Westminster is unique among major public schools in that it remains in the heart of London, on the site of its medieval beginnings. As a result its history is continuoulsy intertwined with the momentous state events and political turmoils of the capital. It has enjoyed royal patronage and a fair share of political influence. But its position close to the seat of power has also sometimes been dangerous. Its principal buildings were destroyed by enemy action in 1941. This book is about the life of this institution: its Head Masters, its staff and its pupils. The latter were by no means always a credit to the school: they committed murder; they were disruptive at Queen Victoria's coronation; they vilified one unpopular Head Master; and for a period they pretty well ran the school. They also emerge as the true heroes of the story. Old Westminsters dominated Parliament for most of the 18th century; the output of leading politicians, statesmen and soldiers has continued to this day. The school's contribution to literature, philosophy and the arts, has been immense.
In addition to its famous successes Westminster has prodouced some outstanding failures, some notable revolutionaries and traitors, and some disarming eccentrics. The auther is librarian and archivist at Westminster School, and has taught English there since 1964, as well as directing plays, operas and musicals. He has unearthed previously undiscovered documents and anecdotes, to add to the accounts of previous histories, as well as bringing it up-to-date to cover the last four decades of change.