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News > Obituaries > Rosemary Whittome

Rosemary Whittome

Rosemary Whittome

Rosemary Whittome
Rosemary Whittome

Rosemary Whittome’s association with Marlborough House first began in 1955 when she arrived with her husband Derek, when he took up a teaching post.  Initially they, along with their eldest daughter Philippa, moved into Northgrove Terrace and a little time afterwards their second daughter Caroline was born.

The family then moved into Sessele to take care of 20 boarders from the school.  Rosemary was kept very busy looking after her own family and taking care of the boarders and life must have become even busier with the arrival of their third daughter Anne. Rosemary was responsible for putting the boys to bed every evening after trying to settle her own babies. She recalled carrying Anne around sometimes, often leaving her on someone's bed while she washed boys' hair!  The last day of each term saw the boys invited into the sitting room for riotous bingo where chocolate bars were awarded as prizes! Rosemary, and Derek who was often in school for 12 plus hours a day, created a happy, secure and often fun home from home for the boys in their charge who learnt to respect and abide by the rules at Sessele.

It was a lovely family home for the three girls - space to play, swimming pool and tennis courts and many old boys will recount them joining in at Saturday morning P.E. lessons in the gym, taught by their father. They also regularly stood on the touch line at rugby and cricket matches in which he was involved

Throughout her life Rosemary was a keen pianist and when the children were a little older in 1968 she joined Kent Music School and went back to teaching piano part-time, initially at Lillisden in Hawkhurst and Homewood House, Tenterden. In 1972, the music teacher at MHS retired suddenly so she took on 25 pupils and then in 1979, she took on the choir. Rosemary had built up a great reputation and she was to continue her teaching and only retired in 2007, and during that time, she had taught numerous pupils at home in the evenings and at 12 local schools, including Cranbrook School. At home in the evening, once everyone was in bed, Rosemary would compose, as this was something that gave her a great deal of pleasure.

In 1983 Rosemary and Derek then moved into their own house and thus relinquished the role of House Parents.
As well as being a superb champion of Marlborough House, Rosemary was also a wonderfully supportive wife and she very much enjoyed the various events that they went to at school and also at IAPS, as Derek was the Assistant Deputy for a period of time.  In addition, when the Headmaster Mr Ian Ross, took a sabbatical, Derek took over as Head and Rosemary not only supported her husband but she thoroughly enjoyed this period of time.

They retired from Marlborough House in 1989  but they both maintained a very keen interest in the school in the coming years, and Rosemary was an avid reader of the yearly Review and regularly attended meetings and events where she greatly enjoyed catching up with old boys, past colleagues and current staff. When her husband died in 1999, Rosemary composed some music and words and planned the whole service.  Similarly, she had written a piece to be played at her own funeral.

Derek and Rosemary’s commitment to Marlborough House has covered a period of nearly 70 years which is remarkable, and particularly so in this day and age, and for that, and for the innumerable children they looked after, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.


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