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Cyril Argentine Alington (22 October 1872 – 16 May 1955) was an English educationalist, scholar, cleric, and prolific author. He was the headmaster of both Shrewsbury School and Eton College. He also served as chaplain to King George V and as Dean of Durham.
Dr Alington was the second son of the Rev. Henry Giles Alington, an inspector of schools, and his wife Jane Margaret Booth (d.1910), daughter of Rev. Thomas Willingham Booth. His father came from a long line of clerics, and was descended from the Alingtons of Horseheath, an ancient Cambridgeshire family. He was educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Oxford, and was elected a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford in 1896. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1901.
Alington's educational career began when he became sixth-form master at Marlborough College in 1896. He moved to Eton College in 1899, leaving to became headmaster of Shrewsbury School in 1908. In 1917 he returned to Eton to succeed his brother-in-law, Edward Lyttelton, as headmaster and he remained there until his retirement from teaching in 1933. He served as chairman of the Headmasters' Conference, 1924-25. At Eton, a building which houses much of the English department is now named after him, as is Shrewsbury's school hall.
From 1933 to 1951 Alington served as Dean of Durham. He had become a Doctor of Divinity at Oxford in 1917 and received other honours: he was chaplain to the King from 1921 until 1933; he was made an honorary fellow of Trinity College, Oxford in 1926, and an honorary DCL at Durham University in 1937. He received the freedom of the City of Durham in 1949.
He was endowed with almost every gift to ensure a successful career. Extraordinarily handsome, especially in later years when robed and in the pulpit, he impressed the great majority of boys at Shrewsbury and Eton. As a young man he was a very successful cricketer and for years afterwards he maintained a high standard as a player of fives and rackets. He possessed a wide and extraordinarily retentive memory which enabled him to produce the apt quotation for any occasion. He was a most facile and brilliant versifier and he composed some admirable hymns. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine on June 29, 1931. "An accomplished classicist, a witty writer especially of light verse, and a priest of orthodox convictions" ..."
Marriage and family
In 1904, Alington married Hester Margaret Lyttelton (CBE; died 1958), the youngest daughter of George Lyttelton, 4th Baron Lyttelton. The couple had four daughters and two sons. Their eldest daughter, Kathleen, died at the age of thirty and their youngest son Patrick Alington, was killed during World War II at Salerno in 1943. Their eldest son, Giles Alington, became Dean and Senior Tutor of University College, Oxford. The three surviving daughters all married Etonians. Lavinia married Sir Roger Mynors academic and classical scholar, Elizabeth married Sir Alec Douglas-Home British prime minister, and Joan married Rev. John Wilkes, Master in College and later House Master at Eton, Warden of Radley College and later vicar of Marlow. Alington died at the age of 82 and was buried at Durham Cathedral where there is a memorial in the north transept.
Alington wrote more than 50 books including works on religion, biography, history, poetry, and a series of detective novels. He also wrote several popular hymns including The Lord of Hosts Our King Shall Be. This hymn is used as the epigraph to Nevil Shute's novel "In the Wet" (NS Norway was a pupil at Shrewsbury; Alington and Shrewsbury feature in his autobiography "Slide Rule")
His works of fiction include:
- Mr Evans - A Cricketo-Detective Story (1922)
- Through the Shadows (1922)
- Strained Relations (1922)
- The Count in Kensington (1926)
- King Harrison & Others (1923)
- The Abbot's Cup (1930)
- Crime on the Kennet (1939)
- Ten Crowded Hours (1944)
- Archdeacons Afloat (1946)
- Midnight Wireless (1947)
- Archdeacons Ashore (1947)
- Blackmail in Blankshire (1949)
- Gold and Gaiters (1950)
- The Nabob's Jewel (1953)
- Blessed Blunders (1954).
His non-fiction works include:
- A Schoolmaster's Apology (1914)
- Shrewsbury Fables (1917)
- Eton Fables (1921)
- Twenty Years: Being a Study of the Party System, 1815–1835 (1921)
- Virgil Aeneid IV-VI (1922 - translation of Virgil)
- Why We Read the Old Testament (1924)
- An Eton Poetry Book (1925 - an anthology co-edited with George Lyttelton)
- More Eton Fables (1927)
- Elementary Christianity (1927)
- Doubts and Difficulties (1929)
- Cautionary Catches (1931 - verses in Latin and English)
- Christian Outlines: An Introduction to Religion (1932)
- Final Eton Fables (1933)
- Eton Faces Old and Young (1933)
- Lionel Ford (1934)
- The Fool Hath Said (1933)
- Can We Believe in God? (1936)
- Things Ancient and Modern (1936 - autobiographical book on English public schools)
- The New Testament: A Reader's Guide (1938)
- The Last Crusade (1940)
- Christianity in England: An Historical Sketch (1942)
- Poets at Play (1942)
- In Shabby Streets and Other Verses (1942)
- Edward Lyttelton: An Appreciation (1943)
- Good News (1945);
- Europe: A Personal and Political Survey (1946)
- The Life Everlasting (1947)
- Durham Cathedral: The Story of a Thousand Years (1948)
- Sense and Non-sense (1949)
- The Kingdom of God (1950)
- A Dean's Apology: A Semi-religious Autobiography (1952).
- R.W. Pfaff, Montague Rhodes James, Scolar Press 1980, p;260
The New Standard Encyclopaedia and World Atlas 1932
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Burke's Landed Gentry, edited by Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, 18th edition, London, 1972, volume 3, p. 11.
Henry Whitehead Moss
|Headmaster of Shrewsbury School
|Head master of Eton College
Claude Aurelius Elliott
|Church of England titles|
||Chaplain-in-Ordinary to the Monarch of the United Kingdom
James Edward Cowell Welldon
|Dean of Durham Cathedral
John Herbert Severn Wild