A Word from the Archive: Silent, Sad Service
Hugh Douglas Darvill was appointed to the school in January, 1914, to teach Maths and to be the Fourth Form Master.
He was a bachelor, so he lived in. He naturally collected all sorts of chores and duties which married staff were able to avoid because they were not on the premises. Bachelors were convenient. Young ones particularly so. Darvill was only 26.
He did not enjoy good health, but he buckled down to the spartan life of a boarding school out in the sticks, long before staff regularly had motor cars to get about in.
Darvill moreover was not a gregarious soul. He had many virtues, which were recognised and appreciated, but a knack for company was not one of them. Nevertheless he gave loyal support to the OTC (CCF now), and was a tower of strength during a deadly epidemic of scarlet fever (once the scourge of boarding schools). Any teacher in a boarding school during a world war has to work twice as hard (Harries went white).
Darvill may not have been the life and soul of the party, but he clearly communicated compassion and understanding. So much so that the Headmaster, Revd. Harries chose, and invited, him to be best man at his wedding.
Then, in 1920, Darvill fell ill. Because of his previous record, nobody at first regarded it as a surprise. But he declined fast, and, in November of the same year, he died.
The surprise came when the school tried to inform his family. Despite all efforts, it proved impossible to trace them. Not one member of it came to his funeral. The school had no choice but to bury him in East Buckland churchyard.
It could be a lonely life as a bachelor in a remote country boarding school in Edwardian times (no buses, no cars, no radio, no television). Poor health prevented him from taking part in a lot of outdoor activities (and West Buckland is nothing if not an outdoor establishment). If one does not communicate easily with one`s fellows, it can be worse. But at least one could look forward to taking refuge in the comfort of one` s family during the holidays. Darvill had none (at any rate none that we know of).
Despite all that, the record gives off a whiff of fellow-feeling, of awareness of people`s needs, however silent or shy. Hugh Darvill cared. And it showed. Kindness does not have to shout.