I wonder if many by the Clapton era ever wondered about the school motto, “Fac Recte Nil Time” and how it arose. Certainly I never did, and if its origins were ever known, they were long forgotten. Perhaps many of us assumed it had been devised by Marcus. After all he had written the school song, “Tempus est ut concinamus.”
I recollect there was some genuine respect for the motto, belonging to us, and having some pithy good sense about it. On the other hand it was subject to various profanities and parodies from time to time typical of teenage boys perhaps. One memorable variation related to the Second Master (the Deputy Head, Flinky Jackson) and his pronunciation of the title of the school literary magazine, Phoenix, which he rendered as “Fearnix”. Even as boys were streaming out of assembly the first time he uttered this in an announcement, some of the 6th form could be heard muttering “Fac Recte, Fear Nix!” Nonetheless it is something I have personally remembered with affection from time to time, especially perhaps in times of stress.
However it didn't come out of the blue, but its rediscovery has, from almost every point of view. 2003 is the bi-centenary of the stockbroking firm Hichens Harrison & Co. plc of Blomfield Street, London, and they have produced a pamphlet detailing the history of the firm, founded by Robert Hichens, of a reasonably wealthy Cornish family, in 1803. Fortunately for us in our various quests they posted it on the internet, where as a result of a Google search by Don Nicolson for “Fac Recte nil Time”, a single hit was returned for this pamphlet. The motto together with a crest is buried deep within this pamphlet. It turns out to be the personal motto of Robert Hichens and the Hichens family (www.hichens.com/history/history_hh.pdf). So how does Hichens fit in? We don't have to look far. The first head of the newly amalgamated KES, in 1905, a school without traditions it was recorded, was a James Harvey Hichens, a Cornishman, born in Redruth, the son of a doctor in 1859. Obviously the Hichens family motto was immediately transferred to KES.
The personal crest of Robert Hichens
with familiar motto
But this rediscovery itself is still a long shot. Dennis Bailey, the Hichens Harrison historian, visited St. Ives one weekend in the course of his research about the Hichens family. He rang a hotel near to the Church of St. Johns in the Fields, St. Ives, which Robert Hichens had founded and which he supposed (correctly) would be a source of information. Unfortunately the hotel was closed for the season but Dennis Bailey did not leave it there. By some stroke of fortune he happened to comment it was unfortunate because he was visiting the church and researching Robert Hichens. The hotelier replied, “Oh, I have him hanging on my wall.” Dennis Bailey subsequently persuaded him to open up for him and it turned out the hotel was the converted former vicarage of the Church. It was the hotelier on that visit that gave him the crest and motto which he had discovered in the vicarage and it has subsequently been cleaned up. The Hichens family are quite excited because they didn’t know they had a family motto!
James Harvey Hichens was, according to Dennis Bailey, who has kindly followed this up for us … [info awaited]
A subsequent search (via Lycos) has revealed a minor reference to the motto
as that of both R. Hichens and his brother W. Hichens, in a list of bookplates
with the Devon Library Services1.
1The collection of bookplates in the Westcountry Studies Library was largely assembled by the Plymouth antiquary Joshua Brooking Rowe (1837-1908) and bequeathed to Exeter City Library in 1908. It was added to at later dates until the 1930s but no indexes survived the air raid on the Library in 1942. In the 1990s an index was made to the collection by a volunteer, Mrs Peggy Moreton, and it is through her enthusiasm that this guide to the collection can be made available on the internet. (http://www.devon.gov.uk/library/locstudy/bookplat.html)