The College Archives has launched a new ‘Within the Archives’ podcast looking at the history of Eton College through the archival collections. It will allow the College Archives to continue sharing content during its temporary closure to visitors. 

With enough material in these collections to fill 700 metres of shelving (equivalent of seven football pitches in length if laid end to end) there is much to explore! The Podcasts will be looking at the similarities and differences of life at Eton over time, by exploring such topics as houses, societies, the curriculum and the evolution of Eton slang.

In the first episode, Beck Price, Archives Assistant, introduces us to the subject of exams, or trials, and how they have worried, challenged, frustrated and motivated boys for decades. Listen here.

Exams have always been a key part of life at Eton. One of the most historically important exams is the Election, in which applicants for the King’s Scholarship are selected for the next academic year. Arrangements for the Election can be found in the College statutes, showing that these exams have been held since the foundation.

Exams “are a horrid nuisance, for they spoil your time in your study.”

Philip Frederic Tinne (at Eton 1888-93), 21 Sep 1888 (ED 397)

Click here to hear more about the history of exams, including opinions of boys experiencing trials in the 1860s and about how some attempted to get out of a biology practical in the 1960s!

To be elected to College in the 17th century, you would need to answer these questions, among others:

  • Quod est tibi nomen?
  • Quot annos natus es?
  • Quo anni tempore?

To find out more about the history of Eton College, search our digitised resources or follow us on Twitter: @EtonArchives

Photo Credit: 

Dr T.C.Porter and his div in Trials, c 1898 (note quills). [PA-DA.3:16-2015]