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Memories of St Luke's

A number of our graduates will have attended St. Luke’s College in the days before integration with the University. We welcome any news or stories they may have to share with their former colleagues.

Edwin Astill (1966-1970) has used lockdown time to send us some memories.

Attending St Luke’s has given me a lasting affection for the city and county, and it is always a pleasure to return and wander around the College and old haunts.

Back in 1970 my year group was one of the earliest to be allowed to take the extra year in order to sit the B.Ed exams. On passing we were required to rehearse for the great day when we graduated. Mounting a platform and receiving a scroll was not something to be left to chance!   After successfully getting through rehearsals we all came out into the foyer, where there was a buffet table. We were impressed by the generosity and thoughtfulness of the University authorities and duly tucked in... until an angry face appeared “Oi, that’s not for you!” Otherwise I think we rarely had contact with the students ‘on the hill’.

We had an advantage, I suppose, in being within easy walking distance of the city centre. One discovery I made was the Devon and Exeter Institution in the Cathedral Close. For 3 guineas (remember them?) you could get annual membership, and its Gentlemen’s Club atmosphere made it an ideal place to study. City pubs were a big attraction, although many have closed or become restaurants, but I hope the old favourites will survive the current problems.

As you would expect, sport and other student activities played a big part in our lives. I was interested in rock climbing, and after a day out climbing I would get back having missed High Tea, and go to the Horse and Groom in Heavitree (landlord the great Cliff Bastin of Arsenal and England fame) for a Cornish pasty and half a pint of British sherry dispensed from a plastic barrel. The annual rugby match against Loughborough at the Stoop Memorial Ground was a highlight of the year, giving us the whole evening after the game to explore the dubious delights of Soho before getting the midnight bus back to Exeter.

Having been retired for some 12 years I have devoted some of my time to researching the Great War, and have had published several books, including editing the war diaries of Col. Alexander Johnston. I have also privately produced a small book commemorating the St Luke’s men who died during that war. Many of the students had joined the Territorial army - the 4th battalion Devonshire Regt. - with several tutors serving as officers.  The battalion served in India, with many of the men going on to take part in the Mesopotamian campaign. Each year on active service the men celebrated St Luke’s day.


Date: 4 June 2020

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