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The Old BoysThe Decline and Rise of the Public School$
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David Turner

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300189926

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300189926.001.0001

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An Idealistic Cynic and the Birth of a System 1382–1603

An Idealistic Cynic and the Birth of a System 1382–1603

(p.1) Chapter One An Idealistic Cynic and the Birth of a System 1382–1603
The Old Boys

David Turner

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses the origins and development of the British public school movement. Bishop William of Wykeham is credited with accidentally founding the public school movement. The shortage of learned men suitable to fill the ranks of the priesthood prompted Wykeham to establish two huge institutions to educate men to be priests. The first to be set up was New College, Oxford, established in 1379 for the study of “Theology, Canon and Civil Law, and The Arts.” The second institution was Winchester College, set up in 1382 to act as a feeder school for New College. While Wykeham envisaged Winchester partly as an agent of social mobility, a place that would provide an education to children from humble backgrounds, the college also admitted students from families that were far above the “poor and needy.” Wykeham created, for the first time, a school where members of England's elite were educated together in large groups, with the aim of preparing a large proportion of them, at least, for a university education, thus signaling the start of Britain's public school movement. By the end of the sixteenth century there were six schools which might qualify as public schools: Winchester, Eton, St Paul's, Shrewsbury, Merchant Taylors', and Westminster.

Keywords:   British public schools, public school education, William of Wykeham, New College, Winchester College, Eton College, St Paul's School, Shrewsbury School, Merchant Taylors' School, Westminster School

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