1ST, M. A., J. P.

 

 

Mr Middlemist

It is with deep regret that the death of Mr. Middlemist has to be announced. He died at Broadhayes, Stockland, on Wednesday, April 12th, 1950, after a short illness. The news came as a great shock to his many friends and acquaintances all over the West of England. Mr. Middlemist, who was the son of a former Housemaster at Harrow School, was born on January 15th, 1867. He was educated privately and later proceeded to Jesus College, Cambridge. After taking a First in Classics he remained at the University for a short time. He was offered a Fellowship at his old College, but his thoughts must have already been turned towards a scholastic career. In 1891 he became an assistant master at Allhallows and remained until 1896. He subsequently held scholastic appointments at Bradfield, Sherborne, and Tonbridge School, where he was appointed VIth Form Master under the late Dr. Joseph Wood. Later, when appointed to Harrow School as Headmaster, Dr. Wood invited Mr. Middlemist to accompany him there. Mr. Middlemist married Miss C. Palmer, the sister of an Allhallows master and later with Mr. Palmer he opened a Preparatory School at Cudham, Kent. In 1901 he was appointed Headmaster of Allhallows by the Honiton Feoffees. Here he remained until 1931.

When Mr. Middlemist was appointed Headmaster he was faced with a very difficult problem. Under Dr. Mackarness, and the Revd. R. A. Byrde, the School had been little more than a good Preparatory School- many many boys going on to other Public Schools. By years of quiet consolidation Mr. Middlemist gradually changed this policy and by 1910 very few boys were going on to other Schools. He soon realised that the existing buildings would have to be enlarged and improved, and eventually a large new block of classrooms was built adjoining the playground in Silver Street. These were almost destroyed by fire a short time after, only the walls remaining. Three of the walls were an incorporation of the existing Fives Courts walls. The classrooms were speedily rebuilt.

Mr. Middlemist then turned his attention to the Playing Fields. He bought the fields adjoining the O. H. Club House and during the war of 1914- 18 the fields were enlarged by the purchase of a piece of land adjoining the Upper Field. The work of preparing the land for playing purposes was carried out entirely by boys and German prisoners of war.

There were two Old Honitonians to whom Mr. Middlemist and the School were greatly indebted— the late Major A. T. Baker and the late Mr. Arthur Chudleigh. Major Baker made the Games and the Playing Fields his special province and Mr. Chudleigh took in hand the beautifying and decoration of the School Chapel. They were both very old friends of Mr. Middlemist and it is literally true to say that at one period the history of Allhallows revolved around these three men— Frederick John Middlemist, Augustus Theodore Baker and Arthur Chudleigh.

Mr. Middlemist was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the County of Devon and his work on the Bench earned for him the affection and respect of all those who came in contact with him. He was a member of the Axminster Urban District Council, Churchwarden of Stockland Church, and Vice- Chairman of the Governing Body of Allhallows School. He was also an Income Tax Commissioner and held many other and varied appointments. Mr. Middlemist was Headmaster for thirty years and during that time many boys passed through his hands. He must have coloured the lives of many boys. The stamp of his personality~ has been plainly discernible on the minds of countless Old Honitonians. Above all he was a kindly and friendly man, but his natural kindliness could never be mistaken for softness or indecision of character. He was a deeply religious man and his sermons were a re- flection of his personality. There are many, many boys who re- member the sermons he preached in the School Chapel. He had the very rare gift of making boys think about things of the spirit. It is not too much to say that by the spoken word he must have influenced for good hundreds of boys who heard him and who appreciated to the full his transparent sincerity of purpose.

After retiring from the Headmastership he lived at Broadhayes where he was able to remain in close touch with the School and as Vice- Chairman of the Governing Body he was able by reason of his past experience and shrewd judgment to render invaluable service in shaping the policy of the School. Frederick John Middlemist has left the world of men. He set a tradition of conduct which lives on in the hearts of those who knew him and loved him. The spirit of such a man is imperishable. For what he did during his allotted span of life and for what he stood— these two things are integrated into the life of the School. Let us remember him with affection and gratitude and honour. Truly it may be said of him that he was a kind man, a great scholar, and a great gentleman. What better epitaph in the whole world of words?

He was laid to rest in Stockland Churchyard on Monday, April 17th. There were many O. H. ’s present. Among those who were at the graveside were F. E. Middlemist, General Sir Walter Venning, B. R. Dunning, A. F. Pape, H. R. Pape, .W. J. Beviss, Dr. P. C. Gibson, J. W. Stanton, W. W. Ackland, J. D. Turner, F. H. Rawlins, J. D. Rawlins, J. A. Richman, R. D. Sprake, W. E. Sprake, The Revd. C. M.R. Luckman, D. E. Dodd, C. N. Tweed, and D. Snell. Other members of the Club included Major 0. Allhusen, The Viscount Sidmouth, G. S. Napier, W. H. Barnes, J. M. G. Harris, The Revd. P. L. Nicholas, The Revd. A. F. De Salis, The Headmaster, R. R. K. Marker, G. Shallow, and Sgt.- Major H. Aggar. The weather was most unkind. A blustering southwesterly gale swept the countryside and rain accompanied it. There were seven robed clergy in the Church. The hymns “Abide with me” and “Peace, perfect Peace” were sung. Just before the funeral procession proceeded to the graveside the Nunc dimittis was chanted by the Choir. The words of commitment were spoken by the Revd. P.L. Nicholas.

Time is a great healer and as the years go by the memory fades but it will be a long time before the work and life and example of Frederick John Middlemist is forgotten.

G. S. N.

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