Carl Murray (Bancroft’s Staff 1960-1997)

It is with much regret that I inform you that Carl sadly died on Tuesday 23rd November after contracting Covid.

On behalf of Bancroft’s and the Old Bancroftians’ Association our thoughts are with Carol and the family.



Carl Murray (PJCM) 1960 -1997

Carl was the resident Housemaster of School House (Boarders) when I arrived. He was a multi-talented school master who quickly began to impress his pupils and colleagues with his scholarship in Classics, first rate cricket player and coach to the 1st XI, Officer in Army Section of the CCF and as an exceptional semi-professional operatic singer he made a great contribution to school music.

All these accomplishments, combined with a calm and friendly teaching manner, made a great impression on me. His written reports were a model of insight and style.

He set high standards for his pupils and was a wise counsel when dealing with their manners and behaviour.

Truly a great teacher who helped Bancroft’s emerge as a school of excellence.

Bob Baker

Mr Murray is the reason I fell in love with language – more specifically with etymology. He was my Latin teacher and, quite frankly, he had me at “macula”. Right from the Removes all the way up to A Level, instead of letting us dip straight into the vocab pages at the back of our textbooks for a quick fix, he would dive into the words with us as if they were exciting mysteries to be solved. Unable to translate “macula”, he said, “If something is immaculate what is it?” “That’s easy, sir. It’s perfect – it has no flaws.” “Exactly, no flaws, no blemishes, no stains.” At which point, the macula penny dropped and my life-long love affair with words of all languages began.

Whenever Mr Murray walked into our classroom, he entered with a grace and gravitas that was mesmeric. Had he walked in wearing a toga and laurel leaf crown on his beautifully Caesared hair, none of us would have batted an eyelid as it would have suited his august mien so perfectly. Always warmly greeting us with, “Salvete discipuli”, he inspired a scholarly yet relaxing approach. On warm sunny days he would lead us out to the school field, invite us to sit down on the grass in the shade, while he sat on the bench reading Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura to us in the most mellifluous (another favourite word of mine – thank you Mr Murray) yet commanding way; Book 4 is imprinted on my mind even now.

When he addressed me (always as Amanda, never Mandy, because it’s the feminine gerundive of amare!), Mr Murray made me feel like I was the most important person and he remembered the little details I may have mentioned to him in passing over the years. Always requesting updates on my tennis, he also got me into golf at school. Knowing I was decent with a racket and a hockey stick, he asked me to try swinging a golf club. Out on to the school field we went once again; he bellowed to anyone in the vicinity to get out of the way (Health & Safety had a more Darwinian approach back then) just so that he could teach me how to drive a ball; he then set up some lessons for me and gave me an extra string for my sporting bow.

My deep love of Bancroft’s is bound up so tightly with Mr Murray who has left such an indelible impression on me and allowed me to revel in the academic world, giving me the skills and curiosity to enjoy solving all of life’s puzzles.

Mr Murray: qui amantur numquam moriuntur.

Amanda (one last time for you, Sir) Wainwright, 1987-1994

“I remember him as an inspirational Latin Master who certainly got me interested in some of the Tales of Ancient Rome even though I fully admit struggled translating English into Latin. Carl was also the Officer in Charge of the Army Section of the CCF during my time there.”

Paul Herbage MBE (1964- 1968)

Such sad news. I have the very fondest of memories of Carl, one of the kindest, most thoughtful and caring people I have ever met. He made me feel so welcome when I joined Bancrofts and I’m pleased that I was able to tell him that at an OBs event a few years ago.

Condolences to Carol and family.

Penny Thompson (Former Bancroft’s Staff)

Carl was responsible for me getting into Cambridge.  He created a Classics programme for my entrance exam and, with a number of other teachers, devoted considerable time to preparing me.  He was an inspirational teacher who imbued in me a love of the Classical world and its languages that I retain to this day.  When I got the telegram from Cambridge, he was the first person I rang with the news.  In subsequent years, it was always pleasure meeting Carl, usually at the OBA dinner, and hearing about the bewildering array of activities in which he was involved – a true Renaissance man.

Ed Sautter (OB 1970-1977)

 I was at the school 1982-90 and Carl was my Head of House. What a lovely, warm and kindly man and of course I always remember his wonderful singing. Please convey my sincere condolences to his family and to his former colleagues in the staffroom.

Jo Schwartz (née Bock)

 I am so sorry to hear this news. I was teaching PE for 19 years at Bancroft’s and Carl and I had a special relationship, which was the love of golf. We both played at Theydon Bois golf club and spent a many years developing interested pupils in teaching through the Golf Foundation. At the same time our talented golfers achieved success in the inter schools competitions. I remember how much time we spent driving them around for matches! One team even reached the dizzy heights of competing in the schools finals at the famous Belfry Golf course! He was a special man .

Barbara Noble (Former Staff)

So sad to hear the news of the death of Carl Murray, who was a towering figure in the Classics department at school. He very imaginatively commissioned various art students in the school to paint the walls with themes from classical art, and alongside Milton Johannides – the proper artist, I wasn’t – I worked on the one entitled Achilles and Ajax playing dice in 1978 or so. I was delighted to return to the school ten years ago and see that they are still in place.

Carl was a marvellous baritone too, as probably many remember, and I always remember him singing the carol “From Persian lands afar” as well as Schubert’s Wintereisse at a concert in school. Carl was always very encouraging, and brought the classics alive to me as an O and A level student when he described Oedipus’ killing of his father Laius on the road as an ancient example of possible “road rage” – a term that had only been coined in 1970s.

A wonderful man, who taught me much as I went on to study Classics at Bristol University 79-82.

He will be very sadly missed and my prayers will be with his wife and family in their loss.

Rev Nigel Taylor (Bancrofts 1972-78)

I was so glad that we had had that Bancroft’s Singers’ Reunion a couple of years ago when I got to meet up with him after many years. He was the same jocular character that I remembered from school, kind, funny and caring of his students. I always felt blessed that Carl was head of School House when I was at Bancroft’s – he was what you wanted in a Head of House really. Sadly, I was no good at his Latin lessons and didn’t do Classics O level, which I am sure would have been fun. However, I was part of his Singer’s workshop, which was a fun singing lesson on a Friday afternoon after school for those who Carl wanted to encourage with their singing. He had such a gorgeous voice himself. We had so much fun. John Pearce would play the piano and I would sing, sometimes on my own, sometimes with others. We sang fun stuff like the Cat duet, which consists of a whole load of ‘miaows’, a duet from the Marriage of Figaro and other songs. He opened my eyes to the world of opera which is still a love of mine to this day.

He was a lovely man who will be much missed.

Carol Atkins (OB 1982-89)

I was saddened to hear about Carl Murray’s death. I remember him very well. I was not a classicist, but I have vivid memories of him singing in school concerts (including falsetto in Carmena Burana!) and in amateur opera companies. He sang an astonishing variety of roles; I particularly remember his Count in the Marriage of Figaro, Macbeth in Verdi’s opera and Titurel in a London Wagner Society production of Parsifal (at which the composer’s grandaughter Friedelind was also present). I even, very inadequately, tried to accompany him on the piano in Schumann’s Dichterliebe; he was a great lieder enthusiast. My own enthusiasm began then. I saw him a couple of times at Covent Garden. It was always fun chatting to him. I remember seeing him at the Wigmore Hall (for a baritone recital of course) the night of the general election in 1997 which everyone knew would bring Tony Blair and the Labour Party to power. He knew that I worked in the Ministry of Defence so I jokingly said to him that I expected to be arrested the next day. His response was that he thought I would be doing the arresting!

With condolences to his family

Stephen Tetley (OB 1969-76)

Carl Murray

To my vintage (1976 to 83) he was ‘Chum’. ‘Major Murray’. Head of Classics. Head of School House. Spin bowler. The finest and sometimes the funniest bass (singing) soloist you could ever wish to meet.

He led my CCF Contingent.
He led my House and proved adept at gaining buy-in from reluctant pupils for House music competitions, house team games competitions, athletics sports day, House play competitions and more.
He led me through Latin A Level, and through his treatment of Virgil’s Aeneid Book VI began a lifetime’s journey of faith and engaging the metaphysical realm.

He even gave me a lift in his rather funky Capri once.

He was attuned to the differing needs of the pupils, and was endearingly human too – more than once he ran out of petrol while on some errand or another in support of his beloved Bancroft’s. Irreplaceable.

RIP, sir.

Matthew Porter.

I was so sad to hear of Carl’s passing.  He was my form tutor when I was in U4.  I remember him as a warm, kind, gentle, supportive teacher with a fierce intellect and a great sense of humour.  I have fond memories of PJCM and very much enjoyed being taught by him. Please pass my condolences on to his family.

Steve Swindon (Bancroft’s 1973-80, East House)

I was saddened to hear about PJCM’s untimely death – he had a big impact upon the school and upon me in particular. Among other things, he was my Greek teacher, housemaster, one of our officers in the CCF, but most importantly, the man that made singing bass cool!   Even now, more than forty years after the event, I remember how stunned and awed we were to hear his bass solo ‘Tuba Mirum’ in the Mozart Requiem, and all of us impressionable teenagers desperately wanted to have a big voice like that…..

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time – he will be missed.

Thomas Young  – (Banccroft’s,School House 1974-1981)

“Mr Murray’s Latin and Greek classes were both relaxing and inspiring, he was more a Scholar than a Teacher. Though I did not excel in the Classics, middling O level passes gave me more than enough vocabulary to make medical terminology self-explanatory and easy to learn. He is remembered with my appreciation and gratitude.

Thomas Woodcock MB BS MPhil (Bancroft’s 1966-1973)

I am sorry to hear of Carl Murray’s death. An important aspect of his achievements was his General Studies course for 6th Formers. Many of us, myself included, benefited from his ability to give our A Levels a broader moral and cultural perspective. This made our studies more interesting, equipped us for university interviews and introduced us to a wide range of books and other media.  He thereby had a positive impact on the lives of so many of his students, for which we remain grateful.

Best wishes

David (Lord Pannick, Bancroft’s 1967-1974)

I was sorry to hear about Carl.  I do hope the obituary will include a mention of the Combined Choir, of which I was a member from 1967-1969 and, of course, the CCF.  I won’t comment on his ability as a Careers Master as I recall that, when I mentioned that I might wish to read Biophysics, Carl’s eyes just glazed over (presumably because it did not translate into Latin)!

Graham Pursey

Really sad news.

He was a very good teacher of Latin and a patient help to me on matters other than teaching.

Condolences to his family.

Forbes Forrai

I am so sad to learn of Carl’s untimely death.

PJC (he was Perce Murray to me) was my Greek and Latin teacher from 1963 until 1968. His lessons were always fun and he brought the ancient world to life. He had style.

I can still remember him sweeping into the classrooms wearing his black gown.

James Morrison

Dallas, Texas

Thanks for telling me about Carl’s passing. He taught me Latin and Ancient Greek – needless to say that I spectacularly failed on both subjects, but he ignited my interest in languages (especially Welsh, the oldest British/Celtic language whose vocabulary was heavily influenced by the Roman occupation.)

Mick Tems

Carl Murray was a true gentleman and my memories of him as my Latin master in the mid-late 1970s are entirely positive although there was one time when, and I can’t recall what I had done wrong, he came out with the immortal words, which I have never forgotten, “Leslie, you are digging yourself deeper and deeper into a pit of self-indulged malevolence!”. A classic from my Classics master! Rest in peace, Mr Murray.

David Leslie

I was privileged to play golf with Carl many times and also to attend several of his recitals when he was singing professionally. His voice was sublime and I have to say much better than his golf but he was always wonderful company. He will be sadly missed and I shall always have very fond memories of him.

Frank Davis

Carl was a regular golfer as a member at Theydon Bois GC and a regular attendee at OBGS meetings, being our Captain in 2003.

He also established a serious golf team at Bancroft’s and they went on to win the HMC National competition in 1995

Adam Kodish

 I will always regard it as my exceptional good fortune to have taught at Bancroft’s for ten years while Carl Murray was there. If ever the term Renaissance Man could be applied to anyone, it would be Carl. He was unstinting in his support and encouragement of this young teacher! Whatever Bancroft’s offered, Carl seemed to be a part of it. Within my own small areas of activity, this was certainly true, Carl and Carol becoming much loved regulars on the Hassfurt Exchange right from its earliest days in the 1980s. And musically, the Bancroft’s Singers benefited immeasurably from Carl’s input, not least as terrific soloist, memorably in one of the chorales from the great St Matthew Passion of J S Bach. Carl came with the Singers to China in 1989, just before the Tiananmen Square Incident: his performance as soloist in the Volga Boat Song in Beijing, in front of an audience of around two thousand, brought the house down – they cheered ecstatically, such was his gift for communicating to everyone through music. Others will no doubt be writing about his unsurpassed expertise in the Classics, his own published writing, his devotion to Bancroft’s (and wider) cricket, his many years as the beloved Housemaster of School House, and much, much more. Carl was a dear friend who taught me so much. In many ways, for so many years, Carl was Bancroft’s. The school would not have become what it is without him.

John Dunston – (Bancroft’s Staff 1979-1990)

I was so sorry to hear of the death of Carl Murray. He and I both arrived at Bancroft’s in September 1960 and the experience was something we will never forget. We were both very young, Carl coming straight from Oxford and I had only taught three years at Bedford Modern School since leaving Cambridge. We were youngsters in the Common Room dominated by staff who were in their fifties and had been there “since 04”. The great majority of the staff smoked heavily so that it was often impossible to see across the staff room – a very unpleasant experience as Carl and I were both non-smokers.

We both played a very active life in the School but in entirely different ways. Carl had a beautiful singing voice so he was involved with the choir and musical concerts – by way of contrast I was and still am tone deaf and could not sing for toffee. Carl became involved with the Combined Cadet Force whereas I ran the School Sea Scout Group. Carl taught Latin and I taught Geography. Carl was an excellent cricketer so naturally coached the school teams whereas my sporting activity at Cambridge had been rowing which I missed when I came to Bancroft’s but the Sea Scouts soon filled that gap. After rowing I enjoyed hockey and we both played in the staff hockey team against the school 1st XI in 1966. We both coached some of the younger rugby teams. Carl quickly became involved with School House and before I left I was appointed House Master of East House. Carl spent the whole of his teaching career at Bancroft’s whereas I left after ten years to enter the comprehensive school system moving initially to Basingstoke as Deputy Head of the Vyne School and four years later I became Headmaster of Waltham Toll Bar School, a school of some 2000 children, 180 of whom were in the sixth form. It served the delightful area of the North Lincolnshire Wolds. It was whilst I was there that Carl sent me a copy of his book on the teaching of Latin which I passed on to those with similar responsibilities in my school. He was a pioneer of teaching classics in a much more exciting way than that which had been used for a great many years.

We were both, together with David Giles, invited back to the Reunion of those who had started the school about the same time as we did. Unfortunately I was the only one to make it.

Carl made a tremendous contribution to the life of Bancroft’s and this was clearly acknowledged. It was my pleasure to know him and to have worked with him for the first ten years we were both there.

Ken Drake (Bancroft’s Staff 1960-70)

I was saddened to hear the news of Carl Murray’s passing. By the time I entered the school in 1969 he was already an established and respected member of staff and I had the pleasure of being taught by him at various stages. He persuaded me to be a guinea pig for a new A level course, Latin with Roman history clearly recognising some linguistic skills that had evaded most people’s notice, but he was clearly an astute judge as he then spent two years helping me get a Grade A. He was also clearly a fine teacher and mentor. Somebody up there will be saying Salve o Magister!

Nick Cox (Bancroft’s 1969-1976)

 “I was extremely saddened to hear of the recent death of Carl Murray. I was privileged to have Carl as my Latin teacher from Third Form up to A Level. He was a generous and engaging teacher and inspired in me a love of the language which I have never lost. With a witty and sometimes theatrical delivery he had the ability to bring the Latin language alive. I have fond memories indeed of reading classical works in the original in his class with him.”

Ian Jameson (Bancroft’s 1971-1978)

It was a shock and really sad to hear Carl’s passing. The last time we spent together was OB golf event which unfortunately and because of COVID, was at least a couple of years ago.

Carl introduced me to Latin, taught us the Floreat and took our year for rugby in our first year. He was one of the kindest people I’ve had the pleasure to meet and from the outset, it was plain to see that he was interested in us (the pupils), the school and music.

His love for the school and singing never waned. He had a fantastic voice, as did a number of the other masters of the time; and it is such a shame that he succumbed to COVID of all things.

Please pass on my condolences to his family.

Siggy Mensah (Bancroft’s 1970-1977)

‘Carl Murray was my Form Master for two years, and he had a way about him that connected with 15 and 16 year old boys in the early 1970s that was dignified and commanded our respect. “Come on now chaps; let’s get organised”, was the regular call to attention most mornings. It invariably worked.

He never actually taught me and outside the Form room my principal interaction with him was our involvement with the school choir. I remember most fondly listening to that wonderful voice on many occasions; the performances of Carmina Burana in 1974, recorded on vinyl with the Combined Choirs of The Epping Forest Youth Music Association, remain a very special memory.

My brother Simon (1972-1979) reminded me this week that at the end of school one afternoon Carl announced: “Ince….stay behind please”. Expecting to be getting a dressing down for some below par Prep, Carl then continued: “I would like you to push a little further forward in the stroke when playing the forward defensive; I happened to notice it when I was walking across the Quad whilst you were practising on the square at lunchtime.” He then demonstrated to Simon exactly what he meant with a bat that he kept in the store cupboard. Priceless and brilliant.

Farewell PJCM and our profound thanks for being part of our formative years.’

Karl Berisford Ince (Bancroft’s 1969-1976)

When as a “new boy” in September 1969 I ventured into the crowded common room at Bancroft’s, knowing nobody, Carl Murray was the first to step forward with a friendly greeting – a characteristic act of kindness which I still remember with gratitude over 50 years later. The friendship, moreover, flourished throughout our time as colleagues and well beyond.

Music was our main point of contact, and I treasure the countless hours we spent together, as singer and accompanist, studying and rehearsing a wide repertoire of songs: the cycles of Schubert and Schumann particularly stand out, but there were many more, from all periods and in all styles.  I couldn’t possibly count the number of recitals we gave, at Bancroft’s and elsewhere – always, it seemed, to appreciative audiences.  It was a truly memorable partnership, which I look on as a vital part of my continuing musical education.

At one period Carl was very active as a principal singer in local opera groups, and it was my privilege to help him in his preparation for a number of parts, most notably Escamillo in Carmen and the title roles in Verdi’s Nabucco and Macbeth.

 Although he was accustomed to singing at a high professional level, he was always happy to act as baritone soloist in the choral concerts we put on at school – again far too many to mention, but including Bach’s Mass in B minor and several cantatas, Haydn’s The Seasons, several works by Mozart and Orff’s Carmina Burana. His singing cannot fail to have inspired successive generations of Bancroftians, especially in the Singers’ Workshop he established and ran for many years.

In every respect Carl Murray was an accommodating colleague and a valued friend.

Christopher Dolan

I was saddened to hear of the death of Carl Murray, who was my Latin teacher from about 1962 to about 1965.  I wanted to note that I met him once after I left School when he was playing the part of Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore.  I’m not sure how widely known it was that he was a keen am-dram performer.

Kindly pass my condolences to his family.

Peter Auber (1961-1968)

I was very sorry to hear of the passing of Carl Murray.  I remember his warmth and passion, and in particular his baritone (?) voice – his role in a surprisingly professional concert version of Carmina Burana stays with me.

Russell Cohen (1985-1992)

We were so very sorry to hear the sad news about Carl. The consummate Schoolmaster, a colossus at Bancroft’s, we regarded him as an elder statesman for whom we had great respect and affection. His bearing was imperial but never imperious. Indeed PJCM was warm-hearted, generous in spirit and approachable.

We consider ourselves  fortunate to have been invited on several of Carl’s wonderful trips to Pompei, Naples and Rome where he enthused a new generation with his own love of Classics, Italy and la dolce vita. As he took some well earned time out after a full day of sightseeing with a coach load of energetic, young Classicists, we were able to get to know him over a glass of his favourite Aurum or Cuarenta Y Tres. With his wide range of interests and good humour he was congenial, civilised company.

I enjoyed working with Carl enormously on the pastoral team in School House, initially as Assistant Housemistress before the role of Junior Housemistress was created. Carl was kind and supportive, allowing me to spread my wings and develop the new role, but his voice of experience was always there with sage advice when required. He was my rock; calm, unruffled, measured and with endless patience. I learned so much from  Carl who always saw the best in pupils, including those who were not yet meeting his high expectations. He was level headed and believed in ‘chipping away’, as he called it, slow but sure. Experience had taught him that even the most ‘difficult’ members of School House usually turned into success stories by the time they left us.

It was a pleasure to share School House Office with Carl. He was was wise, helpful, encouraging and an easy going room mate. A khaki pullover, cricket bat, golf clubs propped up in the corner, these were amongst the impedimenta which bore witness to Carl’s full involvement in School life.

Chris and I both have happy memories of Carl’s exceptional (Welsh!) singing voice. At this time of year the staff party is very much in our minds when Carl entertained the SCR at the ‘cabaret’. My favourite was “Three Kings From Persian Lands Afar”. Completely captivated,I don’t think I breathed throughout the performance. For Chris, Carl’s “Pearl Fishers duet” with John Pearce was the highlight.

Carl represented the very best of Bancroft’s and will be much missed. We remember PJCM with admiration, gratitude and great fondness. Requiesce in Pace

Anne (Bancroft’s Staff 1977-2014) and Chris Taylor (Bancroft’s Staff 1986-2014)

I vividly remember being introduced to Carl on my first day at Bancroft’s when I joined the Classics Department.  After we had shaken hands he said “I’m told you’re an accompanist”.  Moments later he had fixed a common free period for us to go through some songs.  As a result I was able to enjoy nearly thirty years of sessions and many recitals performing Carl’s extensive and eclectic repertoire.

It was also in my first week at Bancroft’s that I witnessed Carl’s style as housemaster: a lunchtime Classics Department meeting in Carl’s study was interrupted by a prefect reporting that a group of fifth formers had gone into the Forest.  Carl said “Well it’s either smoking or fornication or both.  But whatever it is, it calls for a gown”.  He imperiously snatched his gown from its hook and swept from the room.

The arrival of Covid and Carl’s ill-health put paid to the weekly singing sessions but we were able to enjoy weekly phone calls to discuss the Latin crossword in the Saturday Times.  While I was content simply to complete the puzzle, Carl, a perfectionist, would also like to discuss weaknesses in the clues!

Since 1989 Carl has been a much-valued colleague, friend and mentor.  I shall miss him greatly.

Martyn Heald (Bancroft’s Staff 1989-2002)


Appointed to the Classics Department in 1960, Carl went on to teach at Bancroft’s for thirty-seven years. He was an outstanding teacher during a period of profound change for the school and the teaching profession.  Carl was always aware of the new directions which Classics was taking, ready to introduce new courses and new methods of teaching, yet ever upholding the best in traditional scholarship and methodology.

In the 1960s Carl taught Classics alongside the legendary Don Francombe and then Ian Richardson, the new Headmaster in 1965.  Carl took over the running of the Department and soon had a well- established Department of three (full-time) specialists in the early 1970s.  At this time an ‘A’ Level course called Classical Civilisation was being developed, and Carl was quick to spot the merits of this (then) innovatory course.  Bancroft’s became one of the first schools in the country to embark upon it.  Carl was an eloquent champion of this particular course, and this was recognised when he was invited on several occasions to address Classics PGCE students at King’s, London, on the nature of the course and appropriate teaching strategies.

In his teaching of the Athenian and Roman Society topics he always combined the highest levels of scholarship with a remarkable and suitable clarity of exposition.  He introduced generations of  Bancroftian students to his fervent and inspirational interest in – for example – the debate between Socrates and the Sophists on absolute moral values, and to ideas about the equality of the sexes and the  brotherhood of ‘man’ in the writings of the Stoics.  And always he made these debates seem immensely fresh and relevant through drawing parallels with some item of contemporary debate.

Carl was an immensely talented linguist in the broadest sense of the word.  He was widely read in the Classics and beyond.  His was always a scholarly approach to the languages, but never that of a pedant.  He inculcated in his pupils the need for accuracy, but encouraged them to avoid the stilted and turgid turn of phrase.  He was at great pains to emphasise to all pupils, from Removes to U6th, the need to read Latin and Greek aloud so that they might sense the liveliness and mellifluousness of the original.  Again, Carl always enriched his teaching of literature in the original with references to other bodies of literature.

The Classical Society flourished at different times under his leadership or through his encouragement.  He was ever eager to welcome significant guest lecturers, and he was supportive of pupils who prepared talks for the Society over the years. At so many meetings, Carl had well-honed questions for visiting speakers – and eloquent and sincere votes of thanks.

Carl regularly organised and led Classical Tours over the years, with exemplary energy and enthusiasm.  On tour he dealt with the unexpected in a calm and unflappable fashion.  The value of establishing cordial relations with guides and hotel management was a lesson I quickly learnt from Carl; he thereby got the best deal possible for pupils.

Carl was involved in the wider Classical world in a number of different ways, including moderating exam questions for the London Board for a number of years – no sloppy, ill-phrased question could get past Carl – and writing book reviews for the Journal of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers.

Counting myself a European authority on this subject, I can affirm that there are distinctive facial resemblances between the Emperor Trajan and Carl Murray, and the versions of Trajan in the museum at Ostia (just outside Rome) and in the British Museum bear the closest resemblance.  For years, I walked Bancroftian Classicists through the Roman rooms of the British Museum, asking them to see if they could spot Mr Murray, and they always stopped in front of this particular portrait sculpture.

How to sum up Carl as Classicist?  A scholar, a very kind and inspirational teacher, a benevolent and convivial Head of Department, a keen and co-operative member of the Department.  At all times, a great champion and defender of the Classics and its unique value as a ‘general, humane education’.

Carl was a man of many parts, and others will have paid tribute to different aspects of the wide range of contributions he made to the life of the School and the Common Room.  His was a rich career, and equally rich was his retirement.  He remained very intellectually engaged throughout the latter.  In the early stages he led many an Adult Education Course on the Classical world or Shakespeare or Classical music (especially opera), and, at times, on a combination of these.  He was also invited to give lectures, for example on Roman Ethics.  He continued to develop other intellectual pursuits related to his knowledge of German and Italian.  Only a few weeks before his death he had written (in Italian) an essay on the history of ‘Siracusa’, and was enthusiastically pursuing piano lessons via Zoom.

Robert Tatam (staff 1978 – 2014, Head of Department from 1986)

Many others will write about Carl the great classicist, teacher, colleague and cricketer, but he was also a most wonderful singer. He, Chris Dolan and I performed together on many occasions – in School concerts, at School Balls and outside events – and our special piece was the Pearl Fishers’ Duet. Carl’s honey textured bass-baritone was founded on a true technique (much like his batting and teaching) and it was a privilege to sing with him, even though our musical repertoire was quite different. Whilst I had come up through the ranks of choral singing, he had specialised in Opera roles, which gave him effortless projection and characterisation.

Although principally a soloist Carl also taught many Bancroftians to sing and some of the success of the Bancroft’s Singers et al can be attributed to his background work – especially encouraging boys to sing.

As a fellow HoD, I had many ‘conversations’ with PJCM about the relative merits of Geography and Classics in the curriculum, but on a personal, sporting or musical level we remained the best of friends. He will be greatly missed.

John Pearce (Bancroft’s Staff 1971 – 2002)


Please see below a link to a tribute of his time at school from Floreat – Bancroft’s School (1737-2015) and a recording of Carl in 1985 with the Bancroft’s Singers (Song of the Volga Boatmen) shared by John Pearce.

Carl Murray – Floreat


Kind regards

Susan Day – OBA Office (