Friday, 31 March 2017

Sunday Images / Thirty Years On! A Private View of Public Schools by Mark Draisey / VIDEO: 1980s photographs go behind the scenes at Britain's most elite boarding ...


The British public school system has, for centuries, been the envy of the civilized world. Not only for its high standards of education, but also for its unyielding propensity for producing Empire builders and leaders in the fields of politics, science, economics, sport and the arts. Over the course of centuries, public schools have accumulated a bewildering array of quirky traditions. With the possible exception of the Church, no institutions so fervently hold onto their rituals, customs and costumes as the public schools, be it the Tudor uniforms of Christ's Hospital and the straw hats of Harrow, or the Eton Wall Game and Wincoll football. This, combined with often magnificent buildings set in the most beautiful of British countryside, means that they are remarkably visually interesting. In the late 1980s, photographer Mark Draisey was given privileged access to these usually closed and private worlds, to produce a stunning record of life inside institutions that were, as a rule, out of bounds to the majority of the population. This collection was taken at a time just prior to major changes in the boarding house conditions and the general modernisation of facilities at many of the schools, brought about by a more competitive market, plus the introduction of girls into these once male dominated institutions. This supremely evocative collection is a unique insight into the life within twenty-five of Britain's leading boy's public schools just before they changed forever. Images of austere dormitories and bleak bathrooms, beagling on the moors and Sunday Chapel, cadet training and early morning rowing, will remind thousands of Spartan but more certain times when tradition and eccentricity mingled with educational excellence to produce generations of boys destined to succeed.

Mark Draisey was born in 1962 and grew up in South West London attending schools in both the private and state system. His fascination for British public schools began whilst he was studying illustration and photography at Brighton Polytechnic, and began this project in his final year as part of his degree. He now works as a successful illustrator and caricaturist for all aspects of the media from his home in Bath.


A Private View of Public Schools: Photographs by Mark Draisey
Above, Eton: The Oppidan Wall, or team, who play against College in the St. Andrew's Day Wall Game. The Eton Wall Game has been played here since at least 1766 and is unique to the school as it can only be played alongside the brick wall on College Field. Its rules are numerous and complex and are really only ever understood by those who play it.

Boys relaxing on a summer afternoon in 'Half Housey' dress, Christ's Hospital

Above, Eton: Rowers, or wet bobs, in their traditional Stand Naval uniforms worn for the 

procession of boats on the Fourth of June

The Ampleforth Beagles were run by Ampleforth school until 1994, but since the Hunting Act of 2004, the pack is now managed by a local hunt and a group of Old Amplefordians.

Rugby School. Rugby's 1st XI cricketers are unique in wearing duck-egg blue shirts instead of the standard white ones. It used to be the case, that all cricket teams wore different colours before the end of the 19th century.

Harrow. Calling the register is known as 'Bill' and takes place in each house daily. However, on Speech Day, it is a more ceremonial occasion where the whole school files passed the Head Master and Head Boy, raising their hats as their name is read out. For this day only, boys are allowed to wear buttonholes and fancy waistcoats of their choosing with their Sunday dress.

Haileybury. The rackets court, a forerunner to squash, is unique at Haileybury because of its double viewing gallery

Radley. Lunch in the dining hall where boys still wear their gowns. A scene reminiscent of that of Hogwarts from Harry Potter.

Eton: The Eton Wall Game has been played here since at least 1766 and is unique to the school as it can only be played alongside the brick wall on College Field. Its rules are numerous and complex and are really only ever understood by those who play it.
Radley. The 1st XI cricketers and 1st VIII oarsmen sport discrete plain white blazers with only an embroidered magenta badge linking them to their sport.




1980s photographs go behind the scenes at Britain's most elite boarding schools
A new film taking a look at the very private world of British public schools is causing a stir in certain circles. But while The Riot Club, starring Douglas Booth and Sam Claflin, depicts a dark side to life as a privileged student a charming photography book has also been released documenting a more innocent time at some of the nation's finest learning establishments.

In the late 1980s photographer Mark Draisey was given access to document the British public school system.

Gaining an inside view of this usually closed and private world allowed him to produce a stunning record of life inside institutions that were, as a rule, out of bounds to the majority of the population.

The evocative collection - bought together for upcoming book Thirty Years On! A private view of public schools - is a unique insight into the life within twenty-five of Britain's leading boy's public schools just before they changed forever.

Mark's images were taken at a time just prior to major changes in the boarding house conditions and the general modernisation of facilities at many of the schools, brought about by a more competitive market, plus the introduction of girls into these once male dominated institutions.

Images of austere dormitories and bleak bathrooms, beagling on the moors and Sunday chapel, cadet training and early morning rowing, will remind thousands of times when tradition and eccentricity mingled with educational excellence to produce generations of boys destined to succeed.

The British public school system prides itself on the high standards of education, and also for producing leaders in the fields of politics, science, economics, sport and the arts.

Over the course of centuries, public schools have accumulated a bewildering array of quirky traditions. With the possible exception of the church, no institutions so fervently hold onto their rituals, customs and costumes as the public schools, be it the Tudor uniforms of Christ's Hospital and the straw hats of Harrow, or the Eton Wall Game and Wincoll football. This, combined with often magnificent buildings set in the most beautiful of British countryside, means that they are remarkably visually interesting.

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