THE MILTON MUSEUM
Of the two permanent reminders of Milton's 75th birthday, the larger is the School Museum. The original idea for this goes back some years and attempts to begin a museum as a class project were actually made with exhibits collected in the room that has now become the museum. However, the real motivation came some three years ago and in particular Gavin Stephens, then in the Sixth Form, now at Rhodes and son of a former head boy, spent many hours planning displays and assembling memorabilia. Whenever home on vacation, he still takes a very active role in the Museum and, spent his entire July vacation helping to prepare it for its official opening - indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that without Gavin's efforts it could not have been ready for the opening. In addition several members of the Upper 6th have taken a leading part in preparing exhibits - Clinton Jones has displayed a real flair in arranging displays and Barry Knight has made an admirable archivist.
The Museum is housed in what is undoubtedly one of the finest rooms in the school, the original library over the main entrance of the building: with the shelves removed, its graceful proportions can be the more easily appreciated with the two fireplaces and splendid, curved steel ceiling. Extensive redecoration and restoration has taken place and the original wood - mainly teak - has shed layers of murky varnish to be revealed in its very real beauty; the windows have been curtained in a fine Regency stripe (close to Milton blue, of course!) with heavy golden cords to hold them back; and original furniture has been restored and takes its place too.
It is intended that the Museum should be a living and growing archive of the school's history; by its very nature a school does not assemble many of the treasures found in a conventional museum, although there are some objects of real value: the silver key, presented to Sir William Milton on 25th July 1910 and returned to the school shortly after his death by his son on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee has a proud place over one of the fireplaces, matched at the other end by the silver trowel with which the Earl of Athlone laid the foundation stone of the present school. More mysteriously, there is a magnificent Japanese ceremonial sword - the war trophy of some O.M. perhaps? - of whose donation the school has no record. (Any information would be most welcome!) There are also discontinued trophies and cups, relics of the school's cadet corps and band, old and new uniforms, a multiplicity of caps and ties, sporting mementoes (including a cricket bat autographed by every member of the English touring side of 1939-40 - such great names as Len Hutton and Wally Hammond inter alia) and much else including a virtually complete run of Miltonians from the first issue back in 1912.
But particularly there are photographs: all twelve headmasters have their place as do such luminaries as Milton himself, Sir Henry Birchenough and Sir John Chancellor (Cecil Rhodes is represented by two portraits, one a magnificent three-quarter length in oils that dominates the room); there are views of the school from both air and ground level at every stage in its history including a full record of the original school in 1929 as well as the pres2nt one; and great moments in the school's history are there too, whether it be the laying of the foundation stone, Golden Jubilee Speech Day or the Prince of Wales duck-shooting with Miltonians in 1925.
A considerable sum of money has been spent on the Museum, but as long as the school remains, it too will remain as a source of material on the school's history which should be of more than passing interest to all Miltonians, past, present and future. It also doubles as a reception room - its open spaces comfortably accommodate eighty or more – and possesses a handsome boardroom table and chairs so serves frequently as a committee room; perhaps the elegant and civilised surroundings will have a welcome influence on whatever debate there takes place . . .