The origin of House names

Robin Sharp found out some information and posted this on the school message board in January 2011.

In the recent thread about ‘School Caps’, reference was made to school houses. I’m fairly certain that no members of this group will remember when the four houses – Faraday, Gainsborough, Purcell and Spenser – were established, but I have come across details of when they were introduced. I found details in some bound copies of The Esthameian covering the period November 1927 to June 1931 that Sue Foulsham (secretary of the Plashet Old Students Association) loaned to me. Sue is a former pupil and teacher at EHGS for Girls, who just happens to live in the same village as me, here in rural Suffolk.

It was in September 1928 that new houses in the boys’ section of the school were unveiled, replacing the old houses of Central, Kensington, Manor Park and Plashet. The girls’ section at ‘the Tech’ continued as before – and in fact for many years, well after the move to Plashet Grove – with the unremarkable Blue, Green, Orange and Red houses.

Under the previous system, it would appear that a boy would be assigned to his school house depending on the area of the Borough in which his primary school was situated. This had the inevitable consequence that some houses could have a noticeably larger membership than others. Henceforth, the allocation was to be made ‘according to an alternate alphabetical sequence’, but this also meant that some ‘one-time comrades will thus find themselves in opposition’ - so clearly all boys were re-allocated to the new houses using the alphabetical system.

Subsequent editions of the magazine included biographies for the men who had been chosen for the house names, but no indication was given as to why these particular historical figures had been selected, besides each being an Englishman and a leading figure in the four disciplines of Science, Art, Music and Literature.

These new house names endured for the remainder of the life of EHGS for Boys, from September 1928 until July 1972.

Robin Sharp (S), 1965-72

Subsequent research failed to reveal why the new house colours were chosen. In the1928/29 Esthameian mags, there are no mentions of the 'colour' of each house, though it does mention that boys would be awarded 'house colours' for outstanding ability in individual sports/activities.