Changing the name of Abergavenny's secondary school would have needed the consent of King Charles III it has been revealed
Had Monmouthshire councillors dropped the Tudor king’s name from the title of the Abergavenny school they would have had to gain permission from the Welsh Government, Secretary of State for Wales David Davies MP and ultimately King Charles III himself.
But no such requests will be required after the county council backed the public’s choice to stick with the King Henry VIII School name when the comprehensive reopens as an all through school for children aged three to 19.
The former king – best known for his six marriages and for having ordered the execution of two of his wives – established a school in the town in 1542 and is credited as the benefactor, and appointed its first headteacher.
But with the new three to 19 school under construction on the King Henry site the council had considered whether a new name should be adopted. It replaces the nearby Deri View Primary as well as the existing comprehensive.
Both schools will formally close on August 31, this year and the new school will be established from September 1 in time for the new academic year though pupils will remain in their existing buildings as the purpose built school isn’t expected to be ready until September 2024.
During November and December last year Abergavenny Town Council and Monmouthshire County Council ran a fortnight long poll to gauge the opinion of current pupils and the wider community on the name.
People could vote online and a ballot box was also placed outside Abergavenny Market Hall and a total of 4,487 votes were cast.
Of those 4,069 backed keeping the Henry VIII name, the second most popular choice was The Abergavenny Learning Centre with 228 votes while 177 supported naming the school Deri View and 13 people logged in but did not vote.
Monmouthshire councillors were told the intention was to “gauge the strength and depth of feeling” rather than determine the name.
Llanfoist Labour councillor Ben Callard, who thought he may be the only former King Henry pupil on the council, said he had some “conflict about naming the school after someone who represents entrenched inequality, murdered a number of his wives and then went on to split the Christian church, creating centuries of conflict.
“However, that taken, it’s been King Henry VIII for the last 481 years and I think it is a tradition in Abergavenny and I would support, in spite of the issues, continuing with the name.”
Malcolm Lane, Conservative councillor for the Mardy ward, said he was an old boy of King Henry when it was the grammar school would “hate to see the name change, it is part of Abergavenny’s history” while Park ward member Tudor Thomas (Labour) said he taught at the school and that “something bland like Abergavenny Learning Community Hub would be highly unpopular.”
Labour councillor for Rogiet Peter Strong said when Lord Raglan spoke at the King Henry Old Boys annual dinner, in the 1930s, he’d caused “some trouble” by praising King Henry and claiming it was 'proof Monmouthshire was really part of England'.
“This caused a vociferous reaction from the Abergavenny Welsh Society so I wouldn’t want to see more unrest as a result of this decision and so as long as we are fairly sure the sons of Glyndwr won’t try to burn down the new school I’d be quite happy to stick with the existing name.”