The Leas School,  Hoylake

Kenneth  Herbert  Moxhay  SUTTON

b 13 Aug 1891,  Fairfield, Goring, Oxfordshire, England

d 18 Dec 1967,  121 Arrowe Road, Greasby, Wirral, Cheshire, England

Kenneth Sutton was a member of the extended family which owned and managed Suttons Seeds; his parents were Herbert Sutton, seed merchant, and Emma Moxhay, daughter of William Watkinson Moxhay, doctor (general practitioner and surgeon).

Kenneth had siblings: his younger brother Wilfred died in France in 1916 of wounds received in action, probably during the battle at Flers-Courcelette; and his elder brother Douglas served as a rifleman in the King's Rifle Regiment, and was held as a prisoner-of-war 1918-19. Kenneth also had an older sister Coralie.

Before the War, Kenneth attended Rugby School, where he reached the rank of Lance Corporal in the Officer Training Corps (OTC); he was a member of the Shooting VIII in 1906, 1908 & 1910, and left Rugby in July 1910. Kenneth won an Exhibition to Pembroke College, Cambridge, graduating BA on 17 June 1913, after achieving Class 2 Division 2 in the Classical Tripos; he served as a private in the University OTC.

After Cambridge, Kenneth joined the staff of The Leas; and it was in Hoylake that he joined the joined the army in December 1915, being assigned to the Artists Rifles OTC in February 1916. He was appointed (unpaid) Lance Corporal, and successfully gained a commission in the regular army.

Kenneth served in the Guards' Machine Gun Regiment, holding a commission as 2nd Lieutenant (16 Aug 1916), then Lieutenant (16 Dec 1916), in the Grenadier Guards; after several appearances before Medical Boards in 1918, he was obliged to retire his commission (4 Jan 1919) due to "ill health contracted on active service" - presumably the deafness which continued to plague him for the rest of his life.

Kenneth rejoined the staff of The Leas very shortly after his retirement from the army: on 22 Jan 1919 he informed the War Office that "my address from date until further notice will be The Leas, Hoylake, Cheshire".

With his independent income from Suttons Seeds, Kenneth was able to afford various sorts of high-tech equipment: hearing-aids (sometimes more than one at a time), watches (often one on each wrist), stopwatches (for school sports), cameras (his photo albums are wonderful records of school activity), cars (probably only one at a time!). He provided little music-manuscript books to the choir, with parts written out in his own neat hand; perhaps some of the school's air-rifles and associated pellets and targets were also supplied by him, though most were presented by generous parents.

Kenneth selected and rehearsed the school choir, and sang the bass part, sitting behind the altos (on the right as you looked at the altar). He taught the choir his own chant for Nunc Dimittis, arranged from Elgar's Gerontius; and at the end of important services he would get the choir to sing the Dresden Amen, or a longer and dreamier Amen which was perhaps his own composition. With the help of Rushworth & Dreaper, a vinyl record was made of the choir (which included Rushworth twins at the time); the performance wasn't great, but it was an exciting thing to do.

Kenneth had a room in Sandicroft, 5 Graham Road, a house owned by the school. In the 1950s Kenneth's sister Coralie came to live with him at 121 Arrowe Road for their last years; from time to time they would invite two or three boys to tea, Kenneth chauffeuring them to and fro. Most terms he would take a couple of boys to a service in Liverpool's Anglican cathedral, and show the massive building works still in progress; and occasionally there might be an outing to a concert in the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

Kenneth's nickname (at least in his latter years) was not the most complimentary: he was known as Bloater, which certainly captured his often grumpy rotundity. Behind the grumpiness was someone who wanted the best, but had too often met disappointment. Sadly he took out his disappointment in a most unprofessional way, in shouting and mockery: examples survive of his intimidatory marking of work which he found unsatisfactory.

Michael Longson (The Leas 20t3-24t2) writes in his autobiography A Classical Youth (Anthony Blond, 1985):

I fancy that Sutton was obsessed with the idea of what might have been, or rather what he wished had been, and even that his habitual aggressiveness masked the self-mistrust of a man whose achievements had never come up to his hopes. ... A great deal too can be explained by his premature deafness; his failures could have weighed less heavily on him, he could have been a very different person, had his mind not been driven in on itself by that enforced semi-isolation.

See also Tom Hannay's eulogy.

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