Scholars are all just hooping for the best

PUBLISHED: 12:16 30 March 2006 | UPDATED: 11:39 04 May 2010

Hoop Trundle winners David Townsend and Fiona Slater

Hoop Trundle winners David Townsend and Fiona Slater

PUPILS at East Anglia s oldest independent school, founded over 1,000 years ago, enjoyed one of its most fiercely contested events in the school calendar - the annual Hoop Trundle - on Saturday. The King s and Queen s Scholars of The King s School Ely, in

TURNING CIRCLES: The traditional Hoop Trundle in the cathedral precinct

PUPILS at East Anglia's oldest independent school, founded over 1,000 years ago, enjoyed one of its most fiercely contested events in the school calendar - the annual Hoop Trundle - on Saturday.

The King's and Queen's Scholars of The King's School Ely, in their red gowns, run races in the cathedral precinct while bowling traditional wooden hoops. They included 18-year-old brothers David and Alex Townsend, the first twins to be King's Scholars.

They both reached the final of the 2005 event, which was won by David Townsend, who is this year's head of school.

The Hoop Trundle commemorates the re-founding of The King's School Ely by King Henry V111 in 1541. Having dissolved Ely monastery, which had educated children for centuries, he gave the school its first royal charter and established the 12 King's Scholars (boys). One of the privileges he allowed them was to play games, including the bowling of hoops, in the cathedral precincts.

In 1970, the school admitted girls for the first time in its 1,000-year history, and three years later the King's Scholars were joined by Queen's Scholars (girls) at the request of Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to the school in 1973.

Pupils are nominated as scholars in the sixth form for their academic achievement. They become members of the Cathedral Foundation and also qualify for other privileges.

In the Hoop Trundle, separate races are held for the King's and Queen's Scholars. Two or three heats precede each final and the two winners hold commemorative wooden tankards for a year. The scholars are instructed to run the length of the 75-yard course, turn around a marker and then run back, all without stopping. Pupils and staff lined the course on both sides and cheered them on.

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