Restoration of the Monitors’ and Prompters’ Boards

The Carved Table-Tops and Benches

Prior to the refurbishment of the Dining Hall in 2017, a number of what are known as the Monitors’ and Prompters’ Boards were displayed on the walls. They featured names of Monitors and Prompters carved by the boys themselves in their final year at school. It is not known exactly what date the tradition began but the earliest we have discovered so far is S.H. Noakes, MTS 1915 – 1923. Many of the names on the earlier boards are those who were killed in the First World War, particularly poignant in this centenary year.

The Origins of Monitors and Prompters

The monitorial system was established at Merchant Taylors’ towards the end of 1702. The upper boys began to be distinguished from the rest of the sixth form being called ‘The Table’ and ‘The Bench’. ‘The Table’ consisted of eight Monitors together with the Captain of the School, whilst ‘The Bench’ was composed of nine Prompters. The original function of Monitors was to make speeches at the annual elections on St. Barnabas’ Day, and the duty of the Prompters was to prompt them.

Six months after this system had been established, a complaint was made against Phillips, the Captain of the School. It was alleged that he had persuaded one of the younger boys to visit the theatre, tavern, and gaming house. Phillips admitted the offence, and asked the forgiveness of the boy’s father, and also of the Company. He went so far as to tender a full confession in writing, coupled with many good resolutions as regards his future conduct. The Court, therefore, did not expel him and eventually went on to elect him to St. John’s College, Oxford, on the ensuing St. Barnabas’ Day. Unfortunately this faith in him was unfounded as his continued misconduct caused his expulsion from the College less than twelve months later.


Over the years the table tops and benches had been displayed and stored in different areas of the school and suffered the inevitable scrapes and scratches, along with development of mould and splitting of the surfaces. Charles Perry, a local restoration company based in St Albans, was approached to clean and make good eight of the twenty-five table tops in storage. Following a few weeks of treatment, repair, waxing and polishing, these table tops and benches were returned to the wall of the Dining Hall for display.


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