13 Nov

The Stuart Southall Room and the John Speed Atlas

Along the first floor corridor in the heart of the MFL Department sits the Stuart Southall Room. It houses some of the oldest books KEHS owns, some dating back to before the date of the school’s founding! The collection ranges from first edition textbooks, popular works of fiction and collections of art, as well as copies of The Phoenix dating back to its earliest issues. There is a viewing window where girls can have a look at some of the ancient tomes and the latest display from the collection. Stuart Southall attended KES between 1969 and 1976 and has been a Governor of both KEHS and KES since 2008; he is also a founding trustee of The King Edward's School Birmingham Trust. Outside work, Stuart takes an active interest in the arts and is a keen collector of British and American etchings and has a considerable collection of designer book bindings.

Through his generous donations the school has been able to create this space for the archive and preserve some of the more ancient and valued resources that might otherwise languish forgotten in storage on a darkened shelf somewhere.

Recently our archive collection has been valued, and one item was discovered of particular note – John Speed’s The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain. Speed was a noted cartographer of his time and produced many maps and Atlases such as this. Printed in 1616 this book is older than the school itself! Its connection with the school is unknown and so it was decided it would be better to sell it and use the funds to support future students. Its possible value at auction is a staggering £12,000!

Next time girls are passing the Stuart Southall Room, they should take a glance through the window and have a look into the school’s literary past!