“For more than five centuries Winchester has molded tough-minded English gentlemen,” LIFE magazine wrote about one of the oldest public schools in the UK in 1951. While Winchester College in Hampshire, UK has never attained the the fame of Eton or Harrow, it is safe in the knowledge that having been founded in 1382 it is “older than almost all other public schools and the model for most of them.” For more than 500 years Winchester had been “helping to perpetuate a breed of Englishmen whose authoritative bearing and strait-laced espousal of ‘fair play’ have always set them aside as a public school product”. Winchester men call themselves Wykehamists, after their founder, William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester.
Until 1984 Wykehamists were also well known for their straw boaters, or “strats” which featured students’ house colors on the band, still sported by Old Wykehamists on Winchester Day. The term “public school”, confusing to Americans as it equates to private and boarding schools here, came about because schools like Winchester were originally established to educate poor scholars who could not afford private tutoring, with a smattering of noblemen’s sons for good measure. While some now take a public school education as a signifier of snobbery, as LIFE wrote, “To Winchester men the motto ‘Manners Makyth Man’ on the school coat of arms sums it up: rugged discipline and a sound education, not noble birth, determine a man’s stature.”