Individual English Schools: Public Schools

Figure 1.-- Harrow School is one of the original nine English public schools. The boys continue to wear the samne uniform worn in the 19th century.

England's public schools are some of the oldest amd most repected secondary schools in the world. The most famous are the original nine English public schools as defined by the Public Schools Act 1868. These included: Charterhouse School, Eton College, Harrow School, Rugby School, Shrewsbury School, Westminster School, and Winchester College. St Paul's School and Merchant Taylors' School managed to get themselves omitted from the Government list because they argued that their fojunding documents made them legally 'private' schools and their constitutions could not be altered by public legislation. Over crowding at these historic schools caused many new chools to be opened in the mod-19th ceb=ntury to meet the demkands created by an expanding industrial economy and empire. Some of the new schools included: Cheltenham, Cifton, Lancing, Marlborough, Radley, Wellington, and many others. We have collected some basic information on several individual public schools. We encourage readers to add information to our list, especially English readers who have attended these schools. The new schools were accused of mimicing Eton at popular prices.

Barnard Castle School

Barnard Castle School was founded in 1883 as a oys' boarding school. It was one of the many new public (private secondary) schools opened in the late-19th century. Britain's industrial economy and expanding Empire was created new demands for educated individuals. Today it is a co-educational independent day and boarding school. It was first located at Middleton-One-Row. It moved to a site outside Barnard Castle, tyhis is near Furham in northern Englnd. The school has expanded to accmodate younger children in both pre-prep and prep school units. The school had a cadet program. We notice cadet J. Hewey in 1915.

Eton School

Eton School is perhaps the most famous of Eton's public schools. It is also the school most associated with boys clothing. The traditional Eton school uniform and collar influenced English school uniforms for more than a century. Given the prestige of Eton college, many English adopted the style of the Eton school uniform with minor modifications. Gradualy English schools adopted more standard single breasted suits, but retained the Eton collar for dress occasions into the 1920s and even the 1939s at conservative schools. The style does continue to be worn at Eton College.

Harrow School

We have obtained some information on Harrow. A Harrow school uniform can be seen on the social class page. Some Harrovians wore light-coloured waistcoat, which were permitted to wear with their Eton suits on special occasions. Eton boys were restricted to buttonholes. The Eton suit continued as the dress for juniors at Harrow into the 1960s. A photograph shows boys attending a memorial service for Old Harrovian Winston Churchill in 1965. A HBC reader has provided us some information on the Harrow uniform during the 1970s-80s.

Royal Naval School

The Royal Naval School (RNS) was established in Camberwell, London (1833). It was formally constituted by Parliament in the Royal Naval College Act (1840). It was a charitable institution, established as a boarding school for the sons of officers in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. It can thus be described variously as a charitable public, military, and boarding school. The sons of naval officers might not be reduced to abject poverty with the lass of a father, but the family would have in many cases been unable to aford secondary education leading to an officers's appointment in the Royal Navy. It was also one of a range of steps in professionalizing the training of Royal Navy officers. Previously officers and ratings (enlited nen) were largely trained aboard Royal Navy ships. It was established along the lines of a public (elite secondary boarding) school with a miliitary twist. This can be seen with the uniform with included an Eton jacket and collar. The Navy constructed a monumental purpose-built school building designed by the respected architect, John Shaw Jr. The new building was constructed at New Cross/Lewishan in south-east London (close to Deptford and Greenwich), both areas with strong naval connections. The new building was opened (about 1844). The school outgrew the building and relocated to Mottingham (1889). T

Rugby School

Rugby Scool is another of England's most well known public schools. Rugby was made famous both by the game of rugby football and by a crusading headmaster, Dr. Arnold, who sought to make the school a more humanr and academically demanding institution. This was ppularized by Thomas Hughes in his 1847 novel, Tom Brown's Schoodays. Like Eton, the school uniform at Rugby had an impact on boys clothing. Rugby is best known for a shirt style. There was also a suit style, but only of minor importance.

Warren Hill School

An album contains a collection of photographs from the Warren Hill Public School in Eastbourne. The photographs date from about 1885 to the early 1900s. They are mostly portraits of individual boys. Amateur snpshots were not common before the turn of the 20th century. There is one snapshot of boys boxing nd a gymnasium shot. There are sports photograhs, a football team, and playing cricket. All the portraits were named and dated and some have been researched. Major General Merton Beckwith-Smith DSO MC was the father of Princess Diana's Lady in Waiting and whose grave in a Japanese prisoner of war camp was searched for and found on the Princess's instructions. Sir Robert Campbell was Ambassador to France and involved in Operation Catapult. This was Britain's World War II attack on the French fleet to make sure it could not fall in NAZI hands. E.W. Mann was a Kent cricketer. Unfortunately we have been unable to find information about the school itself.

Wellington College

Wellington School is a relatively new public school founded in 18??. The school was a pet project of Prince Albert who was critical of the both discipline and poor academic standards at English public schools. Albert sought to create a new school organized on a more humane basis and with a more modern curiculum. The school was founded in 1852 and named after te Duke of Wellington. The original charter of the school was "... the education of orphan childrenof indigent and meritorious officers of the army." The curiculum was very broad. Wellington was not to bve a military school or conform to the conventional pattern of an English public school. Prince Albert devoted considerable attention to the school, but as his officials duties increased, he had less time for the school. The headmaster appointed was more interested in creating another public school. Albert noted in 1860 that "a system of fagging and flogging was creeping in," quite contrary to his intentions. Headmaster Benson apparently wanted to create a second Rugby. Albert no longer had the time to devote to he school that he had wanted.

Winchester College

Winchester College is one of England's best known public schools, mean a fee-paying private residential secondary school. Winchester is not the oldest school in England. It is, hoever, the oldest school in contuinual operation. William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, founded the school (14th century). William served as Chancellor to Edward III and Richard II, the boy king. The foundation charter was granted in 1382. Construction of the buildings began in 1387 providing what are now sone of the oldest and most destinctive medieval school buildings continully in use. William was one of England's great medieval architectural and artistic patrons. The Winchester buildings are an architectural treasure. Winchester and New College Oxford were in the 14th century schools on an unheard of level. It is the oldest of the original nine English public schools. The school thus served as a model for for Eton and King's College, Cambridge, two other major public schools (15th century). The first actual scholars arrived in 1394. Scholars meant bright boys from modest families being provided a charity education. The school at its beginning had a Warden (headmaster) and 10 Fellows, 2 schoolmasters, 3 chaplains, 70 Scholars and 16ixteen Quiristers (choristers). Note that there were more chaplains than scchoolmasters, presumsably the boys' religious training was thorough. Most of the original buildings and insitutions still exist. The archives of the College provide aunique historical record of education from the late-medieval era to modern day. The Pilgrims' School is a preparatory school which care for the younger boy. The quiristers now attend the Pilgrim's School and they continue to sing in original Chapel. Winchester College now has 70 scholars and 600 'Commoners' who are taught by 80 full-time teachers or 'dons'.

Unknown Public School

We have found snapshots from a British public school, only we have no idea which one it might be. We suspect that it could be a Scottish public school, many of thm are colleges called acadamies, but it could be English. There is no way to be sure. The reason we think they could be Scottish is because the boys wear a blue uniform, blue blazers abd blue shier pants and knee socks. English school more commonly have uniforms with grey horts or trousers. The boys look to be pictured ourside their bording house. The boys wear open collared shirts rather than ties which was also more common in Scotland than England. We see other unifirms at the school like light-colored jumpers (sweaters). We also note tweed jackets. They were worn at both English and Scottish public schools Scottish boys wore them with kilts. We might not be aboe to detemine the school because e don't see school buildings, only aoaring house which ;ools to be off campus. This may have been more common in Scotland than Englabd.


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Created: 4:39 AM 4/21/2009
Last updated: 7:45 PM 8/18/2017