Famous Wordsworthians

John Wordsworth (Founder)


John Wordsworth was born at Harrow-on-the-Hill, the grandson of the youngest brother of the poet William Wordsworth. He was born into a clerical family, his grandfather being Master of Trinity College, Cambridge and his father was Bishop of Lincoln. John was a precocious child, the third in a family of seven and the elder of two brothers. He became a distinguished classical scholar, holding the positions of Fellow and Tutor at Trinity, then Chaplain Fellow, Prebendary at Lincoln, and Oriel Professor and Residentiary Canon at Rochester before being elevated to Salisbury in 1885, at the age of 42.

Three years into his term of office at Salisbury, Bishop John inaugurated the Salisbury Church Day School Association. Salisbury had reached a time of educational and political crisis and the Association set about the task of raising the £14,000 necessary to build three new primary schools and to add an infants department to the existing St Thomas’ School, thus accommodating another 1121 children. In addition the Bishop founded his own school at a cost of £3,000, entirely at his own expense. He purchased a piece of land adjoining the grounds of the palace and started building in 1889. Whilst building work was being completed, the Bishop started his school in January 1890 in his own palace, the pupils moving to their new building in April 1890 when the new school was officially opened. The school was known at the time as the Bishop’s School, being renamed the year after the Bishop’s death as "Bishop Wordsworth’s School".

John Wordsworth was married twice, first to Susan Esther Coxe (1870) who died at the palace in 1894 and then to Mary Anne Frances Williams (1896). There were four sons and two daughters to this second marriage. The Bishop undertook three major foreign visits during his episcopacy, the first to New Zealand as he recovered from the death of his first wife and the others to Sweden in 1909 and to America in 1910. He died at the palace on the 16th August 1911, working right up to the very end. A friend, Canon Woodall, remembering a conversation held some years before recalls: "Some years ago.....when walking with him on the site of the present St Mark’s School he said ‘I should like to see Salisbury a great educational centre. I should like to found a school which shall be equal to the greatest and best of our public schools.’ " However, it was perhaps his care for and love of children which underpinned his foundation. The school’s motto "Veritas in Caritate", surely remembered from his father’s epitaph in 1885, survives him to this day.

Sir William Golding (BWS 1945-1962)

Novelist And Winner Of The Nobel Prize For Literature


From William Golding at BWS edited by John Cox as a memorial tribute.

"William Golding was a teacher at Bishop Wordsworth's School for three different periods of his life. He is well known for his book 'The Lord Of The Flies' which he based on the boys he so patiently observed.

William Golding would repeatedly walk up and down the room during some classes. Pupils later wondered if this regular, constant movement came from his naval experience. Even in later years he was "as sharp as a tack, missing nothing that was going on in class". Steady silences prevailed in these lessons and for some acquiescent pupils that seems all that can be remembered. Whether for his own research or not he is recalled as active in certain lessons - both of English and Religious Knowledge - in questioning boys and eliciting their ideas, insights and self-perceptions. It seems that, whether to young boys or potential Oxbridge scholars "his idea was to provoke us into thinking, which most schoolboys did as little of as possible". He also showed the importance of empathy when studying different religions - each one presented as if he believed in it. William Golding clearly had authority and discipline whether dealing with pert or precocious boys, or with the member of a play production crew who played the Russian (rather than the British) National Anthem before a performance, or with the culprit who attempted to conceal an ignited sparkler in his desk. He was a leader, not least in his running of the school's Sea Cadets and command of the whaler at Marchwood on Southampton Water. Many remember his dependence on boys' rations on trips away, and also his close observation of them, presumably not only as commander but as author as well. Rather like Robinson Crusoe unable to move his new craft William Golding and his cadets found theirs too large to move round the house.

For one absorbed in his own creations William Golding gave much to school life. He regularly sang with the choir in chapel services and was a soloist in the live 1945 BBC Radio broadcast of 'The Finding of the King' (written by F.C. Happold) shortly before leaving the Royal Navy and rejoining the staff at Bishop's. He also played the oboe in the school orchestra. At one particular rehearsal the school orchestra was sounding even more excruciating than usual. "Mr Golding. Can you give us that 'A' again?" Golding was a stickler for correct English usage. "I'm afraid I can't give you that one" he replied, "but I'll give you one like it!".

He brought his dramatic expertise from outside school to bear upon play productions such as Oedipus Rex in December 1940 before leaving to join the Royal Navy. A lecture he gave on mediaeval stained glass is recalled as knowledgeable and interesting and as master in charge of a trip to Figsbury Rings he gave permission for the boys to form into two groups - one to attack the fort and one to defend it. The author's opportunity for close observation of boys in conflict was further extended.

William Golding had been an unpublished novelist for some years. Many pupils can recall being given sheets of manuscript to read. These readings were tantalisingly piecemeal but enough to show some readers that the extracts were rather in the style of C.S. Forester's 'Hornblower'. In time he acquired the style of 'The Lord of the Flies', so much of it apparently written in class and reputedly finished under cover of his old green-tinged gown during a Founder's Day service.

To most colleagues he was courteous but reserved. In music and chess he could engage in close partnership but companionship was limited to a few. To some his involvement with his own work was a debit and others viewed his published writing as concerned with negative aspects of life. Perhaps a typical pedagoguery was evident in an encounter between J.P. Hellmann, Senior Master at B.W.S. from 1946 to 1961, after they had both retired. "Well, Golding, I am pleased that you are so successful with your novels. I cannot stand them myself but my people think the world of them". Other colleagues of more sympathetic perception found him a man of compassion and capable of being a good raconteur when in the mood."


In March 2005, a commemorative plaque for William Golding was placed outside the School entrance in The Close. A ceremony to mark the unveiling of the Salisbury Civic Society plaque took place in the presence of Lord Congleton, the Society President and Brigadier Alistair Clarke, the Civic Society Chairman. Also present were Patrick Paisey, Chairman of Salisbury District Council and Salisbury Mayoress, Mrs Sue Nettle. William Golding’s son and daughter, David Golding and Judy Carver and Arthur Bowden, a former pupil of William Golding, attended the gathering in the Close. We were fortunate to have two previous Headmasters, Mr Glyn Evans and Mr Clive Barnett at the opening. Dr Stuart Smallwood, the current Headmaster, opened the celebration and Mr John Cox, Senior Teacher and former Head of English gave an amusing speech about Sir William Golding. Brigadier Alistair Clark spoke for the Salisbury Civic Society who were pleased to commemorate the Nobel Prize Winner.

Ralph Fiennes (BWS 1976-1981)

Ralph is one of the UK’s most highly-regarded and internationally celebrated actors.


Ralph Twisleton Wykeham Fiennes was born on December 22, 1962 in Suffolk, England, to Jennifer Anne Mary Alleyne (Lash), a novelist, and Mark Fiennes, a photographer. He is the eldest of six children. Four of his siblings are also in the arts: Martha Fiennes, a director; Magnus Fiennes, a musician; Sophie, a producer; and Joseph Fiennes, an actor. He is of English, Irish, and Scottish origin.

Ralph joined Bishop Wordsworth’s School in 1976 and left after his sixth form years in 1981. He acted in school play productions including A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt, in which he played Cromwell, directed by Chris Newman and Love’s Labours Lost by William Shakespeare in which he played Berowne, directed by John Cox. In 1990 he returned to take part in the School’s centenary celebrations by giving an illustrated talk on acting Shakespeare.

Fiennes has been honored with two Academy Award nominations, the first in 1994 for his performance in Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning Best Picture, Schindler's List (1993). Fiennes' chilling portrayal of Nazi Commandant Amon Goeth also brought him a Golden Globe nomination and a BAFTA Award, as well as Best Supporting Actor honors from numerous critics groups, including the National Society of Film Critics, and the New York, Chicago, Boston and London Film Critics associations. Four years later, Fiennes earned his second Oscar nomination, for Best Actor, in another Best Picture winner, Anthony Minghella's The English Patient (1996). He also garnered Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations, as well as two Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nominations, one for Best Actor and another shared with the film's ensemble cast.

His long list of film credits also includes the award-winning drama The Reader (2008), co-starring Kate Winslet; Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar®-winning The Hurt Locker (2008); the Neil Jordan-directed films The End of the Affair (1999) and The Good Thief (2002); István Szabó's Sunshine (1999); Maid in Manhattan (2002); the animated The Prince of Egypt (1998); Oscar and Lucinda (1997); Robert Redford's Quiz Show (1994); and Wuthering Heights (1992), which marked his film debut. Fiennes notably portrayed of the evil Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter blockbuster film franchise. His nephew, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin played Tom Riddle, the young Lord Voldemort, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009).

Fiennes made his feature film directorial debut with a contemporary version of Shakespeare's political thriller Coriolanus (2011), in which he also starred with Gerard Butler and Vanessa Redgrave. He will star next in Mike Newell's screen adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations (2012), with Helena Bonham Carter and Jeremy Irvine, and in the highly anticipated Skyfall (2012), the next film in the Bond series, from director Sam Mendes.

Sir Cecil Herbert Edward Chubb


Chubb was the last private owner of Stonehenge, which he donated to the British government in 1918. He attended the local village school and then Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury, where from the age of 14 he worked for a time as a student teacher. He then attended Christ's College, Cambridge where he was awarded a double first in Science and Law, leaving with Master of Arts and Bachelor of Law degrees. He became a barrister and amassed a considerable fortune. In 1902 he married Mary Bella Alice Finch, whose uncle, Dr. W Corbin Finch, owned Fisherton House, which was a mental asylum (later the Old Manor Hospital, now Fountain Way). Five years after her uncle's death in 1905, the business and buildings were transferred to her. Following financial difficulties, a limited company was formed to run the hospital in 1924, and Sir Cecil became chairman. Whilst he was in charge, the hospital became the largest private mental hospital in Europe. There is a plaque in the hospital commemorating his life and work. Sir Cecil also served on Salisbury City Council, was a Justice of the Peace and became a successful racehorse owner and breeder of Shorthorn cattle. Stonehenge was put up for auction in 1915 by the Antrobus family following the death in World War I of the only surviving male heir. Cecil Chubb's interest in the local area led to him attending the sale, with him bidding and purchasing Lot 15 on a whim for £6,600 (about £472,000/€601,000/$777,000 today), as he wished to avoid the stones being acquired by someone overseas. It is also speculated that he bought the stones as a present for his wife, only for her to be less than pleased with his new purchase. He gave Stonehenge to the nation on 26 October 1918. To mark his generosity he was made a baronet in 1919 by Lloyd George. Chubb's arms feature a trilithon representing Stonehenge.

Christopher Holtby OBE

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Christopher took up the post of Consul General in Melbourne and Head of the UK Office for South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria in September 2016.  Prior to this role, Chris was Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia from January 2012.

From 2007 to 2011, he was Deputy Head of Security Policy Department in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, responsible for UK policy on NATO, European Security, military and civil-military operations and co-operation, as well as maritime security.  From 2009 to 2011 he was the chairman of Working Group 1 of the international Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, leading work on operational co-ordination and regional capability development.  From 2002 to 2007, he was seconded to the European Union in Brussels as UK liaison officer to Javier Solana, the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, and policy adviser to Dr Solana on Asia/Pacific issues.

Colin Sharman OBE, Baron Sharman of Redlynch (BWS 1954-1961)


Joined the KPMG partnership in 1966 and spent most of the 1970s in Europe, latterly with responsibility for the Benelux and Scandinavian countries. A specialist in financial and economic aspects of large scale investment, he was also responsible for KPMG's national marketing from 1987-1990; and in 1990 took over the responsibility for KPMG's operations in London and the South-East.

From 1991 to 1994 he was Chairman of KPMG Management Consulting world-wide. He was also a member of KPMG International Executive Committee and KPMG European Board. In 1994 he took over as the UK Senior Partner. On 1 February 1997 he assumed responsibilities as Chairman KPMG International and retired as International Chairman and from the partnership on 30 September 1999. On 27 October 1999 he was sworn into the House of Lords.

Colin is also a Companion of the British Institute of Management. He is a non-executive director of AEA Technology plc and Chairman of the Audit Committee. He is Chairman of Le Gavroche Ltd. He is an Honorary Member of the Securities Institute. He is on the Advisory Board of The George Washington Institute for Management. In January 1998 he was appointed an Ambassador for Merseyside. In June 1998 he received an Honorary Doctorate from Cranfield University. He is Chairman of Aegis Group plc. He is a non-executive director of Youngs Brewery. He is also Chair of the DTI's Foresight Crime Prevention Panel. He has completed a study of Central Government Audit commissioned by the Chief Secretary to The Treasury, The Rt Hon Andrew Smith MP. He is a non-executive director of BG International PLC and Phocis PLC. He is the chairman of the Advisory Board of GoodCorporation.

David Oakes (BWS 1995-2002)

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David was head boy at Bishops where he was also heavily involved with the Salisbury Playhouse and their youth theatre, Stage 65. He graduated with a first in English Literature from the University of Manchester before attending the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School from 2005 to 2007. David began his career at Shakespeare’s Globe, before taking roles at the Almeida Theatre and the Old Vic, but he came to prominence when he played the villainous William Hamleigh in the television miniseries The Pillars of the Earth (2010), produced by Ridley Scott's production company.[5] David was present to accept the Jury Prize at the 2011 Romy Awards in Vienna alongside Donald Sutherland and Natalia Wörner.

The following year, Oakes was cast in the television series The Borgias (2011), airing on Showtime.[6] He played Juan Borgia opposite Jeremy Irons. Whilst shooting the second season, David performed a cameo in the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, World Without End (2012).

Continuing a career on television playing morally dubious characters, Oakes had a role in The White Queen for BBC One and Starz playing George, Duke of Clarence. It was broadcast in mid-2013.

In an attempt to distance himself from his "TV Period Bad Boy" image, in 2013 David played Mr Darcy in an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice at Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park. He said, "I've been playing bad guys back to back, so Darcy's a bit of an antidote!"[7] He followed this by more stage work, appearing in the world premiere of Shakespeare in Love at the Noël Coward Theatre as Christopher Marlowe.

In a return to TV period dramas in 2015, Oakes guest-starred in both the third season of Endeavour with Shaun Evans and in BBC's limited series The Living and the Dead with Colin Morgan.

The role of Prince Ernest, brother of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert, went to Oakes in 2016 in the ITV series Victoria. The role reunited Oakes with his Trinity co-star Tom Hughes, and Pillars of the Earth co-star Rufus Sewell.

In 2017, Oakes starred in the film adaptation of Albert Sánchez Piñol's novel Cold Skin, directed by Xavier Gens and co-starring Ray Stevenson and Aura Garrido. He also starred as Thomas Novachek in the London West End premiere of David Ives's play Venus in Fur at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. This production was directed by Patrick Marber and co-starred Natalie Dormer as Vanda.[8]

In 2019, Oakes continued his love for playing in open air venues by playing Hamlet at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, York. Critics were united in their praise of his Hamlet, saying that he “plays Hamlet with natural ease: he is clearly comfortable with the cadences of the language and he conveys meaning well.

Andrew Harvey (BWS 1957-1962)


British journalist, who over a period of thirty years has presented most of main television news programmes of the BBC and ITN. Harvey began his BBC television career in Bristol working in production, before trying his hand as a news reporter in 1975, then moving on to the launch of breakfast television in Britain: Breakfast Time on BBC One. From there he went on to present the One O'Clock, Six O'Clock News and flagship Nine O'Clock News on BBC One. From national news, he moved to become a presenter on South Today, the BBC's regional news service for the Southampton region, as well as having presented on BBC Points West in the Bristol region, and also presented nationally once more, on BBC News. He left the BBC eventually to become a presenter on the ITV News Channel produced by ITN, where he first presented the breakfast programme with Lucy Alexander before moving to his own programme after breakfast in the daily schedule Live with Andrew Harvey. Since the channel's closure in December 2005 he now conducts media training through his company, HarveyLeach

Mark Labbett (BWS 1976-1983)


Born in Tiverton, Devon, Mark, the son of an intelligent but under-educated meat inspector, had ‘the best education money can’t buy’ at Bishops. With 10 GCEs and Five A levels, Mark studied maths at Oxford, law in Glamorgan and then became a maths teacher, a job he did in South Wales for 20 years. Labbett became interested in quizzing when working at Butlins, where he supplemented his wages with his winnings on the quiz machines. He has appeared on a host of TV quiz shows, including Mastermind (his special subjects on his two Mastermind appearances were the Olympics and The Simpsons), Countdown, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Only Connect, and University Challenge. Mark has made his face and his brain famous via The Chase, ITV’s hit quiz show that attracts up to five million viewers as contestants try to beat The Beast or the other ‘Chasers’ in the general knowledge game show. But not many do....

Captain Chris Moon MBE (BWS 1976-1981)


Land mine amputee and motivational speaker. Chris Moon's life story is one of consistently overcoming incredible odds. Working for a charity clearing landmines in Cambodia he is one of the few westerners ever to survive being captured and held hostage by the Khmer Rouge, not only negotiating himself out of his own execution but that of his two colleagues. You're not likely to meet someone more fortunate to be alive than Chris Moon. He should be dead many times over and his exploits have been covered in a Discovery documentary with the cheerful title:I Shouldn't Be Alive. Chris is a former British Army Officer with three years operational experience who left to work for a charity clearing landmines. He's survived being taken prisoner in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge (one of the most brutal terror groups in history) and negotiated his release and that of two colleagues from threatened execution. In 1995 he was blown up in a supposedly safe area of a minefield in remote East Africa losing an arm and a leg. He survived initially because he treated himself. About fourteen hours after was injured he arrived in South Africa where doctors said they'd never seen anyone live with such a small amount of blood.

He recovered three or four times faster than was expected and after rehabilitating himself within a year after leaving hospital he ran the London Marathon, raised significant sums to help disabled people in the developing world and successfully completed a full time Masters Degree. Chris taught himself to run and is believed to be the world's first amputee ultra distance runner. In 1997 completed the gruelling Marathon De Sables. Since then he's run the world's toughest ultra marathons and most recently the Badwater Death Valley 135 mile Ultra, where the temperature averaged over 50 degrees Celsius. He did this recently and took 12 hours off his previous best time to complete it in 41 hours 51 minutes. Chris talks with passion, humour and authority on: the process of achievement; overcoming challenges; mindset; motivation; leadership; risk; health and safety. He delivers the shared experience of the many organisations he's worked with and the power of personality and presence to effect change. Chris has been speaking and running personal and team development programs obtaining top results for ten years and when it comes to challenging the concept of limitation and changing behaviours, he literally walks the talk.

Kenneth Donald John Macdonald, Baron Macdonald of River Glaven QC


Baron Macdonald became the first pupil of barrister Helena Kennedy, was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in July 1978 and became a Queen's Counsel in 1997. As a junior barrister he defended a number of terrorist suspects (both Provisional IRA and those from the Middle East), fraudsters and major drug dealers, he was also on the defence team for the Matrix Churchill trial. In the late 1990s, he was a co-founder of Matrix Chambers (a set of barristers' chambers specialising in human rights cases) with Cherie Booth and Tim Owen QC. In 2001 he became a recorder (a part-time judge) in the Crown Court. In August 2003 it was announced that Macdonald would succeed Sir David Calvert-Smith as DPP in October of that year. The appointment was immediately denounced by Opposition spokesmen as "rampant cronyism" and a "provocative appointment" due to Macdonald's business relationship with Cherie Booth (wife of then Prime Minister Tony Blair) and his lack of prosecution experience. Government officials, including both the Attorney General and Solicitor General defended the appointment as it had been made by an independent board consisting of First Civil Service Commissioner Baroness Prashar; Sir Hayden Phillips, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Constitutional Affairs; Sir David Omand, Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office; and Sir Robin Auld, Lord Justice of Appeal. A few days after the announcement the press uncovered details of his earlier conviction, sparking fresh controversy. A fellow lawyer, David Pannick QC, writing in The Times defended Macdonald's appointment, and attacked the tabloid campaign against him; Macdonald's predecessor also dismissed the relevance of the drugs offence; and a report in The Independent also found support for the appointment from within the legal system.

As DPP, Macdonald established the Counter Terrorism Division, the Organised Crime Division, the Special Crime Division and the Fraud Prosecution Service. In office, he often took positions which were critical of the government. For example, he opposed ministers' rhetoric around the "War on Terror", preferring to see terrorist attacks in the UK as law enforcement issues. He was prominent in criticising government attempts to extend pre-charge detention to 42 days, arguing that due process protections should not be undermined and that the reform was unnecessary. Near the end of his term, leaders in The Guardian and The Times were strongly supportive of his record in office. In his last month in office he warned against excessive use of surveillance powers being introduced by the government, saying: "We should be careful to imagine the world we are creating before we build it. We might end up living with something we cannot bear." He was awarded a knighthood in the 2007 New Year Honours

Anthony Hayward (BWS 1971-1978)

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British journalist and author. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and the i, and has written more than 20 books about television and film. The subjects of justice and censorship have been constant themes throughout his work. “Hayward is particularly good on conflicts with authority,” wrote one critic reviewing his biography Which Side Are You On? Ken Loach and His Films.

Hayward was born in Caversham, Berkshire, on 26 October 1959, brought up near Romsey, Hampshire, and attended Bishop Wordsworth's School, Salisbury, from 1971 to 1978. He trained as a journalist at the London College of Printing (now the London College of Communication, University of the Arts) (1978-80) and won its 1979–80 Journalism Prize. He gained a Higher National Diploma in Journalism and the National Council for the Training of Journalists' Pre-Entry Journalism Certificate, both with distinction.

Hayward was a reporter, features writer and subeditor on local newspapers and national magazines, editor of the Deben Journal, the trade magazine Radio and the consumer magazine New Video Viewer, and a subeditor on national newspapers, before joining the staff on the features desk of TV Times (1985–89). He turned freelance in 1989 and has since written about television and film for publications in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France and South Africa.
He has contributed to The Guardian (since 2009), The Daily Telegraph (since 2018), The Independent (since 1993) and the i (since 2016), as well as writing for The Herald, Scotland, The Scotsman, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Sunday Express, The Sun, Sunday magazine, Now, best, Chat, Take a Break, Saga, Yours, Private Eye, TV Times, What's on TV, TV & Satellite Week, Inside Soap, TV Week (Canada), TV Week (Australia), TV Guide (New Zealand), The Stage, Screen International, Broadcast, Sight & Sound and The Listener. He has also been a contributor to BBC Radio 4's Last Word programme since 2017.