FORMER Hereford Cathedral School headmaster Canon Dr Howard Tomlinson has been busy in the 11 years since retirement: Hereford Cathedral School: A History Over 800 Years saw a celebration in The House of Commons and a launch in Hereford Cathedral.

"It's a weighty tome containing fine scholarship and a definitive history as far as we're concerned," said Very Rev. Michael Tavinor, President of Governors at HCS, in his introduction.

It was a former Cathedral librarian, Joan Williams, who suggested that Dr Tomlinson pen the history of the school, which had never previously been undertaken, and he also remains indebted to his two preceding Heads, Barry Sutton and David Richards who died within four months of one another in 2016-17, for sharing their insights into former times.

"Heather has lived with this project for far too long!" Dr Tomlinson said of his wife and fellow historian, before commending her for her guidance and patience in his writing endeavours.

As a postgraduate student Dr Tomlinson won both the Julian Corbett prize in naval history and the Royal Historical Society's prestigious Alexander prize and he is the author and editor of several books and articles on aspects of early modern history, including the post-Resoration chapter in the millennium History of Hereford Cathedral, so he was perfectly placed to take on the mammoth task.

More than a straight historical record, the book aims to set the school's development within the context of the wider community, and as such is a microcosm of the history of England throughout the period. It Is a rich and complex story of survival and growth of one of Hereford's oldest living institutions, one that has weathered the storms of the civil war in the 1640s, prospered during the Restoration, survived the scandal of the headmaster who ran into financial difficulties in the late C18th and had to be removed from office and avoided closure when numbers fell to single figures in the late 1840s.

On top of this it has fought off proposed mergers, lived through austerity and seen modernisation as it became co-ed in the 1970s.

Told through the tenures of the succession of 50 headmasters we learn that it is a relative handful who brought the school on in terms of buildings, sport or education change and as such it is a story of characters as well as an institution.

Howard is now engaged in writing the cathedral's St Ethelbert lecture (May 21) on Christian Manliness in the Victorian period, as well as preparing a talk on a schoolboy diary of 1919 for the Hereford Three Choirs Festival. He then hopes, after a summer's rest, to embark on a new project relating to the Hereford Cathedral foundation.The publication is available from Logaston Press and was one of the final projects for outgoing owners, Andy and Karen Johnson.

It is available at £25 from Mrs H Pearson, Hereford Cathedral School, Old Deanery, The Cathedral Close, Hereford HR1 2NG or email Postal charges apply.