Eton College – the factory of gentlemen
Eton College is one of the most famous schools in the world. It is a school for boys only. It’s located in the small town of Eton, next to Windsor which is famous for Windsor Castle. Prince William and Prince Harry studied in Eton College.
Eton was founded by King Henry VI in 1440. The king was only 18 at that time. His aim was to give education to poor boys so that they could then go to Cambridge University. The chosen boys should “have a good character, be good at reading, Latin grammar and singing”. If they “behaved badly, married, or became monks”, they had to leave.
The life in Eton was hard. Rats ran free about the college, boys had to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning and all lessons were in Latin.
Today, Eton is the largest, most prestigious and very expensive public school in Britain. To get into the college you have to pass entrance exams first.
Many famous people studied in Eton: the novelists Henry Fielding, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Percy Shelley and Ian Fleming, 18 British prime ministers, Prince William and Prince Harry, David Cameron, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.
Eton is a boarding school where boys live and study away from home. Each boy has his own small room with a bed and desk. There are a number of important senior boys with responsibilities in the house.
Eton students wear a strange old-fashioned school uniform. It consists of a black tailcoat, black pin-striped trousers, a black waistcoat, well-polished black shoes, a false-collar and a white tie. In the past Eton students also wore a top-hat and a walking-cane.
Teachers also wear a uniform, consisting of a white bow-tie, black jacket and striped trousers.
Eton gives a very good education. Every boy takes at least two modern languages chosen from French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. Students also study Latin for at least one year and many choose to study Greek as well. Outside the main timetable they may choose Chinese or Arabic.
At college there are about fifty societies and clubs. Eton is famous for its theatre. Senior boys may take part in military training. Students can do 30 different sports including rugby, football, cricket, rowing, hockey, basketball, swimming and many others.
A personal tutor looks after the progress of every boy. After Eton students usually go to top universities, such as Oxford or Cambridge.
Did you know?
• British public schools are really private schools. They are not run by the government and parents pay for their children to attend these schools. Only 7% of children go to public schools.
• The most famous British public schools are Eton, Harrow and Winchester.
• Winchester was founded 60 years earlier than Eton.
• Henry VI, the founder of Eton College, became King of England at the age of nine months and the King of France by the age of eight.
This is the first double portrait of Princes William and Harry painted by Nicky Phillips. When Prince Harry saw the portrait, he said: “I don’t know, I’m a little bit more ginger in there than I am in real life, I think. And William got given more hair than he has in real life. But the portrait is nice, it could have been worse.” Prince Harry is 25 years old and Prince William is 27. They are dressed a military uniform which they wore for The Queen’s Birthday Parade.