20th January 2019 marked the 160th anniversary of Wellington College. This week, we have celebrated with a series of readings, a rousing rendition of the school song, and a foray into the archives to explore Wellington through the decades.
Students and staff have reflected on how much the College has changed since it welcomed its first pupils on 20th January1859, and on how much remains the same. Speaking at the official inauguration, nine days after the College opened its doors to pupils, Queen Victoria exhorted the first Wellingtonians to work and live with ‘steady industry and honourable conduct’ and in ‘their behaviour to each other’ to ‘earn a character for the College worthy of the name it bears’. 160 years on, Wellington’s staff and students continue to live by these words and remain true to the College values of Kindness, Respect, Courage, Integrity and Responsibility, all of which have their origins in the words uttered by Queen Victoria 160 years ago.
During assembly on Monday, Julian Thomas asked students to imagine what it would have been like arriving at Wellington as one of the first Foundationers in1859. We heard an extract from Augustus Hornsby’s ‘Recollections’, written 60 years after Wellington ‘first became alma mater to a ragtag and bobtail of boys of various ages from all corners of the dominions’. Hornsby described arriving via a ‘little station’ and travelling ‘three quarters of a mile across the dreary sodden moor’ – for, while the buildings were as magnificent then as they are now, the surrounding landscape took time to grow into its present-day splendour.
Recalling his first meeting in Great School, Hornsby describes how each Foundationer answered to their name and ‘became the first fruits of that nurturing mother whose boys have since borne themselves all over the world, even to the uttermost parts’.
160 years on, Wellington College is a ‘nurturing mother’ to both girls and boys and we are proud to be part of a family of schools that extends ‘all over the world’. We know that Wellingtonians in our schools in China and Thailand and the students at Eagle House and at our academies in Wiltshire, will share in our birthday celebrations this week.
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