Princess Elizabeth greets Head chorister, Exeter Cathedral

Princess Elizabeth is presented with a gift by the Head Chorister, Geoffrey Mitchell, 21st October 1949.

From Getty images: The head choirboy of Exeter Cathedral presents Princess Elizabeth with a stone box on the first day of her royal tour of Devon and Cornwall.

Photographed in the nave.

Geoffrey Mitchell, chorister 1944-1950, was Head Chorister for two years; holding the office for this long may be unique. This visit by HRH took place in his last term (winter terms ended at Epiphany, 6th January). He can still remember what he said to HRH: "Will your Royal Highness be pleased to accept this little gift, made by one of our own workmen, out of old Cathedral stone?". (information from Geoffrey Mitchell, March 2021).

The role of Head Chorister and Deputy Head Chorister ceased during the 1990s. They were replaced by Senior Choristers. These were all the choristers in their final year (pupils in year 8 at school). The new system was felt to be fairer and give every boy a chance of holding 'seniority'. The same practice of Senior Choristers was also adopted for the girl choristers when they began in 1994. This is the system still in use (time of writing, 2021).

The priest seen between the Princess and the chorister is Archdeacon Edgar Hall. He used to live in the Cathedral Close in the house now called Hall House, named that when it became part of the Cathedral School in about 1979. Archdeacon Hall retained his prependal stall after retiring, and in his mid-90s was still fulfilling the then prependal obligation (established in the mid-17th century, but ceased in the 1990s by Dean Richard Eyre) of preaching two sermons per year in the Sunday afternoon evensong. He did not like to use his walking stick in the service, as he did not want people to think he was old! I remember one such sermon in the late 1970s, when he mentioned listening to G.K. Chesterton on the radio when he was at Oxford.

Canon Hall was very popular amongst the choristers - see Eric Dare's commentary in Gibb Archive photograph 5b.