Keeping a Centuries Old Tradition Alive

By Ruth Motion – the Kings of Wessex Academy

Ascension Day, 26th May 2022, gave the learners at the Kings of Wessex Academy the opportunity to restore a 139 year old tradition to its full glory!

Since 1883, the children of the Kings of Wessex Academy have celebrated their moving on to pastures new by climbing the tower of St. Andrew’s Church in Cheddar on Ascension Day and singing the Ascension Hymn. The tradition (which was brought to the school by a former headmaster who had seen similar traditions at Colleges in Oxford) has continued uninterrupted since then, with children attending a short service in the church, followed by the oldest children climbing the tower, and the youngest watching from the vicarage garden with sticky buns.

Unfortunately over the last two years, the tradition has had to continue virtually, and at ground level as the school has dealt with the impact of COVID-19. Luckily this year however the school was finally able to return to normal celebrations once again!

As such, this morning the youngest students in the school, Year 9, and the oldest, Year 13, came to St. Andrews Church in Cheddar and had a short service together, after which Year 9 students went into the vicarage garden to have “sticky buns”.

While they munched the buns the school brass band climbed 149 steps to the top of the church tower. Year 13 students, who will be leaving Kings in September, ascended the tower in small groups. Once at the top they sang a verse of the ascension hymn and enjoyed a medley of different music whilst they took photos, looked out over Cheddar and waved at the Year 9s in the garden below.

After two years of celebrating this tradition at ground level and without any students because of COVID, it was fantastic to be able to be able to do it once again.