Ernest Gambier-Parry.

Annals of an Eton house, with some notes on the Evans family online

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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. SAN DIEGO



3 1822 02129 1034




UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO



^




3 1822 02129 1034



iT



LONDON BOOK CO.
224 West Broadway
Glendale, Calif. 91204
244-0828



795



ANNALS OF AN ETON HOUSE



First Edition . . . November, igoy
Second Edition . . January, iqoS




III Ihc l-rlSi:S.\i,<ii o/'. J U'O^ ijncij i .d'^iuiii^



ANNALS OK
AN ETON HOUSE

WITH SOME NOTES ON THE
EVANS FAMILY

BY MAJOR GAMBIER PARRY

ONCE A MEMBER OF THE HOUSE
AUTHOR OF 'KEYNELL TAYLOR: A BIOGRAPHY,' ' DAY-DREAMS,' ETC.

WITH PORTRAITS AND ILLUSTRATIONS



' Sensere quid mens rite, quid indoles
Nutrita faustis sub penetralibus
Pofset, quid August! paternus
] 1 pueros animus Nerones."

Horace : Odes, iv. 4.



LONDON
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W.

1908



TO

EDWARD AND ALFRED;

TWO DISTINGUISHED MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE —

TWO FINISHED EXAMPLES OF WHAT

ETONIANS MAY BE —

I DEDICATE THIS VOLUME, IN MEMORY OF '

THE HAPPIEST YEARS.



PREFACE

Some among us will have no difficulty in recalling the
sensations we experienced as Eton boys when we were
' called up' to translate a difficult passage that we knew
little about : we had not prepared the lesson ; we had
left the possibility of being ' called up ' to chance. The
rest of the Form witnessed our struggles amidst a
growing silence, till, at last, we reached our appointed
end, in the sentence from the desk, 'Sit down, write
out and translate your lesson, and bring it me at one
to-morrow.'

In a preface, a personal note may be permitted : I
confess that my feelings at this moment are much those
just described ; but with this all-important difference.
The boys of the Form have been replaced by Masters,
and I am about to be ' called up ' by the whole of them —
I, the single boy in the middle of them all. It counts
for very little that I have tried to prepare my lesson,
have tried to leave nothing to chance, have read end-
less books, have pestered hundreds of people with
questions innumerable, have written out and trans-
lated my lesson, not once but many times — all this
makes no difference; and to have tried one's best is
qualified by the fact that one's best may often be so
very bad. I stand now with my book in my hand, and
I see before me a whole array of distinguished men;
and a horrible feeling comes over me, that, though
much has been supplied by others, adequate advantage
has not been taken of all the help received, and that



CONTENTS

PAGES

Preface - _.-.. vii-ix

CHAPTER I
Some notes on Dames and Dames' houses : a retrospect - 1-16

CHAPTER II

The Evans family — William Evans — Jane Evans' reminiscences,
1839 — William Evans founds the House: his system: his
description of Dames' houses at this date - - 17-32

CHAPTER III

William Evans' first years as a Dame — The construction of the
Hall — Manners and customs of the boys of the period —
Annie and Jane Evans — The institution of ' Passing ' - 33-47

CHAPTER IV

Reminiscences of the earlier years of the House — Letters from

A. D. Coleridge, Lord Cottesloe, and the Dean of Ripon 48-65

CHAPTER V

1844-52 — Extracts from the Eton diaries of Sir R. T. White-
Thomson and Lord Wei by — Letters from Lord Redesdale,
C J. Cornish, and Lord Rendel - - - . 66-86

CHAPTER VI

Annie Evans gradually assumes control of the House — The
advent of boys from Coleridge's — The two sisters, Annie
and Jane Evans — The founding of the House Library —
Letters from T. F. Halsey, J. F. F. Horner, and the Earl
of Cranbrook — The Committee of boys known as ' The
Library' - - - 87-103

xi



xii CONTENTS

CHAPTER VII

PAGES

The ' Boards ' and the House Books — Aquatics in the 'forties-
Letter from R. H. Denne : football - - - 104-114

CHAPTER VIII
Aquatics, 1852-69 — Earlier races — The Cup for House Fours —
Check nights — Oppidan Dinner— New races — The Volun-
teers — The House Shooting Cup - - - 115-125

CHAPTER IX

Football, 1855-68 — The House Football Cup — House colours —
The Steeplechase and School athletics — The Beagles : letter
from Lord Knaresborough - - - - 126-142

CHAPTER X
The revival of cricket at Eton — The House Cricket Cup,

1860-71 .. - - - 143-153

CHAPTER XI
Reminiscences, 1853-68 — Letters from Earl Cadogan, Sir Neville
Lyttelton, A. E. Gathorne-Hardy, Colonel W. S. Kenyon-
Slaney, Spencer Lyttelton, Sir Edward Hamilton, Sir
Hubert Parry, Lord Knaresborough, Colonel R. F. Meysey-
Thompson, Viscount Esher, and G. G. Greenwood — The
Musical Society — Stephen J. Fremantle — Evelyn F.
Alexander ...... 154-175

CHAPTER XII
Annie Evans — The two sisters carry on the House in William
Evans' absence — Annie Evans' illness and death, 1871 —
Her character and work — A letter from a boy to his sister —
Jane Evans assumes chief control of the House - 176-188

CHAPTER XIII

Anni Mirabiles, 1872-76 — Football — Cricket — Aquatics —

Racquets — Fives - - - 189-212

CHAPTER XIV
Reminiscences, 1865-77 — Letters from Henry N. Gladstone,
Herbert Gladstone, C. C. Lacaita, Edward Lyttelton, Alfred
Lyttelton, Herbert Edward Ryle (Bishop of Winchester),
C. T. Abraham, Bernard Holland, and Lord Farrer — Robert
Buchanan-Riddell ..... 213-246



CONTENTS xiii

CHAPTER XV

PAGES

The House in 1877 — William Evans — His illness and death —
His character and work — Jane Evans decides to carry on
the House, and becomes Dame - - - - 247-258

CHAPTER XVI

Samuel Evans' position — Jane Evans makes various changes in
the House — 'The Library' — The conduct of the House in
Jane Evans' absence — The Breakfasts — The liberality of the
Evans - - - - 259-276

CHAPTER XVII
The House Debating Society - - - _ 277-297

CHAPTER XVIII
House-matches and Athletics, 1878-90 - . - 298-307

CHAPTER XIX
Jane Evans' diaries, 1878-90 (first portion) - - - 308-326

CHAPTER XX

Reminiscences, 1878-90 — Letters from E. Hobhouse, J. A.
Pixley, E. D. Hildyard, the Earl of Arran^ Horace Marshall,
and J. R. Moreton Macdonald - - - - 327-337

CHAPTER XXI
Miscellanea - - - - 338-357

CHAPTER XXII
Jane Evans' diaries, 1891-1900 (second portion) - - 358-380

CHAPTER XXIII
The Portrait - - - - 381-390

CHAPTER XXIV
House-matches and Athletics, 1891-1905 - - _ 391-410

CHAPTER XXV

Reminiscences, 1890-1906 — The character of the House — Letters
from S. J. Selwyn, G. E. Bromley-Martin, Charles Lyell,
Lawrence-Buxton, M. F. Blake, C. Clifton Brown, F. Lacaita,
and E. V. Gibbs - - - 411-429



xiv CONTENTS

CHAPTER XXVI

PAGES

Samuel Evans — Jane Evans' illness and death — Sidney Evans

has charge of the House — The end - - - 430-444

APPENDICES

I. List of the Captains of the House - - - . 445

II. A List of those who were Captains of the House Aquatics

and who kept the Boating Book _ . . 447

III. A List of those who kept the House Football Book from
its institution in 1855 to the date of the founding of the
Football Cup in i860 - - - 448

IV. Table showing the position of the House in the Football
Ties from the date when the House Football Cup was
started in i860 - - - 449

V. List of former Members of Evans', eighty-three in number,

who served in South Africa, 1899- 1902 - - -451

VI. The names that appear upon the ' Boards ' - - 453

VII. Rules of the House Library _ - . _ 460

VIII. Rules of the House Debating Society - - - 461

Index .. - ... 463



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



FACING PAGE

William Evans, from the Portrait by F. G. Cotman,
1877, IN the Possession of Sidney V. Evans, Esq.,
Eton College {J)hotogravure) - - - frontispiece

Mrs. William Evans, from the Portrait by Margaret
Carpenter, 1830, in the Possession of Sidney V.

Evans, Esq., Eton College - - - - 24

*The Hall - - - - 36

*The Cottage - - - - 38

' Evans' ' - - - - - - - - 104

The Winners of the Pulling in 1862 - - - 120

*The House Eleven in 1865 - - - - - 134

*' Over-the-Way ' - .-.. 176

*Annie Evans, from a Photograph taken in 1865 - 180

*The House Group in 1875 - - - 190

*The House Eleven in 1872 - - - 194

*The House Eleven in 1874 - - - - - 198

*The House Four in 1875 - - - - - 208

*The House Eleven in 1888 - - - - - 302

Jane Evans, from the Portrait by John S. Sargent,
R.A., now the Property of the Provost and Fellows

OF THE College {photogravure) - . - . 390

*ViEw FROM South Meadow - - - 392

*The House Eleven in 1904 - - - 396

*'The Door' - - - - 440

The illustrations marked * are reproduced from photographs
taken by Messrs. Hills and Saunders of Eton.



ANNALS OF AN ETON HOUSE



CHAPTER I

SOME NOTES ON DAMES AND DAMES' HOUSES : A
RETROSPECT

To those who are unable to claim the name by which
many of us set such infinite store, and whose know-
ledge of Eton is confined to a single visit on some
great holiday, few things are more puzzling than the
terms we Etonians use so glibly and that are current
in the daily life of the School. Every school has its
slang; but the terms referred to can scarcely be so
dismissed : they have passed the lips of Eton boys
and Eton masters for generations, their origin un-
questioned, their meaning undefined, and many of
them seem destined to continue in use in the genera-
tions still to come, by Eton boys and Eton masters
who are as yet unborn. And the strange thing about
these terms to an outsider is that the phraseology of
the place seems to be governed by opposites. It is
not at once apparent why boys confined indoors are
said to be 'staying out'; why the day is divided into
chronological periods often in direct contradiction with
the hours; why the year has three 'halves'; or why,
again, that moving crowd, answering ' Here, Sir,' to
the Head Master's call, is said to be attending 'Absence.'
It is all very strange, perhaps, like the name of ' Pop,'

I



2 DAMES AND DAMES' HOUSES

or that game in which the ball itself is seen only at
intervals, which is played against a wall, but which is
yet called football. They belong, doubtless, to the
domain of the genius loci; they have been often
noticed ; but to the stranger they must remain as
much a mystery as the bewildering intricacies of
unending toil that constitute the day's work of a
so-called idle Eton boy.

And if this phraseology is for the most part likely
to live, one term, in constant use for centuries, though
still apparently struggling hard for life, has come now
to its appointed end. The visitor aforesaid may have
been puzzled by much, but he was puzzled the more
when he learnt that the ' Dames ' were playing the
'Tutors' in 'the Field,' and still further, perhaps,
when he was introduced to one spoken of as * my
Dame,' but yet addressed as ' Sir.' There was nothing
feminine, much less effeminate, about that manly form ;
yet was he termed officially *a Dame'; his very house
was a Dame's House; he was called by all 'my Dame,'
— William Evans, for instance, height well over six
foot and weight some fifteen stone, a Dame : there was
something very funny about that ! The other terms
might look after themselves, but this one surely needed
some explanation.

And so it does, and the more so because the old
term in its old sense is dead. It may continue to be
applied, in spite of all enactments, it may take an un-
conscionable time in dying; but in a few years the
very name will in all likelihood be without meaning
in the School, and survive only as the title of a
Matron of a House. The last of the real Dames' has
closed its doors, and because of this and because of
the halo that surrounds its name, an effort shall be
made to tell its story — to collect such details of its
history as may be possible; to piece together facts
about its busy life of nearly seventy happy years ; to



EARLY HISTORY OF DAMES' HOUSES 3

tell of those who ruled over it, and of those who once
peopled its walls, who added to its fame, who loved it
— to do this in halting phrases, doubtless, but in all
sincerity and truth. The last of the Dames* — the last,
the oldest, the most famous of them all — Evans' in
Keate's Lane, has passed away. Let us set out,
therefore, on our task ere the Dustman comes alon
and scatters all to the four winds.

At the outset, then, and for the better understanding
of what follows, it seems necessary to preface this story
with a short historical retrospect. We are to deal
with the last of the Dames. What do we know of
those who first held the title ? Not very much. Such
data as are procurable at this distance of time are con-
fused, nebulous, not easily to be laid hold of at all.
One may probe about among old leases and convey-
ances, one may study the tenure of this or that bit of
property, one may seek to rebuild in fancy this or
that demolished house, or wander along boundaries
very ill defined ; but when one spreads out the
material collected and turns on to it present-day
light, the answer is much that of an illusive smile
when we hoped for speech. Still, a few things may
be set down for what they are worth.*

The original Statutes leave us in no doubt as to the
wishes of the King when he put his hand to the first
Charter of Foundation in 1440. He hoped that his
College would become a great centre of education for

* Among the various works consulted for what follows have been :
History of Eton College, Sir H. C. Maxwell Lyte ; Me>noirs of
Celebrated Etonians, Jesse ; Etoniana, Collins ; Memoirs of E?ni?tent
Etonians, Sir E. Creasy; A History of Etott College, Lionel Cust;
Seven Years at Eton, Brinsley Richards ; Eto?t in the Forties, A. D.
Coleridge ; Fasti Etonenses, A. C. Benson ; Memories of Eton and
Etoftians, Lubbock ; Memoirs of Rev. F. Hodgson; Re/niniscences of
Williajn Rogers ; A Guide to the Buildi?tgs of Eto?t Colleoe, R. A.
Austen- Leigh ; Etoniana, R. A. Austen- Leigh ; Report and Minutes
of Evidc7ice taken before the Public School Commissioners, 1864;
Regulations of the New Governing Body, 1872.



4 DAMES AND DAMES' HOUSES

the whole country. It was not to be confined to the
actual Foundationers : there were to be others besides
these — Cormneiisalcs, they were called, * the sons of
noblemen and of special friends of the College,' to the
number of twenty, who were to be allowed to sleep
and board in the College so long as no expense was
incurred for them beyond that of their instruction in
grammar, while there was also to be another class of
Comraensales who were to be allowed to dine at the
third table in Hall with the scholars and choristers.
These last were Commoners, the former being Gentle-
men-Commoners, having the right of dining at the
table with the Chaplain, Usher, and Clerk.

Such were the conditions, so to speak, within the
walls. Outside there was something different, for
Henry's scheme was a comprehensive one. The King
bought up all the available ground in the immediate
vicinity, together with the private houses, gardens,
and fields, and made these over to the Provost and
Fellows of the College by a series of grants. These
properties were to form a portion of the endowment
of the College ; the houses, which were none other
than the forerunners of our Dames' houses, affording
accommodation for those who should resort to Eton
for the teaching that was offered.

It is very difficult now to determine the extent of
these original grants, and for this reason. The Manor
of Eton never fell to the College, and so it is that the
various Houses are in some cases held from the Crown,
in others from the College, and in some, again, from
the Lord of the Manor, the matter being further
complicated by later transfers of property either by
purchase or exchange.

Mr. R. A. Austen-Leigh, than whom no better
authority exists in such matters, points out in various
letters to the writer that, as regards the Manor of
Eton, there seems a strong probability that there were



THE KING'S PURCHASES OF LAND 5

originally two Manors, if such is possible, in one place,
viz., Eton Gildables and Eton Stockdales-cum-Cole-
norton. The second of these is now the * Lord of the
Manor ' property. It is probable, therefore, if the
foregoing surmise is correct, that Henry bought
up Eton Gildables.

As regards the quarters from which the houses are
* held,' the following deserves to be mentioned. The
house at the bottom of Common Lane, which was
built by John Hawtrey in 1862 and afterwards occupied
by Mr. Warre, is Crown property ; while the houses
now known as Williams', Stone's, and Broadbent's
are all on Lord of the Manor property. Similarly,
Godolphin and Holland House were only acquired
by the College about the year 1870, and Tatham's,
recently pulled down, was until 1905 Lord of the
Manor property.* From this point the block of build-
ings reaching South to Keate's Lane and West as far
as Keate's House was Crown property until 1845,
being known as Clock Close. Lastly, the house now
known as Wells', at the South-East corner of Keate's
Lane, was, until quite recently, freehold.

It is unnecessary to give further examples ; but of
the land now occupied by Boarding Houses, the only
sites that may always have been in the hands of the
College would be the ground round the Chapel grave-
yard, that is, between that and Baldwin's Shore, and
the site of Gulliver's, Jordley's, Hodgson House,
and, lastly, Evans'.

It remains to be said, to complete these somewhat
dry but not unnecessary details, that the College does
not appear often to have themselves built the houses
that later on became Boarding Houses, but usually
adopted the plan of letting the land on building leases,
the Masters, or others, finding the money for building.
Among the sites so let were those in Weston's Yard,

* The site is being utilized for the South African War Memorial.



6 DAMES AND DAMES' HOUSES

others on the right-hand side going down Common
Lane, and the ground on which the New Schools now
stand.

The Scholars attending the School from outside and
finding accommodation in the houses referred to were,
with those attached to the Foundation, equally known
as Commensales, or Oppidans, though the earliest
mention of Oppidans, as such, does not occur until a
century later, in an Eton audit-book of 1557 1558,
Malim also using the word in his account of the daily
life of the School, 1561.

The earliest Oppidan of whom we know anything is
one, William Paston, who was at Eton in 1478, and
who, it appears, must have found lodging at a house
kept by a lady whom he refers to as his * hostess.'
Writing to his brother, he says, ' Furthermore, certify-
ing you as to the 13s. 4d., which ye sent by a gentle-
man's man for my board, called Thomas Newton, was
delivered to mine hostess.' And he goes on, 'And as
for the young gentlewoman, I will certify you how I
first fell in acquaintance with her. Her father is dead ;
there be two sisters of them : the elder is just wedded,
at which the wedding I was with mine hostess.' We
certainly seem to have here not only the words of one
of the first Oppidans, but a suggestive reference to
one of the first of the Dames.

Henry had been long dead, and Eton had passed
through many vicissitudes, notably its attempted sup-
pression by Edward IV., ere the numbers attending
the School increased to any very great extent. Never-
theless, as early as the middle of the sixteenth Century,
we hear of many of the greater families sending their
sons there, while a few years later the numbers had so
far increased thai it became the custom of the Provost
and Fellows to take one or two boys as boarders in
their houses. Again at the date of the Dissolution of
the Monasteries a large inllux of students occurred,



ORIGIN OF THE DAME SYSTEM 7

and early in the following century we hear of the
School being * very much thronged by the young
nobility,' The lodging, or boarding, houses were
filling up, and they are spoken of as being kept by
'Dames' or 'Dominies,' the latter title being used
when there was a male head of the establishment,
though, later on, the term * Dame' was equally applied
without reference to sex.* We learn, too, that the
Head Master and the Usher had long been unable to
cope with the work : assistant masters were appointed,
and the building of the first Upper School was begun
(1665) in order to find accommodation for the increasing
number of Oppidans. At this same date the assistant
masters were in some instances taking pupils in their
houses, though such did not become general until
many years later.! The province of the Master
appears to have been regarded as lying in teaching
only and not in keeping house, and it is in this fact
that we have the real origin of the Dame system, a
system which must not be supposed to have existed at
Eton and nowhere else, for it certainly did so at
Harrow and at Rugby, among other schools, while to
this day it has its place in certain schools in America.t
At Eton, as we know, the Dame system has now been
swept away and the Tutor keeps the house, the diffi-
culty of the housekeeping being got over by the insti-
tution of that most useful body, the Matrons.

Another century went by, and a considerable altera-
tion had already taken place in the scheme of education.

* The terms Boarding Masters and Boarding Dames occur in
the Church Registers.

t The assistant masters were not allowed to keep boarding-houses
in 1766, and, while there is no record of when they first began to
compete with the Dames in this respect, the fact of their doing so is
mentioned as a recent innovation in 1824.

X The Dame system may possibly have been imported from Eton ;
in the case of Harrow by a succession of Etonian Head Masters, and
in that of Rugby by Dr. James. Mr. R. A. Austen-Leigh informs the
writer that he found the Dame system in existence at the Phillips
Andover Academy, America, in 1903.



8 DAMES AND DAMES' HOUSES

In 1766, for instance, French, drawing, and dancing
were being taught — the foreshadowing, in fact, of a
kind of ' Modern Side.' And then, again, in a docu-
ment drawn up for Thomas James in 1768-1775 appear
quite a number of terms linking us clearly with those
days. Here is one which might have been written
yesterday : * On finding any boys missing, the prae-
posters enquire the reason of their absence at the
Dames who keep the boarding Houses, and bring an
excuse for it in the Dame's handwriting.* There is
even a reference here to * staying-out,' though the
writer seems to have thought better of it, for it is
struck out in the original manuscript.

At this same date (1766) there were already no less
than thirteen boarding Houses, three of which were
kept by Dominies and the rest by Dames of the other
sex, while there were eight assistant masters employed
in teaching. The boys are spoken of as preparing
their lessons in the boarding Houses, and the school
hours, on what we should call 'whole school days,
were almost identical with those of our own time.
These hours were, on the stricter working days,
8 to 9, II to 12, 3 to 4, and 5 to 6. Tuesday was a
whole holiday, Thursday a half-holiday, and on
Saturday there was * play at 4.' For all we know,
Friday may have been reckoned ' black,' and in summer
there was certainly Absence at 6 in the evenings on
half and whole holidays.

It is unnecessary to refer here to the condition of
College, or to Long Chamber and its many scandals,
save in so far as the Collegers were themselves con-
nected with the Dames' Houses. In the early part
of the last century the whole atmosphere of College
was bad. For seventy Scholars there were only four
dormitories. In Long Chamber, where fifty-two boys
were supposed to be accommodated, there were
neither chairs nor tables, only beds, these being made



COLLEGERS AND DAMES' HOUSES 9

in the mornings by the Lower boys. Water had to
be fetched from the pump in the yard, and tallow
candles, from one or other of the Dames' Houses,
were usually stuck on to the back of a book, as no
candlesticks were provided. ' When,' writes a boy at
this date, * I wished to obtain water for my own use, I
was told that the Sixth Form and the Liberty only had
this privilege in College, and that any ablutions of
mine must take place at my Dame's. On arriving
there, I found a room of the barest description, with
a sanded floor, called the Collegers' room.' The food
in Hall was of inferior quality, and varied little from
day to day, further supplies being brought in from
the Dames' Houses. A Dame's was looked upon at
this date as a place of refuge, the holder of a House
having to undertake 'for himself, his assigns, and
undertenants, to admit a certain number of King's



Online LibraryErnest Gambier-ParryAnnals of an Eton house, with some notes on the Evans family → online text (page 1 of 38)