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Winchester college

Collegium Sanctae Mariae prope Wintoniam,


Collegium Beatae Mariae Wintoniensis prope Winton

which translates into English as:
St Mary's College, near Winchester, or The College of the Blessed Mary of Winchester, near Winchester.

Winchester College is an independent school for boys in the British public school tradition, situated in Winchester, Hampshire, England. It has existed in its present location for over 600 years and claims the longest unbroken history of any school in England (see List of the oldest schools in the United Kingdom). It is the oldest of the original nine English public schools defined by the Public Schools Act 1868 and is one of four remaining full boarding independent schools, meaning all pupils are boarders, in the United Kingdom (the others are Eton College, Harrow School and Radley College).


Winchester College was founded in 1382 by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor to both Edward III and Richard II, and the first 70 poor scholars entered the school in 1394. It was founded in conjunction with New College, Oxford, for which it was designed to act as a feeder: the buildings of both colleges were designed by master mason William Wynford. This double foundation was the model for Eton College and King's College, Cambridge, some 50 years later, and for Westminster School, Christ Church, Oxford, and Trinity College, Cambridge, in Tudor times.

In addition to the 70 scholars and 16 "Quiristers" (choristers), the statutes provided for ten "noble Commoners". These Commoners ("Commoners in Collegio") were paying guests of the Headmaster or Second Master in his official apartments in College. Other paying pupils ("Commoners extra Collegium"), either guests of one of the Masters in his private house or living in lodgings in town, grew in numbers till the late 18th century, when they were all required to live in "Old Commoners" and town boarding was banned. In the 19th century this was replaced by "New Commoners", and the numbers fluctuated between 70 and 130: the new building was compared unfavourably to a workhouse, and as it was built over an underground stream, epidemics of typhus and malaria were common.

In the late 1850s four boarding houses were planned (but only three built, namely A, B and C), to be headed by housemasters: the plan, since dropped, was to increase the number of scholars to 100 so that there would be "College", "Commoners" and "Houses" consisting of 100 pupils each. In the 1860s "New Commoners" was closed and converted to classrooms, and its members were divided among four further boarding houses (D, E, G and H, collectively known as "Commoner Block"). At the same time two more houses (F and I) were acquired and added to the "Houses" category; a tenth (K) was acquired in 1905 and allotted to "Commoners". (The distinction between "Commoners" and "Houses" is now of purely sporting significance (see Winchester College Football), and "a Commoner" now means any pupil who is not a scholar.) There are therefore now ten houses in addition to College, which continues to occupy the original 14th century buildings, and the total number of pupils is almost 700. From the late 1970s there has been a continual process of extension to and upgrading of College Chambers.


  • 1373 Richard Herton
  • 1388 John Melton
  • 1394 Thomas Romsey
  • 1407 John Pole
  • 1414 Thomas Romsey
  • 1418 Richard Darcy
  • 1424 Thomas Alwyn
  • 1430 William Waynflete
  • 1441 Thomas Alwyn
  • 1444 William Yve
  • 1454 John Barnard
  • 1459 John Grene
  • 1465 Clement Smyth
  • 1467 Richard Dene
  • 1484 John Rede
  • 1490 Robert Festham
  • 1495 William Horman
  • 1501 John Farlyngton
  • 1507 Edward More
  • 1515 Thomas Erlisman
  • 1525 John Twychener
  • 1531 Richard Twychener
  • 1535 John White
  • 1542 Thomas Bayly
  • 1547 William Everard
  • 1553 Thomas Hyde
  • 1561 Christopher Johnson
  • 1572 Thomas Bilson
  • 1579 Hugh Lloyd
  • 1588 John Harmar
  • 1596 Benjamin Heyden
  • 1602 Nicholas Love
  • 1613 Hugh Robinson
  • 1627 Edward Stanley
  • 1642 John Pottinger
  • 1653 William Burt
  • 1658 Henry Beeston
  • 1679 William Harris
  • 1700 Thomas Cheyney
  • 1724 John Burton
  • 1766 Joseph Warton
  • 1793 William Stanley Goddard
  • 1810 Henry Dyson Gabell
  • 1824 David Williams
  • 1836 George Moberly
  • 1867 George Ridding
  • 1884 William Andrewes Fearon
  • 1901 Hubert Murray Burge
  • 1911 Montague John Rendall
  • 1924 Alwyn Terrell Petre Williams
  • 1934 Spencer Leeson
  • 1946 Walter Fraser Oakeshott
  • 1954 Henry Desmond Pritchard Lee
  • 1968 John Leonard Thorn
  • 1985 James Paley Sabben-Clare
  • 2000 Edward Nicholas Tate
  • 2003 Thomas Richard Cookson
  • 2005 Ralph Douglas Townsend

Former pupils

Fourteenth century

  • Henry Chichely, Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the earliest Wykehamists
  • Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Thomas Beckington, statesman

Fifteenth century

  • Thomas Chaundler, playwright and illustrator
  • Richard Pace, diplomat
  • William Horman, translator
  • William Grocyn, scholar
  • William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Hugh Inge, Archbishop of Dublin
  • Richard Risby, friar

Sixteenth century

  • Thomas Coryat, sixteenth century traveller
  • Henry Cole, Roman Catholic priest
  • Nicholas Udall, Headmaster of Eton and playwright
  • Henry Garnett, Jesuit plotter
  • John White, Bishop
  • Nicholas Harpsfield, Roman Catholic apologist
  • Richard Reade, Lord Chancellor of Ireland
  • Nicholas Sanders, Roman Catholic priest, missionary and historian
  • Thomas Bilson, Bishop
  • John Harmar, Warden of Winchester College, one of the translators of the Authorised Version of the Bible
  • John Owen, Welsh epigrammatist
  • Henry Wotton, author and diplomat
  • Arthur Lake, Bishop
  • John Davies, poet
  • Thomas James, librarian
  • Thomas Coryat, travel writer, court jester to James I
  • Henry Marten, Judge of Admiralty
  • Sir Thomas Ryves, lawyer
  • Richard Zouch, judge and politician
  • Edward Nicholas, statesman

Seventeenth century

  • The roundhead Nathaniel Fiennes, a descendant of William of Wykeham
  • Nathaniel Fiennes, Roundhead politician
  • Thomas Ken, bishop and non-juror
  • Francis Turner, bishop and non-juror
  • Thomas Otway, dramatist
  • Sir Thomas Browne, doctor, polymath, scholar, prose stylist
  • Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, politician and author
  • William Somervile, poet
  • Edward Young, poet

Eighteenth century

  • James Woodforde, author of Diary of a Country Parson
  • Robert Lowth, Bishop of London, Hebraist and English grammarian
  • William Whitehead, Poet Laureate
  • William Collins, poet
  • Joseph Warton, literary critic and Headmaster of Winchester
  • William Douglas, 4th Duke of Queensberry, famed rake and gambler
  • Thomas Warton, Poet Laureate
  • James Woodforde, clergyman and diarist
  • George Isaac Huntingford, Bishop of Hereford and Gloucester
  • Thomas Burgess, author
  • Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, Prime Minister
  • John Hawkins, geologist, traveller, and Fellow of the Royal Society
  • William Lisle Bowles, poet
  • Sydney Smith, essayist and satirist
  • Richard Mant, Church of Ireland bishop and writer
  • William Buckland, theologian and geologist
  • William Ward, cricketer
  • John Bettesworth-Trevanion, MP
  • Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby
  • Walter Farquhar Hook, Tractarian vicar of Leeds

List of Old Wykehamists