Showing 11 results

People & Organisations
Houses

Ashburnham

  • GB-2014-WSA-01871
  • Corporate body
  • 1882-

Ashburnham was originally located in Ashburnham House. The building had housed the library of the antiquarian Sir Robert Cotton, containing some of the most important Old English manuscripts in existence, many of which were destroyed or damaged in the fire of 1731, including the manuscript of Beowulf. Those that survived formed the foundation collection of the British Library.
Originally owned by the Abbey, the Public Schools Act of 1868 recommended that the building be bought by the School on the death of the occupant, the sub-dean, much to the Abbey’s consternation. The Dean and Chapter used their control over the Governing Body to attempt to prevent the school from buying the building from the Abbey, but this manoeuvre was overturned by Parliament. The sub-dean living in the house survived until 1881.
The house was finally founded the year after the sub-dean died.

Busby's

  • GB-2014-WSA-01872
  • Corporate body
  • 1925-

Busby’s was named after the Head Master Richard Busby (1606-1695). The house colours of blue and maroon were taken from the first housemaster’s dining room carpet. Busby’s is one of the two houses that still regularly produces a house magazine, the annual College Street Clarion.

College

  • GB-2014-WSA-01868
  • Corporate body
  • 1560-

College, the home of the Queen’s Scholars and the oldest house at Westminster, was effectively founded in 1560 when the school’s charter stipulated that there should be 40 Queen’s Scholars. Special weight in their selection was to be given to ability, good character and poverty. To become Scholars, boys had to pass an oral examination known as ‘The Challenge’, which shifted to paper in 1856.
Scholars had special privileges not accorded to other boys, such as the right to enter the Palace of Westminster.
The Scholars include John Dryden, the first Poet Laureate (1631-1700); John Locke (1632-1704), the empiricist philosopher; A. A. Milne (1882-1956), creator of Winnie-the-Pooh; and Kim Philby (1912-1988), of the Cambridge spy ring. The first female scholars were admitted to College in 2017.

Dryden's

  • GB-2014-WSA-01875
  • Corporate body
  • 1976-

Dryden's was established in 1976. It is named after John Dryden (1631-1700), a King's Scholar and the first Poet Laureate. An official magazine, Private Parts: Dryden’s Organ, ran briefly in 1981.

Grant's

  • GB-2014-WSA-01869
  • Corporate body
  • 1749-

Grant's was opened as an independent boarding house by Mrs Margaret Grant, or Mother Grant I, in 1749, when keeping boarders was one of the few respectable occupations for middle-class women. The house continued under the Grants’ management until Mrs Dixon, the last of the family, sold the building to the School in 1868. As well as income from the sale of the house, Mrs Dixon also had a share of the profits of Dixon's antibilious pills, the world-famous 'pill to cure all ills'.

Many traditions survive at Westminster, but one that has been discontinued at Grant’s is the custom that saw new boarders ‘walk the mantelpiece’ in Hall. Lawrence Tanner, a pupil who kept a thorough diary of his time at Westminster, records his own experience of walking the mantelpiece here.

Grantites of particular interest include Lord John Russell (1792-1878), a Whig and Liberal Prime Minister and keen reformist; Charles Longley (1794-1868), Archbishop of Canterbury; Edgar Adrian (1899- 1977), winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology; the actor John Gielgud (1904-2000) and Dominic Grieve MP (1956-).

Hakluyt's

  • GB-2014-WSA-01877
  • Corporate body
  • 1987-

The house was named after Old Westminster Richard Hakluyt (1553-1616), an Elizabethan geographer.

Liddell's

  • GB-2014-WSA-01874
  • Corporate body
  • 1956-

The house was named after Henry Liddell, Head Master from 1846 to 1855, who rescued the school from its early nineteenth-century decline, when prospective parents preferred boarding schools in the country to the unwholesome airs of London and pupil numbers dipped beneath 80. Liddell later became Dean of Christ Church and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford. His daughter, Alice Liddell, was the inspiration for 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Alice through the Looking Glass'.

Milne's

  • GB-2014-WSA-1878
  • Corporate body
  • 1997-

The day house was named after Alan Alexander Milne, the creator of Pooh Bear and an Old Westminster.

Purcell's

  • GB-2014-WSA-01876
  • Corporate body
  • 1981-

Founded in 1981 as a girl’s boarding house, Purcell’s settled on its current name in 1995 to celebrate the composer’s tercentenary.
Henry Purcell was the organist at Westminster Abbey and may have studied at Westminster.

Rigaud's

  • GB-2014-WSA-01870
  • Corporate body
  • 18th century -

The earliest years of Rigaud’s are unclear, but we know it began as an independent boarding house in the late 18th century, changing its name several times until it became Rigaud’s, after the Reverend Stephen Rigaud, a master at Westminster from 1846-1850, who later became Bishop of Antigua.

In 1821, when the house was named ‘Mother Best’s’, a boarder died from over-eating after a ‘broshier’, or an attempt to exhaust the supply of food in protest at its quality.

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