Wimbledon College

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Wimbledon College buildings, taken at rear entrance
Wimbledon College
College Crest
Old Wimbledon College Badge.jpg
Old College Crest
Motto Latin: Cor numinis fons luminis
("The heart of the divine is the fount of light.")
Established January 1892
Type Voluntary aided comprehensive
Religion Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Head Master Mr Adrian Laing
Location Edge Hill
SW19 4NS
England, UK
Coordinates: 51°25′08″N 0°13′17″W / 51.4188°N 0.2215°W / 51.4188; -0.2215
Local authority Merton
DfE URN 102681 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 1250~
Gender Boys
Ages 11–18
Houses 8
Colours Maroon, Dark Green, Gold and Dark Blue
Archdiocese Southwark
Former pupils Old Wimbledonians
Publication(s) The Wimbledonian
Website www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk

Wimbledon College is a government-maintained voluntary-aided Jesuit Roman Catholic Secondary School for boys aged 11 to 19. The school is based at Edge Hill, Wimbledon, London. It was founded in 1892 "for improvement in living and learning to the greater glory of God and the common good". Its seal says in Latin, "College of the Sacred Heart, Wimbledon". It is affiliated with the Sacred Heart Church and Donhead Preparatory School, its main feeder preparatory school.



Fr John Sinnott SJ, Head Master of the College from 1937-1950

On the 18th of January 1892, in the parlour of a newly founded church's presbytery at No.3 Cranbrook Road, Thomas Lloyd started at Wimbledon College. He was the first ever student, and on that day he was to be alone. His brother, William was meant to attend alongside him, but fell ill. After the first academic year, six more students joined the Lloyd brothers. In this time the school had moved twice, once to a property on Darlaston Road and once to a building adjoining the All England Lawn Tennis Courts. In 1893 the College moved to a recently abandoned building on Edge Hill, the former site of Wimbledon School, and has never moved since. By 1900, 100 pupils were in attendance. In 1898 the Wimbledon College Army Department was established. This trained young men for entrance into Sandhurst or Woolwich. In 1914, the College dominated the Junior, Senior, and Preliminary Oxford Local Exams.

During the First World War, the College was too loose a total of 129 former pupils. On the 18th February 1922 the War Memorial at the rear of the chapel and the memorial stained glass window at the front, behind the altar, was unveiled. The memorial inscription reads: ‘To the greater glory of God and in the triumphant and loving memory of those who went from the College to die for King and Country’.

In 1921 the Prefect of Studies (Head Master), Fr John Manning SJ, oversaw the transition from Oxford Local Examinations to Oxford and Cambridge Joint Board Examinations, allowing the College to compete with the top public schools. This quelled the tendency for the brightest 15-16 year old students to leave the College for the more established Catholic schools.

Also in 1921, the house system was introduced with three houses (Fisher, More, & Campion). Later would be added Southwell. In 1929, 8 acres of field beside Coombe Lane was bought for sporting purposes.

In 1933, due to the growing number of pupils, the decision was made to buy Donhead Lodge (a building across the road from the College) and establish a preparatory school there. The 72 pupils from Lower Preparatory, Preparatory, and Elements were taken from the College and took up places at the new Wimbledon College Preparatory School (known as 'Donhead').

Fr John Sinnott SJ (OW) arrived as Prefect of Studies in 1937. Being an old boy of the College, he knew the strengths and weaknesses of it better than most.

Fr Sinnott's first decision was to attempt to gain the College recognition as an efficient school from the Board of Education, as this would allow him to take in scholarship boys from Elementary Schools. After a favourable inspection in 1938, he started to make suggested changes, such as inter-house competitions taking a more academic character (before they were based mostly around sports only), with prizes in all main subjects. Alongside this elocution lessons were organised, boys were encouraged to learn to play the violin, and a Careers Bureau was established. He also made plans for further development of the site, however, these were abandoned after the outbreak of the Second World War, as this saw tight restriction on the sale of steel and timber but for the most essential construction projects.

During the Second World War, the functioning of the College was much more disrupted than in the Great War. Fortunately, the Wimbledon College and Donhead buildings both had cellars which, with minor adjustments, were determined to be sufficient by local Air Raid Wardens. Sandbags were brought in and timber frames were used to reinforce the ceilings and as the College and Donhead were outside of the evacuation area, school was required to go on. Three weeks after the outbreak of war on the 3rd September 1939, the new school term began.

Unfortunately, because the games pitch was not very close to the bomb shelters, Games lessons were cancelled for the duration of the war and break was shortened.

Such was the disruption to lessons by increasingly frequent passings over of German bombers, that boys were required to take their books down to the cellars where lessons would continue amid the sounds of bombs exploding and anti-aircraft fire.

The College acted as an emergency feeding post, first aid centre, and the College swimming pool provided valuable water for the local fire brigade.

Tragically, on the 18th February 1944, a bomb exploded on the Convent of the of the Sisters of Mary, situated on the Downs (a road not far from the College), killing five nuns and wounding several others. Numerous windows in the College shattered, doors broke, and the roof of the College swimming pool caved in.

During all this time, Fr Sinnott was looking to the future of the College. He had concluded that the independant school model was not suitable and had applied to the Surrey County Council (at the time Wimbledon was contained within the borders of Surrey, these moved in the 1960s) for Deficiency Aided School status in January 1942 and this was granted later that year. This allowed the College be funded by the local education authority while retaining its religious character. In March 1945, fees were abolished at the request of the Surrey Educational Committee, this marked the beginning of the process of the College becoming a Voluntary Aided Grammar School, which was formally recognised in July 1948. Fr Sinnott's work safeguarded the College's future while opening it's doors to Catholic children of all backgrounds.

The College lost 58 old boys as a result of the Second World War. They are commemorated by a memorial above the door of the College Chapel.

In 1969, the College became a Voluntary Aided Comprehensive School.[3]


Old College hall which burned in 1977.
Humanities Department wing. Built while the site was owned by Anglican Preparatory Military Academy.

The College stands on a site where in 1860 John Brackenbury had purchased two large meadows below the Ridgway known as Tree and Boggy Fields. Brackenbury had helped to run Nelson House School, in Eagle House, Wimbledon High Street. His success there was such that in 1859 he took out a mortgage on the land below the Ridgway and founded the Anglican Preparatory Military Academy in 1860, also known as “Brackenbury’s”. The grounds of this college were so attractive that the school was opened to the public once a week. Among the alumni of Brackenbury's were rugby union international Henry Bryden and Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson Dickens, son of Charles Dickens. Although initially successful, Brackenbury's declined under the control of the Rev. Charles Wynn, and closed in 1887.

In 1892 the buildings of the Anglican Preparatory Military Academy purchased by the Jesuits and reopened as Wimbledon College (Though Wimbledon College had existed at other sites earlier that year).[3] During the summer holidays in 1977 the main College hall burned down. It is not quite clear what caused the fire, however, the kitchens were located in the basement of the hall and it was supposed that the fire started here.

Fr Michael Holman SJ became Head Master in 1995 and his main contributions to the school included an entire renovation of the old gym and swimming pool into a new Sports Hall, Learning Resources Centre (LRC) and IT Suite. Since Fr Adrian Porter's appointment as Fr Holman's successor, the College has undergone further changes, including a new visitors' entrance; refurbished classrooms, the addition of an electronic registration system which is used in parallel with the traditional registration system, and the movement of the LRC and IT Department to the location of the Sixth Form Centre. The Centre has been relocated to the former LRC/IT Department site.

Aerial view of the College (c.1930).



Within Jesuit schools, year groups are referred to as 'Lines' and rather than being given a number, they are given names. These names are: Figures (Y7), Rudiments (Y8), Lower Grammar (Y9), Grammar (Y10), Syntax (Y11), Poetry (Y12) and Rhetoric (Y13). Figures and Rudiments are sometimes shortened to 'Figs' and 'Ruds'. Boys in Figures, Rudiments and Lower Grammar, are placed into the 'Lower Line'. Boys in Grammar or Syntax, are placed into the 'Higher Line'. There is a Lower Line Deputy and a Higher Line Deputy, they control the Line their name refers to. Each Line (year group) has a 'Head of Line', who runs that particular line (so there are three 'Heads of Line' within the Lower Line and two within the Higher Line). Finally you have the VI Form which has its own 'Head of Sixth Form', within the VI form are Poetry and Rhetoric.

AMDG & LDS[edit]

At the top left and bottom centre of every piece of work boys must write 'AMDG' (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, translating to 'For the greater glory of God') and LDS (Laus Deo Semper, translating to 'Praise God always'). Again, this is a tradition with all Jesuit schools, not specifically Wimbledon College.

House System[edit]

[4] When boys join the College they are allocated to one of eight houses. Each house is named after a Saint.

House shields. They contain the name of the House and the House symbol.
House Abbr. Founded Colour Saint
Fisher House F 1921 Red St John Fisher
More House M 1921 Blue St Thomas More
Campion House C 1921 Green St Edmund Campion SJ
Southwell House S Unk* Yellow St Robert Southwell SJ
Owen House O 2011 Dark Green St Nicholas Owen SJ
Hurtado House H 2011 Orange St Alberto Hurtado SJ
Loyola House L 2011 Dark Blue St Ignatius of Loyola SJ
Xavier House X 2011 Purple St Francis Xavier SJ

Every house has a 'Head of House' and a 'House Captain'.

The houses also act as forms. Each year group-Figures (Y7), Rudiments (Y8), Lower Grammar (Y9), Grammar (Y10), Syntax (Y11), Poetry (Y12), and Rhetoric (Y13)- has 8 forms the names of which are simply the house they are in, added to the name. So 'Grammar, More' is one form and 'Poetry, Campion' would be another.

*= founded shortly after 1921


The College specialises in sports (especially rugby), extracurricular activities and Drama. A new music department was constructed in 2005. It is notable for its school productions and to assist in these a revolving stage has been built in the auditorium. At least one dramatic or musical show has been produced every year since 1972. The Strings Project was activated in 2005 to give 50 boys in Figures the opportunity to learn the violin, viola, cello or the double bass.[5]

The College encourages students to take part in at least two of its wide selection of extracurricular activities. These range from a Drama Club to the Chess Club, and also from a Debating Society to numerous optional school trips over the year. The College also has a selection of major and minor sports. Rugby is the biggest major sport and is played until Christmas. In 2010 Wimbledon College U13's won the Rosslyn Park National Seven's tournament, which is their biggest honour in the sport.[6] During the lent term rugby is still played along with football.[citation needed]

In the summer term rugby is no longer played. Instead cricket and athletics become the major sports. Athletics is practised at Wimbledon Park athletics track and cricket is played on the usual playing field at Coombe Lane. During the last week of the academic school year there is House Cricket tournament where all the best cricketers from the eight different houses play. Also in the last week of the school year there is a Sports day. All students participate. Years 7 and 8 have their sports day a day before years 9 and 10. The sports takes place at Wimbledon Park athletics stadium. Most track and field events are practised. The winner of the "A" team races get medals. The boy with the most medals on the day also get the "Victor Ludorum". On 4 May 2012, the U14A football team won The Collingwood Trophy, 3-2 in the final.[citation needed]

Army Cadet Force (ACF)[edit]

[7]The College has a detachment of the Army Cadet Force belonging to the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Infantry, British Army) called 136 Detachment RRF, Army Cadet Force. The ACF offers boys the opportunity to partake in activities such as field-craft, survival, map reading, first aid, weapons training, drill, sports, and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme (Bronze, Silver, and Gold).

Guild of St. Stephen[edit]

[8] The Guild of St. Stephen was started to recognise boys who had been regularly Altar serving at College mass'. Members of the Guild are eligible for a Bronze Medal which they may hang around their neck while serving in school.

College Choir[edit]

[9] The College Choir sing at school liturgies and concerts. Boys of all ages are permitted to apply for an audition, which they must pass to become members of the choir.


The Sixth Form has partnerships with the nearby Ursuline High School and Holy Cross School and Richard Challoner School in Kingston upon Thames.[10]

Prefectorial System[edit]

Every new school year, the school appoints 19 Prefects for different roles. Only those in the VI Form are able to hold a position as a Prefect. The Head Boy, Deputy Head Boy, House Captains, Chapel Prefect, Music Prefect, and Captain of Rugby are all Prefects. Beside all these positions you also have 8 regular Prefects. Prefects wear a blue tie patterned with the College shield.[citation needed]


Intermediate Colours[edit]

Intermediate Colours are generally awarded in Syntax but occasionally in Grammar for outstanding achievement and commitment to a College activity. Staff incharge of school activities such as major sports, music, drama, and service; nominate boys for colours each term. These nominations are then confirmed or rejected by the Colours Committee, ensuring that the standard required is equal across all different activities.[11] Boys who have been awarded Intermediate Colours are given a different tie, similar to the regular school tie but the colours are equally spaced whereas on the regular tie the Gold stripe is much thinner then the rest.

Half Colours & Full Colours[edit]

Half Colours are generally awarded in Poetry but occasionally in Syntax. Full Colours are generally awarded in Rhetoric but occasionally in Poetry. Both Half and Full Colours reflect the highest levels of the commitment, performance, and leadership in major school activities.[12] Boys who have been awarded Half or Full Colours are given a different tie, for Half Colours it is a Green tie patterned with the College shield and stripped gold (one stripe and then a space filled with shields, then another stripe etc.) and for Full Colours it is the same but with two stripes rather than just one.

The College Prayer[edit]

Lord, Teach us to be generous;

to serve as you deserve;

to give and not to count the cost;

to fight and not to heed the wounds;

to toil and not to seek to rest;

to labour and to ask for no reward;

save that of knowing we do your will.

Amen[citation needed]

Old Wimbledonians Association (OWA)[edit]

Old Wimbledonians Association Badge

The Old Wimbledonians Association came into being in 1905 and was originally founded by old boys of it's Alma Mater, Wimbledon College. Members of the OWA can be old boys of either Wimbledon College or Donhead Preparatory School (Donhead is the Wimbledon College Preparatory School). [13]

Notable Old Wimbledonians[edit]


Science and Medicine


Entertainment, media and the arts[edit]


Politics, public service and the law[edit]


Notable Staff[edit]

  • Fr Michael Holman SJ (OW) (Head Master, 1995-2004), Principal of Heythrop College, London.[20]
  • Richard Milward (OW) (History Master, 1945-1985), Historian.[21]
  • Fr Adrian Porter SJ (Head Master, 2004-2011), Provincial Delegate for Education within the Society of Jesus and Director of the Jesuit Institute.[22]
  • Fr John Sinnott SJ (OW) (Prefect of Studies and Head Master, 1937-1950), made significant contributions to the College while in charge, including overseeing the College becoming a Grammar School in 1944.[23][24]
  • Fr Bryan Gavan Duffy SJ (Prefect of Studies, 1923-1926), son of Sir Charles Gavan Duffy[25]
  • Herbert Thurston SJ (Prefect of Studies, 1893-1894), prolific scholar liturgical, literary, historical, and spiritual matters. Also a friend of George Tyrrell.[26]
  • Fr Conyers D'Arcy SJ (Prefect of Studies, 1926–1936), brother of Martin D'Arcy.[27]

Head Masters[edit]

A list of Prefects of Studies (before 1944) and Headmasters (after 1944) with the years they were in the role.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/page/?title=The+Beginnings+of+the+College%2C+Expansion%2C+and+The+Great+War&pid=219
  2. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/page/?title=The+College+during+the+Interwar+Years+and+World+War+Two&pid=220
  3. ^ a b Conservation Areas – Edge Hill
  4. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/page/?title=College+House+System&pid=128
  5. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/_site/data/files/Curriculum/Extra%20Curricular/398464270BA1B493AC56E0C559B4E9B6.pdf?pid=76
  6. ^ Past Winners Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens; retrieved 20 January 2013
  7. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/_site/data/files/Curriculum/Extra%20Curricular/398464270BA1B493AC56E0C559B4E9B6.pdf?pid=76
  8. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/_site/data/files/Curriculum/Extra%20Curricular/398464270BA1B493AC56E0C559B4E9B6.pdf?pid=76
  9. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/_site/data/files/Curriculum/Extra%20Curricular/398464270BA1B493AC56E0C559B4E9B6.pdf?pid=76
  10. ^ 2009 Ofsted Report on Wimbledon College at school website
  11. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/page/?title=Recognition+of+Achievement&pid=47
  12. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/page/?title=Recognition+of+Achievement&pid=47
  13. ^ http://www.oldwimbledonians.com/about_us.html
  14. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/news/2007/feb/12/obituaries.mainsection
  15. ^ David Allison from CSVascular.com, retrieved 29 June 2015
  16. ^ Tom Connors from National Centre for Biotech Information, retrieved 29 June 2015
  17. ^ Joseph James Joe McPartlin from The Scotsman, retrieved 29 June 2015
  18. ^ Mgr Nicholas Hudson appointed as new auxiliary bishop for Westminster from Archdiocese of Westminster, retrieved 6 August 2015
  19. ^ Provincial for the Society of Jesus in Great Britain; accessed 19 March 2005.
  20. ^ http://www.jesuit.org.uk/profile/michael-holman-sj
  21. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/news/2007/feb/12/obituaries.mainsection
  22. ^ http://www.jesuit.org.uk/profile/adrian-porter-sj
  23. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/page/?title=The+College+during+the+Interwar+Years+and+World+War+Two&pid=220
  24. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/page/?title=Head+Masters+of+the+College&pid=142
  25. ^ Sir Charles Gavan Duffy biography, adb.anu.edu.au; accessed 22 September 2014.
  26. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/page/?title=Head+Masters+of+the+College&pid=142
  27. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/page/?title=Head+Masters+of+the+College&pid=142
  28. ^ http://www.wimbledoncollege.org.uk/page/?title=Head+Masters+of+the+College&pid=142

External links[edit]