Cyril Alington

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Alington in 1908 at the time of his appointment to Shrewsbury School

Cyril Argentine Alington (22 October 1872 – 16 May 1955) was an English educationalist, scholar, cleric, and prolific author. He was the headmaster of both Shrewsbury School and Eton College. He also served as chaplain to King George V and as Dean of Durham.

Early life

Dr Alington was the second son of the Rev. Henry Giles Alington, an inspector of schools, and his wife Jane Margaret Booth (d.1910), daughter of Rev. Thomas Willingham Booth. His father came from a long line of clerics, and was descended from the Alingtons of Horseheath, an ancient Cambridgeshire family. He was educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Oxford, and was elected a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford in 1896. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1901.


Alington's educational career began when he became sixth-form master at Marlborough College in 1896. He moved to Eton College in 1899, leaving to became headmaster of Shrewsbury School in 1908. In 1917 he returned to Eton to succeed his brother-in-law, Edward Lyttelton, as headmaster and he remained there until his retirement from teaching in 1933. He served as chairman of the Headmasters' Conference, 1924–25. At Eton, a building which houses much of the English department is now named after him, as is Shrewsbury's school hall.

From 1933 to 1951 Alington served as Dean of Durham. He had become a Doctor of Divinity at Oxford in 1917 and received other honours: he was chaplain to the King from 1921 until 1933; he was made an honorary fellow of Trinity College, Oxford in 1926, and an honorary DCL at Durham University in 1937. He received the freedom of the City of Durham in 1949.

He appeared on the cover of Time magazine on 29 June 1931. "An accomplished classicist, a witty writer especially of light verse, and a priest of orthodox convictions" ..."[1]

Marriage and family

In 1904, Alington married Hester Margaret Lyttelton (CBE; died 1958), the youngest daughter of George Lyttelton, 4th Baron Lyttelton. The couple had four daughters and two sons. Their eldest daughter, Kathleen, died at the age of thirty and their youngest son Patrick Alington, was killed during World War II at Salerno in 1943. Their eldest son, Giles Alington, became Dean and Senior Tutor of University College, Oxford. The three surviving daughters all married Etonians. Lavinia married Sir Roger Mynors academic and classical scholar, Elizabeth married Sir Alec Douglas-Home British prime minister, and Joan married Rev. John Wilkes, Master in College and later House Master at Eton, Warden of Radley College and later vicar of Marlow. Alington died at the age of 82 and was buried at Durham Cathedral where there is a memorial in the north transept.

Literary works

Alington wrote more than 50 books including works on religion, biography, history, poetry, and a series of detective novels. He also wrote several popular hymns including The Lord of Hosts Our King Shall Be. This hymn is used as the epigraph to Nevil Shute's novel "In the Wet" (NS Norway was a pupil at Shrewsbury; Alington and Shrewsbury feature in his autobiography "Slide Rule")

His works of fiction include:

His non-fiction works include:


  1. R.W. Pfaff, Montague Rhodes James, Scolar Press 1980, p;260

The New Standard Encyclopaedia and World Atlas 1932


Academic offices
Preceded by
Henry Whitehead Moss
Headmaster of Shrewsbury School
Succeeded by
Harold A.P. Sawyer
Preceded by
Edward Lyttelton
Head master of Eton College
Succeeded by
Claude Aurelius Elliott
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Chaplain-in-Ordinary to the Monarch of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Preceded by
James Edward Cowell Welldon
Dean of Durham Cathedral
Succeeded by
John Herbert Severn Wild