4th Cambridge: Peterhouse

Cambridge District Scout Archive

1924  – reported closed 1932

This iteration of the 4th Cambridge was very much the personal project of one man (Edward) Carey Francis.  He left Cambridge in 1928 and the Troop continued for a while until it was reported closed 1932.  In this short time it established a pack, a troop and  a crew.

All that is known from material held in the District archives is from the Group list of 1930.

Tunwell’s Court. Trumpington Street. Tu., Fri 7.15 p.m. Cubs, 8, Tu.. m,., 6.30pm Rovers, Mon. 7 p.m.
7554143Royal BlueRL, A. Cook. Mimosa, Stretten Avenue
ACM F. Halcrow School House, Pound Hill
ACM R. H. Oakman 39, Grafton Street

Tunwell’s Court sits beside the antiques shop opposite Fitzwilliam Museum.

A Rover Leader but no Rovers were listed in 1930.  Census returns give Rovers for 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1931.  The 1930 returns also give 14 Scouts but no SM or ASM, three Cubs and two ACM’s.

As such I make no apology for quoting extensively from the two following sources


The following has been provided by the College Archivist at Peterhouse, Dr Lovatt, in Sept 2020.

            There is no material relating to the Peterhouse Scout Troop in the college archives.  This is because the troop seems to have been the private project of one of our Fellows, Edward Carey Francis.  Carey Francis was a very able mathematician and a graduate of Trinity College.  After military service between 1916 and 1919 he became Fellow of Peterhouse in 1922 and subsequently Senior Bursar of the college between 1924 and 1928.  In 1928 he resigned and left Cambridge entirely to become a lay missionary and schoolteacher – later Headmaster – in Kenya, where he remained until his death in 1966.

The Scout Troop seems to have been a personal initiative on his part but was naturally associated with the college.  Carey Francis lived in college at the time and meetings of the troop were held on college premises.  Tunwell’s Court was a college property on the opposite side of Trumpington Street and still bears this name.  But the best account of Carey Francis himself and of his scouts – with illustrations of the troop – is contained in a biography by L B Greaves Carey Francis of Kenya.


From Carey Francis of Kenya by L B Greaves we have the following words and one photograph of the choir football team which he coached from bottom placed also ran’s to league and cup champions.  It is very evident that not only was he able to lead but to achieve and to make himself greatly valued and adored.

Page 13      ‘At Peterhouse Carey set out from the start to get in touch with the boys, drawn from the town, who sang in the College choir.’

One of the choristers recalled in c. 1970 ‘He knew what results could be achieved by quite ordinary people if only they would do their best.’

‘When he had first met the boys after choir practice one evening, Carey had asked them what they really wanted to do.  Very little discussion was necessary; their unanimous wish was for a Troop of Boy Scouts.  Carey promptly went on a Scouters’ course, returning with a Scoutmaster’s Warrant, and the troop was started with two patrols.  For its headquarters he managed to acquire part of an old disused house with some outbuildings and a garden in Tunwells Court near Peterhouse, opposite the Fitzwilliam Museum.’

‘In spite of his heavy College duties he held Scout Parades there at least twice a week, and these were very fully attended; the type of training provided was not tro be missed..  Carey was able to enlist the help of experts of the right type in whatever field wsa in demand.  Thus for Boxing he provided a Blue, and for First Aid and Sick Nursing a Sister-Tutor from Addenbrooke’s Hospital.  The troop regularly used to win the First Aid Cup at the county Competitions.’

The archive records are sparse for this era.  The only confirmed dates are County Stratton Trophy in 1928.  No records of boxing success have been found.

‘Highlights of the scouts’ year were the Easter weekend camps at the nearby Maddingley Park and the summer camps in Norfolk, where they had great fun messing about ‘ in an old boat in the creeks and salt marshes, and doing night exercises such as practicing long distance signalling with ex War Department Aldis Lamps.  At these camps Carey was a tough disciplinarian, but had no difficulty keeping everyone happy…’’.

He decided to become a lay missionary and teacher in Kenya and in Summer 1928 handed over his Bursarship.

‘What was not so easy was the severing of the links with so much he held dear, in particular the scout troop. 

The scouts presented him with a scroll … and another, which he valued perhaps more, signed by their mothers, ‘Just to show our appreciation and thanks for all the kindness and thought shown to our boys whilst at Peterhouse.’

When telling the boys at camp that he was leaving for Africa his ‘control broke and he wept, wept in a way I had never before seen, and he could do nothing about it’. 

Page 17 The mother of one lad told ‘how for two days he justturned his face to the wall” and could eat nothing at all.’

Peterhouse choir football team of 1926 – 27 with Carey Francis SM, Founder

From Carey Francis of Kenya  by L B Greaves


It is of note that among the few Peterhouse students at this time known to be scouts was the actor James Mason, founder, with his brother, of the 11th Huddersfield and University Rover.  At University c 1928 – 1931.  It is not known if he was connected with the 4th  or met ECF.

JWR Archivist Sept 2020