The Roan School was established by the money left on the death of John Roan in the 17th Century. The Civil War saw John Roan supporting King Charles. He was charged with recruiting soldiers for the Royalist cause, and was arrested and handed over to Parliament. We next hear of him as a prisoner in London. Whilst in jail, John appealed to his brother Richard to help him, claiming that as a prisoner he was ‘in great necessity and want, ready to starve”. Richard, however, appears to have rejected his brother’s pleas and so John determined that if his brother would not help him in life, then he would not benefit by his death, and changed his will dedicating his property to the founding of a school for the “town-born children of Greenwich. In 1677 the first Roan School opened and was known as “Mr. Roan’s Charity”. It was situated near the corner of King William Walk and Romney Road and educated some 16 boys, rising to 20 over the next century. During all this time the boys wore grey cloaks, round hats, leather knee breeches and buckle shoes, and they must have been well know as they walked with their teacher to St Alfege’s Church every Sunday.By 1814, the revenue of the Roan estate had grown considerably, making it possible to educate and clothe a hundred boys. After much discussion it was further decided to establish the Roan School for Girls. In 1870 elementary education was made compulsory for all. At the time of World War 1 the Roan School was a prestigious school within Greenwich and fees were paid by parents. There are adverts in The Kentish Mercury which give the costs of the fees for the Roan Boys School in Eastney Street, Greenwich as £2.2.0 per term if resident in the county of London with a reduction to £1.2.0 per term if the pupil had attended a Greenwich elementary school for 3 years.
The Roan School Greenwich
February 16, 2010 by Stephen and Susan Cocks
The young men from the Roan School who gave their lives during World War One are commemorated on a war memorial within the school and the Head of History, Mr Wilson, of what is now John Roan School was kind enough to furnish us with their names. The following article is an attempt to make the memorial more than just a list of names for the students who see it each day. We hope it will help to show that they were often idealistic men who had dreams and hopes and were grieved over by their families. We also hope that family members who see this site will contact us with further information and pictures. The information below is a selection of stories of men from the memorial. For the full list of men on the memorial see, The Fallen of Roan School Greenwich- full list
For details of World War 1 tours click here.
|The SEWELL FAMILY: Lieutenant Cecil Sewell, Lieutenant Harry Sewell, 2nd Lieutenant Herbert Sewell, Corporal Leonard Ralph Sewell, Frank H Sewell and their father Harry Bolton SewellAll five brothers and their father enlisted but only Frank, Leonard and their father survived the fighting. Cecil, the youngest son, won the VC for his gallantry in saving the lives of others.For a full account of this family see Lieutenant Cecil Sewell and The Sacrifice of a Greenwich Family|
|THE AYLING BROTHERS: Private Leslie Wallace (Service Record Survives) , Private Cecil Wallace and 2nd Lieutenant Edward WallaceLike so many young men of the time, the three Ayling brothers were keen to enlist and ‘do their bit’ even though one of them had defective eyesight and one was only 16 years of age. Leslie and Cecil both lost their lives while Edward was severely injured.For a full account of the Ayling Brothers see The Ayling Boys|
|BARNES, Stanley William : The last Old Roan Boy to die in World War 1.Private Stanley Barnes was born at 113 Lee High Road. He died in hospital at Etaples on 20th November 1918. He seemed to have been a little rebellious and was frequently marched in front of the officers on disciplinary charges.|
|REED, Reginald Joseph; The first Old Roan to Die in World War 1Leading Seaman Reginald Reed was the first John Roan ‘old boy’ to die in action on 1.11.14. He was born into a naval family at Portsea in 1888 and joined the Navy. He was killed in action in November 1914 when his ship went down with all hands at The battle of Coronel.|
|ELSON, Reginald Malcomb Assistant Ship Steward Elson served aboard the HMS Hampshire when it struck a mine on 5th June 1916. The ship was also carrying Lord Kitchener who also lost his life; there were no survivors.|
|BONE Ronald Walter (3 brothers fought in the Army)Private Ronald Bone was killed in action in Flanders late in 1917. Private Gilbert James Bone and Private Reginald E Bone, his two brothers, also fought in the Great War and survived.|
|DOWDELL BROTHERS (3 brothers served; 1 survived)Both 2nd Lieutenant Ernest George and Private Harold Barnard were killed in action in France. Their elder brother Reginald survived the war.|
|JACKSON, Arthur Jackson2nd Lieutenant Jackson, son of a Greenwich MP, was gazetted for gallant action in February 1918. He was killed in action whilst on patrol near Lens on 6.10.18.|
|BUXTON, Gurney WhiteCaptain Buxton had been a member of the Territorial Force and when mobilised, he was a member of the RAMC. He served in France and was awarded the 15 star. He was sent to the Dardanelles and died in October 1915; he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.|
|THOMPSON, Samuel Frederick Henry Thompson MC DFCCaptain Samuel Frederick Henry Thompson, known as Siffy, was a World War 1 two-seater fighter ace who was killed in action in September 1918.|
|DE RUVIGNY’S ROLL OF HONOURThe following men from The Roan School died in The Great War and are listed in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour: Staff Sergeant Edgar Harry William Barfoot MSM (Twice mentioned in despatches by Sir Douglas Haig)Corporal John HeskettRifleman Joseph Basil Prosser2nd Lieutenant William Topley BarratLance Corporal William Gladstone Edwards|