Wellington College
Crowthorne, Berks

More information can be found about Wellington College at their web site (follow the link). Nevertheless I include reference to it here because it was responsible for the education of my great uncle Edwin, my grandfather Walter (or part education, in his case), my father and myself. .

The school was founded in 1859 by the Duke of Wellington for the purpose of providing education for the sons of army officers, and a trust was set up to pay the costs of the education of sons of soldiers killed in battle. The school is located at Crowthorne in Berkshire, about 20 miles south of Reading, just north of Sandhurst - the British army's principle college for the training of its officers. Historically, Wellington College acted as a feeder school for Sandhurst, and certainly in my day, the "CCF" (Combined Cadet Force) was regarded as an important part of the school's curriculum (in which I was a singular failure!).

The school is one of Britain's historic "public schools" (albeit one of the newer one) and in my day maintained the traditions of those schools, with an emphasis on physical fitness, sports, observance of traditions and unquestioning obedience. Beatings were summarily carried out by heads of dormitory and (less frequently) by the teachers (who were referred to/deferred to as "ushers"); indeed one's introduction to the school was three weeks of "Fag Training" during which time one had to learn all that was considered necessary about the school with the certainty of a beating if one twice failed the Fag's qualifying "exam" - the fag's "teacher" (a second or third-term boy) being beaten if his student failed his first exam. To pass the exam, one had to know all the school's often peculiar rules and its traditions, all its idioms and idiosyncrasies, especially the strange names given to particular places inside and outside the school, and the names of all the dormitories and houses (named after Wellington's generals at the Battle of Waterloo), the names of all house-masters and most other teachers.

The particular dormitory that I belonged to was the "Hill" where my father had resided before me. His father and uncle had resided in the Anglesey straight across the main quadrangle from the Hill. Other dormitories were called Lyndoch, Murray, Hopetoun, Blucher, Beresford, Orange, Combermere and Harding; the "houses" were Picton, Stanley, Benson and Talbot - names that I dare not forget even to this day!

Academic study was also a very serious part of the school's curriculum - though it seemed to me that the boys who excelled in the CCF usually felt or experienced less pressure to perform well in the classroom. Teachers (known as "ushers") wore their graduate gowns almost universally in and out of lessons, and had to be "ticked" by all boys who ventured within striking distance of them out of doors. "Ticking" was simply a respectful acknowledgement of the presence of a superior being, and involved the raising of the forearm and first finger in salute. I don't recall any school-boy "dares" to substitute two finger or middle finger salutes - perhaps because there was little resentment felt towards most of the teachers who were treated more often with condescension than contempt. Contempt seemed to be reserved for other boys, and especially prefects who too often abused the powers of justice and punishment that were delegated to them.

My father's memories of the school are more sanguine than mine (see his reminiscences): he loved it - no doubt because it allowed him more freedom than he enjoyed at home. He wanted me to enjoy the same experience, and indeed I enjoyed it too when I first went there (after the initial shock of the fag's exam), because for all its restrictions and rules, it allowed me vastly greater freedom than I had had at Hill Brow, the "prep" school that I attended in Somerset. But as I grew older I found the petty rules and injustices of the place more and more intolerable, and by the end of the winter term 1963, after my father had sent me back to repeat 6th Form for the purpose of improving my A-level results, I had had enough and (rather bravely) phoned my parents to tell them that I wasn't staying another term.

When I left the school, I carved my name nearby my father's in the sandstone surround of the dormitory balcony (photo right), as was traditional practice then, and perhaps is today. Visitors are not permitted to go to the dormitories, so I don't know whether his or my names are still there or whether our places have been taken by later leavers.

The only other obvious evidence of Newman occupation of the school, is the name of my great-uncle Edwin who won the Modern Exhibition Prize in 1879, and whose name is still proudly displayed on one of the prize-winner's boards in the Front Quadrangle of the school (photo left).