Peter Stanley Lyons

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Peter Stanley Lyons (6 December 1927 – 28 November 2006) was an eminent English chorister, choral conductor, and cricketer.

Peter Stanley Lyons
Born6 December 1927
Died28 November 2006(2006-11-28) (aged 78)
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge (BA, 1950: MA, 1955)
OccupationChorister, Choral conductor, Conductor, Headmaster
Known for
Spouse(s)Bridget Webb-Jones (m. 1957, Wells Cathedral)
RelativesJames William Webb-Jones (father-in-law)

Early lifeEdit

Lyons was born in London.[1] He was educated at Alleyn's School,[2][3] Rossall School,[1][2] where he was Captain of Soccer,[4] and St John’s College, Cambridge.[1][2][3] He won a choral scholarship to St John's in 1946,[2] but completed National Service in the Royal Corps of Signals,[2] with whom he boxed for the British Army,[1] and in the Royal Regiment of Artillery,[5] before going up to Cambridge in 1948.[2][3] At St John's, he read Modern and Medieval Languages[2](BA, 1950: MA, 1955), and was also tutored in economics by C. W. Guillebaud.[2][3] Lyons also played soccer for St. John's: he was awarded colours for soccer in the 1949-1950 season, and was a member of the team that won the Inter-Collegiate Cup for soccer.[2]

Lyons was educated at Rossall School.

Lyons was a distinguished member of the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge under Robin Orr.[1][3] He was able to sing counter-tenor until his twenties and was described as a ‘forerunner of [Maria] Callas' whilst at Rossall School.[4] His early performances included the part of Euridice in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice,[6] and the soprano part in Verdi's Requiem.[4] Lyons was broadcast on the BBC on 8 February 1944.[6] Lyons also played the piano and the violin.[1] He was an expert on the compositions of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.[1] At Alleyn’s School he formed what would become a lifetime friendship and collaborative partnership with John Lanchbery, who would become Principal Conductor of the Royal Ballet from 1959 to 1972, and became friends with Kenneth Spring, co-founder of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain.[1][6]

Lyons boxed for the British Army during his National Service.[1] Lyons was also a talented cricketer: he was a lifetime member of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC),[1] for which he played during the 1960s,[7] and a member of the Jesters Cricket Club, of which his father-in-law, James William Webb-Jones, was a founding member.[8] Lyons also played cricket for the Dulwich Public Schools Association.[7]

Musical careerEdit

Lyons was:[2][3]

  1. Chorister of the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge (1948–1950).
  2. Director of Music, Royal Naval College, Greenwich (1950–1954)
  3. Director of Music, Vanbrugh Castle School (1950–1954)[9]
  4. Director of Music and Deputy Headmaster, Wells Cathedral School, and Master of the Choristers, Wells Cathedral, (1954–1960)
  5. Headmaster, Witham Hall School (1961-1989)

Witham HallEdit

Lyons, who was a friend of the Banks family who owned Witham Hall,[10] was appointed Headmaster of Witham Hall School in 1961, two years after the foundation of the school. Witham Hall flourished under Lyons's 29 year leadership, the number of pupils increasing from 20 at the time at which he started to 150 by the time he retired,[1] in 1989, by which time the school had become a feeder school for Eton College, in addition to the local Oundle School, Uppingham School, and Oakham School.[10][11] Under Lyons's leadership, the School developed a reputation for musical prowess; was inspected by the Ministry of Education and subsequently granted the status of an educational trust, in 1978; and began to admit girls, in 1983.[10] There is a school house at Witham Hall, Lyons, named after Lyons,[12] and a sports hall, at the time one of the largest in the country, was opened in 1987, and named the 'Lyons Hall', by the Governors of the school, in honour of Lyons.[13] The Lyons Hall was demolished in 2016 to create space necessary for a larger sports centre.[13]


On 31 July 1957, at Wells Cathedral, Lyons married Bridget Webb-Jones[1][2][3] (b. 5 September 1937),[14] who was the daughter of James William Webb-Jones[1][15][16] (then the Headmaster of St George's School, Windsor Castle)[1][14] and Barbara Moody,[16] the daughter of Colonel Richard Stanley Hawks Moody CB.[14] Bridget Lyons's godmother was Lady Walford Davies,[10] the wife of composer Sir Henry Walford Davies, who had composed his most famous work, God Be in My Head, at Witham Hall, and later wife of Julian Harold Legge Lambart, Vice-Provost of Eton College, for which Witham Hall is a preparatory school.[10][11] Lyons and his wife had two daughters, one son, and four grandchildren.[2]

Later lifeEdit

Lyons died on 28 December 2006.[2] During his retirement, Lyons became a leading member of the Young Musicians Support Group, which is part of the Dartington Hall Trust,[1] of which Imogen Holst, daughter of the composer Gustav Holst, was also a member.[17]

Lyons was a lifetime member of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC),[1] for which he played during the 1960s,[7] and a member of the Jesters Cricket Club.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Obituary of Peter Stanley Lyons, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, Friday, 20 April 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Lyons, Peter S., The Eagle, St John's College, Cambridge, 2007, pp.258-259
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Entry for Lyons, Peter S. (1948)". Register of Twentieth Century Johnians, Volume I: 1900-1949. St John's College, Cambridge. 2004. p. 279.
  4. ^ a b c French, Jim. "Rossall Reminiscences". Alleyn's School, Dulwich. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  5. ^ "No. 38220". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 February 1948. p. 1482.
  6. ^ a b c Schofield, Susannah. "Alleyn's in the 1940s". Alleyn's School, Dulwich. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  7. ^ a b c "Peter Stanley Lyons, Profile, Cricket Archive".
  8. ^ "James William Webb-Jones, Profile at Cricket Archive".
  9. ^ "Peter Lyons, Residential Staff, Vanbrugh Castle School".
  10. ^ a b c d e Peter S. Lyons and Witham Hall, Lincoln, Rutland & Stamford Mercury, Friday, February 8, 1985
  11. ^ a b Tatler, Guides, Schools Guide 2014, Prep, Witham Hall School
  12. ^ "Houses, Witham Hall".
  13. ^ a b "Lincolnshire Life, Educational Supplement". Lincoln: County Life. May 2017. p. 170. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  14. ^ a b c "WEBB-JONES, James William (1904–1965)". Who's Who, Oxford Index. Oxford University Press.
  15. ^ "Entry for James William Webb-Jones, Headmasters of Vanbrugh Castle School, Vanbrugh Castle School".
  16. ^ a b "Profile for James William Webb-Jones, Vanbrugh Castle School".
  17. ^ Grogan, Christopher; Strode, Rosamund (2010). "Part II: 1931–52". In Christopher Grogan; Rosamund Strode (eds.). Imogen Holst: A Life in Music (revised ed.). Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press. ISBN 978-1-84383-599-8.