6. Charterhouse School

‘He never came down to our side, except on the rarest occasions.’

The boys lived in boarding houses adjacent to the school. This was common in public schools and boys often identified strongly with their houses, which were supervised by a resident master.

At Charterhouse, the houses were named after their housemasters. One of them was Girdlestonites, named after F.K.W. Girdlestone, a notable figure in the school. But it was known by the boys as Duckites, after the masters nickname – Duck.

The housemasters did not intervene much as it was thought that the boys would learn from each other how to lead, and how to follow. R.E. Grice-Hutchinson, a Duckite in the early 1900s, remembered that his housemaster ‘never came down to our side, save on the rarest occasions, other than at the official times Whenever he did come down, he always stamped with his feet so as to give good notice of his approach.’ But, if necessary, a housemaster would step in. Grice-Hutchinson recalls that Duck ‘could be downright terrifying and none of us would have dared to take the least liberty with him.

‘However, he remembered Duck very fondly: ‘on our last evening when we went in to say good-bye, he always told us that there was a bed for us whenever we wanted to come back.’


Photograph showing the exterior of Girdlestoneitesor Duckites in 1882. Charterhouse School Archive, 162/1/2.

From the memoirs of
R.E. Grice-Hutchinson, 1898-1904,
Charterhouse School Archive, 180/2/3.

Portrait of Frederic Kennedy Girdlestone, fondly known as ‘Duck’, housemaster of Girdlestoneites from 1867-1912. Painted by John Collier, 1911, reproduced with the kind permission of the Headmaster and Governing Body of Charterhouse School.


Photograph showing the Girdlestoneite Writing School, including sports photos and trophies, in the early twentieth century. From Duckite Scrapbook, Charterhouse School Archive, 67/24.


A cartoon from a school magazine showing boys at lunch in a school boarding house. ‘1.30-2pm Lunch’, The Greyfriar, 1911, p.168.


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