Peter Attenborough – MaB 48-57

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Peter Attenborough, born on 4th April 1938, was a highly regarded Headmaster at two of the UK’s leading independent schools.


Joining Christ’s Hospital in 1948, Peter excelled in many areas. He played for the 1st XI, 1st XV and was Captain of the CCF. His career at CH culminated in his appointment as Senior Grecian.


Peter went on to read Classics at Peterhouse, Cambridge, before starting his teaching career at Uppingham. Following a spell as a House Master and a period volunteering in Kenya, Peter became Headmaster of Sedergh School in 1975. Following seven years at Sedbergh Peter then moved to be Headmaster of Charterhouse.


Peter was a generous supporter of Christ’s Hospital and became a Donation Governor and member of Court in 2002. Peter died peacefully after a short illness, aged 81, on 19th February 2020.

Submitted by Anthony Hurst (PrepA, MaB, 48-55)

Peter Attenborough and I joined MaB in 1950 but my earliest memories of him start some years
later when I laboured away on a long table in the Day Room and he sat at a desk studying Latin
and Greek, both of which were unexplored territory to me.
He was so much more talented than I in every sphere of school life that our paths would not
normally have crossed. Nevertheless we became good friends.
I have two lasting memories of those days. Firstly we used to “bowl” a tennis ball to each other
against the wall behind the House as we practised holding our bats straight while attempting
classic strokes!
Very much more importantly , Peter was the first person I am conscious of having admired. I told
him this many years later which embarrassed him!
Curiously he shared a range of intensely human qualities with Dennis Silk, another OB whom I got
to know later. After creating those two I think they broke the mould.
One other memory is more recent. I have joined a U3A Philosophy group and our reference book
is by Bryan Magee, yet another OB.
I asked Peter to tell me the Latin for “I paint therefore I am” which is what Descartes intended to
Peter declined the entire Latin word for me remarking that his lesson was good
MacNutt stuff.
Pinto ergo sum


Further reflections on Peter’s outstanding service to CH come from Susan Mitchell and Chris Bruce-Jones (past Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Council)  

Despite living in retirement in Herefordshire,  Peter gave unstintingly of his time, serving on the Council of Almoners of CH from 1987 to 2001 (representing Cambridge University) and as Chairman of the Education Committee (equivalent to the Board of School Governors today) from 1997 to 2000. He was an active and wonderfully supportive Almoner, with an in-depth knowledge and experience of boarding education that he shared with the Council and the Headmaster. It would also not be out of order to note the great generosity of the Attenborough family to CH through the will of Peter’s mother.

Peter is remembered as a real gentle-man, always charming, courteous and tolerant. The School, Foundation and Council of CH were very fortunate to have Peter’s service and wisdom for 15 years.