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News > Births, Deaths and Marriages > LANCE MARSHALL – FRIEND, TEACHER AND EXAMPLE


Lance Marshall, who died on November 20 at the age of 90, was the first housemaster of Cubitt and a man who made a huge impression on Cranleigh in his two decades at the school.

Lance Marshall, who died on November 20 at the age of 90, was the first housemaster of Cubitt and a man who made a huge impression on Cranleigh in his two decades at the school.

Educated at Magdalen College School and Oxford, he initially planned to become a farmer before realising he would need to earn money to buy a farm. After three years in the City he arrived to teach at Cranleigh Prep School in 1955. When David Emms opened a much-needed seventh boarding house in 1961 he brought Lance across the road to head it.

He ensured Cubitt was a success from the start and as a housemaster he ran a very tight ship. Stephen Winkley (MCR 1969-1985) said his secret “was his immense patience and his ability to sit and listen to apparently inconsequential nonsense for hour after hour, knowing what was important was the fact he was in good communication with one of his pupils”.

He was also much respected. “Lance was a very great example to his young charges,” said Chris Holker (Cubitt 1969). “He dressed beautifully … far better than any of the parents. His signature was a dark solid colour shirt, possibly dark green or blue, topped off by a starched white collar and knitted silk tie.”

Marc Donaldson (Cubitt 1973) recalled that “he was a very interesting man, quite unique. He called many boys ‘Snooks’. He made Cubitt life interesting by altering the house rules at will, then applying the new rule before you were aware. Then when the protest came that this was unfair, his response back would be, ‘but Snooks, life is not fair’. “

Michael Dorrell (Cubitt 1965), one of those transferred into Cubitt when it opened, said Lance forged a strong new house from the off. “He was erudite and very well read … his brother was a whaler on the South Seas and Lance would invite him to regale us with unlikely stories of dangerous derring-do in mountainous seas while we listened slack-jawed in our pyjamas over hot chocolate in Lance’s study.”

Lance was more than just a housemaster, however, and he involved himself in many aspects of school life, perhaps most notably in drama where he was involved in many productions.

After completing his 15 years as head of Cubitt, Lance moved on from Cranleigh to become principal at the Royal College for the Blind where he remained from 1976 to 1990 and was a great success. At the time of his departure, Winkley, writing in The Cranleighan, referred him as a brilliant writer of reports (“He little knows how little he knows”) before summing him up as follows. “He will be remembered as a great example of a tradition which is vanishing … underneath the urbanity, the style, the suavity, the unruffled poise, there was an intense commitment to getting the best out of people. Lance was not a cold person, though to many he seemed cold; he was not a frightening person, though to many he seemed intimidating; behind everything was a real belief in values which he transmitted to his generations of Cubittians. To most who knew him he was friend, teacher and example.

Although he was hugely committed to the Royal College for the Blind, he was also a truly committed husband to Jan (they married in 1973) and father to David, Tamsin and Will. Books were a huge part of his life, and he adored visiting Hay on Wye and their second hand book shops. He loved writing, music and current affairs.

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