The Reverend Philip Crick founded Saint Ronan’s in 1883 and served as Headmaster until 1909.
He was born into a clerical family on the 5th May 1855 in Suffolk. He was the youngest of the Reverend Henry William Crick’s and Elizabeth Mary Mingay’s three sons. As was his father before him (The Reverend Thomas Crick), the Reverend Henry Crick was Rector of Little Thurlow.
Sadly his father died very soon after his birth, at the age of just 52. Like his father before him and his elder brothers, The Reverend Frederick William Crick (born 1852) and The Reverend John Henry Crick (born 1853), Philip attended Bury St Edmunds School, becoming Head of School for his final year 1873/1874.
He was clearly a very able young man and won a scholarship to Pembroke College, Cambridge, gaining his BA in 1878. His brothers, Frederick and John, were scholars at Pembroke and St Catherine’s, Cambridge.
After graduation he was made Deacon in the diocese of Dublin and was an Assistant Master at St Columba’s College. In 1879-1880, he taught at St Andrew’s College, Bradfield and in 1881 he became Chaplain at Oxford Military College, being ordained Priest that same year. In 1882 he became Assistant Master at Somerset College, Bath. On 2nd February 1882, he married Miss S. Antoinette Plant and was ‘desiring to start a school on his own’. In January 1883, Mr Crick, with his wife and seven-week old son (also called Philip) took up residence at Pen-y-arth, Selden Terrace, East Worthing, a semi-detached corner house. Since no-one knew the meaning of Pen-y-arth and it anyway did not seem a convenient name for a school, a change was decided upon. In the bustle and excitement of the move, however, no decision had been made and the painter waited, brush in hand, for the point to be settled. Mrs Crick Snr., was reading the Waverley novel, ‘St Ronan’s Well’, at the time and her suggestion that the School should be called Saint Ronan’s was adopted. The school colours (light and dark blue) were adapted from Philip Crick’s Cambridge College, Pembroke, which coincidently was the same College as Saint Ronan’s second, third and fourth Headmasters. The school crest, too, was an adaptation of Pembroke’s. The school opened in September 1883, with just five boys and six small desks. The names of the first boys were: Angel F., Angel C., Abbott R., Amey A. and Warmsley J. In 1886, the first assistant master (Howell Gwynne, who later became the editor of the Morning News and the Standard) was appointed and the first school magazine was published. In September 1887, the school, which now had 18 boys, moved into a new purpose-built building on the corner of Mill Road and Down View Road in the Heene district of West Worthing. The School had uninterrupted views across the English Channel and was just 400 yards from the sea. In 1888, two acres of land on the opposite side of Down View Road were purchased and known to the School as ‘The Park’. In 1889 a further three acres of land to the north of the house were purchased, giving in it frontage on a third road, the Grand Avenue.In February 1892, Philip Crick’s mother died, aged 72, and was buried at St Edmund’s, Heene, Worthing. In that year there were 35 boys in the school.
Under parental pressure to avoid the outbreak of typhoid in Worthing in 1893, he temporarily re-housed the school for a year in three houses in Markwick Terrace in St Leonard’s on Sea. These premises had previously been used as a school and had a gymnasium, swimming pool (which required 20,000 gallons of sea water to fill) and a Fives court. In 1894 the exile ended and the school returned to West Worthing and immediate steps were taken to improve the accommodation. A Gymnasium ‘block’ was added. This consisted of a Gym, a Reading room, a Staff room, a classroom and, last but not least, a Grub Store. Philip and Antoinette Crick had five children: Philip Charles Thurlow (born 18th Nov 1882), Edith Antoinette (born 4th Dec 1883), Douglas Henry (born 1885), Victoria May (born 1887) and finally Kathleen (born 21st Feb 1889). These children, like generations of children of later Headmasters, grew up in the school. His two sons were educated at Saint Ronan’s, which, at that time, was a boys’ school. Philip Crick’s eldest son, Philip, won scholarships to Harrow in 1894 (aged 12) and then to Winchester a year later. He elected to take up the place at Winchester, on a considerable award of £100 per annum. He distinguished himself at Winchester, both academically and in sport, and went on to win a scholarship to Pembroke, Cambridge and gain the top ranking in the Cambridge Classical Tripos in 1904. In short, he was Cambridge’s top classical scholar of that generation and for many generations was Saint Ronan’s most distinguished scholar. In 1895, his second son, Douglas Henry Crick (born 1885) also won an exhibition to Lancing at the age of eleven. A year later he took a scholarship to Winchester and won an award. It was decided that he would follow his brother to Winchester. In 1904, Philip Crick appointed Stanley Harris to the staff. At that time he was reckoned one of the best amateur footballers in England and the following year he captained the England side. In the same year, Philip Crick set about raising funds for the construction of the school Chapel. It was completed in the following year and paid outright with eighteen months. In 1909, Mr Crick retired and his junior partner, Stanley Harris, became headmaster. Following his retirement from teaching, Philip Crick became Rector of Boulge with Debach in Suffolk (1910-12), Vicar of Whorlton (1912-16), Curate of Edenbridge (1918-19) and finally Vicar of St Andrew’s, Waresley in Bedfordshire from 1919 until his death on the 19th December 1925. His last parish in the gift of Pembroke College, Cambridge. His two sons both became bishops. In 1921, The Reverend P C T Crick was invested as the 3rd Anglican Bishop of Rockhampton in Queensland, Western Australia. Whilst there he founded St Peter’s Boys School in Barcaldine and St Faith’s Girls School in Yeppoon (founding schools was clearly in the blood). He returned to England in 1935 and continued to serve the Church as an Assistant Bishop within the Diocese of Derby but died only two years later, at his wife’s family home Densworth in Sussex, on 12 July 1937. He is buried at St Mary’s, Funtington, West Sussex The Right Reverend Dr. D H Crick was appointed Bishop of Stafford (1934-8) and then Bishop of Chester (1939-55). He married Evelyn Vernon, daughter of the Revd James Campbell Vernon (Evelyn is WTV’s second cousin twice removed!). In retirement he was an honorary Assistant Bishop within the Gloucester Diocese. He died in 1973. His son (Paul Mingay Douglas Crick) was born in 1921. To mark the achievements of Philip Crick, the School’s founder, we celebrate ‘Founder’s Day’ in June each year. In 2010, the new Sports Hall was named the ‘Founder’s Hall’ in Philip Crick’s honour. These are two more public tributes to our founding headmaster. The memorial plaque in the School Chapel simply and modestly records the ‘loving memory of Philip Crick, Priest.’
If any reader has any further information about the Crick family, please contact the school. We would love to make contact with any descendants of The Reverend Philip Crick.