On Wednesday, the 3rd May a group of us were privileged to visit Christ’s Hospital School, (CH) beautifully situated near Horsham in West Sussex and what a super day was had in the warm spring sunshine.
Through its Benevolent Fund, The Worshipful Company of Launderers, “presents” through a bursary, a pupil at the school and as such we had the unique opportunity to visit this remarkable school and meet our sponsored pupil and what a delightful young person she is. The WCoL’s “presentee” pupil has settled in and is thoroughly enjoying her time at the school. The school has a long history of encouraging admission from pupils of all backgrounds and has various methods of helping with fees through scholarships, bursaries and like our pupil, presentations via Livery Companies.
We started our tour at the laundry, where we met Jo, the manager, who explained the laundry procedures and their challenges. Well, as you can imagine, every launderer was fascinated by the equipment, the methods and how the very unusual shirts the pupils wear are hand pressed.
The school dates back to 1552 hence the uniform is unique and based around a Tudor design. Our tour host Hugo, struggled to get us out. I’m sure if we had stayed longer, we would have rolled up our sleeves and got stuck in. Top tip! Never take a group of Launderers to visit a laundry and expect them to keep to a schedule. ☹
Luckily for Jo and her highly efficient team we were called away to see The Wardrobe.
This is where the pupils are fitted out with the outer garments of the uniform. The CH uniform is historic, unique and world famous and is provided to all pupils. They wear the outer dark blue woollen coat, breeches (boys), pleated skirts (girls), white shirt with ‘bands’, yellow socks and leather belts. The girls wear a lighter jacket in summer. Recycling is very much a watch word in the Wardrobe, garments are re-used, repaired and at their very end of life, the buttons are removed to be re-used and the condemned garments are then sent to textile recyclers. Nothing is wasted.
We were then shown the school’s museum which houses a fascinating collection of historic artifacts, we could have spent more time there but our fascination with the laundry meant we were running out of time for lunch. It has to be noted that the museum, which I would recommend, can be visited by prior arrangement with the curator by emailing the school.
Lunch at Christ’s Hospital is held in a huge Dining Hall, not to mention Hogwarts, and is a rather spectacular occasion complete with high table. Four days a week, preceding lunch, and accompanied by the famous CH Band, all 900 pupils, group into their various houses with a leader holding the house banner and they literally march through the quad into the Dining Hall. It is a grand spectacle and done with the superb precision any sergeant major would be proud of.
After our tasty lunch, the group visited the beautiful Chapel and the theatre. The theatre is based on Shakespeare’s Globe and has been the venue for many a school production and professional productions too. A comedy night with Milton Jones was scheduled for the following evening.
What a pleasure and so insightful to be able to visit the school on a private tour during a regular school day. Of course, none of this would be possible without the generous donations to our Benevolent Fund by the Liverymen of this Worshipful Company – thank you. The Worshipful Company thanks everyone who made the visit possible and to our ‘presentee’ pupil, we wish her every success during her time at CH and life beyond.