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Matt Mattingley remembered...

This is a compilation of the many tributes sent by Matt’s friends and colleagues, which paints a charming and touching picture of a life well spent.
How Matt will be remembered
How Matt will be remembered

This is a compilation of the many tributes sent by Matt’s friends and colleagues, which paints a charming and touching picture of a life well spent.

Ivor Watts , now living in Devon, was Matt’s oldest friend and although they had not met for many years they had always kept in touch. He writes – We met in the last year at Oxford Road Elementary School, Reading in 1935 and both won scholarships to Reading School the following year. In almost all matters he was always exactly one step ahead of me (except in sport where he excelled whereas I was a rabbit). I was Vice Captain when he was Captain and we shared his study. I succeeded him as secretary of the debating society, of which we were both vocal members, and we were both very active in the operatic and dramatic societies. My parents were very fond of Matt; he visited us often and he and I would reduce my mother to helpless laughter with spoof ballet. We shared, indeed, a rather outré sense of humour; one of our amusements was the invention of unlikely societies, one of his being a “Society for the prevention of Goats”. He was later Best Man at my wedding and our friendship has lasted for 76 years – a long time!

Derek Thomerson was also a contemporary of Matt’s at Reading School. “We both performed in several plays and Gilbert and Sullivan operas together. When he left school he served in the Navy and was on several Arctic crossings to Russia for which he never received a medal. (Not true!) In 1947 the two of us cycled from Reading to York in 3 days for a camping holiday; of course in those days there was hardly any traffic on the roads. Whilst he was at university my parents became very close to him and were proud of him when he became a master at Downside and played rugger for Bath. I visited them several times when they lived at The Round House and went to a school performance of “The importance of being Earnest” directed by Catharine. We had performed the same play at school when Matt played the part of Earnest and I was Gwendolyn. Happy days!

Jack Loeb played rugby with Matt at Reading school and sent a photo of the school 1st XV 1942-3 expressing deep condolences.

Dennis Moriarty was at the Reading School from 1943-54 and was President of the Old Readingensian Assocaition in 2001. I write in sincere sympathy for you and your family and out of affection for a really legendary and important person in the history of Reading School during our lifetime. I remember him well (although I was ten years younger), as a towering figure not only on the rugby field (where he excelled) but also as a very impressive, yet approachable, benign yet authoritative, Captain of School. Eleven years later I was to follow him in this role and indeed we both served as Presidents of the Old Readingensian Association in more recent years. He had, too, an enviable reputation on the school stage as a good actor with a resonant voice of some ambition – in fact it was here that I first encountered him when we appeared together in productions of Ruddigore and Iolanthe – he a fine Victorian figure and I, alas, as a piping treble! His academic distinction at school and at Reading University passed me by due to my youth, and I knew little of his career until much later, but all the instincts and vibes he generated indicated that he was ideally suited to the life of a dedicated schoolmaster, loyal to the school and devoted to his pupils. His many talents combined with his commitment would have made him an admirable master of his profession and I can see him now as a kindly, wholly sympathetic, encouraging exemplar in his care and guidance of the young. His long and loyal service at Seaford College is indicative of an ideal member of staff to whom generations of colleagues and pupils must have been both admiring and eternally grateful. Well done and thank you I hear them say! I salute him.

Guenever Miller, now living in Suffolk says "I am sorry to hear that the last few years had been so difficult for Matt. We were at Reading University together and were both Church Wardens at the University ChapeL. We were also both members of the University Singers and it was good to see him a few years ago when we had a chance to reminisce about the old days! I know he was very lonely after Catharine died, but he continued to make the most of his life and he was a really great guy!"

Kate Thompson writes "Catharine and Matt took Mike and I under their wings when we arrived (at Seaford College) as young things in 1965. We joined the Rustics and within a year Mike became Matt’s deputy when he became Housemaster of Charmandean, taking over from him three years later. Although sad to hear of his death, he led a good life and we have happy memories of his 75th and 80th Birthday parties which meant that so many of us from the Seaford days could get together again. 

Malcolm and Joy Summerlee became close friends at Seaford College. Now living in Canada they have the most wonderful memories of happy days together. His input into the life at Seaford was huge and he played many memorable roles with the Graffham Rustics. Twice Joy had to play opposite him and he brought out the very best that she was capable of doing. “Our thoughts will be with you on January 24th and we feel very humble that we knew Matt when he was at his best and along with Catharine and Crispin we will always treasure many happy memories.

I sent Matt a Christmas card of the Three Kings writes Philip Hill, from Cumbria and a colleague at Seaford. When he was in the chapel choir at Seaford College, the carol The Three Kings was known as Matt’s carol – he invariably sang the solo part whether it was Chichester Cathedral or on tour – wherever. Both the boys and I have fond and humorous memories of Matt and both Sandra and I remember both him and Catharine with much affection.

I am sure that there will be a great number of Matt’s friends from the many activities which benefitted from his participation – rugby, bridge, stage productions, inspirational teaching etc along with his long years with Catharine at The Round House. I am so sorry that I am not able to be with you on 24th January but Maurice and Julia Hudson will be at the Memorial Service on my behalf and I will certainly be thinking of you all. Matt’s long years at Seaford really began for me when he left the bachelor group of young staff to marry Catharine in the Chapel and I played the organ at the ceremony. Over the intervening years there comes a kaleidoscope of memories. Watching Matt reffing matches, playing duplicate bridge, sharing the GCSE English sets when John Robertson was ill, seeing him on the stage, singing in he choir. Very recently Graffham Rustics celebrated their silver anniversary and I attended the show. Matt sat at the front of the stage and short excerpts were tied together by his commentary and he even joined in singing some of the songs with the younger actors – it was splendid! We will miss him as a well-loved friend whose memory will not be forgotten. Joscelyn Johnson, widow of Canon Charles Johnson, Headmaster of Seaford College during Matt’s time.

Julia Hudson and her husband Malcolm recall how well they knew Catharine and Matt during many years on the staff at Seaford College together. Maurice used to run the rugby with Matt eventually taking over from him. They also shared a love of dogs. Matt was a popular member of the staff room with his cheerfulness and ability to produce a pun for every occasion – affectionately known as a Mattism!

Doone Ellerton writes from Arundel on 11 January – Heartfelt condolences on the passing of Matt. I now have to tell you that my own dear John also passed away on 18th December. That makes four of the old school gone within a few weeks – David Heden, John Hill, Matt and John – would you believe it! No doubt they are having a gathering “up there” and looking down on us! So shared sympathies.

The Lanman Family (now living in Wiltshire) have good memories of Catharine and Matt in The Round House at Seaford College. Mum reminded me of the time I didn’t show Matt the relevant Cleudo card (I was only about 13 at the time) which meant that he made a wrong prediction. He often reminded me of it but we also laughed about it too!

Nigel Alabaster writes – Dennis Mattingley was a truly inspirational teacher and mentor to the many pupils that he taught, or had pastoral responsibility for as Head of Charmandean House at Seaford College. His firm, but warm, caring approach helped many of us to “find ourselves” under his hands off, but watchful care. He knew when to guide, encourage or sometimes confront. He gave options, guiding but not pushing us to find the best choices for our personalities. Together with his wife, Catharine, they made wonderful “surrogate” parents to us borders away from our own families.

I often recall the security he gave by doing his rounds late at night to make sure all was well. We called it “walking the dog” as he always took his devoted dog. (That was Crispin!) He was a reserved man, with great dignity. He gave so much to College life, which seemed somewhat under noticed. That would not have worried him. He knew he made a huge difference to the lives of many pupils emotionally, spiritually and academically.

Alastair Summerlee, their son, is President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada from where he sent this email. Catharine and Matt had a very significant influence on my life in many ways. Although I feel that an invincible thread has been severed with the past I am truly grateful and fortunate to have benefitted from Matt’s mentorship, support and friendship. He was a remarkable man and it is a reminder that we are all a composite of the people and experiences that touch us and connect us through life.

I was sorry to hear the sad news about Matt who I remember with much affection from my time at Seaford (Kymes 1970-75) emails Simon Jones from Australia. I clearly recall him teaching us A Level Politics and he must have despaired at my ineptitude for the subject! I remember him as an excellent teacher and an all-round Good Man. He will be sorely missed and it is good to know that he had such a long and fullsome life.

Edward Pearn emails from Scotland to say - I owe an immense amount to Matt (and would have benefitted even more if I had studied more diligently) for his enlightened, enthusiastic and very able teaching of politics and economics. A teacher can play a critical role, for good or bad, and Matt’s effect on me was overwhelmingly positive! I remember always being so keen to attend his classes (although probably less so when I had not done my homework or written an essay properly) and my interest in politics and related economics grew whilst others faded thanks to his knowledge and teaching skills. By far my most successful and contented working experiences since then have been politically related, and my primary specialist interest in the economy would almost certainly not have happened without Matt’s tuition. My lack of commitment to study meant that I did not go on to gain a degree, but by introducing me to The Economist, which I have read without barely a break since, has helped me to more than overcome this possible disadvantage. Matt was a person of style, gravitas and a great educator, and the world is poorer without him. I am sorry he is gone.

Anthony Wyatt writes. "May I say, Mr Mattingley was my housemaster at Charmondean in the early 1960s and he and his wife were very helpful to me during my time at Seaford College. I was able to attend Mrs Mattingley Memorial Service in the school chapel some years ago but sadly cannot join you this time as I live in Massachusetts, USA. So I send me best wishes to you all for a peaceful day of remembrance for a good teacher. Memories keep flooding back to me! The Round House where the Mattingleys lived, even the blue Humber motorcar they owned at that time. Mrs Mattingley took me apple picking at some relatives nearby on one occasion. I remember Mr Mattingley training us on the rugby pitch, the one by the main gates. “Sir” knew that I was not very happy at school and gave me “merit holidays” as they were called. This meant that if you worked hard, instead of just going out on an “exeat” day one was able to go home for the whole weekend! I think the Charmondean building has been demolished now, but I will always remember Mr Mattingley standing in front of the fire in the Common Room at House Meetings with the strains of Bob Dylan coming from the senior studies beyond. A long time ago, how the world has changed!"

Gavin Sandeman (Corsica 1960-64) is very sorry to hear about Dennis.

Daphne Thompson had been a great friend locally for many years and became a member of his “Harem”* following Catharine’s death. They had many interests in common – Rogate Choir, Rogate Church, the theatre, mah-jong and even ballroom dancing! His intellect was much admired by her family, as was his wit.

It was a great privilege to have known Matt – Ann Taylor, Yorkshire.

Lindsay Brown sent this message for The Rectory, Pulborough – David and I have such fond memories of Matt. He welcomed us to Rogate by cooking us a three course supper – very impressive! I then worked with him on new kneelers for the church – I designed, others stitched and he made them into beautiful kneelers, which will last for many years. I still have some of the materials and would like to make a special one in his memory. He was also my pantomime dame in the Rogate Panto when he wore an Elizabeth Hurley safety pin dress! He carried it off with great style and aplomb in spited of his age at the time. He had a wonderful tenor voice and I used to meet him occasionally at choir gatherings in Petworth when we moved here.

It is really sad the Matt’s full life has come to an end. He lived well and intelligently and we were all terribly fond of him. He was also so generous to the members of his harem, of which I was proud to be one. Many good memories – Andrea Frears a local friend.

Gary and Sandra Scott knew Matt and Catharine well when they lived at Graffham following their marriage in 1966 and were members of the Graffham Rustics. They were both involved in the musicals and plays and got to know them very well, spending many an evening at The Round House at Seaford College. They moved away in 1969 but have always kept in touch and it is hard to believe that 40+ years have passed since those happy days!

Matt’s death came as a rather a shock! We shared a love of amateur dramatics with Catharine and Matt over many years (Matt was Pickering to my Higgins in “My Fair Lady” with the Midhurst Players some 20 years ago). I sold them their house in Stedham and Janet and I were privileged to attend his 80th Birthday lunch at the Southdowns Hotel. We shall always remember him as a “Consummate Gentleman” and with a singing voice of perfect pitch! – Eddie Lintott, Stedham

Recollections from Mike Smith, long standing friend and colleague - Disliking his Christian names, preferring to be known simply as Matt, he will be remembered with great affection by his friends and colleagues.

He was exceptionally gifted with a wide range of talents, some of which became apparent during his schooldays at Reading School. He was a true scholar with a precise mind given to a variety of academic and cultural achievements. He became involved in many aspects of school life culminating in Captain of the School. Besides academic achievements, he became a distinguished rugger player, made many notable performances in school drama productions particularly Gilbert and Sullivan operas as well as becoming a Scout Troup Leader.

On leaving school in 1943 he trained as a Naval Officer becoming a control officer in the Pacific and serving on the perilous Arctic Convoys to Murmansk.

After demobilisation he went up to Reading University to read Economics, which was followed by a Diploma in Education. Again, he threw himself into university life participating in many activities on the attractive “Old Red” campus. In particular he wrote, directed and acted in a number of stage productions and played rugby for both the University and Berkshire.

His first teaching job was at Downside where he taught a number of subjects until a monk who needed no salary replaced him! Whilst there, he further developed his rugby skills playing for Bath and for Southern Counties against both the Springboks and the All Blacks. During this time he met Catharine, his future wife who lived nearby, through their love of amateur dramatics. They married shortly after his appointment to Seaford College in 1952 where they took up residence in The Round House. His appointment at Seaford brought career fulfilment and outstanding success. He taught a variety of subjects, was responsible for coaching their best rugby players, and became a greatly respected Housemaster of Charmandean whose boys were so well nurtured and guided. His enthusiasm for his house was particularly apparent during house matches when he would stride up and down the touchline oblivious to all but the game, just as “Sugar” Saunders did at Reading School. Both Catharine and Matt were impresarios of local dramatic societies both within the College and locally with the Graffham Rustics and Midhurst Players. His fine voice led the College choir under the exceptional talent of Philip Hill, which led to regular performances at Chichester Cathedral and abroad in Europe and America.

Home at Seaford was The Round House, a charmingly converted dovecot and many will remember Crispin their beloved Labrador, the delicious food they served up and the devilish but hugely enjoyable word games.

His final years at Seaford were as Senior Master and Director of Studies where his formidable abilities enabled him to undertake the formidable challenges of the vast timetables. Before retiring Catharine and Matt bought a charming cottage at Trotton between Midhurst and Petersfield and they spent their spare time upgrading the property and developing the cottage garden. It was a happy time. From there they moved on to Stedham where Matt lived on his own for many years following Catharine’s death in 1999. He took a degree in English Literature at the Open University, became a volunteer steward at Uppark where he was on duty the day the fire broke out. He became a specialist in the restoration work, conducting tour groups and giving talks to other organisations. He was elected President of the Old Redingensian Association in 1994 having been an active member for some time. In his spare time he continued to act and sing as well as playing bridge and mah-jong. Ill health latterly led to these things being gradually given up and his death is a great sadness to all his many friends. Farewell Matt and Thank You.

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