Royal School of Church Music


In these days when educational establishments want to be called universtities, colleges, academies, institutions, etc, there is still one modestly called a ‘school’. …..RSCM

rscm-nicholsonThe moving figure was Sir Sidney Nicholson. He was born in 1875, studied at Oxford, the Royal College of Music, and then Frankfurt-in-Main. By his late 20s he was holding positions at Carlisle Cathedral, and Manchester. He was then at Westminster Abbey from1918-1928.

By then he had decided to establish St. Nicholas College, and an associated School of English Church Music, to improve the quality of music in Churches. (Makes me wonder what was happening around the rest of the UK!) The SECM, was formed by Sir Sidney, on 6th December 1927 (the feast of St Nicolas, Patron of Choirboys and children) at a meeting in the Abbey. It had a number of associated choirs and churches all committed to high standards.

rscm-bullers-wood1From 1929 to the outbreak of war it operated from Bullers Wood in Chislehurst, Kent, and organised major choral festivals in the London area. By this time there were some 1300 affiliated churches home and abroad. Many students were called-up in 1945 but Sir Sydney continued travelling round teaching to Parish Churches and Dioceses, from Tenbury and Leamington Spa.

At the end of the war, it became the RSCM operating from the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral with the College of St Nicholas being re-established there. By 1952, there were over 3000 affiliated churches.

rscm-addington20palaceMost of us who have any connection with the RSCM, will know the picture of Addington Palace, Croydon where they moved to in 1954. It had been the home of the Archbishops of Canterbury, and was a wonderful setting.

 From 1996 to 2006 the headquarters were at Cleveden Lodge near Dorking, and is now established at Sarum College, in Salisbury.

 It is and has been, arguably the most  decisive influence on the quality of our religious praise over the last 80 years, and no doubt will continue to be so, and all because of Sir Sydney Nicholson.

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