Arthur Hughes Phyllis paintingSir Lawrence Alma-Tadema A Harvest Festival paintingSir Lawrence Alma-Tadema A coign of vantage painting confirmed went up to the chancel rails, Charles with them. Symonds sat back, twisted his long legs into the aisle to allow his row to pass, and remained in his place. Charles took Communion and returned to his row. He had been confirmed the term before, incuriously, without expectation or disappointment. When, later in life, he read accounts of the emotional disturbances caused in other boys by the ceremony he found them unintelligible; to Charles it was one of the rites of adolescence, like being made, when a new boy, to stand on the table and sing. The Chaplain had “prepared” him and had confined his conferences to theology. There had been no probing of his sexual life; he had no sexual to probe. Instead they had talked of prayer and the sacraments.
Spierpoint was a product of the Oxford Movement, founded with definite religious aims; in eighty years it had grown more and more to resemble the older Public Schools, but there was still a strong ecclesiastical flavour in the place. Some boys were genuinely devout and their peculiarity was respected; in general profanity was rare and ill-looked-on. Most of the Sixth professed themselves agnostic or atheist.
The school had been chosen for Charles because, at the age of eleven, he had had a “religious phase” and told his father that he wished to become a priest