Professor Ted Kenney – ColA 35-43

Friday 31 January 2020

Ted Kenney, born on 29th February 1924, was one of the finest Classical scholars of his generation. Joining Christ’s Hospital in 1935 his intelligence was spotted immediately, with his Housemaster Hector Buck declaring that Ted had the best Classical brain of any pupil he had ever known.


Ted’s successful time at CH culminated in his appointment as Senior Grecian. John Gale OBE (ColB 1938-46) recalls his first memory of Ted as Senior Grecian when, cross at the poor standard of marching, Ted ordered the whole school to practice on the Avenue for what seemed like hours.


Following a spell with the Royal Corps of Signals Ted went up to read Classics at Trinity College, Cambridge. After a year as Assistant Lecturer in Leeds (1951–2), Ted spent the whole of his career in Cambridge, first as Research Fellow of Trinity (1952–3) and then as Fellow of Peterhouse until his death. In the Faculty of Classics he was successively Assistant Lecturer, Lecturer, Reader, and Kennedy Professor of Latin, holding that Chair from 1974 until his retirement in 1982. As Emeritus Fellow of Peterhouse, Ted continued to publish works beyond his ninetieth birthday.


Ted took great interest in Christ’s Hospital in adult life and was Chairman of the Education Committee for many years. Following the sudden death of Angus Ross, Ted, with some reluctance, became Treasurer of CH for the period from 1984-1986. He became a Donation Governor in 1985 and in later life became an Amicable, bringing his highly educated debate to bear.


Ted passed away, aged 95, on 23rd December 2019.


Submitted by Elizabeth Tucker.  Head of Christ’s Hospital Girls’ School, Hertford, 1972 -1982.

Ted Kenney first became familiar to me when as an undergraduate at Cambridge University  I used to enjoy his lectures on Latin poetry.  So I was truly delighted to find he was chairing the meeting at which I was interviewed for the Headship of Christ’s Hospital Girls’ School, Hertford. When I saw him in the chair, I simply relaxed and answered any questions without anxiety.

At Hertford I was particularly grateful to Ted Kenney for the transformation of the garden of the house where I lived as Head from one with a formal lawn into a delightful paradise of roses.  He introduced me to the old roses he and his wife Anne enjoyed in their own garden at Cambridge such as Rosa Mundi, Ballerina, Buff Beauty and Golden Wings.  One of the things I inherited from Miss West was to have groups of juniors on Sunday evenings.  We had a lovely time playing games in this beautiful garden.

Another wonderful thing Ted did was to come when I was teaching from a section of Lucretius the Latinists in the Sixth Form to share a lesson with us.  He illumined Lucretius for me.

When I left after ten years I was presented with a magnificent piece of Latin writing beautifully calligraphed by an Old Blue.  The writing is surrounded by an ornamental piece containing flowers and using lapis lazuli.  At the base of the writing hangs a paper ‘seal’ of CH above which are the signatures of all the council members.  I treasure this and shall bequeath it to the museum.  Although it is in no way ‘signed’, I am certain the Latin was composed by Ted.

Another occasion I recall is the Old Blues day when by the theatre at Horsham Ted presented to the school the portrait of myself which now hangs above the organ from Hertford in the Horsham Dining Hall between the portraits of Miss West and Miss Morrison.

Altogether my gratitude to Ted is immeasurable.  To visit him and Anne in their lovely home at Cambridge and to enjoy their gorgeous garden was one of the sheer pleasures of my retirement and I now have the delight of seeing ‘their’ roses in my garden.