“Taffy” Williams joined RLS in 1924. He’s listed in Paul Poornan’s Royal Latin School as teacher of English and French and therein lies irony. Samuel had been born in Welsh-speaking Aberdare into a large family and until he was 16 he had no language save Welsh – even school examinations were taken in his native language. Boys in the Williams family were destined for “the pits”.  Samuel survived through his own endeavours and he must have shown a facility with languages:  English, French and the subject which defines Taffy for most living Old Latins, Latin.

Taffy - the new Head's right-hand man

Taffy – the new Head’s right-hand man

Geoff Kirk comments on that picture:I don’t suppose you realised that it is ME standing right behind him – in that row from left to right – are – Jim Faulkner; David (Popeye) Stopps; ME!!!; Ray Hodges; Ann Kelly; Betty Scott.    I haven’t changed much have I [True, Geoff I can see “U” in “‘Im”] – slightly different hair style, I suppose.
(And I guess you know that the lady teacher [to GKE’s left] is Miss Merritt – in whose house we now live. Ann Kelly is the girl who’s uncle made the Old [1423] wooden Lectern that was used last Wednesday at the Archives afternoon!

It’s impossible to articulate his nickname at RLS “Taffy”, without a Welsh lilt. Taffy never lost his strong accent and he articulated French and Latin in his classroom as if they were sub species of Welsh.  Rita [ Shaw] March still remembers Taffy conjugating the present tense of the Latin verb portare (to carry: porto, portas, portat, portamus, portatis, portant) and she  can mimic his precise trilled ‘r’s, careful vowels and sharply etched consonants in a manner that’s difficult to convey in print. In response to an early edition of this post, Rita has added, ….also frequently heard (and usually addressed with rising intonation to some individual towards the back of the class), “Don’t sit there like a ca-a- ba-age, boy!” Many of Taffy’s pupils live in hope for payday because one of Taffy’s favourite sayings in class was, If you get ten out of ten, I’ll leave you a farthing in my Will.” Tim Emms remembers a later technique used by Taffy to raise standards, “I well recall his neck or nothing tests in Latin – if you answered everything correctly you kept your neck (i.e. full marks) but a single mistake and you got nothing! Amo, amas, amat …” [Perhaps, in their last moments these failing rolling heads tried vainly to complete a Latin conjugation : Alo, Alas , … ALACK!!]

 

Taffy was a well-respected presence at RLS through a career that spanned four decades. A man of medium height and build, Taffy could look stern behind his no-nonsense spectacles, but he had a kindly, caring personality. Roger Wagland, a post World War II pupil, recalls putative pupils’ fears in that Phoney War period between 11plus exams and moving to RLS, “ His (Taffy’s) influence over the new pupils arriving in fear and trembling was considerable – yet he turned out to be far removed from the ogre he was painted as in those dying days between the 11 plus and leaving Well Street School.”

Taffy Williams married Olive Eales, the Belle of Maids Moreton – even its Rector is said to have “given her the eye” – and they settled down together in Avenue Road, Maids Moreton, in a house next to Olive’s parents.

Mr Williams home in Avenue Road image by Roxanne Williams

Mr Williams home in Avenue Road image by Roxanne Williams

Olive was a teacher, too, and served many years at Lillingstone Dayrell C.o.E. Primary School. She helped with Brownies and Guides and played an important part in the 1927 Maids Moreton Pageant that received national publicity through the Daily Sketch. Once Taffy became a priest he gave his Avenue Rd house, appropriately named Glanwin House: Glan from the Welsh for Grandfather and win from Nan,  to his son and family that  included Roxanne. That was gratefully received and a source of some stability to them for Taffy’s son, Hilary, had an up and down sort of existence. He was an activist and could be confrontational -writing letters regularly to the Buckingham Advertiser, and sending notes to people who had made spelling errors.  Sadly, Hilary died all too young, having tried to run a kennel in the remote north of Scotland.

taffy_glanwin1

Taffy and Olive’s daughter is Gloria and she attended RLS. Afterwards, Gloria trained as a teacher and became head of a school in Colchester.

Eventually “Taffy” Williams became the Senior Teacher (one down from Deputy Head) at RLS and  the Churchwarden  / Lay-Reader at St Edmund’s, Maids Moreton Parish Church. Taffy had one of the  church’s bells cast in his name in Maids Moreton when they where were re-hung. Mr Williams must have retired from teaching a year or two before I joined RLS.  He returned, I remember, to preach at the RLS Founders’ Day service around 1970.  By then, Taffy had taken holy orders. What I hadn’t realised until recently when I chatted to his adoring grand daughter, Roxanne who remains in Buckingham, is that Taffy Williams moved to be a curate in Chipping Norton, where Roxanne spent many happy days, and later he became the fully-fledged Rector of Akeley and Leckhampstead.   When he retired from that post, he left the rectory at Akeley, and bought Fenton House in Chipping Norton  where he once more helped the  rector .

Mayor and Mayoress in 1964 (image from Roxie Williams)

Mayor and Mayoress in 1964 (image from Roxie Williams)

Buckingham Town Council 1962

Buckingham Town Council 1962 click several times to enlarge

Taffy served on Buckingham Town Council for many years and was Buckingham’s Mayor in 1949. The picture above was taken in 1962. Taffy Williams is on the front row- extreme left of te image,next to the shrunken figure of Lord Addington. Arthur Marriott was Mayor. Several RLS “parents” may be seen including Mr. De Angeli(2 x RLS children:Lisa & Simon) , Harold Cornwall and his son, John Cornwall (father to Martin)

In death, he returned to Buckingham to be buried in Maids Moreton churchyard. Roxanne reports, “Because he was a priest he was buried the opposite way round, my grandmother is buried on top, the right way round.  Why are priests buried that way? Well, on the day of reckoning, priests have to stand up facing their flocks.”

Their grave is in the extension to Maids Moreton churchyard.

Their grave is in the extension to Maids Moreton churchyard.

Two comments. The first from Roxanne Williams:Roxanne_cat

My grandfather was was perfect in my eyes, such a clever man, I am trying to find the pictures of when he was the Mayor of Buckingham. Did you know Eddie Howes, the former Buckingham Florist Grandad taught his wife at the RLS- she was June Roberts, she lives in Highlands Road. She became a good teacher a Padbury School, which my children attended. When Gramps was the Rector of Akeley and Leckhampstead, he used to invite the children from Wicken Park school, then a Girls’ School, and they used to come and sing at morning service, once a month. I loved the Rogationtide Service at Akeley church; we used to stand at each corner of the church and sing, I can’t remember what, but his lovely welsh accent never faded.

 

I’ve received this from Rita [Shaw] March. I post it as a comment for it shows Taffy,  post-RLS but still kindly& considerate, willing to do his bit for former pupils.

“Taff was very good to me too, I counted him as a friend even as a little girl, and used to go to Avenue House after church to play with [ his daughter] Gloria, who was a tad younger than me – and much better behaved. He introduced me to anagrams, let me sketch their cat when it was a homework task, and I think he tested me for the Guide’s Singing Badge, as I chose a Welsh folksong. He never let on to us about his own upbringing, though I think there was a photo of his father in their hall. My last meeting with him was in 1971 or 72, when we visited him in the Rectory in Akeley (I hope I’ve got that right), as my mother was concerned over her long drawn-out wait for council sheltered accommodation. There was a problem in that she was living near Stafford with us at the time, the house in Moreton Road having been too much to cope with, and seemed to have forfeited her status as a Buckinghamite. He took it in hand, stressing to ‘them’ how my older brother and sister had joined the services in the war from Buckingham, and my Dad had kept the milk lorries moving. With Mr Williams on the case, it was soon sorted.”

 

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