At the end of the Christmas
Quarter, nineteen Sixth Form pupils from Oundle School gathered outside
Westminster Abbey to embark on a literary journey around London.
Pupil, Emma Kemsley-Pain (17)
commented, “Our English teacher, Mr
Hipperson’s enthusiasm was infectious. In Westminster
Abbey, the vast majority made a bee-line for Poets’ Corner, where we were able
to view both the resting places and the memorials to some of the literary
figures who have had such a huge impact on British culture and its evolution.”
From the remains of Chaucer, the
pupils began a journey through London as the ‘Father of the English Language’
himself would have seen it.
Emma added, “Walking along the Strand in an attempt to imagine peaceable green
fields and tranquil countryside while the hubbub of London surrounded us was
tricky to say the least, but we were inspired by the images Mr Hipperson
The afternoon brought with it the
opportunity to visit UCL, a university which many of the Lower Sixth pupils are
considering as a prospective university. The group were fortunate to enjoy a
lecture on Chaucer delivered by Dr Marilyn Corrie during their visit. Dr Corrie
gave them an insight into how Chaucer created celebrity status for himself,
which had never happened before in the world of literature. It was this status that
immortalised him as a figurehead for British literature, Dr Corrie claimed, and
not the actual quality of his writings, which was similar to many of his
English teacher, Harriet Hopper
commented, “Debates and interpretations
regarding Chaucer’s texts quickly ensued and this proved to be a very
Whilst several members of the
group continued the walking tour some went ice-skating at Somerset House. Reconvening
at the Garrick Theatre, pupils enjoyed a gripping production of ’12 Angry Men’.
The following morning the group met
up at The Dickens Museum.
Emma added, “Whilst studying an author it is rare to get such a valuable glimpse
into their life. The museum provided context and depth to those currently
studying Dickens and incited interest in those who are not.”
The tour was followed by a guided walk
through Dickensian London, in particular through the streets through which
Dickens walked, in order to stimulate inspiration for Oliver Twist, which helped pupils begin to comprehend the poverty
stricken London that Dickens knew: a London rife with disease, famine and
The afternoon was dedicated to William Shakespeare. Standing on a traffic
island by the Barbican doesn’t seem to be an event noteworthy in any respect
yet it was in this spot that it is thought Shakespeare wrote Othello. Pupils stood marvelling at the
relatively nondescript area which had sent shockwaves through Britain.
Their next stop was the Globe, at
which they were given a tour by a very knowledgeable, if slightly eccentric,
tour guide, learning vast amounts about the reality of theatre during
Shakespeare’s lifetime and the practicalities of being a playwright: what
people want, their expectations and catering to an audience of every echelon of
The final morning began at the British Library with a fascinating workshop on
‘Ways of Reading’. This absorbing talk, given by Julian Walker, encouraged
those studying English to consider how
they read and how this affects their experience. They were challenged to think
about the author’s intentions when penning a work of literature and whether
these intentions ought to supersede the reader’s prerogative to read flexibly.
They were also given the opportunity to do some analytical work from the
original manuscripts and first editions of Wilde, Wordsworth, Shakespeare and
Hardy which provoked thought on how a text evolves through time according to
the author’s passage through life and whether this is also the case with the
Emma concluded, “The trip concluded with a trip to Keats’
house in Hampstead. As with the Dickens museum, we were able to ascertain
valuable context which we would never have got the chance to learn otherwise.
The trip was certainly a very valuable experience; providing depth and breadth
to our knowledge and understanding of the quintessential British literary
figures and their significance.”
Publicity and Press Relations Officer
Background Information on Oundle School
School is situated in the quintessentially English Market town from which it
takes its name. The School's buildings, dating from the seventeenth to the
twenty-first century, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large
extent, its campus.
School's history goes back to 1556 when Sir William Laxton, Master of the
Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded
the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876,
the Grocers' Company decided to divide the School into two parts: Laxton
Grammar School, mainly for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School,
mainly for pupils from further afield. However, to mark the new millennium, the
Governing Body decided to reunite the two schools under the common name of
Oundle School, with Laxton as a House for day-pupils.
School is now able to offer a range of educational possibilities to meet
contemporary needs: co-educational day or boarding education, with Laxton
Junior as a 4-11 day school, and Oundle School as a boarding and day school,
with entry at 11, 13 or into the Sixth Form.