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Elizabeth Tudway Quilter

Elizabeth Tudway Quilter (14 April 1929 – 14 February 2021)

It is with enormous sadness that the School learned of the death recently of one of our Foundation Fellows, Elizabeth Tudway Quilter (known to many as “Bubbles”).

Elizabeth and her husband David, who died in 2007, were both huge supporters of the School in many different ways, both formally and informally, and successive Heads found their unstinting efforts on their behalf an essential support. They were descendants of the Tudway family who built and owned Cedars House. And as a Governor, including as Vice-Chair, David Tudway Quilter was instrumental in both bringing about the School’s move to co-education and in the appointment of the first women governors.

But Elizabeth was also a huge supporter of the School in her own right and showed a particular interest in its pupils and staff. She was a regular visitor, attending numerous School events, from Pre-Prep performances to Cathedral Symphony Orchestra concerts. She was always a positive, enthusiastic and supportive presence and will be very much missed by the whole Wellensian family.

We send our deepest condolences to her son Simon and daughters Susan and Lucy. Elizabeth’s private family funeral will be held in St Cuthbert’s Church in Wells on Friday 12 March, and a Memorial Service will be held in Wells Cathedral in due course.

Current Head Master, Alastair Tighe, writes:

“I regret that I only had the pleasure and privilege of knowing Elizabeth for a short while, having only arrived in Wells in September 2018. But even before my first Term at the School had officially started, Elizabeth had knocked on the door to say hello, generously thrusting into my hands a bowl of freshly picked figs from her own garden. This was my first experience of her kindness, generosity and warmth – but it was how I found her on numerous subsequent occasions through her many visits to the School.

She always demonstrated great interest in, and enthusiasm for, the School and all its members, and was always so eager to offer an encouraging and supportive word or two. She will be greatly missed by so many.”

Former Principal, Elizabeth Cairncross, writes:

“‘Mrs TQ behaves the same, whoever you are!’

So many counted on her friendship, and all felt special. Her legendary partnership with David and with Alan Quilter cemented a team which re-made the School, ensuring its continuing flourishing. Wellensians remembered her lovingly. She loved them, especially the ‘naughty ones’, through kindness, cake, a swimming pool and an escape. Alumni kept contact, travelling, sometimes across oceans, to see her. The wider City community was in thrall.

During David’s illness she gave him her whole attention and yet had much over for everyone else. After he died (what a funeral that was!) she continued as the same stalwart, kind, glamorous, forthright friend of the School, delighting in Pre-Prep Drama and Symphony Orchestra concerts, Speech Day sausage rolls or champagne and canapés. I took her for granted. Perhaps we all did.

Wonderful with all ages, she engaged fringe guests with megawatt, genuine charm – and she also asked me tough, shrewd questions. She was always ahead of everyone, giving overt support for change – and for a strikingly modern music building. Quiet kindnesses to so many were legion. She was modest and unforgettable and the world turned grey when she died.”

Former Head Master, John Baxter, writes:

“There was always something regal about Elizabeth Tudway Quilter. Her close association with the Queen Mother facilitated opportunities for Royal visits to the School, and was instrumental in Prince Charles taking on the role of Patron.

Never, however, did she display any hint of superiority. Affectionately known as ‘Bubbles’ she brought sparkle to many aspects of the life of the School. She enthusiastically attended, whenever possible, every school event from the Pre-Prep upwards, and continued to do so towards the end of her life.

‘Bubbles’ had a mischievous sense of humour. Her characteristic chuckle was a sign of her presence in a group, and she enjoyed poking fun, particularly at men hardly less senior than herself. ‘It’s high time you had a haircut’ she reprimanded the long-retired Head of the Junior School, with a twinkle in her eye.

For ‘Bubbles’ Wells Cathedral School was part of her family. Descended from the Carew-Poles of Antony, Cornwall, where family is so important, she applied more than a touch of cement to the history of Wells Cathedral School through her marital attachment to Cedars House.

She loved everything about the School. Her support was authentic, her loyalty unshakeable. She exuded kindness, one example being a very recent telephone call inquiring about the health of a former Head Master! She will not be forgotten.”