Magnus seeks historical items and memorabilia for its archive

Magnus Church of England Academy archivist and former pupil, Mr Roger Peacock, has recently completed a move of the Magnus C of E Academy’s archive to a new location within the school. Following extensive work to catalogue and protect the historical artefacts related to Magnus’ 500 year history, Mr Peacock, said he is now seeking the assistance of the public and particularly former Magnus students, to add to the collection.

He said, “I feel that it is important to preserve the past, because politically, socially and educationally, there are lessons to be learnt with the passage of time.  By understanding history, we can forge a better future, and not repeat past mistakes or injustices.”

The Magnus Archive predominantly focuses on local history, and especially as it applied to Magnus.

Founded in 1531 by Thomas Magnus, Chaplain to King Henry VIII and originally occupying a building on Appleton Gate in Newark, it eventually moved to its present site on Earp Avenue in 1909.

Mr Peacock says he wants the rich archive to be seen by more students and shared with the wider community.  “Much at Magnus remains recognisable on the surface, but below this much has been revamped and improved. We all have memories of schooldays: friends, sports teams, classroom structure, lesson approach, and staff of our own time.  Both educational and social thought, and indeed student numbers and buildings have all progressed, and that change is constant.  This is evolution, not revolution, and history is rooted in the past, -but must not be confined to it.  New strategies must be shaped by the wisdom, -or in opposition to the lack of wisdom of previous generations, by remembering that needs are ever-changing.  Students and others with links to Magnus will be very much the poorer if they cannot learn about our school’s rich and varied past.”

The archive consists of items belonging to the school, with some donated by former pupils, or by members of the public finding items in attics. “We are fortunate in that we have a dedicated archive to store and preserve mementos of our past.  Much material is in the form of photographs, but there is also a number of documents and books, with links to our school’s past, that have been preserved.  All such memorabilia is carefully stored and looked after for future generations, and indeed the present generation, to research and enjoy.

“In many ways, though, these archives can never be complete and there will be questions that cannot be answered by the evidence that we have to hand.  An archive has to be built up.  There is always a place for new and relevant artefacts, but first these must be located and identified.  We believe that items of social and educational importance are retained in many local homes, and perhaps further afield if owners have left the district.”

The Magnus Archive is now seeking the help of the community to fill in the gaps in the collection. “Custodians may be prepared to donate these to the Magnus Archives where they will, we guarantee, be cared for, and seen by a wider audience.  Within the collection, they can become more meaningful and interesting.  People can feel satisfaction in enriching this unique collection.”

Those with items of interest connected to the history of Magnus have, says Mr Peacock, donated over the years, including historic uniforms and ties, photographs and documents.

“Artefacts relating to the Appleton Gate school would be particularly welcome, as little of those days has been passed on.  The twentieth century, though, unveils much, as Magnus changed from a boys’ Grammar School to a co-educational Comprehensive, and today is an Academy.  The links with the Church of England, which threatened decline with the appointment of lay Headmasters from 1952, have been restored and strengthened.”

Concerning his own favourites amongst the collection, Mr Peacock particularly enjoys the examples of old uniforms and the highly decorated Lectern Bible.

Jim Semmelroth is Head of School at Magnus and said, “Our archive is absolutely fascinating, and it is impossible not to find oneself lost in history when viewing the documents and artefacts contained there. Our students use the archive as a resource to inform their learning, not just in a social or historical sense, but to understand that we must all strive to forge a better future by understanding our past.”

Anyone with items he or she wishes to donate is asked to contact Magnus C of E Academy.