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Westminster was founded in 1560 by Queen Elizabeth the first. It is a royal school and this is symbolised by the hoisting of the flag on the Queen’s birthday and a number of other events. Westminster started very small but has grown to the massive school in the centre of London it now is.
Westminster started out made up only of a headmaster, a master of scholars and 40 scholars. It was built from a converted monastery which is probably where the sense of religion and the Latin prayers in Westminster originated from.
The Latin prayers have evolved over the years to become the pure custom it now is. The Westminster Latin takes the form of the Roman equivalent of cockney in the sense it is consciously pronounced in a completely incorrect manner.
Originally the scholars had to sleep in the granary, this was in what is now Dean’s yard. They were all taught in one room which is now called School. This is because it was The School and no other part of what is now Westminster School existed.
College hall used to be the Abbots private dining hall and it was built in the 1390’s by Albert Littleton. For centuries now it has been the tradition that the Dean of Westminster is the Head of Governors of Westminster School. He would eat in the hall with all the clergyman of the abbey.
It used to be a tradition that the boys, who would eat in College Hall, would jump over the kitchen fire situated in the middle of the room. This was considered some sort of test and those who failed would almost certainly have proof of it for the rest of their lives. This fire was one of the last of its kind as future fires were situated in fireplaces in the corner of the room with the chimney above it to reduce general smoke and danger.
Also in the hall was the musicians gallery, here musicians would play music while the clergymen ate. The gallery has been kept as it is because it plays an important part in the history of Westminster. Also School used to be a dorm for monks and some of the walls in School were built nearly 1000 years ago!
Westminster remains the amazing school it is because of its lengthy history and the many tales passed down from generation to generation. Its many customs and practices set it aside from other schools and this is what makes it special. There are many plans for the future including a new music building (now finished) and a brand new teaching block (now finished called the Weston Building).