Winchester College is a public school (fee-charging independent day and boarding school) in Winchester, Hampshire, England. It was founded by William of Wykeham in 1382 and has existed in its present location ever since. The oldest of nine schools considered by the Clarendon Commission, Winchester is regarded as among the most prestigious in the world, where, despite its small number of pupils, it has been referred to as "the finest foundation in Europe."
|Motto||Manners makyth man|
|Religious affiliation(s)||Church of England|
|Founder||William of Wykeham|
|Department for Education URN||116532 Tables|
|Gender||Male (Female at 16-18)|
|Age||13 to 18|
|Houses||11 (10 Commoner or Old Tutor Houses plus college)|
|Colour(s)||Blue, brown & red|
|Publication||The Wykehamist, Quelle, The Spirit Lamp, The Trusty Servant|
|Former pupils||Old Wykehamists|
|School song||Dulce Domum|
The school was founded to provide an education for 70 scholars. Gradually numbers rose, a choir of 16 "quiristers" being added alongside paying pupils known as "commoners". Numbers expanded greatly in the 1860s with the addition of ten boarding houses. The scholars continue to live in the school's medieval buildings, which consist of two courtyards, a chapel, and a cloisters. A Wren-style classroom building named "School" was added in the 17th century. An art school ("museum"), science school, and music school were added at the turn of the 20th century. A war cloister was built as a memorial in 1924.
The school has maintained traditions including its mascot, the Trusty Servant; a set of "notions" forming a sort of private language; and a school song, Domum. Its headmasters have included the bishops William Waynflete in the 15th century and George Ridding in the 19th century. Former pupils are known as Old Wykehamists.
Winchester College was founded in 1382 by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor to both Edward III and Richard II, and the first 70 poor scholars entered the school in 1394. In the early 15th century the specific requirement was that scholars come from families where the income was less than five marks sterling (£3 6s 8d) per annum; in comparison, the contemporary reasonable living for a yeoman was £5 per annum. It was founded in conjunction with New College, Oxford, for which it was designed to act as a feeder: the buildings of both colleges were designed by master mason William Wynford. This double foundation was the model for Eton College and King's College, Cambridge, some 50 years later.
At first only a small number of pupils other than scholars were admitted; by the 15th century the school had around 100 pupils in total, nominally the 70 scholars, 16 choirboys known as "quiristers", and the rest "commoners". Demand for places for commoners was high, and though at first restricted, numbers gradually rose. From the 1860s, ten boarding houses, each for up to sixty pupils, were added, greatly increasing the school's capacity. By 2020, the number of pupils had risen to 690.
According to its 1382 charter and final statutes (1400), the school is called in Latin Collegium Sanctae Mariae prope Wintoniam ("St Mary's College, near Winchester"), or Collegium Beatae Mariae Wintoniensis prope Winton ("The College of the Blessed Mary of Winchester, near Winchester").
The college consists of an assemblage of buildings from medieval times to the present day. There are 94 listed buildings, set in grounds of some 250 acres, of which 100 acres are water meadows, 52 acres are playing fields, and 11 acres are formal gardens; the area includes St Catherine's Hill. The medieval buildings, representing most of the original foundation from the school's opening in 1394, include Outer Gate and Outer Court, Chamber Court, the chapel, and the Cloisters. These are built in flint with limestone facings and slate roofs. The chapel retains its original wooden fan-vaulted ceiling, designed by Hugh Herland, carpenter to Richard II. Little of the original medieval glass, designed by Thomas Glazier, survives, as it was scattered in the 1820s, but some is now housed in Thurburn's Chantry, at the back of the chapel, and in Fromond's Chantry, inside the Cloisters. The "School" building was constructed in 1683–1687 in Wren style, with a statue of the founder above the door by C. G. Cibber. The school was greatly extended in the 19th century with the addition of boarding houses for "commoners", paying pupils, as opposed to the scholars who continued to live in the medieval College. At the turn of the 20th century, a Music School, "Museum" (art school), and Science School, all architect-designed, were added. A hall big enough for the enlarged school, New Hall, was opened in 1961, accommodating the oak panelling removed from the Chapel in the 1874 refurbishment. In 1924, a War Cloister was constructed; it now serves as a memorial of the Wykehamists killed in the two World Wars.
School in Wren style, 1683–1687
The seventy scholars live in the original buildings, known as "College". The scholars are known as "Collegemen", and the schoolmaster in charge of them is called the Master in College. Collegemen wear black gowns, following the founding traditions of the school. Collegemen enjoy certain privileges compared to the Commoners, such as having open fires and being allowed to walk across Meads, the field outside School.
Every pupil at Winchester, apart from the Scholars, lives in a boarding house, chosen or allocated when applying to Winchester. It is here that he studies, eats and sleeps. Each house is presided over by a housemaster (who takes on the role in addition to teaching duties), assisted by house tutors. Houses compete against each other in school sports. Each house has an official name, usually based on the family name of the first housemaster, which is used mainly as a postal address. Each house also has an informal name, usually based on the name or nickname of an early housemaster. Each house also has a letter, in the order of their founding, to act as an abbreviation, especially on laundry tags. A member of a house is described by the informal name of the house with "-ite" suffixed, as "a Furleyite", "a Toyeite", "a Cookite" and so on. College does not have an informal name, although the abbreviation Coll is sometimes used; "X" (meaning, not one of the boarding houses) was originally used only on laundry tags.
Winchester has its own entrance examination, and does not use Common Entrance like other major public schools. Those wishing to enter a Commoner House make their arrangements with the relevant housemaster some two years before sitting the exam, usually sitting a test set by the housemaster and an interview. Those applying to College do not take the normal entrance examination but instead sit a separate, harder, exam called "Election": successful candidates may obtain, according to their performance, a scholarship, an exhibition or a Headmaster's nomination to join a Commoner House. Admission to College was historically coupled to remission of fees, but this has ceased; instead, means-tested bursaries of from 5% to 100% of the school fee are provided, according to need. From 2022, Winchester is admitting girls into the 6th form (year 12) as day pupils, with girls boarding from 2024. For 2022/23, the fee is £45,936 per annum (£15,312 per term) for boarding pupils and £33,990 per annum (£11,330 per term) for day pupils.
In addition to normal lessons, all boys throughout the school are required to attend a class called Division (known as "Div") which explores parts of history, literature, and politics that do not lead to external examinations; its purpose is to ensure a broad education.
From year 9, pupils study for at least nine GCSE and IGCSEs. Every pupil studies English, mathematics, Latin, French or German, and at least two sciences at this level, as well as "Div". Pupils then study three A-levels, "Div", and an Extended Project Qualification.
Winchester College is particularly known for its academic rigour. At A-Level, 41.7% of grades achieved were graded A*, and 76.3% of grades achieved were graded A* or A in 2022. 80.3% of GCSEs were graded 8 or 9 (A* equivalent), and 91.2% of grades achieved were graded 7, 8 or 9 (A*/A equivalent). Between 2010 and 2018, an average of 33% of leavers obtained places at Oxford or Cambridge.
Winchester College has its own game, Winchester College football (also known as "Win: Co: Fo:" or "Winkies"), played only at Winchester. It is played in the spring term with a competition between the school's houses; it is largely managed by the boys.
The school has an active rowing club called the Winchester College Boat Club which is based on the River Itchen. The club is affiliated to British Rowing (boat code WIN) and was twice winner of the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (in 1949 and 1954) at the Henley Royal Regatta.
Combined Cadet ForceEdit
The organisation was founded in 1860 as "The Winchester College Rifle Volunteer Corps" by various boys in their top year as a result of the perceived threat of Napoleon III after the Orsini plot, and remained entirely autonomous until it was taken over by the Second Master in 1868. It was enrolled as a Cadet Corps in the 1st Hants Volunteer Battalion. In 1908, the Officer Training Corps was established, and by 1914, through the request of the War Office that Senior Cadets be given appropriate training for the war effort, almost every student became involved in the Corps, though it was never explicitly compulsory. In the Second World War, it was renamed as "The Junior Training Corps", though its function was still to prepare boys for Officer responsibilities. Montgomery remarked on inspecting the Corps in 1946 that there was "latent leadership in all ranks". In 1948, the "Junior Training Corps" became known as the "Combined Cadet Force" (CCF) which incorporated RAF and RN sections. In 1963, "Alternative Service Activities" were introduced for boys who did not want to join the CCF. Pupils were made eligible to opt out of the CCF at the end of their second year after starting at the beginning of the year: this is still the school's policy.
The Trusty Servant: the School MascotEdit
The Trusty Servant is an emblematic figure in a painting at Winchester College, that serves as the school's unofficial mascot and the name of its alumni magazine. A painting of The Trusty Servant and accompanying verses both devised by the poet John Hoskins in 1579 hangs outside the college kitchen. The current version was painted by William Cave the Younger in 1809. The painting depicts a mythical creature with the body of a man, the head of a pig, with its snout closed with a padlock, the ears of an ass, the feet of a stag, and tools in his left hand. The verses are on the virtues that pupils of the college were supposed to have. The college arms are shown in the background of the painting.
Notions: the School LanguageEdit
A notion is a specialised term peculiar to Winchester College. The word notion is also used to describe traditions unique to the school. An example of a notion is "toytime", meaning homework, from the notion "toys", a wooden cubicle that serves as a pupil's workspace in a communal room, known as "mugging hall" in Commoner Houses or a "chamber" in College.
Domum: the School SongEdit
The school song is entitled "Domum" and is sung at the end of the summer term, known as Cloister Time. The origin of the song is unknown; it was described as "an old tradition" in the 1773 History and Antiquities of Winchester. The traditional tune was composed by John Reading. A new tune, by Malcolm Archer, was officially adopted by the school in about 2007.
According to legend, the text was written in the 17th century by a pupil who was confined for misconduct during the Whitsun holidays. (In one account, he was tied to a pillar.) It is said that he carved the words on the bark of a tree, which was thereafter called "Domum Tree", and cast himself into Logie (the river running through the school grounds). There is still a "Domum Cottage" in that area. The author of the text apparently wrongly treated domum as a neuter noun.
A "Domum Dinner" is held at the end of the summer term for leavers. It was formerly restricted to those former scholars of Winchester who were also scholars of New College, and distinguished guests. Until the reforms of the 19th century, there were three successive Election Dinners held during Election Week, culminating in a Domum Ball. Originally these festivities occurred around Whitsun, as suggested by references in the song to early summer such as "See the year, the meadow, smiling" and "Now the swallow seeks her dwelling".
Southern Railway V (Schools) Class Locomotive No. 901Edit
As with other prominent public schools, a locomotive of the Southern Railway V Class was named after Winchester College. The second of the class, No. 901 Winchester was constructed by Southern at the nearby Eastleigh Works; it entered service in 1930. It was selected by the railway's new chief mechanical engineer Oliver Bulleid for rebuilding with a Lemaître multiple-jet blastpipe and wide-diameter chimney from 1939 onwards. Upon passing into British Railways ownership in 1948, it was renumbered 30901. It was withdrawn from service in 1962.
The headmasters of Winchester College from the 14th century onwards are:
- 1373 Richard Herton
- 1388 John Melton
- 1394 Thomas Romsey
- 1407 John Pole
- 1414 Thomas Romsey
- 1418 Richard Darcy
- 1424 Thomas Alwyn
- 1430 William Waynflete
- 1441 Thomas Alwyn
- 1444 William Yve
- 1454 John Barnard
- 1459 John Grene
- 1465 Clement Smyth
- 1467 Richard Dene
- 1484 John Rede
- 1490 Robert Festham
- 1495 William Horman
- 1501 John Farlyngton
- 1507 Edward More
- 1515 Thomas Erlisman
- 1525 John Twychener
- 1531 Richard Twychener
- 1535 John White
- 1542 Thomas Bayly
- 1547 William Everard
- 1553 Thomas Hyde
- 1561 Christopher Johnson
- 1572 Thomas Bilson
- 1579 Hugh Lloyd
- 1588 John Harmar
- 1596 Benjamin Heydon
- 1602 Nicholas Love
- 1613 Hugh Robinson
- 1627 Edward Stanley
- 1642 John Pottinger
- 1653 William Burt
- 1658 Henry Beeston
- 1679 William Harris
- 1700 Thomas Cheyney
- 1724 John Burton
- 1766 Joseph Warton
- 1793 William Stanley Goddard
- 1810 Henry Dison Gabell
- 1824 David Williams
- 1836 George Moberly
- 1867 George Ridding
- 1884 William Andrewes Fearon
- 1901 Hubert Murray Burge
- 1911 Montague John Rendall
- 1924 Alwyn Terrell Petre Williams
- 1934 Spencer Leeson
- 1946 Walter Fraser Oakeshott
- 1954 Henry Desmond Pritchard Lee
- 1968 John Leonard Thorn
- 1985 James Paley Sabben-Clare
- 2000 Edward Nicholas Tate
- 2003 Thomas Richard Cookson
- 2005 Ralph Douglas Townsend
- 2016 Timothy Roderick Hands
Current pupils of Winchester College are known as Wykehamists, in memory of the school's founder, William of Wykeham; former pupils are known as Old Wykehamists, or amongst themselves as Old Woks.Fictional Old Wykehamists appear in over 50 novels, starting with Tobias Smollett's eponymous Peregrine Pickle in 1751.
The "Tunding Row"Edit
In 1872, under the headmaster George Ridding, "tunding", beatings given by a prefect (a senior pupil), using a ground-ash across the shoulders, were still permitted. The matter became a national scandal, known as "the Tunding Row", when "an overzealous Senior Commoner Prefect" beat a pupil for refusing to attend a notions test. Ridding made matters worse by trying to defend the action. He eventually limited the prefects' power to beat, and forbade notions tests as a "disgraceful innovation".
The college knew in 1982 of allegations of sadomasochistic abuse of boys and young men attending summer camps run by the Iwerne Trust in the 1970s, "to ensure that future members of the establishment were committed Christians". These were known as "Bash camps" after the nickname of their founder, E. J. H. Nash. Neither the college nor the Trust reported these bare-buttocks beatings to the police. The perpetrator, John Smyth QC, now deceased, was warned off and moved to Zimbabwe and then South Africa where abuse continued. An independent review into the abuse, commissioned by the college, was published in January 2022.
In 2005, Winchester College was one of fifty of the country's leading independent schools found guilty of running an unlawful price-fixing cartel by the Office of Fair Trading. As a penalty, the schools paid for a trust fund to benefit the affected pupils. Winchester College, like Eton, received a fifty percent reduction in its penalty in return for its full cooperation.
In 2017 Winchester College suspended a member of the staff for providing students with information about questions on an upcoming public exam. The headmaster of Winchester confirmed that the school had treated the matter "very seriously" and that no boy was responsible for the "exam irregularity". The information was widely distributed, resulting in their papers being disallowed.
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