E. E. Rider: A Merchant Taylors' School Stalwart

The re-purposing of the Manor of the Rose for the use of the Prep School Nursery has seen many artefacts come to light. In a forthcoming newsletter, we will reveal the stories behind the memorial to the members of the Manor who fell in World War II. You can sign up to the regular newsletter by clicking this link.

But first to a small silver rose bowl which was passed to the Archive this month. 

It has the following inscription:



Such finds are irresistible in that they tell a story and despite the pressures of a busy term, the lure of discovering who Mr Rider was, proved too much.  The Taylorian is always first port of call and the digitisation of over a century of the magazine, made possible as a result of the support of the OMT Society, gifts through the Merchant Taylors' Fund, and the School, meant that his story can be re-told, as his brothers would have wanted.

Ted Rider taught at Merchant Taylors' for thirty-three years before passing away, unexpectedly, whilst on holiday with his brother in France. The shock felt by the School community was reflected in the fulsome tribute in the Taylorian, reflecting a life devoted to the School. Educated at Berkhamsted School and Pembroke College, Cambridge he joined the School while it was still at Charterhouse Square under Spencer Leeson to teach Modern Languages, most notably French. From the start of his career, he embodied the values of an MTS teacher – singing in the school choir at concerts, playing scrum half for the Masters’ rugby team and opening for its cricket XI until well into his forties. He joined the CCF and played Fives which he played for much of the rest of his time at the School.

Of course, not only did he witness the historic move to Sandy Lodge, but he also served in the Second World War where he reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Fusiliers. He saw active service in Normandy, was mentioned in despatches and honoured by both France and Belgium. Giles Browne (1954-1958) remembers him turning up one day in his uniform “to the amazement of all”.

After the war he spent twelve years as the second Head of the Manor of the Rose (1946-1958) before going on to be Head of White House. He also took on the role of master in charge of the playing fields before being elected President of the SCR in 1961, a role he held until his death.

Hugh Elder spoke movingly at the first School prayers after the news of Ted Rider’s death.

“As a teacher…he was thorough, skilful and patient…but teaching…was in his view only part of what a schoolmaster does. He was there, he considered, not only to teach boys, but to help them in every possible way to grow into the right kind of men. Above all, he cared passionately for this School and all that it stands for in the best of its tradition…During his time here, there were few parts of the School’s life that he did not touch.”

Anthony Payne (1952-1959) writes: “Ted Rider had very high standards and was prepared to let you know when you fell short. I was in his Lower Sixth German set 1957-58, and I remember an embarrassing interview when he discovered I had got through O Level German without bothering to learn the adjective endings (I ended up as a German teacher, by the way, by which time I had sussed out a foolproof way to learn them). He was Housemaster of White for some years and made me a House Prefect... While he was Housemaster of the Manor, he used to walk his black Labrador down the Drive, and you could chart his progress from a distance by watching chaps raising their caps to him.”

Clearly he had the respect of the boys, though he had an old-school approach to discipline and was known for his use of the cane, one memory suggesting that he set a record for being the first (and only) teacher ever to beat a boy in the school holidays. Hugh Elder acknowledged that, in the later years of his career, Ted struggled to tolerate anything which he saw as a drop in standards at the School.

The trophy donated by Ted’s brothers to his memory becomes doubly poignant in the light of Hugh Elder’s final remarks:

“His memory will remain as long as there are those here who can remember him. And even when they are gone, we may be sure of this: that Merchant Taylors’ School is a better place because Ted Rider served it as a schoolmaster for many years…”

The trophy will now be placed in the SCR so that his successors can remember Ted, a man who gave his life’s work and loyalty to a single school.

If you are interested in reading the full obituary of Ted Rider, you can access the past issues of the Taylorian while logged in to this website (here). If you do not have a login, please visit the homepage to set one up.

If you have any memories of Ted Rider, please share them with us.

The Archive is always looking for artefacts relating to the School and its history. If you have something that you would like to donate, please contact Jonny Taylor (jtaylor@mtsn.org.uk).


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