Two years after last welcoming families to Eton, St Andrew’s Day returned on Saturday with an action-packed morning of sport, music, and exhibits. Pupils, parents, staff and members of the local community enjoyed a showcase of what makes Eton special, from the College Collections and museums to the weird and wonderful Wall Game.
The Drawing and Design Schools were open all morning, hosting exhibitions of pupil work. There were exciting displays of martial arts, including kick boxing and kung fu as well as gymnastics. Old Etonians returned to face current pupils in rackets, water polo, fives, squash, and association football, and our top rugby teams faced off on the field.
Eton fencers also saw their first public demonstration in some months, bouting in six matches against Latymer and winning them all convincingly. Year 12 fencer Thomas F said, ‘It was good to have such a big match against another school after so long, it was great fun!’
Hundreds of visitors also spent time exploring the College Collections on St Andrew’s Day. Eton’s three museums were open, along with the new special exhibition in the Verey Gallery, which celebrates the 600th anniversary of the birth of Henry VI. In addition, many works of art, rare books and manuscripts were assembled in bespoke displays for the occasion. In College Hall, visitors saw a selection of star items from the silver collection, as well as portraits, prints, drawings and paintings from the Fine & Decorative Art collection relating to the hall. In College Library, Eton’s copy of the Gutenberg Bible was on show alongside manuscripts, significant bindings and materials relating to the First World War.
Press Officer Oscar L spoke to College Librarian Rachel Bond who urges those who are interested to come in and see the collections. ‘If you missed the chance to visit on the day, you are most welcome to come to our regular museum openings and to see our three current exhibitions. Our blog also features recent posts written to accompany a few of the items brought out for the day.’ You can read more about the Collections here.
While parents enjoyed refreshments and spectating sport, Eton’s pipe band, dressed in full formal kilts, entertained all with three sets of pieces on the bagpipes. Leading them was Pipe Major and Year 13 pupil Jonathan W, who was thrilled with the performance of ‘O Flower of Scotland, then into the Gael before our final set of Moonstar’.
Another staple of Eton’s St Andrew’s Day celebrations was the Music Scholars (ECMS) concert organised by two Year 13 pupils, Theo C and Conrad B. They managed to pack some stunning music into a forty-minute performance, including a Mendelssohn Octet, Hunting from Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons, and three Hungarian Folk Songs. The close harmony group Etonality sang ‘Londonderry Air’ and ‘Down to the River to Pray, with College Chapel Choir concluding with the old favourite “Blessed Pair of Sirens” by Old Etonian Sir Charles Hubert Parry. Theo was proud of all his musicians, especially those involved in the octet where ‘there was a sense of utter unity, as if one single machine was producing the music. The Brass Ensemble later filled College Chapel with booming reverberations, and contrasted nicely with Etonality’s very soft meditative feel.’