One of my lunch guests on Saturday was a Wykehamist who volunteered to give our party a tour of the old school. Term had already started so it was shut to visitors and we were lucky to have the place largely to ourselves as most of the boys were out on the sports fields. We listened to the organist practising in the chapel and spotted the occasional scholar, gown on, rucksack on his back, his trousers two inches too short, scurrying towards the library.
As a product of an all girls education, I am always struck by the war memorials at boys schools. Winchester has these in style. In the corridor outside the chapel there is the memorial to the 13 old boys who were killed in the Crimean War with the inscription, 'Think upon them thou who art passing by to-day, child of the same family, bought by the same Lord. Keep thy foot when thou goest into this house of God, then watch thine armour and make thyself ready by prayer to fight and to die, the faithful soldier and servant of Christ and of thy country.' Then there are two cloisters, one purely commemorating the old boys who were killed in the First and Second World Wars, and the other with inscriptions remembering boys from the 1400s to the present day, including one boy who'd been killed at school by a piece of masonry falling on his head while he was engrossed in reading Livy. He was supposed to go to Oxford but went to heaven instead.
A new school building was erected in 1687 and this now houses portraits of old Head Masters, William of Wykeham and a table of school laws. There also hangs the school motto, "aut disce aut discede" ("either learn or leave") with an added twist, "manet sors tertia caedi" ("or there's a third option: be flogged").