Charterhouse School: Wikis


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Motto Latin: Deo Dante Dedi
("God giving, I gave")
Established 1611
Type Independent School, Boarding school
Headmaster The Reverend John Witheridge
The Deputy Headmaster Mr Andrew Turner
Chairman of Governors Mr John Walker-Haworth
Founder Thomas Sutton
Location Godalming
England England
Staff ~100 full-time teachers
Students ~740
Gender Boys; Mixed in sixth form
Ages 13 to 18
Colours Pink, Blue & Maroon


Former pupils Old Carthusians
Badges Greyhound
Sutton's Crest
Director of Development Mr. Hans Figi
Coordinates: 51°11′48″N 0°37′21″W / 51.196552°N 0.622504°W / 51.196552; -0.622504

Charterhouse, originally The Hospital of King James and Thomas Sutton in Charterhouse, or more simply Charterhouse, is an English collegiate independent boarding school in the British public school tradition situated at Godalming in Surrey.

Founded by Thomas Sutton in London in 1611 on the site of the old Carthusian monastery in Charterhouse Square, Smithfield, it is one of the original nine English public schools as defined by the Public Schools Act 1868. Today pupils are still referred to as Carthusians, and ex-pupils as Old Carthusians or OCs.

The Good Schools Guide described the school as a "Traditional public school with all the trimmings," adding: "A class act from top to bottom."[1]



In May 1611 the London Charterhouse came into the hands of Thomas Sutton (1532-1611) of Snaith, Lincolnshire. He acquired a fortune by the discovery of coal on two estates which he had leased near Newcastle-on-Tyne, and afterwards, removing to London, he carried on a commercial career. In the year of his death, which took place on the 12 December 1611, he endowed a hospital on the site of the Charterhouse, calling it the hospital of King James; and in his will he bequeathed moneys to maintain a chapel, hospital (almshouse) and school. The will was hotly contested but upheld in court, and the foundation was finally constituted to afford a home for eighty male pensioners (gentlemen by descent and in poverty, soldiers that have borne arms by sea or land, merchants decayed by piracy or shipwreck, or servants in household to the King or Queens Majesty), and to educate forty boys.

Charterhouse early established a reputation for excellence in hospital care and treatment, thanks in part to Henry Levett, M.D., an Oxford graduate who joined the school as physician in 1712. Levett was widely esteemed for his medical writings, including an early tract on the treatment of smallpox. Levett was buried in Charterhouse Chapel, and his widow remarried Andrew Tooke, the master of Charterhouse.[2][3]

The school was moved to its present site in 1872 by the then headmaster, the Reverend Dr Haig Brown — a decision influenced by the findings of the Public Schools Commission of 1864.[4]

The school bought a 68 acre (270,000 m²) site atop a hill just outside Godalming. In addition to the main school buildings (designed by architect Philip Charles Hardwick), they constructed three boarding houses, known as Saunderites (once the headmaster's house, pronounced "sarnderites" rather than "sornderites"), Verites and Gownboys (for scholars, who were entitled to wear gowns).

School arms including crest and motto, but uncoloured

As pupil numbers grew, other houses were built alongside the approach road, now known as Charterhouse Hill. Each was titled with an adaptation of the name of their first housemaster, such as Weekites, Daviesites and Girdlestoneites. The last of these is still referred to as Duckites, reflecting the unusual gait of its original housemaster, even though he retired well over 100 years ago. There are now the original four 'old' houses plus seven 'new' houses, making eleven boarding houses in total. The eleven Houses have preserved a unique identity (each with its own tie and colours) and pupils compete against each other in both sports and the arts.

The school continued to expand over the 20th century. Further land was bought to the north and west, increasing the grounds to over 200 acres (809,000 m²), and a new school chapel was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (perhaps best known for designing the red telephone box) and consecrated in 1927 to commemorate almost 700 pupils who died in the First World War, making it the largest war memorial in England. Around 350 names have been subsequently added to commemorate those who died in the Second World War and other more recent conflicts. Pupils still attend a short chapel service there six times a week. The school also keeps a small archives library opposite the History block, where it is traditional for Fourths to do an archives project about a particular Old Carthusian killed in the First World War.

Charterhouse was all male until the 1970s when girls were first admitted in the sixth form (the final two years), and this continues to be the case today. Of over 300 sixth formers today, almost a third are girls.

The most significant addition to the campus was seven new Houses, built in the 1970s, replacing late Victorian boarding houses which were demolished in 1977. Other newer buildings include the Art Studio, the John Derry Technology Centre, the Ben Travers Theatre, the Ralph Vaughan Williams Music Centre, the Halford Hewitt Golf Course, the Queen’s Sports Centre, the Sir Greville Spratt athletics track and Chetwynd, a hall of residence for girls. In 2003, the School renovated its onsite Library. 2006 saw the opening of The Beveridge Centre for the Social Sciences. In 2007 a new state of the art £3m Modern Languages building was completed.

Modern day

Charterhouse School

Today, pupils can take part in a range of sporting activities, including, football, hockey, cricket, rowing, cross-country, tennis, rugby union, fives, fencing, racquets, swimming, squash, water polo, horse riding, sub-aqua, basketball, shooting, badminton, Golf and climbing. The 2005 first XI football team also performed extremely well, having an unbeaten season, barring a solitary defeat in the ISFA Cup. Cricket also continues to flourish and Charterhouse is famed for having one of the best batting tracks in the South of England. The school produced one of England's finest batsmen and captains in history, Peter May.

The school first XI of the year 2006-7 managed to reach the ISFA cup final, losing narrowly on penalties after a one all draw with rivals Hampton. Also, one year later, the school first XI again qualified for the ISFA cup final against rivals Millfield. Because of poor weather conditions, it was decided that the match would be played on one of Charterhouse's pitches instead of the usual Walkers Stadium or the replacement at Wokingham F.C. stadium. The team won this match on penalties.

The school has a top 60 placing in the A level league tables, and over 76% of pupils are awarded an A* or A grade at GCSE. The school recently announced its decision to switch from A Levels to the International Baccalaureate and Cambridge Pre-U.[5]

In 2005 the school was one of fifty of the country's leading independent schools which were found guilty of running an illegal price-fixing cartel, exposed by The Times newspaper, although the schools made clear that they had not realised that the change to the law (which had happened only a few months earlier) about the sharing of information had subsequently made it an offence.[6] Each school was required to pay a nominal penalty of £10,000 and all agreed to make ex-gratia payments totalling three million pounds into a trust designed to benefit pupils who attended the schools during the period in respect of which fee information was shared.[7]

Martin Bicknell, the former Surrey and England seam bowler joined the school as head of cricket following his retirement from the sport in 2006.

School terms

There are three academic terms (known as Quarters) in the year,

  • The Oration Quarter (OQ), from early September to mid December.
  • The Long Quarter (LQ), from mid January to late March. It therefore traditionally had the distinction of being the shortest third of the school year, despite its name.
  • The Cricket Quarter (CQ), from late April to late June or early July.


There are four old houses and seven new houses in White List (a directory of names) order. They are all distinguished by the colour of the pupils' ties, umbrellas and football team's stripes.

The four old houses are

  • Saunderites - Orange (S), Housemaster: SPMA. Head of Spanish
  • Verites - Light Blue (the tie also has broad grey/silver stripes that make it look grey/silver overall - these were supposedly added to distinguish it from a tie at another school)(V), Housemaster: NH. Teaches French, German, Chinese and Russian.
  • Gownboys - Dark Red (G), Housemaster: MLJB. Director of Choral Music.
  • Girdlestonites - Silver (g (not G, see Gownboys)), Housemaster: BPT. Head of Modern Languages, teaches German and French.

The seven "new" houses (so-called because they are in more modern (1970s) buildings, which replaced older (1870s) buildings, which were mainly on the other side of the valley) are:

  • Lockites - Light Green (L), Housemaster: AJ. Teaches History.
  • Weekites - Light Red (W), Housemaster: PRS. Teaches chemistry.
  • Hodgsonites - Blue (H), Housemaster: DGW. Head of Brass.
  • Daviesites - Dark Green (D), Housemaster: JFAT. Teaches physics
  • Bodeites - Old Gold (B), Housemaster: JSH. Head of Business Studies.
  • Pageites - Lilac (As distinguished from the pink in the official school colours)(P), Housemaster: CJE. Teaches biology.
  • Robinites - Purple (R)Robinites, Housemaster: STH. Teaches physics.

Verites, Saunderites and Gownboys houses predate the move to Godalming in 1872. However, Girdlestoneites is now treated as one of the "old houses" because it, along with Verites, Saunderites and Gownboys, are the only houses still in their 1870s buildings, while all the rest are in their 1970s replacements. Saunderites is named after its first Housemaster Dr. Saunders (Headmaster 1832-53) and it was the Headmaster's house, in that the headmaster would not only run the school but one of the houses. Unfortunately the dramatic increase in the size of the school and the increasing difficulties in running such a school have meant that the Headmaster can no longer do this. Gownboys was named not after their original housemaster, but because it was the scholars' house, although scholars were distributed across all the houses after the transfer to Godalming. As was tradition, scholars wore gowns with their uniform and were treated as superior to other boys. That tradition no longer obtains, and the scholars are now distributed throughout the various houses, on a random but numerically equal basis. There are still scholars in Gownboys, but in no greater proportion than any other house.

Verites is a contraction of Oliverites (Oliver Walford, School Usher 1838-55) and hence 'Verites' is pronounced as if the 'Ver' is from Oliver not as from 'very'. The records of the house run back to the start of the last century, but previously it was just called 'Boarders House No.2'. Girdlestonites' first housemaster was Frederick Girdlestone, who was said to walk like a duck. Girdlestonites has therefore been unofficially known as 'Duckites' ever since, but since this was 'insulting' slang it was never written down or used officially. This latter restriction has now largely fallen by the wayside and even the school magazine uses Duckites in print occasionally.

All new Houses apart from Bodeites are named after their founders (although Robinites was originally Robinsonites). Bodeites was originally Buissonites, named after the Head of Languages at the time. He ran off with the matron, and so the house was renamed Bodeites after the replacement, Mr Bode.[8]. At the time of naming this did lead to some confusion as some housemasters moved to houses named after their colleagues.

Robinites was a 'passage house' when the school first moved to Godalming, and boys stayed there for no more than two years until they could be transferred to one of the other houses. It now has normal status. There was also another passage house known as Laleham, but this has ceased to exist.

All pupils belong to one of the 11 houses, and boarding boys will sleep in their house. Charterhouse has traditionally had few day boys: in the 1870s the statutes of the school limited them to 10 (excluding sons of masters) and even in the late 1980s the number was only around 25 (some of whom were the sons of masters). Boarding girls may sleep in halls of residence (e.g. Chetwynd) which are not treated as a house (even as a new house, since many of these halls are more modern than the so-called 'new' houses).

Teachers belong to Brooke Hall (the teachers' common room building).

Uskites was a temporary house opened in 1872 by Mr Stewart, the writing and chemistry instructor from the old Charterhouse. It was closed in 1878 and the pupils redisributed. The building itself (on Peperharow Road) was bought by a schoolmaster, and later used by the School as a sanatorium. It is now masters' accommodation. Mr Stewart named the house because he likened the valley of the River Wey (where the house lies) with the valley of the river Usk.

Memorial Chapel

The Memorial Chapel‎

Memorial Chapel, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and consecrated in 1927, commemorates the Carthusians who died in action: 700 in World War I and 350 in World War II. The whole School meets here five days each week for a short service at 8:30 am, and on Sundays for Evensong, Matins, or a School Eucharist. On Sundays, when there is an Evening service, Roman Catholic pupils may instead attend Mass in the Founder's Chapel. Parents are welcome at Sunday services, but tickets are required for Remembrance Sunday and the Carol Service.

Friday morning chapel is reserved for congregational singing practice, and Wednesday morning chapel is voluntary. Attendance at all other chapel services are compulsory, except where individual exemptions are granted on religious grounds.

Chapel provides a variety of worship experience: hymn-singing; Psalm chanting; the choir performs a repertoire of Church Music; Candle-lit Carols; Eucharists in Millennium Chapel; Remembrance Sunday with the sounding of The Last Post and The Silence.

Each year there is a Confirmation Service in late January and pupils from any year group except the Fourths (who hadn't been at the school when it was open to sign up) can be prepared for this.

The school retains the old chapel used by the school prior to 1927. However, when the school first moved to Godalming even this was not built, and the pupils walked the 2 miles to Shackleford Church. Pupils ever since have benefitted, because the time taken for the walk ruled out the continuance of Sunday school, which ran from 10am to 10:30 on Sundays, which has remained a non-teaching day ever since.




  • Under School

The Lower School consists of the first three years of attendance at Charterhouse, being the Fourth Form, the Removes and the Fifth Form (GCSE year). Pupils in Lower School wear a weekday uniform consisting of a white or blue shirt, house tie, grey trousers, blue jumper, tweed jacket and leather shoes. Sunday dress consists of a dark suit of pinstriped or plain design. A waistcoat is optional. Variations include various society and school honours' ties.

Transition from the Lower School to the Upper School occurs upon successful completion of the GCSE exams (formerly known as 'O-Levels').

Boys in the underschool wearing School Dress during 'Calling Over'‎
  • Specialists ('The Upper School')

The Specialists (Lower and Upper Sixth Forms) constitute the last two years of attendance at Charterhouse, and form the Upper School. Having completed the GCSE exams successfully, 'First & Second Year Specialists' (as they are colloquially referred) spend two years studying for their 'A-Level' examinations, usually in three subjects, although some students will read for four or five.

Specialists have their own variations on School Dress. Instead of a tweed jacket, Specialists wear a navy blue blazer with gold or blue buttons on the sleeves. Sunday dress remains the same as in the Lower School. Historically, those in Gownboys were permitted to wear gowns as a mark of their scholarly status, but this is no longer permitted, as Gownboys is not the only house in which scholars reside. Specialists may also wear pink shirts and silver or nickel cuff-links.

Whether in Lower or Upper School, any pupil who has been awarded his House or School 'Colours' for sport or culture, may wear his 'Colours' tie in place of his house tie. School monitors may also wear their monitor tie instead of a house tie, if they so choose. For further on this, please see below, under "School Honours".

  • Summer Dress

During Cricket Quarter, the school uniform can vary slightly from that of the two preceding terms. Boys may wear cravats in house colours instead of ties and are permitted to wear straw Boaters similar to the 'Harrow Hat' found at Harrow School, but these are almost never worn by the majority of pupils. Boys in the Under School may also wear navy blazers similar to those worn by the Specialists. As well as these variations, boys may roll up their sleeves in hashes unless asked not to by a beak.

Members of the 1st XI Cricket Team have their own variation on summer dress which is described later in the article.

  • School Honours

School Honours is the Colours system rewarding pupils in various fields with variations on school dress. They are as follows

House Colours - House colours are a variation on the house tie. Colours awarded for house sport prowess have thicker stripes in the House colour, whereas those awarded for cultural prowess have thin doubled striped.

School Colours - School colours are awarded for services to School sport, culture and other areas deemed worthy. They all have a similar design and are covered in Sutton's Crests (The crest of Thomas Sutton). However, they come in varying colours:

The Head of School: The Head of School (head boy) is permitted to wear a Pink tie ordained with Sutton Crests, sometimes reversed. 1st XI Major Sports: Members of the 1st Team in major school sports (Football, Hockey and Cricket) are permitted to wear Maroon ties. Minor Sports: Holders of colours in Minor Sports are permitted to wear a silver tie covered in Sutton Hospital Crests. Academic/Scholars: Holders of Academic or Scholars colours are permitted to wear a Cambridge Blue tie or bow tie with Sutton Crests. Culture: Those deemed worthy enough in cultural fields are permitted to wear a purple tie. Service: Brown ties are awarded for commendable service to the school community. Most frequently they are awarded by the CCF.

1st XI Cricket

Members of the 1st XI Cricket team are permitted to wear Pink Blazers with Sutton's Crest on the front pocket to Hashes on match days (usually Saturdays).


Every year a few Carthusians are given Greyhound awards for outstanding service to the school. Those awarded the prize are permitted to wear a navy blue tie with rampant gold greyhounds.


One of the traditions in Charterhouse is the singing of school songs. In the vein of the "Eton Boating Song", many were written by teachers such as William Haig Brown and Old Carthusians such as Ralph Vaughan Williams. It is the tradition to sing Jerusalem on the last Chapel service of term. C.V. Stanford's setting of the Nunc Dimitis in B flat is sung the most throughout the year.

March around Green at the end of CQ‎
Bagpipe Players on Leavers Day‎


Carthusian Day is the main social event of the school calendar. It is held on day preceding the Exeat in CQ and Sunday dress is worn. The day is intended for the Old Carthusians and the parents of Carthusians to visit the school. Speeches are made and Sports events played: including the annual Football, Cricket and Gold matches between Carthusians and Old Carthusians. It also gives parents the chance to see their sons' and daughters' work (such as the traditional Archives project done by Fourths on old Carthusians killed in World War I)

Founder's Day is celebrated every year to commemorate the founding of the school and to thank the founder and benefactor Thomas Sutton. It is considered one of the most important days of the year and is held on the last day of OQ. The day consists of 'clearing up' in houses before 'Founders Feast', a large feast for the whole school where Black Tie is worn. The feast is followed by games and activities.

St. Andrew's Day is celebrated by an annual ball hosted by the historical 'Scottish Dancing society. On St. Andrews Day pupils are permitted to wear traditional Scottish dress including a Kilt, Ghillies and a Sporran.

'The 50 Mile Walk' is an annual event for the 1st Year specialists held at the end of CQ. It consists of walking a 50-mile (80 km) stretch from Brighton to the Brooke Hall arch and taking regular Hashes the next day. The March originates from the 1950s when the American Navy SEALs challenged the School, saying that only they could walk 50 miles (80 km) and go to work the next day. Those who complete the walk in less than 24 Hours are awarded a special '50' tie, which until 2006 consisted of a navy blue tie with the school crest that has a '50' written below it. The current tie is a thickly striped affair in Pink (for the school), Green (for the countryside) and Blue (for the night)

Leavers Day is the last day of CQ when the Second Year Specialists come to the end of their school careers. After the Leavers Chapel, the entire school does 2 lap around 'Green' while several men dressed in Scottish traditional Scottish dress play the bagpipes. The leaving Second Year Specialists do an extra lap signifying their loyalty to the school.

'Lack of Talent' is an annual show of Carthusian musical talent and sketches run entirely by pupils and held in the BTT during the start of LQ. It is usually hosted by a two second year Specialists and acts are selected by a panel of pupils in the Second Year Specialists. Such acts are predominantly music based, however comedy sketches have become increasingly popular (as they were a large part of the original Lack of Talent in 2000) with many of the staff looking forward to the Brooke Hall parody sketch that has become a regular feature. It is one of the few productions in the school's theatre that students and visitors have to pay a fee to see, originally with the concept this would go to global, less obvious charities and raise peoples awareness of their causes.


Monitors are chosen pupils who are deemed to have the best qualities in leadership and achievement. Each house has at least one monitor, who is appointed Head of House (the most senior pupil in house). On a school-wide level one monitor is appointed the Head of School, and a deputy is appointed to assist. Monitors may wear Navy blue ties and Navy scarves with an embroidered crest. Monitors are also permitted to ride bikes to and from hashes as well as out of Hash time.

House Apostles

The Headmaster's Essay Society, also known as the 'House Apostles' is a historical society of twelve elite Carthusians deemed to be the most intellectual in the school. They are invited by the Headmaster to present papers on chosen subjects on Monday evenings and meetings are held in the Headmaster's House. All members wear Cambridge Blue Academic ties or scarves.

Calling Over

In the traditional ceremony of Calling Over, the form master presents his class to the Master of the Under School, who praises those who have shown good effort, and discourages the less hard-working. Specialists are also awarded regular grades for attainment and effort, which are scrutinised by the Master of the Specialists. Parents receive detailed reports at the end of each Quarter, and have a formal opportunity to meet their son’s or daughter’s teachers every year to discuss progress. The Higher Education and Careers Department provides guidance and training throughout the process of selecting and applying to university.

Gownboys' Garden

Gownboys' garden, known typically as "GG's" by pupils past and present is a social area in the scenic woodland surrounding the main school, near to the school's sqaush and fives facilities. Named after the old Scholars' house, the garden is the outside centre for academic study in the summer, and gives the sixth form "specialist" pupils an area to relax and unwind after a day of hard study. The garden operates a feudal system, whereby each year "kings" are chosen by previous years, based on social and academic standing.

The garden is currently undergoing extensive landscape development to further pupils' interest in the natural world, as well as to promote academic study outside the classroom and the pupils' personal studies.

Origins of Football

Charterhouse has an historic joint claim to having founded Association Football, which remains the main Winter sport at the school. During the 1840s at both Charterhouse and Westminster School pupils' surroundings meant they were confined to playing their football in the cloisters, making the rough and tumble of the handling game that was developing at other schools such as Rugby impossible, and necessitating a new code of rules. During the formulation of the rules of the Association Football in the 1860s representatives of Charterhouse and Westminster School pushed for a passing game, in particular rules that allowed forward passing ("passing on"). Other schools (in particular Eton College, Shrewsbury School and Harrow) favoured a dribbling game with a tight off-side rule. By 1867 the Football Association had chosen in favour of the Charterhouse and Westminster game and adopted a "loose" off-side rule that permitted forward passing.[9] The modern forward-passing game was a direct consequence of Charterhouse and Westminster Football.

In the early years of the FA Cup, teams formed of ex-pupils from these schools dominated the competition. The Old Carthusians F.C. (the name for the team composed of Charterhouse alumni) won the cup in the 1880/81 season, beating the Old Etonians in the final, and were semi-finalists in the two years that followed. The public school system also provided many of the first England internationals. They included Charles Wreford-Brown, who is often credited for inventing the word "soccer". He was a pupil at Charterhouse in the early 1880s, and played football for the Old Carthusians and for the national side in the 1890s, including several appearances as captain.

During the past few years, Charterhouse has performed well in the ISFA cup. In 2007, Charterhouse were runners-up but in 2008 they were able to beat Millfield and win the cup.


The School’s Herbarium carries the Index Herbariorum designation GOD and is maintained as The Charterhouse School Herbarium [2] in the University & Jepson Herbaria, University of California, Berkeley. The scope of the collections are principally the British Isles, the principle collectors being James Edward Moxon, Rev. George Brown Moxon, Rev. Tullie Cornthwaite, Rev. Samuel Titmas (1st Curator - Charterhouse Museum), Frederick Yorke Brocas, William Gardiner and John Drew Salmon. The collections are currently being digitized and being released by the Botanical Society of the British Isles, on the herbaria@home [3] website.

Notable Old Carthusians

Former pupils are referred to as Old Carthusians, and current pupils as Carthusians.

Victoria Cross holders

Three Old Carthusians have won the Victoria Cross:


See also

External links


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