St Marks Primary and High School Alumni

St Marks Primary and High School Alumni

About St.Marks Home Swaziland St Marks

2010 Reunion

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Right Reverend Christopher Watts


In his book 'Dawn in Swaziland' (published 1922) Archdeacon Watts records the beginnings of our school.
Below is an edited note from the book.

“In 1909 the four children who gathered in the ten by ten foot room of the priest in charge of Mbabane formed the nucleus of what is now a large and flourishing boarding school, with over eighty pupils, a staff of five teachers, a large building, and with several successes in the Cape Matriculation Examination to its credit.

In 1922 one of the pupils obtained second-class honours in a year when no first-class honours were granted, and a Swaziland boy stood out as one of eight in the whole of the Union of South Africa and Rhodesia, amidst an entry of several thousand candidates.

Source: Diocese of
Namibia ( Damaraland)

In 1909 there were no desks or forms, no slates, no school books; everything had to be improvised as the work proceeded. The children seated on the mud floor of the room did their work on the seats of chairs borrowed from the little church. Within a few months the four scholars had increased to eighteen, and a little house in the place had been hired in which they were boarded. Now, with the generous help of the
Swaziland Government, and others, good school buildings have been erected on a prominent and healthy site, and proper apparatus has been bought.

The rule of the school was that no fixed fees should be charged and that no child should be deprived of a good education on account of the poverty, or even the idleness, of the parent. Those parents who could afford it paid well, those who could afford little paid little, while for the very poor education and even clothing and necessary transport were free. The system worked easily, as there are few social distinctions in Swaziland , and all children, whether British or Boer, rich or poor, were treated in exactly the same way. The school became a home as well as a school, and an orphanage in case of need. The necessary money was found partly by the Government, and partly by private subscriptions.

St Marks School Swaziland circa 1920/1930
St Marks School circa 1920/30s Source: Swaziland National Trust

The fame of Mbabane as an educational centre soon spread, and extra post-carts had to be put on the road at the beginning and end of each term. The school became a great asset to the territory.

Founded as a missionary institution in every sense of the word, and carried on as such, the aim of the teachers has always been that everything should be built on the foundation of all life, character, and knowledge, Jesus Christ our Lord. The services in the little church of Mbabane were the centre around which all revolved. And so in 1911 the Government Inspector of Schools for the Crown Colonies of South Africa was able to report: "It is evident that the children receive a really excellent education and training, likely to exercise an enormous influence on the future career of each individual scholar," and to follow this by many good reports of a similar nature.”

Christopher Cecil Watts founder of St Marks School Swaziland  

Right Reverend Christopher Watts:

1877 - Born 6 May 1887, educated at Shrewsbury
1896 - Further education at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge until 1899
1900 - Ordained by Bishop of London (Curate St Marks, Noel Park, London)
1901 - Became a Priest
1904 - Obtained MA
1907 - Came to Swaziland as Priest-in-charge of Mbabane
1909 - Gathered four children together for schooling in Mbabane
1918 - Made Archdeacon of Swaziland
1921 - Last year as headmaster of St Marks
1922 - Wrote Dawn in Swaziland
1927 - Returned to St Marks, Noel Park until 1929
1930 - Married Magdalene Beatrice Adams
1930 - Became warden of Zonnebloem College, Cape Town
1931 - Consecrated as Bishop of Helena
1935 - Became Bishop of Damaraland
1936 - Wrote a small book entitled 'In Mid Atlantic'
1958 - 23 July passed away at Haywards Heath

Diocese of St Helena
(Research by: Michael Martin - February 2008)