Chivalry and medievalism in Cheltenham's Victorian public schools 1841-1918

  • Peter Clarkson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Whilst the chivalric aspect of public schools has received some academic attention, most notably from Mark Girouard in The Return to Camelot (1981) where he explored Clifton College, few authors have examined provincial public school architecture using an approach that goes beyond mere description. Girouard's work was the departure for my own thesis. There has been no adequate or full study of the influence of chivalry, its history and myths, on the architecture of public schools and the effect that the resulting Gothic ambience had on students. Previous studies concentrated exclusively on boys' schools; my thesis is the first study to contrast the effect of the chivalric myths between Cheltenham College (1841) and Cheltenham Ladies' College (1854), undeniably crucial exemplars of Victorian public schools. These schools were established in a formative period for modern Britain, a period of urbanism, educational revolution and religious revival – all of which have left an imprint on their architecture. The close physical proximity and foundation dates of the schools, their shared governors, architects and patrons, make them an appropriate, rewarding and self-contained case study. The provincial location of these schools has allowed their architecture to be overshadowed by their more illustrious cousins. I contend that both schools inhabit buildings of outstanding architectural importance deserving of attention.

Date of Award2 Jul 2003
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorVaughan Hart (Supervisor)

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