An Address by Mr. A.J. Adams
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 18 Oct 1933, p. 282-291
Adams, A.J., Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
Some of the speaker's impressions of Toronto. Winchester and its historical associations. The President of the Empire Club is presented with a piece of wood from a sister tree of the Gospel Oak, given by William the First. Reference of the Canadian Bank of Commerce and the ways and means of building it, compared to the building of Winchester Cathedral. The four gates of the city. The line of kings who came to Winchester. The Bishops of Winchester and the parts they have played in history. Some words and description of Oxford. The college at Winchester. The history of another old building in Winchester called St. Cross. The address is interspersed with many anecdotes.
Date of Original
18 Oct 1933
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Full Text
October 18, 1933

MR. ADAMS was introduced by Major Baxter, the President.

MR. J. C. ADAMS: Mr. President, Gentlemen of The Empire Club of Canada: It is to me, and I might say to my old city of Winchester, a great honour to be here with you. I am somewhat of an ambassador today, for I belong to a club, a very old club, which we call "The High Abbey Club of Winchester" and I am proud to say that I hold the position of President. I bring you by myself, and for the rest of the community and the members of our club, our very hearty wishes. (Applause.)

Just one word before I go on, about a little impression I had today. I have been taken around to see a few of the sights and of all the things I have seen in my travels, none has impressed me more than your great Bank of Commerce. I think it is a most wonderful building. I have seen many and they haven't appeared to me to be solid in their building construction, but yours is a solid thing. It has come to stay like our buildings of old in our town.

The impression Toronto has given me will last forever, or as long as I live. There is one thing I would like to say on impressions and that is this: It made me feel very, very sad when I took a train from Quebec to Montreal and from Montreal to Toronto, for I saw men plowing in the fields with two horses. They looked to me as if they would never get any further than just there. Why can't you get them tractors? It seemed to me that to push a plow for the rest of one's life is rather hard. I do hope that the next time I come they will have a tractor.

Now, as regards Winchester and its historical associations, they are many. We speak of Alfred. Your president has spoken of Alfred the Great. We go back further than Alfred. We go back before Rome, a hundred and forty years before Rome, we had in our town--come and see it!-King Arthur's round table. Five hundred and sixty one. That is far enough gone for you, isn't it? It is a beautiful thing. Of course, the thing is to know who Arthur was. (Laughter.)

We, in Winchester, had mints long before London. We had mints in our city, five of them. When I was in the bank, just now, I asked the custodian who took me into the vault, how much he would charge me to take care of this penny for a day and he told me, I think, three dollars. This is a penny, minted in Winchester before London became famous as moneymakers-not in the sense you take it,, perhaps, but in the making of coins. This little penny, I dug up in my own garden last May. It is a silver penny, minted in Winchester.

Our little city is known to all as one of the oldest cities in the world. Our corporations are older than any other. I don't mean that the mere are older, but their associations are.

In the year 635 a monk came to Winchester and started preaching and he was immediately turned out by the King who was a heathen. Cynegils was that king's name. Cynegils heard that so many people were following this man that he, too, followed him and he became a Christian and he was converted under what still stands today, the Gospel, alone. Cynegils died in the year 641 and last December, T saw his remains. They are in a chest in our great cathedral. We had to do some repair work to those chests and I had the good fortune of seeing the remains of this king.

We have, also, in our cathedral, the bones of Ecgbert who was only the King of Kent. He became the first king of all England. When building the Woolworth store in our town four years ago, in digging the foundation down to eight feet, we came across a quantity of wolves' skulls. I was asked what it meant and I replied, "I seem to remember in my study of history that Ecgbert taxed the people of England three hundred wolves' heads a year and we have just found them".

Ecgbert was followed by his son, Ethelwulf. Ethelwulf was followed by his son, arid he burned the cakes. Alfred, the fourth son of Ethelwulf, founded the schools of learning at Oxford and Winchester. He was good to the monks who built the great monasteries and abbies and cathedrals. He introduced illuminations in our town and we have some of the finest specimens of illumination in the world.

When they wanted a Bible for our church, two monks were selected who could write and who could paint and they were sent to Rouen, France, where they took forty years to write the Bible and we still have that Bible today.

Alfred, the Saxon,, was followed by others as famous. His son, Edward, the Elder, is buried in Winchester and then came his eldest son, Athelstan, followed by Athelstan's brothers, Edmund and Edred. Then, later on, came Ethelred II. You, as boys at school used to call him "Ethelred, the Unready." But he was ready. He tame to a bad end. Before he died he let the Danes come in and King Canute came to Winchester and reigned as king. Ethelred left a widow who was immediately wooed by Canute, so Queen Emma married two kings.

We come down from the Danes to the Normans. We have all their remains in our cathedral. William, the First, was crowned in our cathedral. William, the First was buried in Normandy. His son was killed while hunting in the forest.

Talking of the forest, William, the First was asked to give wood for the building of the cathedral. His reply was, "You may have as much as you can cut in four days". The Bishops in those days had such power over their people that they conscripted four hundred men and in the four days given, they emptied William's hunting ground. They left one tree. That tree still stands today, the Gospel Oak. William was so angry at losing his forest that he pulled down thirty-two hamlets and seven churches on the other side of Winchester and he planted another forest and called it the New Forest.

I am going to take this privilege of asking your President, Major Baxter to accept a piece of wood from a sister tree of that Gospel Oak. The wood was given by William the First and it will serve to remind your President of something he is going to do today. It is not for me to tell you what it is but you may learn afterward.

Mr. President, I shall be pleased to present to you this piece of wood given by William, the First. (Gavel presented to Major Baxter.)

William, the Second, was killed in the new forest. The stone is there today to mark the place.

Now, Mr. President and Gentlemen, when I speak of that great building, the Canadian Bank of Commerce, I thinly of the ways and means they had of building it, and we think of the fact that Liverpool Cathedral is going to take sixty years to build and we have electricity now, too. When they built our cathedral in the time of William" the First, they had no scaffolds to build with. They made two walls six feet apart. They got the stone from twenty miles away from the hills of white limestone. They built two walls up, and inside the walls were bricks and cement and they kept on working on it till they got to the top. How did they get up and down? They built up a long run of earth from a long way in the country up to the top of the building and so rolled the great beams to the top. Fourteen years, only, they took to build it. The men who built it were the monks who gave their lives for their religion. The Normans, no doubt, were builders and there it remains today as a monument to their love.

William built a castle in Winchester which remained until the Civil War in England when the northern soldiers, took our town. They blew up the cathedral and they only left the hall and it is in that hall today that you find King Arthur's Round Table.

Our city had four gates, north, south, east and west One of the King Henries didn't have any time to go to any of the gates so he ordered another gate to be made, and he was told that he could not have a gate at the particular place he wanted it because there was a church there. He said, "Remove the church". They removed the church and they built the gate and then they put the church on top of the gate so the church is called "St. Swithin's Church over King's Gate". It is still there today.

We pass on down through the line of kings who came to Winchester and helped in its history, right down to the Henries and the Edwards and the Richards, down through the Plantagenets, and to Henry VII, the first of the Tudors. Henry VIPs eldest son, Prince Arthur was christened in our cathedral. I showed a slide last night of the christening and if any of you would like the chance of seeing the picture, I shall probably be showing it in Convocation Hall on Friday night. You will see that it took six people to carry the baby.

We come down to Henry, the Eighth, and the great part he played in the history of England. The Reformation came and the cathedral suffered as many others, but I am glad to say it has been put into thorough order again

One of the hobbies of mine is to poke around and try and find things that lived in the past and I have found many portions of figures destroyed in the time of Henry VIII, and Edward VI's time and I found that they did not smash them as you are told but they took the trouble to saw them in pieces and I have been able to get them stuck together again, so we are putting back the beautiful statuary of the fourteenth and fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The Bishops of Winchester have played their part and a wonderful part it has been! Take one Bishop, alone. Before he died he built a small hospital at a place called Depford in London. He left land in London to keep it going. The land went up in value and they were able to build another hospital and they built it by the side of Westminster Abbey and the land reaches from Vauxhall Station near London-if any of you know London, you will remember-right down to Westminster Bridge and along its side. It belonged to him. He gave it for the good of the hospital.

The House of Commons and the House of Lords hired land and the great Waterloo Station stands on that land, the land provided for the upkeep of that great hospital, St. Thomas's. So that is one great work done.

Go to our great Oxford. Oxford, the city of spires and one of the most beautiful cities in the world! There you find some of the most beautiful colleges. I have been doubly impressed with your colleges here. What a chance your young boys and girls have today! Stick to it; get on with it; show the people who sent you to college what you will do. Oxford has sent out to the world, all over the world and especially to Canada, some of its best. But those colleges were built mainly by our great bishops. Think of their forethought! They were getting sixty thousand a year, Town. Right down to about fifty years ago, the Bishop of Winchester received forty thousand a year, but he had to collect his own tithes, which cost a great deal of money. But the colleges at Oxford are something to be proud of. And we had in our cathedral, William of Wykeham, who was the founder of Winchester College and of New College at Oxford. He left land to keep them going anal they go on today.

Magdalen College at Oxford was founded by another Bishop of our cathedral, William of Waynflete. He had no surname but the name of the village he was born in was taken as his surname.

Now, Gentlemen, this will appeal to you, I am sure. There is a little college in Lincolnshire in England that has been going on ever since 1447, training young boys of from thirteen to nineteen for the larger college and the bigger school at Oxford, to turn them out as men of the world and as men from whom we expect big things. But, I am very sorry to say that last July they had to close their doors. Why? The tariff on potatoes, from a good two pounds per ton was dropped to one pound. I am not a politician but that sticks in my mind as being very sad, because those farmers could not pay their tithes. They were up against a wall, directly the tariff was taken off from two pounds to one pound, ships were waiting in the river to unload their potatoes. Our farmers could not sell their's. They were lust digging their crop and could not pay their tithes and so the college is closed. May it not spread to the college which followed it at Oxford! I hope it will not! That is a very sad state of affairs, I think.

You would like me to tell you a little story. I was talking to a Bishop the other day and with him was a chaplain. When the Bishop retired, the chaplain said to me, "Do you know a Bishop when you see once?" I said, "Yes". He said, "Do you know the difference between an English Bishop and a foreign Bishop?" I said, "I don't know that I do." He said, "Well, an English Bishop always preaches and holds his hand up so. (Hand held upright). A foreign Bishop always preaches and holds his hand out so." (hand stretched out with open palm. (Laughter.)

Speaking to a hundred and ninety clergymen last February, and telling them that little story, a certain bishop got up and said to me, "Yes, and your Bishop came out last year and held out both hands". (Laughter.)

One little story to tell you what happened to me one day in April, 1918. At the end of the war, for two years,

I had given my day of rest to your Canadian wounded soldiers. (Applause.) I used to meet them in a great motor lorry and give them of my best, every Thursday for a whole day, in memory of my own brother from Saskatchewan who was killed. One day, taking them around our cathedral, one of our boys said to me, "Could you answer any question on this cathedral?" Judging him as more or less of a stranger and not knowing very much about it, I thought I should be fairly safe and I said, "Yes". He said, "When will you proclaim peace in this Cathedral?" and I answered, immediately, "On the tenth of November". I was four hours out. It happened at four o'clock on November 1.1. I had four letters from four of those boys, a month after the 11th of November, to tell me and remind me of that statement.

Those boys were charming. I receive letters from them almost every week.

Our college at Winchester is one of the old things we pride ourselves in. There is present today at this luncheon, an old Wykehamist who lived in the same house as I lived in myself for seven years. I was proud to meet him today. The old Wykehamists have their motto; it is a great motto: "Manners maketh the man". But another motto they had was: "Come to College and learn; if not, read or be licked."

We have another delightful old building in Winchester called St. Cross, and if you come to Winchester any of you, and if you will let me know you are coming, perhaps a week's notice, I will give you my day of rest to take you around and I will take you to the delightful St. Cross where you will receive the dole. I do not mean the dole that you think. You don't want dole. But you shall receive a glass of ale and a piece of bread, so don't bring your sandwiches with you. St. Cross was built seven hundred years ago by a certain bishop for poor old men. It was enlarged by Cardinal Beaufort. Cardinal Beaufort, as you all know, was the Bishop of Winchester and he sat as one of the judges at Joan of Arc's trial. He wept when he saw her burned and he said, "We have burned a saint". They canonized her thirteen years ago and we have a figure of St. Joan in our cathedral.

One story, I must tell you, concerning St. Cross and that is that a certain master of St. Cross was in his study one Sunday. Some of the old men who live there look after the place more or less. They have a foundation and they receive between fifty and sixty pounds per week and a lovely house to live in. There is a rule that you shall not take photographs on Sunday. A certain American gentleman came around one Sunday and stuck up his tripod to take a photograph. An old man approached him and said, "Sir, I must ask you please not to take photographs". The American replied, "I have come a long way. I want to take this one". "You go away", was the reply. "Sir" said the old man, "you go away" and he proceeded to push the tripod away. The young man pushed the old man away and said, "You go to the devil".

The old man reported the incident to the master of St. Cross who was, by the way, a clergyman. The master asked the old man what had been said. "He was rude to me", said the old man". "What did he say?"

"I don't like to repeat it, Sir," said the old man.
"Why not?", asked the clergyman.
"Because, Sir, you wouldn't like to hear it", was the reply.
"Well, what did he say?"
"He told me to go to the devil, Sir."
"He did! And what did you do?", enquired the master.
"I came to you, Sir". (Laughter.)

In the west gate of the city of Winchester we have a Collection of old things. One of them is a very interesting one. It is a fireback, a piece of iron used for the back of a fire and on it is the coat of arms of a certain earl. His name is the Earl of Leicester. He was made governor of the store at Woolwich Arsenal. So much thieving took place that they had to stop it. So, he took his own coat of arms which was a fish spear, a spear for spearing fish, and he made a stamp of it and everything belonging to the king was stamped with this stamp. This fish spear is the origin of the broad arrow. Everything belonging to the King today is stamped with that broad arrow, so when you see it, you will know that it is not a broad arrow but a fish spear.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of The Empire Club of Canada, I give you my very best thanks for the chance of coming here to speak to you. When you say, "The Mother Country", it is lovely to us, but when we say "Canada"-what a son we have. You look to us as the Mother Country but we look to you as a father. We hope that you are going to be our salvation, presently. Honestly, we in the Old Country look to Canada to help us when we are old. We are old already, but we are going to leave you that trust. We trust that you will look after us when we are old. Mr. President and Gentlemen, I thank you.

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An Address by Mr. A.J. Adams

Some of the speaker's impressions of Toronto. Winchester and its historical associations. The President of the Empire Club is presented with a piece of wood from a sister tree of the Gospel Oak, given by William the First. Reference of the Canadian Bank of Commerce and the ways and means of building it, compared to the building of Winchester Cathedral. The four gates of the city. The line of kings who came to Winchester. The Bishops of Winchester and the parts they have played in history. Some words and description of Oxford. The college at Winchester. The history of another old building in Winchester called St. Cross. The address is interspersed with many anecdotes.