Peter Rex RIP
News of the death of Peter Rex, former Head of History, on Sunday 25 March in Ely aged 82, led to a flurry of emails from former pupils with an illuminating range of memories of the man himself.
A true legend is he. Long Live Rex. Even after all of the years that have passed, I can still hear his dulcet voice banging to and fro in my head. He loved to correct my Americanisms. We colonials drove the man batty.
I can still recall stories he would regale us with in class about the evolution of the English language. Dunsmore Heath anyone? Hill Hill Hill to those of us in the know.
Mr. Rex’s historical perspective was vast and frightening and I plan on adding all of his tomes to my collection.
I will admit with some certain glee and snobbery that I probably learned more from that one man than I learned from anyone since then in the subjects that he taught.
At the time… I had no idea about the massive imprint he was having on my small childish American brain, but when I make comments on various websites across the vast electronic world of ours I post as if I were Mr. Rex himself. In fact I have used "pusillanimous prig" more than any human being should be allowed to, not only in posts on the web, but in everyday conversations. It still works as a very sharp dagger that most people will never ever try to argue with you past the point at which this two-word weapon is brandished.
I mourn for his passing as I mourned for the other larger than life characters in the Wm. Shakespeare that he taught me to love.
So Mr Rex has passed on. I was very sad to hear the news. He featured large in my years at Princethorpe and, unlike many of his contemporaries, I don't believe he had any nickname. The call "Rex is coming" was enough to terrify even the hardest! He could be very intimidating but whilst he tolerated no nonsense he had a very sharp sense of humour if he was in the mood. He taught me everything from British Constitution to History to English to RE. His nemesis in my day was a guy called Bernard Fox - their battles were nigh on legendary! Fond memories. A real character who lives long in the memory, and who will continue to do so.
As an ex-Princethorpian I was saddened to hear of the death of Peter Rex.
In Year 7, I was a very nervous child and Mr. Rex found me upset and sitting on my own in a classroom at lunchtime. I felt rather alone as most of my friends had gone to different schools. Despite his reputation, I fondly remember his kindness (without his audience!), and calming words. I jumped to my feet and never looked back!
I don't think he ever realised my appreciation.
Alex Darkes was asked to give the eulogy at Peter's funeral in Ely on Wednesday 11 April. To read the Eulogy click here.
He comments, "There were a few OPs present including Eddie Tolcher, Mike Loughnane, who came over from Cambridge, and Zara Healy. We gave him a good send-off and I think that Christina was very pleased that the day was a true celebration of Peter’s life. Amazingly despite suffering with ill health for many years he managed to write seven books in retirement. He had become totally deaf in recent years. Christina is still hale and hearty and in very good form. Richard, their son, who lives in Cambridge, has six sons who all did their grandfather proud, taking part in the service, either singing, reading or playing the organ."
William the Conqueror: The Bastard of Normandy by Peter Rex and published by Amberley Publishing was released in paperback on 28 April 2012