Founded by a king, saved by a king's mistress
Tuesday 05 September 1995
Early records date from the mid-16th century, when life at Eton was strictly regimented and spartan, according to the Pitkin Guide to the school, written by a former member of staff. Pupils had to get up at 5am each morning to chant prayers before attending lessons in Latin.
Priests played a central part in the life of the college during its first 200 years but after the civil war, when Eton's grounds were used in a Royalist attempt to recapture Windsor Castle, their influence waned.
However, the life of the boys continued to be a hard one. The most famous headmaster, Dr Keate, tackled a lax state of discipline which had arisen before his arrival in 1809 with an iron regime. It is said that he conducted mass floggings known as "executions" and that his victims were expected to cheer him afterwards.
"Pop", the elite society which now imposes discipline on boys, dates from Dr Keate's time. It started life as a debating society meeting in a lollipop shop but later became a club for athletes.
The brutality continued into the current century, though both beatings and "fagging" - the practice of attaching younger boys to older ones as personal slaves - are now outlawed. A book published last year revealed that Anthony Chenevix-Trench, headmaster from 1964-70, was forced to resign over his drinking and excessive brutality to boys.
Among the more peculiar traditions which still persist is the Eton Wall Game, which dates from 1777 and which has been described as "a peculiar mixture of mud-wrestling, rugby, football and quaint stupidity."
Eton's former pupils include 19 prime ministers and some minor royals, but also a few more radical individuals. Among this last group was George Orwell who, not surprisingly, was uncomplimentary about his alma mater. "Probably the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton but the opening battles of all subsequent wars have been lost there," he wrote.
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
news Opponents claim it would stop performers such as Beyonce and Madonna appearing on TV
It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit
food + drink
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Lee Rigby murder: How killers Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale became ultra-violent radicals
Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
Paul Walker death caused by speed alone
Apollo Theatre collapse: Scores injured after ceiling collapses in London's West End
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 North Koreans are gasping for the truth: Let's give it to them
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- < Previous
- Next >
£80000 - £120000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Risk - Delivery/...
£Negotiable: Citifocus: This is a new role carrying responsibility for a numbe...
£29999 - £40001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A top independent...
£90 - £130 per day + contributory pension scheme: Randstad Education Mancheste...