King’s Ely pupils hoop to conquer

Competitive spirits rode high at King's Ely's hoop trundle, one of the school's most historic and fiercely-contested events

Crowds gathered around the East Lawn of Ely Cathedral for the historic King’s Ely hoop trundle, which took place after prize-giving on May 4 and was blessed with glorious sunshine. The event sees the school’s King’s and Queen’s Scholars, dressed in their distinctive scarlet gowns, racing each other while bowling traditional wooden hoops.

Each year, up to 12 students in Year 12 become King’s Scholars (boys) or Queen’s Scholars (girls) on the basis of academic excellence. They become members of the Cathedral Foundation, strengthening the special link between King’s Ely and the cathedral, and they also qualify for other privileges throughout the academic year.

The King’s and Queen’s Scholars are all great friends but their competitive side was most certainly on display for the hoop trundle, which commemorates the re-founding of the school by King Henry VIII in 1541. Having dissolved Ely monastery, which had educated children for centuries, he gave the school its first Royal Charter and inaugurated the first 12 King’s Scholars. 

One of the privileges he allowed them was to play games, including the bowling of hoops, in the cathedral precincts. In 1970, the school admitted girls for the first time in its 1,000 year history, and three years later the King’s Scholars were joined by Queen’s Scholars at the request of Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to the school in 1973.

The winners of this year’s Hoop Trundle were Jacob Cave and Sophie Wood, who were each presented with wooden tankards by the Mayor of Ely, Cllr Richard Hobbs. 

King’s Ely: kingsely.org