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Haileybury's buildings

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. This page tells you a little more about some of the buildings at Haileybury, and the stories behind them.

Haileybury's buildings

"A dignified place to live"

"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)

Blunt's hauntingly bucolic image of the earliest days of the College captures well the understated majesty of William Wilkins' classical frontage which, despite the addition of the later Chapel building, still stands today much as originally intended.

There is no doubt that Haileybury boasts a wonderful architectural heritage - a built legacy which Blunt lovingly describes as "a dignified place to live in".

A selection of some of Haileybury's buildings, and the history behind them, is highlighted below - but the campus has so much more to see for those who come to look around.

William Wilkins - architect

The architect of the original College (see Quad and Terrace, below) was William Wilkins, who in 1804 had designed Downing College,Cambridge and was later to design the equally impressive National Gallery in London.

Wilkins was inspired by Greek architecture, its elegance, proportion and understated dignity; all of which come out in the new College he designed for the East India Company at Haileybury.

The Quad and Terrace - 1809

Completed in 1809, the Quadrangle is said by some to be the largest in Europe at 120 yards square. It includes round its perimeter the oldest academic buildings of Haileybury and its south side, 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; it is certainly Haileybury's most majestic feature. 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' belief in ancient reference and proportion.

The Chapel - 1877

Built in 1877, the Chapel is arguably 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 nonetheless the centrepiece of the College 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 College 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, recently two windows have been installed as part of the College's commemoration of the First World War, celebrating those Haileyburians who fought and died in conflict around the world.

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 7th July 1932.

Memorial Hall, as the building is known, is refined and elegant in appearance; daily, over 700 pupils come three times for breakfast, lunch and supper. Inside, 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 onwards

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.

Reading these names, one can easily lose oneself in quiet reflection, wondering what became of each of these boys and what paths they chose in the wider world which was to embrace them all those years ago.

The Rackets Court - 1908

Opened in 1908 by Sir Egerton Coghill, the Rackets Court today 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 and forbidding but close inspection gives the reason: its walls are made entirely from marble, delivering a hard and exquisitely smooth surface for the ball and exceptional playing characteristics.

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.

Memorials

Haileybury's memorials in some ways are seen as the quintessence of the College, celebrating not just its historic links with the military but also its fundamental commitment to service.

Walking around the College 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.

On the Terrace, the Memorial Cross, erected in 1923, and the VC and GC Memorial, dating from 1956, take pride of place overlooking Terrace Field and Lightning Oak.

There is no doubt that Haileybury's memorials are a moving and fitting epitaph to all those former pupils who served and never returned.

Haileybury today

Although the College is proud of its rich architectural heritage, this does not mean we allow time to stand still.

In recent years Haileybury has invested extensively in modern facilities for both boarding and educational purposes including our recent extension to the music block, our state-of-the-art language department, our swimming pool and of course our modern Houses such as Colvin and Melvill.

The story of our buildings is very much the story of Haileybury; in the words of the school song by Arthur Gray Butler - Vivat Haileyburia!

Learn more

You can learn more about some of the buildings and their role in Haileybury life elsewhere on this website. Please do click on any of the links below to find out more.

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