Rev. C T Wood

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Charles Travers Wood, Dean of Queens’ College Cambridge, was a central driver of Scouting in Cambridge District from 1909 until into the 1940’s and involved until his death in 1961.

It should be clear that he was very able and active; a multiple prize winner and a generous and willing Scout.

  • Chaplain          9th                   1910
  • SM                   3rd District      1913    (Longstanton/ Longstanton & Lolworth / Longstanton, Lolworth &Willingham/ Lolworth/ Willingham)  ended c 1920
  • SM /GSM         9th                   1914 – 1961    
  • DSM                (and 7th)         1917 – 1919    (1st after a brief incumbency by Mowll)
  • DC                                           1919 – 1923     (acting DC 1936 – 1938)
  • CC                                            1924 – 1942
  • District President                 1948 – 1961

In collating records it became clear, as it had to previous researchers, that many of CTW’s  roles were not accompanied by a formal Warrant.  The one list known gives those above and ‘etc.’.  It also lists an MM (Medal of Merit) but no date. He is pictured with a medal by 1921. His work for the University rarely impinges on the records.

Time Line

Born in 1875 he became a student at Pembroke College.  From Scout records (his own photograph album/ scrap book of the 9th Cambridge) he is first encountered in Cambridge in 1895 as a volunteer teacher at the influential Jesus Lane Sunday School. 

            Jesus Lane Sunday School       In 1912 the 4th Cambridge (Jesus Lane Sunday School) ran for a short period.  It is not known how long CTW’s association with JLSS continued but the 9th were to hire rooms in their Gymnasium/ Club in Grafton Street in 1917. In 1927 the building was purchased by the District on CTW’s recommendation and with much of the initial finance supplied by him.

1900    Became teacher of Hebrew and Old Testament at Queens’ writing books on the subject

1907    Senior Chaplain and Dean of Queens’.

1909    Leonard Spiller came to Queens’ and enthused about Scouting. By 1910 CTW had invited all Scouts to a memorial service for Edward VII and a week later the Queens’ patrols were started.

1910    Chaplain Queens’ College Scout Troop (His first warranted position)

1910    Member of the initial Cambridge District Association

            Queens’ College          The impetus given by Leonard Spiller, later a HQ Commissioner was marked.  Of 33 identified University addresses in the Gilwell records between 1909 and 1914 twelve were from Queens’. The wife of the President of Queens’ from 1906 – 1931, Mrs. B R Fitzpatrick was a supporter of Scouting, acted as a badge examiner and a generous financial supporter.  Alongside CTW she made Queens’ a centre of scouting in Cambridge. 

1911    living at 9 Brookside aged 35 a ‘College lecturer and clerk in Holy Orders’

            Queens House Mission Rotherhithe               Part of the Mission House movement to the poorer areas of London it hosted the 7th Bermondsey and Rotherhithe Troop.  It is not known from Scout records what part CTW played but see below for Queens’ College report. A few photographs’ from his album are recorded as ‘Mission Camp’ and show Scout uniforms.  The 7th B & R Troop camped at Lingey Fen and later CTW made provision for camping for poor London Troops at Abington.

1911    First Troop camp and in his absence two died by drowning.  See list of camps in his history of the IXth below.

1913    SM 3rd Cambridge District      Longstanton    He was also significantly involved in Lolworth Troop – both Longstanton and Lolworth held the title 3rd Cambridge (District) sometimes recorded together as one title.

1914    Charlie Wood took over as Scout Leader of the 9th Cambridge Queens College Choir, a position he would hold for nearly fifty years. Soon afterwards he also took on the role of District Scout Leader for Cambridge, which made Queens’ the natural centre for many scouting events.

1916    ‘Two other fellows, C M Sleeman and C T Wood were said to have distinctly anti war sentiments at the time, the former having recently moved across from an anti pacifist position.’  CTW wrote of the war ‘a supreme challenge to repent….it now stands revealed what civilization means with God left out; that is the certain outcome of human greed and falsehood and malevolence.’    A History of Queens’ College: John Twigg

1917    DSM

1917 – 1919    CTW took over the running of 7th Cambridge (County School) alongside 3rd District and 9th, the previous leaders being students from Queens’ who moved on.

1917    Robert Baden Powell paid his first visit to Queens’ College where he chaired a debate on the role of the Scout Movement. CTW hosted

Host to General Smuts as the Scout Troop formed a guard of honour across the Mathematical Bridge

With the national shortage of labour the District camped at Impington where they spent a month fruit picking for Chivers.  CTW was present for at least some of this as he was in 1918.

1918    Six weeks spent picking flax for the Government at Fortheringhay

1919 – 1923    Became District Commissioner

1919    CT Wood as Dean inspected the Higher Grade School.  This had hosted a very impressive Troop 6th Cambridge, which withered during the war.  The overlap of roles would each have informed the other. 

1920    Reveille           He gave worth to and built up those around him but his works were not recorded in the same way as those of A J B Green. As District Secretary Green is credited as holding the District together during the war  ‘Scouting in Cambridge owed everything possible to Mr. Green.’ It is clear, if not clearly recorded, that CTW was as instrumental in holding the Troops together. In a 1919 appreciation of the District Secretary on his leaving the District, Rev A V Valentine Richards said ‘it was really due to his (Green’s) efforts and those of the District Commissioner (the Rev. C T Wood) that things had gone on along as well as they had during the war.’

He is conspicuously missing from the 1920 Reveille (a single issue District magazine), whose author remains anonymous, but who may be CTW; from the tone, the phraseology and by this omission.  C T Wood has one mention, seemingly signing off the paper collecting accounts but possibly acknowledging authorship of the bulk of the magazine, the ‘Editorial Column’.  As ‘D.C.’ he has six mentions, none of which list his actions during the last few years.

1922    Baden-Powell was again in Cambridge for a rally in Queens’ Grove. The picture shows Baden-Powell inspecting King’s Scouts from the 9th with Charlie Wood watching on.

1923    Charlie Wood was appointed Scout County Commissioner for Cambridgeshire. Despite this important and time consuming job, he still found time to run the Troop.

The unique Scout Boat Club was formed in 1923 on Charlie Wood’s advice.  In 1924 ten of the seventeen members were from the 9th.  Queens’ College allowed the use of two eights and two tub pairs.

1923/4 – 1942             County Commissioner

1926    The Albert Institute, previously owned by JLSS, purchased as the Scout Headquarters.Consisting of three classrooms, two reading rooms and a gymnasium it backed on to the JLSS buildings in Paradise Street. Much of the initial finance was donated by CTW.

1928    Baden-Powell was back at Queens’ with Dr Eastman, chief of the Sioux Indians. He appeared in full regalia and clearly made a big impression on the assembled scouts!

1931    Accompanied BP as he received his Honourary Law Degree at the Senate House.

1931    Under CTW, as CC, the County proposed a permanent campsite and in 1932 Little Abington was located. CTW donated half of the original asking price of £100 and within a month had doubled that to £100, with an appeal for further costs of c £70 – 80.   CTW later offered to loan the balance until it could be raised by appeal.  Described as the Donor of the site he nominated trustees, all of whom were accepted.

1936    The Jesus Lane Sunday School in Paradise Street which backed onto the Albert institute was added to the Scout purchase

1938    As recorded in District Minutes CC Rev C T Wood ‘bought a piece of land next to Abington Campsite… and has promised £10 a year on condition that we invite a Troop from the slums of London to cam  at Abington and pay their fares.’

Charlie Wood retired as County Commissioner in 1942. It is evident that this was at the instigation of the new Chief Scout, Cambridgeshire was considered a run down County. No farewell celebrations were held and it wasn’t until 1952 that a new long term CC was in place.

He became Rector of St Botolph’s and, as a Life Fellow, retained his rooms in Walnut Tree Court. He continued as Scout Leader (GSL) with the 9th. As ‘Vicar’ of St Botolph’s he was remembered (in 2020) by ex Choir boys as piling them into his Rover 90 and taking them to Abington, also fining them for playing cricket in the churchyard. Choristers at Queens’ recall being given Choir treats in College rooms and were very impressed by a tiger skin on his couch.

c. 1940                        Curator of Trees at Abington

1948 – 1958    District President        (Certainly until 1958 but possibly until his death in 1961)  He was offered the Presidency ‘as a token of our friendship and goodwill’   on the death of the previous incumbent E H Church.

In 1960 Charlie Wood was in failing health. He rang Alan MacKenzie, Scout Leader of the 11th Cambridge Scout Troop and asked if the two troops could be merged. The 9th at this point was inactive.  The combined troop was to be known as the 11th/9th.  The current HQ of the 11th/9th was built by a Trust Fund set up by CTW. This was probably £800.

Soon afterwards in March 1961 Charlie Wood died.

1976 It was proposed that the (new training?) building at Abington campsite be known as the Wood Centre.

Scouting Publications

CTW wrote numerous articles for the local press on scouting events.  His reports on BP visits, The Scout Boat Club etc. were also published by the Head Quarters Gazette.

As hypothesised above he may have been the author of Reveille, contributed to ‘Our Scout Column’ and penned columns on the WW1 work camps, major rally’s, District camps, Stourbridge Fayre and smaller events such as a Leader v Scout football match.

He was also the author of a number of works relating to his job.

Photo credit: Queens’ College, University of Cambridge



Very little remains in CTW’s handwriting of his methods of working as DC or CC.  This period started a 100 years ago and little remains from other Officers of the District at this time.  It is reported that the College was concerned about the amount of time he dedicated to Scouting (Queens’  Jonathan Yates)

His influence is still felt today. He proposed that the Cambridge Scout Association have its own headquarters. As a result premises in Grafton Street were acquired. These were later sold and the present District Headquarters in Perne Road purchased. He was also instrumental in the purchase of land at Abington as a county campsite.



1897    Cross Country Blue

1908    Became a member Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (Mission Field) (A Rev C T Wood was recorded as preaching at Bromsgrove school in 1940 as a representative of this society – another older Rev C T Wood was active in Africa)

1916    Representing Queens’ at Fives v Leys school


9th Cambridge

Under C T Wood the 9th Cambridge were active and successful.  Added by a continuing enthusiasm within the College, initiated by Leonard Spiller and clearly maintained by CTW, he was able to provide very active Scouting for his boys.  The troop had a reputation for encouraging physical exercise and, remembering the experience of the first camp when two drowned, swimming.  At least one active Scout is known to have moved Troops to step away from the physical training.

An album of cuttings and photographs, that also includes some personal pictures and reminiscences, shows many Scouting scenes largely before 1931 with images of the 9th, Lolworth and some mixed troop activities along with the visits by BP and Royalty.


Queens’ College Mission House

This marked the (somewhat belated) entry of Queens’ into the Cambridge college mission movement supporting South London. We speculate that this timing might be related to the arrival in Queens’ of Charles Travers Wood (1875–​1961) as a Fellow in 1900. [He had been an undergraduate at Pembroke College, which already had an active mission in Walworth. Wood became Dean in 1907, and for the whole of his career remained the Fellow most closely associated with the college mission, and with the Boy Scout movement]. 

Jesus Lane Sunday School / Queens’ House Mission

1906 Inkstand — Wood Silver reed & ribbon capstan inkstand. Inscription: “Presented to // Rev C.T. Wood // by the scholars and teachers of // Jesus Lane Sunday School Cambridge // in grateful recognition of his services as superintendent // 1906–7”.

The Revd Charles Travers Wood (1875–1961). At Pemboke College: matric. 1894, B.A. 1897, M.A. 1901. Cross-country running ‘blue’ 1897. At Queens’ College: Fellow (1900–), Divinity and Hebrew Lecturer, Chaplain, Dean (1907–40), B.D. 1920. University Lecturer in Divinity 1926–40. Rector of St Botolph’s, Cambridge, 1940. A leading force in the Queens’ House Mission, first in Peckham, then in Rotherhithe, and in the Scouting movement in Cambridge.


The Dean – The Revd C.T. ‘Charlie’ Wood   Divinity and Hebrew Lecturer

(From  Article produced by The Revd Dr Jonathan Holmes, Keeper of the Records.)

Charles Travers Wood was a graduate of Pembroke College. He won a raft of University prizes in Classics, Theology and Hebrew and was appointed a Fellow of Queens’ in 1900 to be Chaplain and Theological and Hebrew Lecturer. In 1907 he became Dean, a post he was to hold until 1940. He continued then as a Fellow of Queens’ and as Rector of St Botolph’s Church until his death in 1961 at the age of 86.

He was a strong supporter of the Scouting movement. Leonard Spiller (1909) brought the Scouting fever to Queens’ and that winter seven Queens’ undergraduates started a troop in the Barnwell area of the city. The Boy Scouts Association was officially founded in 1910.  Charlie Wood became the first District Scout Leader for the Cambridge Scouts in 1914. In 1910 he had formed the 9th Cambridge ‘Queens’ College Own’ Scout Troop mostly from the boys in the Chapel Choir. At that time each boy recruited for the Choir (from churches around the town) was entitled to a free straw hat each year. Wood diverted the ‘hat money’ into paying for the boys’ train fares to the annual camps. During the First World War, the Choir continued to function (though without many men to provide the Tenor and Bass parts); camps were still held but the boys on them were put to useful ‘war work’, most notably in 1917 picking fruit for Chivers and in 1918 flax, which was used to make the linen for aircraft wings. ‘Spanish Flu’ swept the camp, but all the boys (perhaps because they were out of doors and living in tents) survived. In 1923 Wood became Scout County Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and many scouting events were held at Queens’. He continued to run the 9th Cambridge Scout Troop until it was amalgamated with the 11th in 1960. Charlie Wood was also a very keen cross-country runner, winning a ‘Blue’ in 1897.




(by CT WOOD)

 MR. LEONARD SPILLER (now a London Vicar and a H-Q. Commissioner for Sea-Scouts) is our foster-father: he came up to Queens’ College in 1909 and brought us the germ of the Scouting fever. Many of us were scorners and disbelievers for a time: but that winter seven Queens’ Undergraduates started a Troop in Barnwell.

 On May 20th, 1910 (by permission of the College), I invited all Cambridge Scouts to a Memorial Service for King Edward VII in the College Chapel. Next week the Choir boys were formed into two Patrols and attached to the 1st Cambridge Troop, which had as its first S-M. Mr. R. WRIGHT of Queens’; and in the summer H. WHITBY (now Captain in the Indian Army) and S. METCALF (killed in the War) went to Camp near Mr. WRIGHT’s home in Derbyshire. He was a splendid S-M., and great was our loss when, soon afterwards, he was killed by falling down a quarry in the dark. The first Scout on our register is E.ELLIS, who I am glad is say is still in Cambridge.

In the summer of 1910 the Queens’ Patrols were formed into a separate Troop as the 9th Cambridge, under S-Ms. G. H. CRUMP (afterwards D.S-M.) and M. G. FERGUSON. My own first warrant was as Chaplain to the Troop and is dated June 23, 1910.

 On May 20, 1911 the Chief came for a Rally on the Rifle Range: the 9th gave a display of camp cookery. Just before the Chief came to us, the Scout carrying several appetising dishes on a tray tripped up, and the contents spread over the earth – but ” be prepared ” ! They were hastily shovelled back into their dishes, adhesive lumps of earth were poked below the surface by eager fingers, and fortunately the Chief did not eat any of them!

In June 1911 (the Coronation year) came our first Troop Camp at Houghton, near St. Ives; but alas! it was cut short by a tragedy. HARRY BENTON, a former Choir boy, was helping us in Camp; in my absence, he went to bathe and got cramp; Mr. WALTER SEARLE, of Pembroke College, a visitor acting as A. S-M., tried to save him, and both were drowned.

 On July 4, 1911, came the Royal Rally in Windsor Park, when the King reviewed 35,000 Scouts; five of our Troop were present. In October Mr. G. B. RIDDELL of Queens’ became S-M. and the Troop improved rapidly under his care.

 In 1912 at a District Competition the bread making prize went to P-L. R. MOORE! In the same year Mr. B. SIMMS and Mr. H. S. MORTON (afterwards D. S-M., killed in the War) became A.S-Ms. Next year came our first First-Class Badge, won by BASIL LEVETT; and at a local Rally the Troop built its first Bridge (single lock-trestle).

In July 1913 five of the Troop went to the national Scout Rally at Birmingham. Then came our first Camp at West Runton, never to-be-forgotten, in splendid weather; it was attended by the Long Stanton Troop, of which I became S-M. soon afterwards.

Our second Camp there in 1914 was with S-M. A. D. HAMER of Queens’ (killed in the War, a week before the Armistice); Mr. BASIL MAINE (Organist) was our chief Visitor. The Camp ended only three days before war was declared.

 From that time on I was S-M. of the 9th. At first we met in an empty room in College (some will remember dissecting a rabbit there!) In 1917, when I was also S-M. of two other Troops and D.S-M. as well, we moved our H.Q. to the Albert Institute in Grafton Street. That year General SMUTS visiting Cambridge, inspected the Troop; and on June 13th the Chief came to a large Rally on Sheep’s Green. He was three hours late in arriving, because the Germans had dropped a bomb on the front of his train just before it left Liverpool Street Station. The 9th built a double trestle Bridge over Snob’s, the best they ever achieved.

At that time week-end camps were all that was possible, with tents camouflaged by paint. In 1917 however I took a number of Cambridge Scouts to camp on Mr. Chivers’ ground at Impington to pick fruit for him, -strawberries (ugh!) and gooseberries.

 In 1918 about eighty of us went to Fotheringhay for about six weeks to pick flax for the Govermnent. I shall never forget it, for it was the year of the new and terrifying sort of influenza,-and, in spite of our open-air camp life, we had as many as forty ill-very ill-at the same time, and could scarcely get hold of a Doctor. Mr. G. W. MARTIN came to help and did valiant things.

In June 1918 the Troop had done its most memorable trek-camp ;–Friday evening, Cambridge to Hemingford; Saturday afternoon, back to Oakington (where I took Sunday Services in Scout uniform, and HORACE PETTITT lost his bacon to the bantams); Sunday evening, back home: total, thirty miles, and three of US, MANSFIELD, J. KINGSLAND, and H. ROOKE were eleven years old. P-L. FRANK, LLOYD became A.S-M. that year.

Our post-war history is given in tabulated form below. The Troop has now 154 members on its roll. Perhaps the best testimonial to its soundness is given by the number of Scouters whom it has produced: for the 9th, Wilfrid Houghton, C. Mansfield, E. G. Collins, R. Cockell, J. D. Bremner, H. Rooke; for Dry Drayton, B. Levett and R. Moore; for Barton, H. Rooke; for the 4th, J. Kingsland; for the 13th, D. Oakman; for Fulbourn, H. Pettitt; for Coton, P. Gamer.

CALLED To HIGHER SERVICE. S-M. R. Wright (accident); W. Searle and H. Benton (drowned); A.S-M. H. Morton and S-M. A. D. Hamer (war); L. South, drowned in war service with D. Bright; S. Metcalf (war).

CUPS AND SHIELDS PRESENTED TO THE TROOP. Small Inter-Patrol Shield, and Swimming Trophy (given by S-M.) Large Inter-Patrol Silver Cup (given by Mr. Pipe. Silver Camp Cup (given by Mr. Wilfrid Houghton, in memory of the four Houghton brothers in the Troop).

GOLD ALL-ROUND CORDS: won by C. P. Mans, field, J. Kingsland, H. Pettitt and K. Pipe.

BUSHMAN’s THONG: won by K. Pipe and P. Garner.

KING’S SCOUTS: B. Levett, E. Smee, W. Houghton, F. Stoakley, C. Faircliff, A. B. Coe, G. Elwood, H. Pettitt, C. P. Mansfield, H. Rooke, J. Kingsland, F. Hubbard, D. Oakman, R. Cunnington, A. Harris, E. Fletcher, M. How, E. Gamlen, R. Houghton, J. F. Bremner, E. Hancock, C. Brown, K. Pipe, P. Garner, R. Lawn.

WAR-SERVICE BADGES: won by F. Lloyd, T. Stoakley, R. Moore, E. Smee, W. Houghton, G. Pinney, J. Robinson, F. Stoakley, C. Faircliff, A. B. Coe, H. Clark, G. Ellwood, C. Pell, H. Ellis, F. Cowles, S. Elwood.

VICTORIES IN ASSOCIATION COMPETITIONS. Morley Silver Bugle in 1919 1921, 1924, and Morley Trophy in 1930. Boxing Shield in 193o and (tied) 1931. Athletic Sports Shield in 1921, 1923, 1925,1928, 1929, 1930.

 POST-WAR CAMPS, ETC. 1919 Easter: trek to Quy and Newmarket. Summer: West Runton (with the 7th). 1920. Easter: Babraham (with our Serbian friend, A. Kostitch). Summer: West Runton (with 7th and 10th) Olympia jamboree in August. 1921. Easter: Longstowe (snow: burning accident to W. Blackburn). Summer: Harlech, with ascent of Snowdon. [Acting of play ” Vice-Versa 1922. Easter: Longstowe. [June Rally in Queens’ Grove with Chief Scout]. Summer: Wall-End Farm, Langdale, with ascents of ScaFell, etc., and rock-climb on Little Gully, Pavey Ark. 1923. Easter: Fotheringhay. Whitsun: Haslingfield. Summer: West Runton. [National Scout Conference at Queens’ College in March. Foundation of Scouts’ Rowing Club with 12 Scouts from the 9th, particularly S. Elwood, now in Head-of-River boat]. 1924. Easter: Longstowe. Summer: VaI D’Iere Savoy. [Acting of play, “A Boy-Scout at the Court of King Arthur”]. 1925-1927. Easter: Longstowe. Summer: West Runton. 1928 March Rally in Guildhall with Chief Scout, and Sioux Chief Dr. Eastman]. Easter: Wyton Vicarage. Summer: Nook Farm, Rosthwaite. 1929. Easter: Brent Pelham. Summer: West Runton. Jamboree at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead. 1930. Easter: Waresley Park. Summer: Giffard Bay, jersey. 1931. Easter: Croxton Park. Summer: Saint’s Bay, Guernsey.

 C. T. WOOD.


(this version Jonathan Yates 14 Dec 2002)

JWR Archivist July 2020