Exeter Cathedral Old Choristers' Association

Stories and Anecdotes about the choir

Add your stories or comment on these - send to Mike Dobson

Simon Farrow (treble 1949-53)

emails of texts, received 18.1.2010

Exeter Cathedral - Rev and Mrs TreneerHoward Treneer - headmaster

I too Googled Patron’s name the other day and found myself in touch with a relative of his, living in Devon (not surprisingly). Following is part of my email to him:

The Reverend Howard Treneer was Headmaster at Exeter Cathedral Choristers’ School during my attendance from 1949-53. He was loved by all the boys and was known affectionately as Patron. (Pat, as in Pat. Mrs Treneer was known as Matron, same pronunciation.) “Patron” was a clever contraction of “Pa Treneer” and ditto for Mrs.

He was a great teacher – a man of seemingly infinite patience. I guess he had to be, as he was in charge of a sometimes unruly band of 26 boys between the ages of 8 and 13 or whenever their voices broke. It was, of course, a boarding school, with particularly long terms (we had to be there over Christmas, and Easter) so his work was cut out for him.

He had a great sense of humour. I remember that when we were new boys, he would have us sing what he called the National Anthem of Siam, “Owa Tana Siam”, sung to the tune of God Save the King. Of course it came out as “O what an ass I am”, and he always roared with laughter, even though he must have heard it a hundred times.

I ran away from school one night, following a dressing down in front of the entire school by one of the teachers. I was mortified. After dark, I set off on my bike for home, which was in Minehead. I got as far as Tiverton, when shivering I sought warmth (!) in a telephone box, and was shortly discovered by a policeman at about midnight. I told him my tale of woe and he phoned the school, whereupon Patron immediately called a taxi which brought him to Tiverton. My bike was set in the boot, and we went unceremoniously back to the school, with me sobbing most of the way. The incident was never mentioned again, for which I was most grateful, but I will always remember his kindness and concern that night.

Every term, we received a shipment of Alka Seltzer from his brother in the U.S. We were impressed that he had such an illustrious brother, but were not very fond of being force-fed the rather vile fizzy stuff!

On June 2nd 1953, Patron arranged for a television set to be brought into the school, and we gathered around it in amazement as we watched the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Many of us had never seen TV before, so this was a real treat, and especially for me as it was my birthday.

He loved his cricket, and made sure that we were all good cricketers and that we got a full measure of physical training.

He loved his boys, and they loved him.

Mr. Thomas was an Alto with a very powerful voice. He had an annoying habit of spitting Meloids onto the necks of trebles below him. We weren’t always sure they were Meloids!