11th October 1440. Floreat Etona.

Floreat Etona the dying words of J.M. Barrie’s ‘Captain Hook’ who along with other fictional heroes, Bertie Wooster, Lord Peter Wimsey (D.L.Sayers), James Bond, Captain Hastings (Christie), all went to Eton.

In 1440 Henry VI endowed Eton College(£500 yearly) from the dissolution of the Alien Priories.(1)

The school replicated the design of Bishop Wykeham at Winchester (1382) which followed the monastic design of gateway, chapel and domestic offices around a ‘quad’, offering defence against a hostile world.

Thomas Beckington born in Somerset (c1390) Bishop of Bath and Wells, and King’s Secretary, played a leading role in the College’s foundation; its central refectory is still called Bekynton.

q

Double tomb: the bottom as a corpse, the top in his robes. Beckington at Wells Cathedral.

The Preamble and Letters Patent for the foundation of Eton College is recorded in The Foundation Charter of 11 October 1440, and dedicated: ‘To the praise, glory and honour of the crucified one-to the exaltation of the most glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother, and the establishment of Holy Church…

a

Effigy of Bishop Beckington, born c1390, in robes and mitre. Effigy from Latin ‘effingere’-to fashion.

It was in August 1440 that Henry VI purchased a small parish church near his birthplace at Windsor Castle for a school to ‘educate the sons of the local merchants and superior tradesman’. His wish was to mark the achievement of his majority rule with a distinctive commemoration such as his forebears did for monasteries and great churches, as a gift to God. 

The School consisted of a provost, ten priests, six choristers, twenty-five poor and needy scholars, twenty-five alms-men and a Magister ‘to teach gratis scholars and all others from any part of England’.

Over the centuries the school’s role in ‘teaching gratis’, the sons of ‘superior tradesmen’, declined, becoming the place for the sons of the ruling elite.

In the New Millennium, Floreat Etona was revealed as an ‘Eton Mess’ [a dessert], as it closed ranks when art teacher Sarah Forsyth was sacked in 2002, saying ‘she was a poor teacher’, but not too poor to teach the less than academic Prince Harry.

It later emerged she had been bullied by the Department Head, (who had ‘worked’ Harry’s paintings), into writing the text for his A/S Art. To protect herself she secretly taped conversations, which included Harry, who admitted the help.

The Employment Tribunal in July 2005, accused the school of being unprofessional and high-handed, saying that Sarah was ‘unfairly dismissed’. She was awarded £45,000 in damages.

The College came out of the dispute in a bad light from the Head downwards, with Burke the Head of the Art Department being criticised for ‘constantly changing his story’: the School’s response: the Tribunal had ‘seen through Forsyth’s unfounded and irrelevant allegations’.

In 2005 the Eton was found to be operating a Fee Cartel by the Office of Fair Trading, which was only exposed after two Winchester Schoolboys had hacked the computer.

The chicanery about Prince Harry only goes to show how privilege and hypocrisy still lies under the skin of Britain’s Establishment and the consequences of ‘rocking the boat’. 

(1a) On 5th March 1440.

(1b) ‘Alien’ were foreign controlled priories.

References:

‘The Foundation of Eton College 1440-6. Taken from English History Documents by A. R. Myers. The King’s College of ‘Our Lady of Eton Beside Windsor’, founded by Henry VI.

Taken from the preamble of Letters Patent for the foundation of Eton College 11th October 1440 and Eton College Charter 17th July 1446-quoted in Henry VI by Bertram Wolffe.

wikipedia.org/beckington/Pic.

flickr.com/Pic of double effigy.

bbc.co.uk.4.7.2005. Harry teacher wins external tribunal.

theguardian.com/public-schools.14.2.2006. Jacqueline Maley.

dailytelegraph.co.uk. John Clare. Education Editor.10.11.2005.

 

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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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