THE appointment of a new headmaster at King’s School, Worcester turns the spotlight on the independent school in the shadow of Worcester Cathedral founded by Henry VIII in 1541.

Gareth Doodes, who comes to Worcester from Dover College in Dover, will certainly have some big shoes to fill.

Not the least of which belonged to David Annett, who when he died in 2004 was described as “one of the great British headmasters of the 20th century”.

He steered the King’s ship for exactly 20 years, from 1959 to 1979, a period of major change and impressive growth.

During his tenure, the school underwent a huge building programme, which included a new sports hall, swimming pool, the Wolfson building and a new dining hall.

Possibly Mr Annett’s biggest challenge came when King’s went independent in 1976, although five years earlier he had overseen the introduction of girls into the sixth form of what had been a boys only school for more than 400 years.

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For a while the new girl pupils lodged in the home of Mr Annett and his wife Romey at College Green, but in 1977 College House was established to house 21 girls.

However, having accommodated boarders since its inception, the final boarders left King’s in July 1999.

The school’s main campus adjoins the cathedral’s College Green and many of its buildings on the green are leased from the cathedral, including College Hall (formerly the monastic refectory, for many years the school's only teaching hall, and currently an assembly hall) and Edgar Tower, the medieval gatehouse to College Green, which for many years housed the school library.

The school and the cathedral maintain a close relationship, with the school providing cathedral choristers and using the cathedral for major services.

The most senior members of school staff, the cathedral choristers, and the school's King's and Queen's Scholars are ex officio members of the cathedral foundation, while the school is required by statute to have the cathedral’s dean and chapter represented on its governing body.

As well as its very familiar sports grounds, next to Worcestershire CCC and bordering New Road and Bromwich Road, King’s also owns an outward bound centre, the Old Chapel near Crickhowell in Mid Wales, all of which will no doubt become very familiar to Mr Doodes over the coming years.