Born in Gloucester in 1832, Herbert Vaughan, Bishop of Salford, was appointed third Archbishop of Westminster by Pope Leo XIII in 1892 and was enthroned in the Pro Cathedral of Our Lady of Victories in Kensington. His achievements, before and after translation to Westminster, were of a remarkable nature: one example is the building of Westminster Cathedral, whose first stone was laid in 1895. The Cardinal died on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, 1903, and the Cathedral was opened for the first time for public service for the funeral of its great founder.
In response to an appeal in 1904 for funds to found a school as a national memorial to the Cardinal, some £20,000 was subscribed. The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School opened its doors in Addison Hall to twenty-nine boys on 21 September, 1914. Canon Driscoll was appointed first Headmaster. The year 1926 saw the first Higher Certificates with Distinction, the first classical scholarship, at Christ's College Cambridge, and the first ordination of Vaughan boys to the priesthood, the first of a very long line of Vaughan priests, including two Auxiliary Bishops of Westminster, Bishop Philip Harvey, now retired, and the late Bishop Gerald Mahon.
Monsignor Canon Vance became Headmaster in 1928. In the next twenty years the Vaughan became established as a school of high repute. Dr Vance kept the School together through all the trials of the Second World War when it was evacuated to Beaumont College, Windsor. The School's War Record, 1939-1945, includes the first VC of the War in the Royal Air Force (Flying Officer Donald E Garland, RAF), the youngest Wing Commander in the Royal Air Force (Wing Commander Brendan Eamon Fergus Finucane, DSO, DFC and two bars, after whom the "Finucane Rose" is named), three OBEs, two DSCs, one MC and six DFCs. Thirty-nine old boys are named in the School's Roll of Honour as having given their lives.
When Dr Vance retired in 1948, Monsignor Canon Butcher, the next Headmaster, began his own great work of giving to the School a broad cultural tradition in art, music and literature, as a background to its scholastic achievements. It came as a blow to the School when, in 1952, Monsignor Butcher was called upon to leave the Vaughan to become President of St Edmund's College.
The years from 1952-76, under Monsignor Kenefeck, who succeeded Canon Butcher, witnessed a striking growth of the Sixth Form. These were years of rapid expansion with the growth from a two-form entry to a three-form entry school in 1962. The New Building opened in 1963 to accommodate increasing numbers. In 1977, girls were admitted to the Sixth Form for the first time.
The School's first lay Headmaster, Anthony Pellegrini, was appointed in 1976. After the admission in 1977 of the first all-ability intake, he guided the Vaughan's transition from a grammar to a fully comprehensive school. The 1990s were a period of great expansion: in 1992, a new administration block and library were built; in 1994, a new Art and Technology Block was opened, a new Pavilion built at our playing fields in Twickenham and in September 1998 a third phase of building was completed, thus enabling the School to cope with its ever-increasing numbers. This building, named after Anthony Pellegrini, was opened by the late Cardinal Hume in November 1998. Happily, a greater number of pupils are benefiting from these changes: since September 1995, four forms of entry are admitted to the School each year.
In September 1997, Anthony Pellegrini was succeeded as Headmaster by Michael Gormally. Development continued apace: in September 2000, a mezzanine floor in the Main Building was opened to Sixth Form pupils as part of the School’s programme to improve Sixth Form facilities. The School was granted Specialist Status as a Mathematics and Computing school in September 2003. In September 2005, magnificent new Music Rooms were opened by Sir Thomas Allen in the Main Building. Further first-class facilities for Football, Rugby, Athletics and Cricket were also provided at our playing fields and specialist status was conferred on the School for Science.
After presiding over a twelve-year period in which the Vaughan went from strength to strength, confirming its position among the highest performing schools in the country, Michael Gormally retired in 2009. His immediate successor, Charles Eynaud, ably steered the School through the next two years with great dignity before the Governors appointed Paul Stubbings Headmaster in October 2011.