Harrow School

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Harrow School
Image:Harrow Crest.JPG
Mottos Stet Fortuna Domus (Latin: "Let the fortune of the house stand")
Donorum Dei Dispensatio Fidelis (Latin: "The faithful guardians of the gifts of God")
Established 1572
School type Independent
Headmaster Barnaby J Lenon
Deputy Headmaster Mel L Mrowiec
Location Harrow-on-the-Hill, Middlesex, England
Enrollment 800 students
Faculty circa 100 full-time
Badges Rampant Lion
Crossed Arrows
Founder John Lyon of Preston
Colours Blue and White
Homepage www.harrowschool.org.uk

Harrow School, normally just known as Harrow, is one of the world's most famous schools. It is an independent school for boys, located in Harrow on the Hill in North West London, England. It was founded in 1572 under a Royal Charter granted by Elizabeth I of England to John Lyon, a local yeoman, for the provision of education to local boys (Lyon was particular about keeping Harrow single-sex, a tradition that is still maintained). It is one of the original nine English public schools as defined by the Public Schools Act 1868 and is characterised by excellent exam results and a commitment to education outside the classroom.

Harrow currently has approximately 800 pupils spread across 11 houses, all of whom board full-time at a cost of £23,625 per year. The majority of boarding houses were constructed in Victorian times, when the number of boys increased dramatically and the school began to resemble something similar to the current institution in terms of size and uniform.

Harrow has a large number of well known alumni, including seven former British Prime Ministers (most notably Winston Churchill), and the very first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. In addition, 19 Old Harrovians have been awarded the Victoria Cross. [1]

The School Governors have opened two new Harrow School branches, one in Beijing, China, and another in Bangkok, Thailand, with more planned.


[edit] History of Harrow School

The original Old Schools, as they were in 1615

John Lyon was a wealthy farmer, living at Preston, a village near to Harrow. He took an interest in education and even while alive he paid for 30 boys to be educated. Some romanticise the royal charter given to Lyon by Elizabeth I, granted in 1572, which allowed the foundation of the current school after his death; an example of this would be the Harrow song 'Queen Elizabeth sat one day' which describes how he obtained the charter specially. However, in reality, it was no different than a charter given to any other school of the time. It is also argued that Lyon's founding of Harrow was not in fact a founding, but a refounding as there had been a school at Harrow since 1324, and all he was doing was giving it a new status; in modern terms, he was simply rebranding the existing product.

Lyon died in 1592, leaving his assets to two causes, the lesser being the school, and by far the greater being the upkeep of the road to London, then 10 miles away. He was survived by his wife, and it was only on her death in 1608 that the building of the first school building would begin. It was finished in 1615 and remains to this day, albeit in a much expanded version.

The primary subject taught was Latin as was the custom of the day, and the only sport was archery (a tradition remembered in the school song 'The Silver Arrow', once the name of an archery competition). Although most boys were taught for free, their tuition paid for by Lyon's endowment, there were a number of fee-paying 'foreigners' (boys from outside the parish). It was their presence that required the building of the first boarding house 'The Headmasters' for them to stay in (1650). By 1700, though, what started as a way to bolster finances had grown so that for every local there were two foreigners. By 1876, the situation was so pronounced that John Lyon Lower School was founded under the same govenors as the Upper School so that the school remained within its charge of providing education for the boys of the parish. It is know known as The John Lyon School and is a prominent independent school in England.

It was in the 19th century that some of the more (in)famous events of the school's history occurred as well as some of the most exciting. Lord Byron, then a pupil, masterminded a plot to blow up the school buildings that was stopped only because he was afraid to blow his father's name off the panels. In 1851, the headmaster, Charles John Vaughan, engaged in a pederastic love affair with Pretor, the head boy at the school, a youth known as "the house tart."<ref>Bradley Wintertonin, "What Palmerston Knew" in London Review of Books, Letters, Vol. 25 No. 10 Cover date: 22 May 2003 [2]</ref> Pretor boasted of the affair to his friend, John Addington Symonds. The latter eventually divulged matters to his father who blackmailed Vaughn into resigning. Pretor never forgave John his indiscretion.<ref>http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=4302</ref>

Cricket was first played, as was the first Eton vs Harrow match at Lord's Cricket Ground. More boarding houses (along with school buildings) were built including all 11 that exist today, and pupil numbers increased from 69 to 470. New subjects were introduced: Maths, French and Music, with the first Harrow songs written. The Harrow Rifle Corps (or CCF) was also founded.

The 20th century saw the innovation of a central dining hall, the abolition of small houses and further modernisation of the curriculum.

[edit] Harrow traditions

A modern view from the library to the Old Schools

[edit] Uniform

The best-known public example of Harrow tradition is probably the Harrow hat, which resembles a boater in materials and shape. This hat is worn to all lessons except in the late afternoon. Weekday dress consists of a white shirt, black tie, grey trousers, blue jumper and a bluer (see below). Sunday dress consists of a black evening tailcoat, pinstriped trousers, a black waistcoat, black tie and a white shirt. Variations include a grey waistcoat for those in the top sports teams, a hat with black speckles for boys in the top cricket team, and various society ties worn to meetings of the respective societies.

The Guild, Philatheletic Club and Monitors all have their own uniform variations discussed in their separate sections of this article.

[edit] Songs

One of the most distinctive Harrow traditions is the singing of school songs. In the vein of the "Eton Boating Song", many were written by teachers (commonly called beaks) about Harrow life in the latter half of the 19th century. The School celebrates Songs once or twice a term, and Songs are sung with a similar frequency on a house level. The most famous is "Forty Years On", which has become something of a catchphrase, and the title of a play by Alan Bennett. Many of the most popular songs were written by John Farmer and Edward Bowen. Indeed, it was they who first started the tradition.

New songs are occasionally written, although some feel that nostalgia cannot be ready-made and that the original songs hold the most tradition. The most recent addition to the collection is "The Vaughan" by previous Master in Charge of Music, Richard Walker, with lyrics by Tom Wickson. It describes the school library, recently refurbished, and the many pleasures that may be found there. However, many have criticised it for being too modern, and it was received with hissing at a recent Songs.

[edit] Sport

Harrow has two major sporting traditions, the first being Harrow Football. It is played with a large leather ball, used to score bases (goals) and is something of a cross between rugby and football. Tackling can be violent, as there are no restrictions as in rugby. As a result, injuries often occur despite the game being played on the muddiest and softest pitches, and games kit often ends up dirty and torn. As no other schools play this unique game there are fiercely contended inter-house competitions, and teams of Old Harrovians often return to play a school team.

The second tradition is the annual Eton versus Harrow cricket match played at Lord's Cricket Ground in London, with the match celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2005. Harrow won. It is the oldest sporting fixture at Lord's of any description, having begun in 1805, several decades before the current ground with its distinctive Victorian pavilion was built. It is thought that Lord Byron played in the Harrow team in that year.

Harrow is also acknowledged by most historians as the inventor of the indoor racket sport squash, in the mid-nineteenth century in Headmasters House Yarder. The game is derived from the older game rackets, which some assert was codified at Harrow in the early nineteenth century.

[edit] School events

Speech Day is the main social event of the school calendar. It is held on the first day of the Summer half-term. The day begins with School Bill in bill yard. It is a traditional ceremony where boys parade in front of the Head Master with their hats on while their names are called out, whereupon they answer, "Here, sir!" Speeches follow in Speech Room and a review of the year is made by the Head Master and prizes are awarded to selected boys. For the rest of the day, there are exhibitions and sports finals.

Founder's Day is celebrated every year to commemorate the founding of the school. It is considered one of the most important days of the year to the school and is often attended by parents and friends.

Long Ducker is an annual charity event at Harrow. The main event is a 10-mile run from Marble Arch to Harrow along the Harrow Road, but the top athletes in the 6th form complete the full long ducker from Harrow to Marble Arch and back again. There are also options to swim 100, 200 or 400 lengths in the school pool, climbing, rowing, and power walking equivalent distances.

The 'Contio' is usually on the second Saturday of November, and is a tradition that can be actively dated back to 1674 where the then Head of School (J. Dennis) started an occasion that has continued every year to this day save 5 exceptions in the late 1600s and early 1700s. On the day of the Contio, the whole school wears Sunday dress. The Contio is given in Speech Room. It consists of about a 20 minute speech in Latin, with the boys given a transcript. It is on topics of the past year, both world and school events. It often includes allusions to both classical texts and more modern themes. In 2005 for example the "Contionator" (the Head of School) quoted from this year's school play, and did a piece of monologue acting between Tony Blair and David Blunkett. In 2004 the Contionator played a solo on his guitar. In modern times after the Contio the chairman of governors will give a short speech (in Latin and English) to the school and congratulate the speaker. The event is always followed by the termly Governors' meeting. (The Contio was probably originally instigated as a way to inform the governors of the year's events so that they could make their decisions).

[edit] New Boys' Test

The New Boys' Test is undertaken by all new boys three weeks after joining the school. Each is trained for the test by a "shepherd", who is responsible for the new boy in the first few weeks. It involves remembering the names and colours of every house.

[edit] Harrow societies

As with many boarding schools, Harrow has a large number of societies, most of which are run by the boys. Indeed, every aspect of academic life has a society devoted to it – from the Alexander Society for military history to the Oriental Languages Society. Each society has its own signature tie for consistent members.

[edit] Monitors

Monitors are chosen boys who are deemed to have the best qualities in leadership and achievement. Each house has at least one monitor, who is appointed Head of House (the most senior boy in house). On a school-wide level one monitor is appointed the Head of School, and a deputy is appointed to assist. Monitors wear top hats and carry black canes when in Sunday dress and wear a blue tie bearing the school crest. This crest is also printed on the bands of their hats. The Head of School may wear a white bow tie and white waistcoat on major School occasions such as Speech Day and for the Contio.

[edit] The Guild

This is a small group of selected boys in the top year, deemed to be leaders in artistic and cultural fields within the school, whose role is to promote music, art, drama, and other such activities. It is a highly prestigious position akin to that of a Monitor. Guild members may wear a maroon waistcoat when in Sunday dress or a maroon tie with rampant lions when in everyday uniform.

[edit] The Philathletic Club

This is akin to the guild, but its members are all players in the top sports teams in the school. It is their job to promote the sport side of Harrow life. Again membership is an honour, and in many boys' eyes, more so than being in the Guild (it is over 100 years old, unlike the Guild's 15 year history). Their privileges include wearing a black bow tie instead of the usual black school tie.

[edit] The Harrovian

This is the school's weekly newspaper, it reports on issues in the school and provides viewpoints on current events. It is seen as a bit dry in content by many of the boys, but they are appreciative for its weekly publishing.

[edit] The Peachey

This is the (new) creative writing magazine for the school, it features stories by both boys and beaks on various issues. It was founded by Mr Tom Wickson. It follows previous publications such as Metropolitan Lines and Ten Miles to London.

[edit] Goulash

First published in 1922, it ran for over 80 years as the school's satirical magazine, before being suppressed in 2003 by Mr. Barnaby Lenon(who disapproved of free speech). The final publication was deemed to be too outrageous.

[edit] Harrow curriculum

Harrow is for boys aged 13–18 and prepares pupils for the national GCSE and A-Level examinations. Internal exams, known as trials, occur during the autumn term and, for those boys not taking national exams, also during the summer term. Subjects taught in the first year are Art, Biology, Chemistry, Latin, Ancient Greek, Design Technology, English, Geography, History, Information Technology (IT), Mathematics, French, Spanish, German, Russian Music, Physics and Religious Studies (RS).

In their second year pupils continue with English (both Language and Literature), Maths, French and RS. They also choose five other subjects to study, at least one of which must be a science. Two new subjects become options at this stage: Electronic Products and Classical Civilisation. Boys may also choose to have extracurricular lessons in other subjects such as Astronomy, Chinese and Statistics.

Subjects chosen in the second year are carried through to the next year, the "remove" year, at the end of which GCSEs are taken. All boys take RS early in the remove year and those most able in Maths and French also take these subjects at this time. If Maths is taken and passed early, study for the first Maths A-Level module, C1, begins. If French is taken and passed early, there is the option to start the course for French AS-level or take a one-year Italian GCSE course.

In the Sixth Form boys generally choose to take four AS-level subjects from a range including all those listed above plus History of Art, Physical Education, Economics, Business Studies, Ancient History and Theatre Studies. If boys choose Maths they will often take its examinations at the end of the year and then continue with Further Maths A-level. They may also add a third Maths A-level, Statistics.

In the Upper Sixth boys take their chosen AS-level subjects onto A-level but are allowed to drop one if they wish. They may not take up any subjects they have not already taken at AS-level.

In late 2006 the headmaster threatened to drop A levels at Harrow in favour of Cambridge University's proposed pre-U exams if reforms were not made to the national A level system.[3]

[edit] Harrow terminology

This differs from slang in that it describes official activities. It is divided into two main groups – timetabling and year groups.

[edit] Timetabling

The everyday timetable at Harrow may at first seem illogical. From morning to evening, the lessons are denominated as follows:

2a 2b 2c 2d 2e 3 4 5

The reason for this is that originally there was early morning school (1A and 1B) before breakfast, and so morning lessons were "2". 3, 4 and 5 were later additions to the timetable and are in the afternoon. Period 5 is also known as "X" as only boys in the first two years at the school have it on the main timetable, though boys in upper years doing large numbers of subjects often have this period as well.

[edit] Year groups

The first year at Harrow is for 13-year-olds going on 14. It is called the Shell and is equivalent to Year 9 in the State system. After that there is the Remove and the Fifth Form, or V2s (five-two's). The two years after that are the Sixth Form, which is made up of the Lower Sixth or VI3s, and the Upper Sixth or VI2s. Once there were also VI1s and these were pupils who stayed on to study for Oxbridge. The names shell and remove come from the fact new boys used to eat under a shell in their first year in the dining hall. In the second year, therefore, they were "removed from the shell" and hence Remove.

Sports teams are organised according to year. The Shells are known as Yearlings in both House and School competitions. The Removes are known as the Junior Colts in School competitions, and the Fifth Form are the Colts. For House matches these two years combine to form the Torpids, and the Torpids seconds team is the Shags. School matches in the Sixth Form are called the Sixth Form Game and in House, they are simply the House and House Seconders teams.

[edit] Harrow Houses

There are 11 boarding houses in Harrow, each with its own house master, resident tutor, tutor team and matron. Each house also has its own colours. A single house will hold around 70 boys. The houses are Elmfield, The Grove, Rendalls, The Headmasters, Moretons, Druries, The Park, Bradbys, The Knoll, Newlands and West Acre. In addition to these there is also Gayton House, where boys may move for up to a term if their house is overfilled, while retaining membership of their "home" house.

[edit] Harrow Campus

Harrow is not built on a campus in that it is fully integrated into the surrounding area – there are private houses and businesses on the hill, the road is used by local residents, etc. However, it does have a number of important buildings.

[edit] Old Schools

This is the oldest school building at Harrow, built when the school was founded in 1572, and later extended. It contains the Old Speech Room Gallery, the Fourth Form Room and the History Department.

[edit] Old Speech Room Gallery & Museum

Harrow possesses a varied collection of art and antiquities including Egyptian and Greek antiquities, English watercolours, Modern British paintings, some sculpture, printed books and natural history. These are displayed in the Old Speech Room, which is a chamber that was built in 181921 as a venue for the boys to practice public speaking. It is open to the public most afternoons during term time. Some of the highlights of the collection are on permanent display, and there is also a programme of temporary exhibitions, which boys who belong to the Old Speech Room Gallery Arts Society help to look after under the watchful eye of the curator, Mrs Leder. The current exhibitions are Wood, Words and Pictures and Paintings, Drawings and Prints, both displays of work by Harrow masters.

[edit] Fourth Form Room

This was the room where all lessons were originally taught. It is wood panelled and the original benches are still in place, as are many other fittings. The panels are covered in names, engraved by boys including the names of some famous OHs including Winston Churchill and Lord Byron. Today this tradition is continued formally on boards within each house. The room is recognisable as it has featured in many films, including serving as the location of the Charms classroom in the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

[edit] Speech Room

Speech Room was built in 1877 to the design of William Burges. It is used on every Monday of term for the Headmaster to address all 800 boys and masters for notices or announcements. It is also used for some large audience lectures, concerts and plays, owing to its resemblance to the Globe Theatre. It has also featured in many films, including the school drama Goodbye, Mr Chips. Outside Speech Room a statue of Queen Elizabeth stands, commemorating her charter. The Organ in Speech Room was an entirely new instrument, built by Harrison and Harrison of Durham in 1955 and has 4 manuals and 72 speaking stops. It was presented by Colonel Warren O.H. In 2003 it was renovated with funds bequeathed by Geoffrey Higgins, formerly a music master at the school. The console and pipes can be clearly seen in the photograph.

[edit] War Memorial

The primary purpose of this building is a monument to Old Harrovians (OHs) who have died in wars. It was opened in 1926 and the names of 644 Old Harrovians killed in the First World War are carved on its walls, along with 344 OHs who died in the Second World War on panels. It is used on Remembrance Sunday and for lectures. Downstairs there are rooms for the Monitors, the Phil and the Guild. Upstairs there are three rooms: the Beak's Room, the OH Room, and the Fitch Room. The War Memorial was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

[edit] The Beaks' Room

This is for masters' meetings and as a place for masters to meet at break every day.

[edit] The OH Room

So called as the walls are decorated with paintings of previous Harrow Headmasters, this is used for lectures and in the morning Thought for the Day, the alternative to morning Chapel for non-Christians.

[edit] The Alex Fitch Room

This room was paid for by the mother of Alex Fitch, an OH who died in World War I, on the condition that a light for his portrait would always be left on. This has been the case ever since save during the blackout in the Second World War. It is very ornate, with panelling and a floor taken from the deck of a ship.

[edit] The Archive

The Archive, which opened in 1981, exists to locate, collect and preserve records of all kinds relating to the history of the School making them available for research. Modern records are held as well to ensure the present is documented for historians of the future. Many Old Harrovians, former Beaks and Friends of the School have donated documents, artifacts and photographs which now enrich the collection. Boys are encouraged to visit the Archive and to join the Golland Archive Society which undertakes such valuable work. The Archive and the attaching society are headed by the Harrow School Archivist, Ms Rita Boswell, who came to the school in 1997.

[edit] Chapel

Chapel interior

The school chapel is an entirely separate building to St. Mary's, the church on the top of the hill. It is used for services on every day of the week; there is compulsory attendance for Church of England boys on either Tuesday and Thursday or Wednesday and Friday depending on House, and everyone attends on Sundays. On all days there is a Eucharist in the crypt chapel. The Chapel was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott who also designed the Organ Case. [4] The Organ was originally built in 1921 by J. W. Walker & Co who carried out restoration work in 1973. Further work was carried out by Michael Broadway in 1983. The instrument has 3 manuals and 48 speaking stops.

[edit] Vaughan Library

Refurbished in 1999, the Vaughan Library has an extensive collection classified by the Dewey Decimal System, in addition to fiction and biography sections. Boys and beaks can borrow and request books as in any other library. There are also IT facilities and periodicals available. The Vaughan also serves as a prize-ordering service for boys who have won a school prize (they select a book, DVD or CD). The library, as the chapel it stands next to, was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott.

[edit] Shepherd-Churchill

This is the central dining hall, also known as The Trough, coined by The Grove house butler "Harry" upon its opening in 1976, completely refurbished during the summer of 2006. It was built in 1975 and makes 3000 meals a day for boys and staff. There is a separate staff dining room, used by teaching staff who do not have a connection to one of the boarding houses requiring them to eat with their house. The exterior noticeboards display information on sports and societies.

[edit] Ryan Theatre

The theatre seats 300 people. Around twelve productions are put on by the school every year, and other outside companies put on performances. The average Harrow performance runs for two nights with the major Rattigan Society production running for three. There are four dressing rooms, and the stage has a thrust that may be raised or lowered to create an orchestra pit. The current Head of Drama is Martin Tyrell.

[edit] Notable Old Harrovians

Past students of Harrow School are referred to as Old Harrovians. See List of notable Old Harrovians.

[edit] Headmasters of Harrow School

[edit] Literature

  • Rimmer, Rambles round Eton and Harrow, (London, 1882)
  • Thornton, Harrow School and its Surroundings, (London, 1885)
  • Harrow School Register, 1801-93, (London, 1894)
  • Minchin, Old Harrow Days, (London, 1898)
  • Williams, Harrow, (London, 1901)
  • Archibald Fox, Harrow, (London, 1911)
  • G. T. Warner, Harrow in Prose and Verse (London, 1913)

[edit] External links

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Harrow School

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