Stanley Shute Harris
Stanley Shute Harris was Saint Ronan’s second headmaster, from 1909-1926.
He was born in Sea Mills, Clifton on 19th July 1881, just two years before The Reverend Philip Crick founded the school. He was the eldest of five children and his father, Sir Alexander Harris, was on the permanent staff in the Colonial Office and became Governor of Newfoundland.
In 1895 he gained a place at Westminster School, where he excelled both as a scholar and a sportsman, captaining the 1st XI football in the 1899/1900 season.
In 1900, he went up to Pembroke College, Cambridge, to read Mediaeval and Modern Languages and was an Association Football Blue for three consecutive years, from 1902 to 1904. He captained the Varsity side for the 1903/4 season.
After coming down from Cambridge, he started his teaching career at Saint Ronan’s (then based in Worthing) but continued to play amateur football. His preferred position was inside-left and he was described as a ‘splendidly built amateur, adroit at dribbling and shooting’. His playing career saw him appear for Old Westminsters, Corinthian Casuals (60 appearances between 1903-20, scoring 57 times), Worthing, Portsmouth and Surrey.
He also won six full international caps for England, scoring two goals and also captaining the side. His international, varsity and club caps are displayed in the Hall. His international record is as follows:
Stanley Harris was also a very useful cricketer (right-hand batsman) who played for Cambridge University. He failed to gain a Blue but still went onto make several county championship appearances for Surrey, Gloucestershire and Sussex.
In 1909, at the age of just 28, he acquired the school, with his father’s financial support, from The Reverend Philip Crick (who was then aged 54). He thus became the school’s second headmaster.
During Stanley Harris’s headship the school steadily grew in both numbers and reputation and he was hailed as one of the most remarkable headmasters of the age. He was a member of the Council of the Association of Preparatory Schools, later becoming its chairman.
Stanley Harris endured, like so many headmasters across the country, the pain and loses of the Great War (a quarter of the 130 Saint Ronan’s boys that served were killed.) He celebrated the bravery shown (7 DSOs and 10 MCs).
In August 1923, he wrote a small book called ‘The Master & his Boys’ which he dedicated to a ‘Johnnie’ Delap, who was killed at the Somme. It details his educational philosophy and, as such, became a ‘bible’ to many in the profession at the time and went to a fourth edition. Characteristically, all proceeds from the book were gifted to charity.
At the time of writing this book, he knew he was dying of cancer and he fought it privately for three years. A mole on his back had become cancerous and the treatments available were unable to control its spread. His younger brother (W B Harris) wrote to him when he was first diagnosed and the two brothers agreed that, if the worst should happen, he would resign from his House at Lancing and take on the Headship. Click the thumbnail image to the right to download a copy of the letter.
Stanley died on 4th May, 1926 at the age of just 44. As promised, his brother moved to Saint Ronan’s, writing the parents a touching letter saying ‘I promised him (SSH) that I would go to Saint Ronan’s, and would do my best to keep the school as he would wish it to be. Saint Ronan’s may then get an echo of the real man, but it will only be an echo’.
In June, 1928, through an appeal to Saint Ronan’s families, the Stanley Harris Memorial Scholarship was established at Pembroke College and endowed with a gift of £2,800 worth of stock. Now called the ‘Harris Fund’, this scheme continues to support undergraduates.
In 2005, a Stanley Harris Scholarship was established at Saint Ronan’s. This is awarded annually in February to academically gifted and/or children talented at sport, art or music who wish to apply for a place in the Prep School.