Eton College

 

 

 

Jay arrived in the afternoon of Tuesday 4 July.  After queuing for registration, we drove her round to the boarding house and unpacked her cases.  Her room was most definitely not one used by the scions of nobility, for it was small, sordid and dilapidated.

 

We took our leave of Jay there, as parents were invited to a tour of the college, primarily the buildings around School Yard (right and below) with the statue of the college’s founder, Henry VI.

 

The school was founded to provide free education for 70 deserving boys, and 70 free scholarship places are provided to this day.

 

 

On the left of School Yard on the picture above is the original school block with old classrooms on the ground floor.  These have been in continuous use for over 500 years and the wooden desks and pillars bear witness to generations of schoolboys’ penknives.  The first floor was once used as a communal dormitory where the 70 pupils were locked in overnight

 

 

The college chapel is a large and impressive building.  The ceiling is a modern copy of the fan vaulting in King’s College, Cambridge (which Henry VI founded at the same time).

 

Perhaps the most memorable feature of the chapel was the mural running all around the nave, uncovered in recent times.  Most of the stained glass windows were, however, blown out by a bomb in World War II. 

 

At the end of the tour we were given access to the two museums, one depicting Eton life over the years, the other housing the college’s external collection (including an Egyptian collection).

 

We drove up to collect Jay 10 days later, and, having time to kill, strolled around the college.  We saw some of the famous playing fields (below).

 

 

 

Here is Roger in one of a long row of Eton fives courts.  The projection into the court represents the bottom of a flight of steps, and other mouldings reduplicate the alcove between two of the chapel buttresses where the game was originally played.  All the courts now have these same features.

 

 

 

 

 

The college and town are closely intertwined.  We thought at first this sign was something to do with the college, and did a double-take.  In fact, it is a Church of England primary school.

 

 

The course finished with a dinner for the students, while waiting parents were provided with coffee, after which we managed to make a prompt getaway and headed out on to the motorway.  However, our self-congratulation was short-lived when we recalled we had left Jay’s rucksack behind.

 

It was a long and late drive back after that.

 

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