Elizabethan Club Dinner 2017
Thursday, 9th November 7pm up School, 8pm College Hall
Booking: Opens Play Term
We are honoured that former Elizabethan Club President and President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger (WW, 1961-65) will speak at this year's Elizabethan Club Dinner.
Lord Neuberger is Britain's most senior judge and oversaw the landmark Brexit case at the Supreme Court. President of the Supreme Court since 2012, he steps down in September. His perspective on the case and the treatment of the judiciary (on which he has recently been quoted in the press) are sure to make for a fascinating speech. In a recent interview for the Today programme on Radio 4 Lord Neuberger was quoted as saying:
“We [judges in general] were certainly not well treated...One has to be careful about being critical of the press, particularly as a lawyer or judge, because our view of life is very different from that of the media. I think some of what was said was undermining the rule of law.”
After leaving Westminster, David Neuberger went on to study Chemistry at Christ Church, Oxford.
Following a brief spell in the world of investment banking, he was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1974, where he became a Bencher in 1993. He became a Queen's Counsel in 1987 and was a Recorder from 1990 to 1996, when he was appointed a High Court Judge in the Chancery Division and received the customary knighthood. In 2001, he was made Supervisory Chancery Judge of the Midland, Wales and Chester, and of the Western Circuits, a post he held until 2004, when he was promoted to become a Lord Justice of Appeal and a member of the Privy Council.
In 2007, he became Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and was made a life peer as Baron Neuberger of Abbotsbury. His rise to the Court of Appeal and then to the House of Lords is one of the quickest in recent times. In 2009 he was appointed Master of the Rolls.
A Brief History of Westminster School
The earliest recorded evidence of Westminster School appears in the Almoner’s Roll for 1371 which notes the wages of the ‘Master of the boys of the Subalmonry’. It is from this point that we can be certain that the Benedictine monks of the Abbey at Westminster were providing a charity school to local boys, in addition to training monastic novices.
This arrangement changed in 1540, when Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries in England, but ensured the School's survival by royal charter. The College of St. Peter carried on with 40 "King's Scholars" financed from the royal purse. Elizabeth I re-founded the School in 1560 with new statutes to select 40 Queen's Scholars from boys who had already attended the School for a year.
Elizabethan I had a great personal interest in the School and the sentiments expressed in her 1560 charter which stated the purpose of the School are as relevant today as they were in the 16th century: “The youth which is growing to manhood, as tender shoots in the wood of our state, shall be liberally instructed in good books to the honour of the state.”
During the 16th century the School educated writers including Ben Jonson and Richard Hakluyt; in the seventeenth, the poet John Dryden, philosopher John Locke, scientist Robert Hooke, composer Henry Purcell and architect Christopher Wren were pupils; and in the 18th century, philosopher Jeremy Bentham and several Whig Prime Ministers and other statesmen.
Recent Old Westminsters include prominent politicians of all parties, members of the arts and media, scientists and businessmen and women. Legal separation from the Abbey took place with the Public Schools Act 1868 although a close relationship maintained with the Dean of Westminster Abbey made the ex officio Chairman of the School’s Governing Body. Pupils enjoy the benefits of this close relationship and, amongst other visits, still begin the school day on Monday and Friday mornings in the Abbey. Until 1883 the curriculum was dominated by the classical languages, all taught up School. The introduction of a non-classical curriculum was one of the changes associated with the Public Schools Act of 1868. However, unusually among the leading public schools, Westminster did not adopt broader changes associated with the Act, for example, the popular emphasis on team over individual spirit, and the School retained much of its distinctive character.
Despite many pressures, including the epidemics of the 19th Century and the destruction of School and College during the Blitz, the school has refused to leave its Central London location.
In 1967, the first female pupil was admitted to the Great School, with girls becoming full members of the school from 1973 onwards. Westminster’s classroom facilities have come a long way since the former Monastic Dormitory was first used as Schoolroom in 1599. The first science building ‘Sutcliffe’s’ opened in Great College Street in 1905 and was replaced by the Robert Hooke Science Centre which opened in 1986. Millicent Fawcett Hall (the School's theatre) opened in 2001 and the Manoukian Music Centre and Weston Building opened in 2005. Vincent Square was secured as playing fields in 1810 but it was not until 2012 with the opening of the new Sports Centre on Greycoat Street that pupils had suitable sports facilities within walking distance of Little Dean’s Yard. In keeping with the theme of Monk’s accommodation being used by Westminster pupils, the last Anglican monastery in London on Tufton Street was purchased by the School in 2012 and is now the location of Purcell’s House and provides an additional School Chapel.
Westminster Under School, which was founded in the evacuated School buildings in 1943 and later moved to Vincent Square, has also recently benefited from the addition of 21 Douglas Street which provides a new dining hall and art classrooms for pupils.