Article written by Ros McCarthy
Ann Nevill’s article on Jocylyn Brooke prompts me to refer readers of the Sandgate News (Winter 2004) to the recently published book “Botanising the Library” by Rob Kessler NESTA Fellow at Kew.
His beautifully illustrated book was commissioned by various libraries, including the Folkestone Library, as part of their “Navigating History” project, and draws on the botanical interests of Jocelyn Brooke and of Arnold Henry Ullyett (1859-1945), a former headmaster of Sandgate School. unique – upon arriving at Sandgate station the engine had to be transferred to the opposite end to take it back to Sandling.
One of the aims of the project was to raise awareness of local archive collections which, in my case, it certainly did. I confess to a very personal interest in Arnold Ullyett as I live in the part of the old Sandgate School building named after him.
I also inherited from my mother an original copy of “Rambles of a Naturalist Round Folkestone” by H. Ullyett B Sc which Rob Kesseler draws upon extensively, and assumed must be by Arnold Henry Ullyett.
Arnold was certainly a most learned scholar, lecturer and respected local dignitary. His obituary in the Folkestone Herald estimated that he gave over 10,000 lectures in both English and French on a variety of scientific subjects including the atom, X-rays, wireless research, Halley’s comet and even “Is Mars inhabited?” He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a life member of the Societe Astonomique de France, a lay reader in the Church of England and a prominent Freemason.
He was a Vice-President of the Sandgate Parochial Church Council, a member of the Sandgate Urban District Council and a member of the Folkestone Town Council. He was also a Vice-President of the Folkestone Natural History Society. How he had time to do the day job – headmaster of the Sandgate National School for 37 years – goodness knows, but he was ably assisted by his wife who taught with him.
However, despite Arnold’s many claims to fame, I was not convinced that the Henry Ullyett who wrote “Rambles of a Naturalist Round Folkestone” was the same person as Arnold Henry – and research in the Heritage Room of the Folkestone Library makes it clear that Henry was actually the father of Arnold. Henry was also a respected Headmaster – but of St. Mary’s School, Dover Road, Folkestone – and Arnold began his teaching career there before moving to Sandgate. Henry wrote the book, as Rob Kesseler now acknowledges. Henry lived from 1838-1898, and was the founder secretary of Folkestone’s Natural History Society. He was the originator of Art and Science classes in Folkestone (a true Renaissance man), President of the Folkestone museum and a well-known science lecturer. Arnold must have viewed him as an excellent role model. The Folkestone Library still owns a memorial plaque dedicated to Henry which used to hang at the entrance to the art gallery in the museum area.
Both Henry and Arnold must have been remarkable men – the spirit of Arnold still haunts the old School House where I now live – and Henry’s influence was something I experienced (albeit unknowingly) in childhood. Over 50 years ago I attended St. Mary’s Primary School in Dover Road. “Navigating History” has proved to be an even more complex and interesting a project than its originators imagined.