Rugby School: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Rugby School

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rugby School
Motto Orando Laborando
(Latin"By praying, by working")
Established 1567
Type Independent School; Boarding school
Religion Anglican
Headmaster Patrick S J Derham MA
Founder Lawrence Sheriff
Location Rugby
England England
Students 831: 337 girls & 494 boys (2006)
Gender Co-educational
Ages 11 to 18
Houses 16
Colours Blue White Green


Former Pupils Old Rugbeians
Coordinates: 52°13′17″N 1°09′17″W / 52.2214°N 1.1548°W / 52.2214; -1.1548

Rugby School, located in the town of Rugby, Warwickshire, is regarded as one of the UK's leading co-educational boarding schools and is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain.[citation needed]



Rugby School was founded in 1567 as a provision in the will of Lawrence Sheriff, who had made his fortune supplying groceries to Queen Elizabeth I of England.[1] It is one of the nine English public schools as defined by the Public Schools Act 1868 and one of a handful of prominent English Public Schools that can be said to have created the ideal of the Victorian gentleman and the importance of public schools as the training ground for service in the Empire in the nineteenth century.[citation needed] The influence of Rugby and its pupils and masters in the nineteenth century was enormous and in many ways the stereotype of the English public school is a reworking of Arnold's Rugby. It is one of the best known schools in the country and seen as a leading innovator in education (e.g. see its leading role in developing the Cambridge Pre-U).

Rugby School from The Close, the playing field where according to legend the game of rugby was invented

Since Lawrence Sheriff lived in Rugby and the neighbouring Brownsover, the school was intended to be a free grammar school for the boys of those towns. Gradually, however, as Rugby's fame spread it was no longer desirable to have only local boys attending and the nature of the school shifted, and so a new school – Lawrence Sheriff Grammar School – was founded in 1878 to continue Lawrence Sheriff's original intentions; that school receives a substantial proportion of the endowment income from Lawrence Sheriff's estate every year.

Rugby School continues to offer a large number of scholarship places for outstanding students from the local community, who come from state (maintained) primary schools in the immediate vicinity of Rugby.[citation needed] The school's new Arnold Foundation has been established to enable it to offer similar support to children from outside the Rugby area. The core of the school (which contains School House, featured in Tom Brown's Schooldays) was completed in 1815 and is built around the Old Quad (quadrangle), with its fine and graceful Georgian architecture. Especially notable rooms are the Upper Bench (an intimate space with a book-lined gallery), the Old Hall of School House, and the Old Big School (which makes up one side of the quadrangle, and was once the location for teaching all junior pupils). Thomas Hughes (like his fictional hero, Tom Brown) once carved his name onto the hands of the school clock, situated on a tower above the Old Quad. The polychromatic school chapel, new quadrangle, Temple Reading Room, Macready Theatre and Gymnasium were designed by the well-known Victorian Gothic revival architect William Butterfield in 1875, and the smaller Memorial Chapel was dedicated in 1922.

In 2005 Rugby School was one of fifty of the country's leading private schools which were found guilty of running an illegal price-fixing cartel which had allowed them to drive up fees for thousands of parents.[2] 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.[3]

Headmastership of Rugby School


Thomas Arnold

The school's most famous headmaster was Dr. Thomas Arnold. Appointed in 1828 he executed many reforms to the school curriculum and administration and was immortalised in Thomas Hughes' book Tom Brown's School Days. It was Arnold's reforms, with their emphasis on sport, 'fair play' and the system of allocating responsibility to boys, that led the British Public School system towards the 'Muscular Christianity' ethos which drove the British Imperial expansion. Arnold's Rugby can be said to have created what we think of as the English Public School.

John Percival

In 1888 the appointment of Marie Bethell Beauclerc by Dr. Percival was the first appointment of a female teacher in an English boys' public school and the first time shorthand had been taught in any such school. The shorthand course was popular with one hundred boys in the classes.

Headmasters since 1828

From 1828 to 1966

From 1980 to present

  • Brian Rees - to 1985[5]
  • Richard Bull - 1985 to 1990[5]
  • Michael Mavor - 1990 to 2001[5]
  • Patrick Derham - 2001 to present

William Webb Ellis

William Webb Ellis plaque
Webb-Ellis at Rugby, 1823

The game of Rugby owes its name to the school. The legend of William Webb Ellis and the origin of the game is commemorated by a plaque. The story has been known to be a myth since it was first investigated by the Old Rugbeian Society (renamed the Rugbeian Society) in 1895. There were no standard rules for football during Webb Ellis's time at Rugby (1816–1825) and most varieties involved carrying the ball. The games played at Rugby were organised by the students and not the masters, the rules of the game played at Rugby and elsewhere were a matter of custom and were not written down. They were frequently changed and modified with each new intake of students. The sole source of the story is credited to one Matthew Bloxam (a former student, but not a contemporary of Webb Ellis) in October 1876 (four years after the death of Webb Ellis) in a letter to the school newspaper (The Meteor) whereby he quotes some unknown friend relating the story to him. He elaborated on the story some three years later in another letter to The Meteor, but shed no further light on its source. Richard Lindon is credited for the invention of the "Oval" rugby ball, the rubber inflatable bladder and the brass hand pump.[6] a Boot and Shoemaker had premises immediately across the street from the School's main entrance in Lawrence Sheriff Street. No doubt the boys of Rugby School had significant input into their required design.

It is also fair to say that cross country running began at Rugby School. The Crick Run was the first such event of its type in the world, and is still a major annual event in the School's calendar.


Rugby School has both day and boarding-pupils, the latter in the majority. Originally it was for boys only, but girls have been admitted to the sixth form since 1975. It went fully co-educational in 1995.

The school community is divided into houses:


  • Cotton House
  • Kilbracken
  • Michell House
  • School Field
  • School House
  • Sheriff House
  • Town House (Day House)
  • Whitelaw House


  • Bradley House (ex boys' house)
  • Dean-Heather House
  • Griffin House
  • Rupert Brooke House
  • Southfield House (Day House)
  • Stanley House (ex boys' house: 6th form)
  • Tudor House (ex boys' house)

Junior School:

  • Marshall House (Day House. Pupils leave Marshall House at age 13 to join one of the other houses, usually Town for boys and Southfield for girls)


Rugby School from the side
  • Age range: 11 - 18
  • Day pupils: 77 boys, 64 girls
  • Annual day fees: £15,120 - £15,120
  • Full boarding pupils: 369 boys, 296 girls
  • Annual full boarding fees: approx £27,000
  • Total pupils: 446 boys, 360 girls
  • Including 6th form/FE: 194 boys, 168 girls
  • Staff numbers: 100 full time - 9 part time
  • Method of entry: Common Entrance, Interview, Scholarship or bursary exam
  • Professional affiliations: HMC
  • Religious affiliation: Church of England


There have been a number of notable Old Rugbeians including the purported father of the sport of Rugby William Webb Ellis, the inventor of Australian rules football Tom Wills, the war poets Rupert Brooke and John Gillespie Magee, Jr., Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, author and mathematician Lewis Carroll, poet and cultural critic Matthew Arnold, the author and social critic Salman Rushdie and the Irish writer and republican Francis Stuart. Matthew Arnold's father Thomas Arnold, was a headmaster of the school.

The Rugbeian Society

The Rugbeian Society is for former pupils at the School.[7] An Old Rugbeian is sometimes referred to as an OR.

The purposes of the Society are to encourage and help Rugbeians in interacting with each other and to strengthen the ties between ORs and the School.

Rugby School slang

In common with most English public schools, Rugby has its own argot, a few words of which are listed below. Also, the Oxford "-er" abbreviation (e.g. Johnners, rugger, footer etc), prevalent at Oxford University from about 1875, is thought to have been borrowed from the slang of Rugby School.[8] However, much of the slang below is now obsolete as marked.

  • Bags: Sporting colours (particularly 'The Holder of Bigside Bags', the Captain of the Running Eight)
  • Beaks: Teachers (obsolete)
  • Bodger: The current headmaster (After Dr. H. A. James - former headmaster (1895-1909). He gained this nickname whilst headmaster at Rossall School.) (obsolete)
  • Boomer: Chapel Bell (not actually functional, on the premise the tower may collapse)
  • Bosh: A traditional game of soccer between School House and School Field on the Close annually
  • Bug: Library (obsolete). The main library is the Temple Reading Room (TRR)
  • Copy: Award for exceptional work
  • Credit: Award that is just below a distinction
  • Dics: House prayers or talks on useful information (obsolete)
  • Distinction: Award for slightly less exceptional work than a Copy
  • D-Block: Year 11
  • E-Block: Year 10
  • F-Block: Year 9
  • Gation: Second to worst form of punishment in the form of boarding house arrest with staff or Levee signatures required on the hour.
  • Imposition: Lowest form of punishment
  • Lacque (pronounced 'Lake'): Room for the sixth in Sheriff House
  • Levee: School prefect
  • LXX: Year 12
  • Hall: The table below that of the Sixth. Members of Hall have or had certain privileges, such as that of carrying an umbrella, or making toast (obsolete)
  • New Turf and Old Turf: Hockey Astro Pitches
  • Old Guard: Sports team of teachers
  • Pig Hut run: Physical punishment of running to Levee hut (obsolete)
  • Pontines: 2nd XV rugby pitch
  • Rustication: Highest form of punishment before expulsion. Sent home or occasionally sent to live with Chaplain.
  • Sixth: House prefect
  • Speckle: To sack someone from being a House Sixth (the Sixth tie is speckled)
  • Stewboi: A hindrance - 'To lay a Stewboi' being the correct term for hindering a pupil - or a fashion of hat worn (obsolete)
  • Stodge: School tuck shop
  • Stripe: To sack someone from being a Levee (the Levee tie is striped)
  • Tanner: Day-boy (from 'Town House') (obsolete)
  • Tick: The obligatory salutation of a Beak in the street, by lifting an index finger to shoulder level (obsolete)
  • Topos: Lavatory (from Greek τόπος, meaning 'a place') (obsolete)
  • Tosh: The old 66 2/3 yard open-air swimming pool, also used as a skating rink in winter, demolished by the School Governors in 1989 and replaced with a basket-ball court and a smaller indoor swimming pool. In some houses a name given to a large communal shower room. Also, a bath (sb.) or to take a bath
  • Wagger: Waste paper basket (abbreviation of "wagger pagger bagger" - see Oxford "-er") (obsolete)
  • XX: Year 13

School song

"Floreat Rugbeia" is the traditional school song. While a boy's house, Tudor house had an alternate first verse of the Floreat which for more than two centuries by tradition they would sing by heart at Chapel contrary to all other houses of the school which would sing the official first verse of the Floreat.[citation needed] Members of Tudor House would then continue to sing the correct second and third verse of the Floreat which Older boys ensured that younger boys knew by heart. No other house memorised either versions of the Floreat. The girls now residing in Tudor house have not continued the boys' original tradition, other than on reunion days for the Old Rugbeians.

See also


  1. ^,M1
  2. ^ Independent schools face huge fines over cartel to fix fees
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d e f John Barclay Hope Simpson, Rugby Since Arnold: A History of Rugby School from 1842, Published by Macmillan, 1967
  5. ^ a b c Rugby School - History and Traditions
  6. ^ Richard Lindon
  7. ^
  8. ^ Partridge, Eric: "A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London 1984. p. 1390

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address