Housey Coat 'badge'

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UnaffiliatedYank
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Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by UnaffiliatedYank » Thu Sep 29, 2016 1:02 am

"Some of the means of entry are denoted on the uniform by a round metal plate (varying in design according to type of presentation) sewn on the breast of the housey coat."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ%27 ... Admissions

I searched on the web and in Google Books but could find no further mention of this plate. I closely examined the available uniform images on Google but was only able to read one 'badge'.

The Benevolent Society of Blues
https://www.christs-hospital.org.uk/chr ... 03_003.JPG

I'm perplexed by all this and was wondering a few things:

-what are they actually called?

-what percentage, approximately, of the students have them? (I saw very few in Google Images)

-'means of entry' (per Wikipedia) 'badge' (my made-up term), is that a somewhat accurate characterization? Are they sort of 'means of entry badges'? Kind of like sponsor, or scholarship grantor, 'badges' perhaps.

-do the 'sponsoring' organizations provide the 'badges'

-are the children required to sew them onto their housey coats?

-does it create a social differentiation among the children?

Many Thanks!

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eucsgmrc
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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by eucsgmrc » Fri Sep 30, 2016 12:50 pm

Since nobody else has responded, I'll try to dredge up my memories from 60 years ago ...

-what are they actually called?
The thing was called a plate

-what percentage, approximately, of the students have them? (I saw very few in Google Images)
I never counted, but I might have seen one or two plates in a house of fifty pupils, so it's of the order of 3%

-'means of entry' (per Wikipedia) 'badge' (my made-up term), is that a somewhat accurate characterization? Are they sort of 'means of entry badges'? Kind of like sponsor, or scholarship grantor, 'badges' perhaps.
Yes, that's very much what they are. With one exception (when I was at CH) the sponsors had been dead for centuries. The plates dated from when the "scholarship" had been endowed. They were antique and very well worn. They were passed down from one generation of pupil to the next.

-do the 'sponsoring' organizations provide the 'badges'
That's probably lost in the mists of history.

-are the children required to sew them onto their housey coats?
I have no idea. I never had one to wear.

-does it create a social differentiation among the children?
Not that I remember.

However, at one time in the school's history, it definitely did differentiate a group, and it was intended to. The Royal Mathematical School is an institution within Christ's Hospital, founded in 1673 by Charles II, on the urging of Samuel Pepys, to produce navigators for the Royal Navy. Its boys wore a plate, and they were very distinct from the rest of the schol. According to contemporary memoirs, they were schooled to be tough enough to command a rabble of rough sailors, and they were much feared by the other pupils. Nowadays, happily, the RMS is simply the mathematics department of the school.
John Wexler
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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by cupcakemom » Fri Sep 30, 2016 6:45 pm

My daughter is a presentee of the Worshipful Company of Grocers (Grocers Hall) - and wears a plate. She has one provided by Grocers that is transferred from her summer uniform to her Housey when necessary kindly by the middle ladies in her house. I did have to sew it myself on one occasion - and despite being reasonably deft with a needle and thread - found it quite a challenge. It is made of pewter but not all are pewter. She is extremely proud of it but I have a feeling it may be because her uniform is slightly different to most others!
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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by sejintenej » Fri Sep 30, 2016 9:55 pm

[quote="eucsgmrc"]Since nobody else has responded, I'll try to dredge up my memories from 60 years ago ...

>>I had emailed much as you write
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UnaffiliatedYank
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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by UnaffiliatedYank » Sat Oct 01, 2016 1:44 pm

A huge thanks to all that responded for the many points of illumination. I find this fascinating. My only point of personal reference would be grants and scholarships that are awarded at American colleges (i.e. 4-year post-secondary school institutions) and universities. These awards are either "needs-based" or academic, here. I find it interesting to wonder about what it would be like to have a similar system in the U.S., where students could wear a plate on their collegiate jackets displaying the source of their academic awards. I think it would be fantastic with the proviso that it be voluntary. I add this stipulation because this tradition taken out of its original context and re-applied to a modern setting, would create social distinctions within the student-body-- some perhaps beneficial, others less so. Those wearing plates representing academic awards would have a greater prestige among their peers and this "scholastic envy" could impel the rest to greater exertions. On the other hand, those wearing plates representing needs-based award could experience the opposite effect. In the history of higher education, beginning with the medieval cathedral schools, there has always been this implicit distinction within the term "scholar" (i.e. student): on the one hand, it's a neutral word, merely referring to a (usually) young person enrolled academic institution, on the other hand it referred to a student "on scholarship". There was always a social and economic component built into the term. Originally (in the medieval sense) "scholars" were the children of the political elite (not even social elite at that point) and hence the derivation of the "neutral" aspect of the term's future sense. Much later, the Roman Catholic Church, reflecting upon its original mission, began admitting a very few deserving children of the poor, "on scholarship". All this is to say, there has always (well, I won't address the situation in ancient times because it was even more elite) been an implicit built-in distinction in the term "scholar" -- the "neutral" aspect paradoxically, automatically confers prestige (the children of the elite) -- the charity aspect, a bit less than neutral (the children of the poor). So this plate idea that I'm turning around in my mind, as applied to the American system of higher education would have potentially hugely positive and negative social aspects for the students here. I think that if restricted only to academic awards, it would be a very good experiment. Such things may already exist, I'm not entirely sure. In my own experience, falling on the side of the term's less than neutral aspect, I know I would have felt very self-conscious had I been required to wear a plate representing the source of funds that allowed me to attend the schools I went to. While extremely grateful to the institutions, endowments, and philanthropists that created them, yet, on a daily basis it would have been difficult to wear this plate in front of my much more privileged peers. On the other hand, a plate representing an academic award? Aw, heck, yes.

Thanks again,

Francesco

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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by UnaffiliatedYank » Sun Oct 02, 2016 11:24 am

RMS plates

The Royal Mathematical School exists today and pupils whose families have a Royal Navy connection can be assessed to enter through the RMS Foundation. Three pupils have this privilege and in recognition, wear a silver badge on their uniform.

Read more at: http://www.westsussextoday.co.uk/news/a ... -1-7328989

Thanks again to all for sharing your insights and experiences. I have no connection to the school whatsoever, but I find its history and customs fascinating. It fits with my interest in ecclesiastical and secular strands in medieval history, particularly the transition points. CH rising out of the ashes of Greyfriars London after the dissolution of the monasteries is what brought it to my attention. It's a fascinating linchpin between the two periods. Thanks again. Francesco

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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by eucsgmrc » Mon Oct 03, 2016 12:03 am

I can see that the badge system might create social distinctions, but at Christ's Hospital there is not much reason for any pupil to be looked down on because they have rely on charity to keep them at the school. The whole idea of the school is that nearly everybody is in that position. Only a small proportion are allowed to buy their place with money.

Incidentally, the plate system has a long history in England (I write from Scotland, and I'm not sure that plates were used here). Through most of history, poor communications and general illiteracy allowed people to pretend to be whatever they chose, especially if they were wandering about the country and not known locally. For instance, any parasitic idler could pretend to be a soldier wounded fighting for his country, or a sailor making his way home after a shipwreck, which would allow him to ask for food and support. This sort of scam was suppressed by issuing plates to the genuine, and punishing or moving on those who begged without a plate. Similarly, watermen on the Thames (who operated a kind of taxi service) had to wear a plate issued by the authorities. There are many other examples.
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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by michael scuffil » Mon Oct 03, 2016 11:21 am

Did pupils have to sew the plates on to their coats themselves?
- As a rule, I think, the matron's housemaids would do this. What happens now, I've no idea.

As far as I remember, ca. 1960 there were about five different plates. The RMS (see above) which was the oldest; the RAF Benevolent Fund, which was the youngest, and the plate was made of some non-shiny metal; then there were two local foundations, from Chichester and Reading, and one called Thompson's (I think) which had an oval plate worn (uniquely) on the right side. I have a notion that there may now be more foundation plates.

The RMS plate was not worn by (button) Grecians. The reasons were historical. In the past, the RMS boys belonged to the Mathematical School, and all Grecians to the Grammar School. By becoming a Grecian, you left the Mathematical School.
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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by eucsgmrc » Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:32 pm

michael scuffil wrote:By becoming a Grecian, you left the Mathematical School.
Just so. The RMS was training you specifically for the Royal Navy, and by your early teens you should have been a midshipman. If you were still at the school, you would be, to put it mildly, a disappointment to your sponsors.
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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by John Saunders » Mon Oct 03, 2016 11:17 pm

I seem to remember the introduction of an RAF badge in the late 50s. Did not Riches of Th.B wear something similar? JHGS

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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by Oliver » Tue Oct 04, 2016 7:06 am

Yes John, that was quite correct. It arose from a donation given by the UK government to Sir Barnes Wallis for his meritorious war effort. These contributions went far beyond the Dam Busters’ bombs which destroyed the Mohne and Eder dams. Barnes Wallis gave all this money to CH and so the RAF Foundationers’ Trust was set up in 1951. Uniquely its plate was made of aluminium. The Chief of the Air Staff wanted the Foundation's title to include its benefactor's name, but Barnes Wallis firmly refused.

All this, and much more, is included in an excellent large booklet (48 pp) written by David Miller, available at and published by CH in 2003. Its title is “Sir Barnes Wallis, Kt, CBE, FRS”. On page 2 there is a photo of Graham Riches and John Twitchin as grecians, They were two of the earliest RAF Foundationers. In 1953 there were 8 boy Foundationers and in 1971 also 7 girls.

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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by michael scuffil » Tue Oct 04, 2016 8:05 am

I seem to remember my first sight of a boy in CH uniform was in 1954 (I think it was when my going to CH was first being mooted) when two boys appeared on the TV news to mark the initiation of the RAF Foundation. This was about the time of the Dambusters film, which made it newsworthy for a wider public. (I got it into my head that the plate was part of the general uniform.)
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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by postwarblue » Tue Oct 04, 2016 8:32 pm

I think Stock' s Gift had its own plate.
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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by keibat » Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:11 am

Re: Francesco's discussion of the history of 'scholars', note also that at some Oxford and Cambridge colleges – possibly also at other older universities – there are financial awards given on an annual basis for students who do well in exams, which are called Scholarships or (a somewhat lesser award, and a very strange term) Exhibitions. In my day (1960s) at my college (Jesus, Cambridge – Coleridge's college), a Scholarship was worth £60 and an Exhibition £40 a year, which would have been a very significant sum – so might it have been 60s. and 40s. (=£3 and £2 postdecimal)? I have just checked and the situation now (2016) is:
The College awards Scholarships and Exhibitions on the basis of performance in University examinations. Undergraduates gaining First Class Honours in the examination at the end of their first year are elected Exhibitioners of the College and receive the sum of £90. If an undergraduate’s performance in that examination is particularly outstanding, the election may be to a Scholarship, which carries the sum of £150. Junior members of the College who gain First Class Honours in University examinations at the end of their second, third or fourth years are also elected Scholars of the College and receive sums of £150.

I also want to agree that the wearing of a badge at CH did not confer any distinct social status on pupils, neither of prestige nor of contempt. It was simply an oddity of some boys' uniforms.
How curious to find Francesco – a total non-Blue – contributing to the CH Forum :)

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Re: Housey Coat 'badge'

Post by J.R. » Wed Oct 19, 2016 1:03 pm

There was certainly NO status attached to coat plate wearers during my time.

They just denoted their entry to school. One of my friends in Col B had the RAF plate. He was somehow connected to the Dambuster Squadron and I believe a connection to Sir Barnes Wallis, who I had the privelidge of talking too on two occasions.
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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