Haileybury boasts a rich architectural heritage stemming back over 200 years. From the Wilkins Quad and classical South Front of 1809 to the Chapel of the 1870s and Memorial Hall of 1932, the campus rewards careful study and reflection.
“The traveller by coach from London to Hertford a century or more ago, had he chanced to look up from his book two or three miles from his destination, might have seen through the trees to the right of the road the gleam of a long, low line of white buildings. A few minutes later, down a broad, grassy avenue, he could have caught a glimpse of an imposing Ionic Portico, the entrance to the Honourable East India Company’s recently built College at Haileybury”
Wilfrid Blunt – The Haileybury Buildings (1936)
The architect of the original College was William Wilkins, who in 1804 had designed Downing College, Cambridge, and was later to design the National Gallery in London.
Wilkins was inspired by Greek architecture, its elegance, proportion and understated dignity – all of which is reflected in the College he designed for the East India Company at Haileybury.
The Quad and Terrace (1809)
Completed in 1809, the Quadrangle is considered the largest in Europe. It includes the oldest academic buildings of Haileybury and the South Front takes its style and detail cues from the Erechtheon in Athens.
At 430 feet long, the South Front is broken by three Ionic porticoes faced with Portland stone. While cost dictated that the remainder of the Quad be built of stock brickwork, there is sufficient detail work around its windows and doorways to reinforce Wilkins’s belief in ancient reference and proportion.
The Chapel (1877)
Built in 1877, the Chapel is the most dominant of all the buildings at Haileybury. While many have argued that the building itself is disproportionate to the rest of the Quadrangle in terms of both scale and its blend of Romanesque and Byzantine style, the Chapel is the centrepiece of the School both architecturally and spiritually.
Internally, it is as dramatic as externally it is imposing. Unusually among public schools, there is room inside to bring the whole school together with seats to spare and, when the Klais organ is played and all are in full song, the Chapel enchants and enraptures all who are fortunate to sit within it.
A particular feature of the Chapel is its wonderful collection of stained glass windows, which must be seen to be appreciated. As well as a pair of windows celebrating the 150th anniversary of Haileybury. Windows have also been installed celebrating those Haileyburians who fought and died in conflict during the First World War.
Memorial Hall (1932)
In 1921, the War Memorial Committee met to discuss the possibility of building a new Dining Hall at Haileybury.
After a number of delays, a design was eventually chosen featuring the work of Sir Herbert Baker whose many successes included work with Sir Edwin Lutyens in New Delhi. Work started in October 1930 and the Hall was opened by the Duke and Duchess of York on 7 July 1932.
Memorial Hall, as the building is known, is refined and elegant in appearance; daily, over 700 pupils come for breakfast, lunch and supper. Beneath its shallow dome, pupils enjoy an atmosphere of simplicity and space, taking their meals at long, wooden Thompson of Kilburn refectory tables beneath the watchful eye of paintings featuring Haileybury’s Masters of the last 150 years.
The Lempriere Boards (1880s)
In a cloister on the western side of Memorial Hall, there is a curious collection of 23 wooden boards bearing the names of over 150 Haileyburians of days gone by.
These Lempriere Boards were named after a former Resident Medical Officer of the College Sick House and Sanatorium, Dr Lancelot Lempriere. Boys recovering from various ailments carved their names into the panels and occasionally also took time to carve their House badges too.
The Lempriere Boards were originally fitted in the old Sanatorium, being moved here when that building became Alban’s House in the 1970s. Although the idea pre-dates and post-dates Dr Lempriere’s time at the College, his name has long been associated with them.
The Rackets Court (1908)
Opened in 1908 by Sir Egerton Coghill, the Rackets Court is a particularly interesting example of its kind and one of Haileybury’s hidden architectural gems.
No expense was spared in its construction and its double gallery and coved ceilings cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. At first glance, the interior can look dark but closer inspection gives the reason: its walls are made entirely from marble, delivering a hard and exquisitely smooth surface for the ball.
Restored in 2012, the Rackets Court is today seen as probably the truest of all such courts and is one of only 14 in Great Britain.
Haileybury’s memorials celebrate its historic links with the military but also its fundamental commitment to service.
Walking around the school today, it is possible to see memorials to those who served and died for their country in many different countries and conflicts. Comprising over 1400 names, these include: the Indian Mutiny; the Boer War; the Great War; the Second World War and conflicts since then.
The Memorial Cross (1923), and the VC and GC Memorial (1956) take pride of place overlooking Terrace Field and Lightning Oak.
In recent years Haileybury has invested extensively in modern facilities for both boarding and educational purposes including an extension of the music block, our state-of-the-art language department, new swimming pool and our more modern Houses such as Colvin and Melvill.