Andrew Morgan interviewed by Alan Macfarlane 14th May 2000

0:09:07 Born in Aberystwyth in 1924; father Headmaster of the Judd School in Tonbridge; had been a teacher in Aberystwyth when there was a dispute with the local education authority and he decided to move to Kent; he did not believe in having his own children in a school where he was teaching so I went to Tonbridge School as a day-boy; interest in history even before going to school; youngest of five and needed to have my own special subject; have always been a rebel, sufficiently sceptical to always be questioning every assumption; at the end of my first year teaching at Sedbergh there were rumours that I was a Communist, so the following year taught the Reformation with a strong Catholic bias hoping I would be judged a Papist at the end of it

6:43:18 Went to Oxford in 1945-46; had gone straight from school to the Navy; I served as an ordinary seaman in a cruiser in the Arctic and the Bay of Biscay on anti-aircraft duties; as an officer served for a little while on a Canadian Corvette on Atlantic convoys in mid-winter; then did submarine training and joined the famous 10th Flotilla which was then on the French landings; moved out to Trincomali and got a place as fifth officer in a newly arrived 'S' Class boat called 'Shakespeare' and did one patrol in her and were lucky to survive; awarded a D.S.C.; wartime experience had an effect on later life but can't identify exactly what; one of the things I remember most vividly was after hostilities, when we were on our way home, talking with a very bright young man who had never had any chance to develop his brain; my ambition thereafter was to try to give such people the chances and advantages that I had had; I did not start my teaching career exactly along those lines but I became increasingly unhappy at the thought of spending my life at Sedbergh; I managed to find a niche in the county sector as head of a grammar school which then had the opportunity to go comprehensive, and we did

10:35:22 Going to Oxford felt a wonderful focussing on something purposeful as wartime activity had been so desultory for most of the time; to have a clear purpose from the first day was thrilling, though very demanding as the mind had not been used very much for the war years; John Prestwich was my Tutor, and still alive; he was an abominably bad lecturer, a scholar who fell far short of what he hoped to be as he never got around to writing the great work; as a tutor he was the greatest thing I had at Oxford, not the friendships, but the meeting of minds - not the history he taught me, but the wonderful way he took up my essay points and sharpened the mind; his wife, Mena, was also my tutor and was superb; Charles Stewart at Christ Church was also a tutor at one stage, when he was temporarily at Queens; most memorably, a contemporary of mine, Edmund Dell, took his finals a year before I did and then became a tutor at Queens for a short while and tutored me in my last year; he was a great tutor but Queens didn't care for him as you had to be very robust to stand up to him

14:45:03 As an undergraduate you did the whole of English history; it became an indivisible continuum soon after I started studying at Oxford; as one progressed, the sense of continuousness just took over from all previous concepts of division; whilst it was still necessary to use such terms as Tudor and Stuart for the sake of quick reference, and desirable to have such terms as early modern and modern, there was no clear moment where early modern started; remember the deep impact some of Kosminsky's articles made on me teaching that the feudal system in terms of the relation between the land holder and the serf had very largely broken down by the thirteen century, and the substitution of serf labour for wage labour had occurred long before the end of the so-called Middle Ages; remember a conversation with Edmund Dell before he took his finals on which single book you would choose to answer most questions and he chose Maitland

20:17:06 I got a second; to the consternation of Bruce Lockhart who had already offered me a job at Sedbergh before taking my finals, my name did not appear recognisably in the published lists as, although my name is Morgan, I had been known as Lloyd Morgan for part of my life;  in the results list I appeared as A.M. Lloyd; I went to Sedbergh in 1948; I found it wildly exciting and loved the atmosphere; I liked a lot of colleagues from the first; thought Bruce Lockhart an inspiring man to work under, even John Coldham, the house master under whom I worked at Hart House, and other staff were easy to talk with; it was only gradually that I came to feel suffocated by their blinkered attitudes and unwillingness to face the changes that were overcoming Britain; having the run of Clio (the history sixth) scared me stiff; I shared a little of it with Christopherson, but the higher certificate year and the scholarship group were my responsibility; half my teaching time was spent with Clio and I taught in the library; it was a delightful atmosphere for getting debates going; found myself teaching stuff I didn't know at all well, so quickly got into the habit of giving the responsibility of learning text book accounts to the students; it was a scandal that we monopolised the library, so when the Bracken Bequest came up I suggested the school bought a couple of cottages next to Lupton House and converted them into a classroom; we would still have access to the history library which was one of the best in any school

27:53:00 Of students: Peter Addyman (later of the Jorvik Centre) was a self-taught genius in archaeology; he and Gavin Simpson were digging a lost village that they had discovered when they were in the sixth form, for which they had the support of Professor Beresford; (Tom Bingham) now Lord of Appeal was the only pupil I have come across about whom I felt I could not teach him anything more; he failed to get a major award at Balliol the first time so he had to stay at school for a further year; he was obviously the ablest, with the best brain of any that I have ever come across; Colin Matthew (the great Gladstone scholar) was probably the best scholar; undoubtedly, you were the best in the sense of being the most intellectually adventurous; Robert Rhodes James was the wildest and most unteachable; when I first taught him he was so deeply imbedded in his own view of history that the only thing he could see at Trafalgar was Nelson's heroic death; the strategic importance of the battle escaped him; my difficulty with Robert was always to get him to look deeper into the significance of the events he knew about; felt I failed with him because although I thought he did a very good job on Rosebury and a very exciting first book on Randolph Churchill, I felt increasingly that he had slipped back into the old habits of a degree of superficiality; I think it was because he was a lost soul between two worlds, of parliamentary ambition and scholarly ambition; the Anthony Eden biography showed almost visible signs of where he had to drop his pen and rush off to a division bell; the work didn't hang together; Christopher Bland (Director General of the BBC) was his own man from the start - I never knew him; very able, very ambitious, highly sceptical of criticism at times; he was close to me in teaching terms but personally, not at all; John Arden, I only taught for a term before he went to Cambridge; he was head of Hart House; his production of 'Hamlet' that December was an event in itself; he did the whole thing - producing and acting in it; later his interests switched to Irish Republican history so was not invited to my birthday party at the House of Commons

38:07:08 I have never been a philosopher; I went to De Aston school after Sedbergh; on the second school inspection eighteen years after I went there the inspectors were required to summarize the headmaster's strategy, aims and objectives; the Chief Inspector asked me about my philosophy of education; I thought it was a matter of just getting on and doing what you believe in and if you became self-conscious and analytical, then the spirit would go; I have been frightened all my life of trying to be dogmatic in answering the question on my philosophy of teaching; I was glad I went to De Aston; we started as a small grammar school for boys, went coeducational a year at a time, and before that was completed we went comprehensive; moved from being a school of three hundred to one of twelve hundred in the course of about four or five years; it was a wonderfully exciting time because once we had done all the management business of creating the new school and getting the architect to understand what we wanted; worked closely with the head of the secondary modern with which we were amalgamating who was a close friend; he became my "associate headmaster" as I refused to call him deputy head

46:41:09 After it became a comprehensive and had been running for a year I had hoped to get back to teaching; we now had a Curriculum Director and he gave me the lowest ability children to teach; this was a wonderful challenge for me as it was the first time in my life that I had to consider the techniques of teaching; at Sedbergh it was easy as the pupils were motivated; at Market Rasen you just had to teach them; the merit of being put back into the classroom at the age of fifty was that a large number of young teachers were finding teaching a tremendous strain; they would come almost weeping into my study, and if I had not gone back into the classroom I would not have been able to help them at all; I retired from the headship of De Aston in 1984 but I then did a job with the County as a sort of advisory headmaster for a couple of years; I then did some work with the Boarding Schools Association who wanted some research done; I then finally gave it up and had the liberation of being able to get into archives for the first time in my life; I had some family history notes which I had been collecting since boyhood; it took three months to sort them and find the areas of the history that didn't exist; started to plan expeditions to archive offices in Wales and Ireland, contacted relatives, and then Jilyan and I toured round in a motor home gathering materials and visiting places where the family had been; wonderful time opening new horizons; following our families back as far as was possible; started in about 1988 and wrote the last words in Summer of 1999; the writing took about three or four years and the rest was all gathering material; Jilyan and I married in 1950