Britain is home to beautiful, world-renowned, historic schools that educated the country’s most successful people: from great military leaders such as Winston Churchill to popular actors such as Damien Lewis and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Absorbing British love for ancient rites and traditions, you should not be surprised by the fact that many of the English schools have their own interesting and bizarre traditions that have been established over the centuries, the origins of which are covered in myths, which makes students look forward to their enrollment. In this article we will look at some of the most extraordinary customs that have survived in the best British schools.

1. Eton School – “Game by the Wall”

First mentioned in 1766 (when Mozart turned 10 years old), the Eton “game at the wall” is one of the most famous traditions of privileged private schools. It is played on a five-meter plot of land, known as the Furrow, near a brick wall on the college grounds, which gave the game its name. Two teams take part – the royal scholars (known as “Eaton Fellows”) and the rest of the school students (“Eaton non-fellows”). The goal of the game is to win by passing the ball to the far end of the wall, while it is allowed to touch the ball or the ground only with your hands and feet. Apparently, the goals are so unusual that the last one was committed in 1909. The most grandiose matches of the year are held in November, when the memory of St. Andrew is celebrated and the open door is arranged for parents. Nestipendiates throw their hats over the wall and climb over it, while their rivals, holding hands, are building in their direction. The college website describes the game as “highly debilitating” and “far more skillful than the uninitiated may seem,” and its rules are too difficult to discuss here. Nevertheless, it is rumored that even Prince Harry was a participant in this game during his studies at Eton!

2. Winchester School – Illumina

The fall trimester at Winchester College, known as the “Short Half,” is closely related to the tradition called “Illumina.” When students finish their classes fifteen minutes to five o’clock in the evening, they see a spectacle from a multitude of candles that illuminate the wall adjacent to the school playgrounds. These festivities provide an opportunity for parents, teachers and students to celebrate the end of the trimester and enjoy a bit of premature Christmas fun, which includes a bonfire, singing carols, punch and sweet cakes with filling. Initially, this ceremony was not intended for the Christmas celebration. It began in 1862 as a celebration of the demolition of the wall, initially separating the scholars from the non-scholars. During the first time, old butts were used, collected throughout the year – now they are bought specifically to preserve the living tradition.

3. Singing in Harrow

Many schools in the United Kingdom have their own songs, but what is especially remarkable about Harrow is his enthusiasm for singing. It has been 150 years since the first song was written in this school, but students at Harrow are clearly attached to singing today. The song tradition in this school is still alive. In Harrow, songs are sung on numerous occasions throughout the year, both in individual parts and throughout the school. Barbecues, dinners and events of any degree of formality – everything contains an element of singing. Harrow guys love to sing so much that they can’t even stop after the end and, naturally, they won’t forget to sing at a meeting of classmates. The Harrow School Association “Society of Old Harrow Children” holds an event called “Songs in the Conversation Room,” to which former Harrows people from groups of different years are invited each time. There are many songs in the school, but one of them, called Forty Years On (Forty Years Later), is considered to be the Harrow Song. This is not the only song that is well known outside of Harrow society, but, nevertheless, the school website clearly states that it is not allowed to perform “Forty Years Later” publicly.

4. Charterhouse – “College of the Apostles”

The College of the Apostles is an elite group of the Charterhouse school, in which it is believed that students with the highest level of intelligence in school. She is also known as the “Operational Management Society” – every Monday evening her students gather together with the director (in his college) and present the works that they wrote on selected subjects. Members of this group are allowed to wear an academic, “Cambridge blue” tie or scarf as a distinguishing mark.

The existence of this kind of club reflects the high academic standards that are expected from students in such schools. Intellectual curiosity is encouraged much more, compared to many public schools in Britain, which is one of those reasons why privileged private schools are able to send such a number of their students to Oxford and Cambridge.

5. Westminster School – “Griz”

The tradition of the Westminster School, known as the “Gries”, began in 1753 and continues to be celebrated so far on Tuesday at Shrovetide. It includes the chef throwing up a pancake (strengthened by horsehair) on a high beam, and students who are desperately fighting for this pancake for one minute. This event is led by the abbot of Westminster Abbey, the principal and the whole school, and sometimes even distinguished members of the royal family. The pupil who managed to get the biggest piece of pancake is awarded a golden sovereign, and the abbot’s abbot requires a half day off for the whole school. Fortunately, one of the aspects of this tradition was completely extinct: earlier, if the unfortunate cook dropped a pancake while throwing up, the students threw his Latin books at him. Modern workers at the Westminster School are no doubt pleased that this practice is no longer a feature of the last Tuesday before Lent.

6. Rugby School – “American Football”

Have you ever wondered where a sport like rugby appeared? If you are a sports person, you would like to be part of the Rugby school, which is considered the founder of this sport, which appeared in 1823, when a guy named William Webb Ellis picked up the ball during a football game and ran it in his hands. The memorial plaque installed at the Rugby school in 1895 marked this important event, and up until today the prize presented at the world rugby championship is named after Webb Ellis. This sport has become popular, spreading in universities through former students of the Rugby school. Due to its origin, rugby still has the reputation of the game, which is played by the upper classes. The saying goes something like this: “Football is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligan game played by gentlemen.”

7. Eton School – June 4

Eton “June 4th” is associated with the celebration of the birthday of King George III (1760 – 1820), the greatest patron of this institution. The monarch devoted a lot of time during his reign to help the Eton school develop, visited often and was visited by her students in nearby Windsor Castle. The following quotation can be cited regarding the official history of the Eton school:

“No other monarch showed so much interest in the school as the Founder, and did not become more important in the depth of his soul than George III … In turn, the school deeply respected and loved the king, making the school holiday his birthday, 4 June.”

Contrary to the name of this celebration, it is in fact no longer celebrated on June 4th – now it falls on Wednesday before the first weekend of June. The celebration includes the Boat procession, which consists of the most successful rowing teams (of all age categories) in the last 4 years, sailing on old, wooden rowing boats. They are dressed in the sea form of the nineteenth century and, when they swim, greet the spectators by raising their oars. This risky movement sometimes caused the boats to overturn, much to the astonishment of the spectators. There are also speeches, some exhibitions and other sporting events, including cricket, and friends and families of students are invited to enjoy a picnic at Eigar’s Plown, Eaton’s most famous playing field.

8. School Winchester – “Morning Hill”

If you are an early bird and like to walk on rough terrain, then you will definitely feel at ease. “Morning Hill” takes place at Winchester school twice a year, in the summer and autumn trimester. During this event, everyone in the school wakes up early and, dressed in their uniforms, go on foot to the nearby hill of St. Catherine, which is the property of the school, and prayer is performed on its top. The ceremony was originally introduced to strengthen the school’s historical rights to this land. The tradition has been observed since 1884, but since the school website reports that the ceremony is “theoretically” held twice a year, it can be assumed that the good old English weather sometimes does not allow this event to take place.

9. Eton School – “To be saved forever”

To motivate their students to do their best, the Eton School has a long tradition, founded in the 18th century, to present awards for good study. It is awarded if the young student has completed the assignment perfectly and has “distinguished himself”, and the curator will also be informed about this in order to demonstrate his progress. (In addition, there is an opposite reward, called “Gap,” which is awarded for work performed below the required standard. Accumulated “Gaps” as a result turn into a “White ticket” that implies punishments such as writing lines or difficult chores) . If a young student performs work consistently and well in some subject during a trimester, then he may be lucky to be “recommended for good progress” to the director or deputy director. However, the highest praise and reward is given for brilliantly performed work (awarded only in rare cases), which must “be preserved forever.” This means that such work has the honor of being abandoned for future generations, being stored in school archives. In order for a student’s work to be recognized as worthy of “being saved forever,” there is a strict approval procedure, and the student subsequently receives a card indicating his achievements, which is signed by the head of a certain college, the head of the distribution commission and the curator.

10. Fancy and great trimester titles

The academic year is traditionally divided into three trimesters, and many of the best schools have their own names for each trimester, such as, for example, in Oxford, Cambridge and many other universities. In Eton, the trimesters are called “Halves” and are known as “Mikhailov Day”, “Lent” and “Summer”. In Charterhouse, they are called “Quarterly”, even though there are only three of them, and they have more associative names: “Prayer”, “Long” and “Cricket”. Contrary to these names, “Long” trimester is the shortest of the three, the reason for the name “Prayer” is rather difficult to trace, whereas “Cricket” is quite easy to understand! In the Rugby school, the names of the trimesters have a religious character: “Advent,” “Lent,” “Trinity”. At Winchester, they have the puzzling names: Monastic Time, Short Half, and Total Time. Such names have a century-long history, and are only one of the many aspects related to modern school life, which contribute to the historical meaning and scholarship of these prestigious schools. You will no doubt agree that these names are much more interesting than the numbered trimesters in Westminster: “First Trimester”, “Second Trimester” and “Third Trimester”!

Thus, these are the 10 most delightful traditions of British private schools, which clearly demonstrate to us their utmost similarity with the Hogwartste School of Magic and Magic

If you like the opportunity to participate in any of these wonderful traditions, contact the educational agency Istudy, which will provide you with information on how to get to the best schools in Britain, and also give you advice on how to enroll in them and tell you how to apply successfully. It may be more difficult to do, but, as far as the aforementioned traditions show, successful candidates are awarded quite substantial awards.

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