York . New course lesson 11


YORK. New course lesson 11.

For centuries the second largest city in England was York. York was the major city of northern England. York is the third most visited city in the United Kingdom. It is especially popular with Chinese tourists.

England is divided into counties. Each county has a county town i.e. capital of the county. The county town usually lends its name to the county. York is the county town of Yorkshire. Therefore Yorkshire takes its name from York. Yorkshire is the largest county in England in area but not in population.

The rivers Ouse and Foss have their confluence at York. Where the two rivers meet is called The Eye of York.  From there they flow out to the sea. York is a very flat city. It is inland.

The Romans founded York in the first century AD. They called it Eboracum. A Roman emperor was proclaimed here.

Christianity came to York by the fourth century AD. A Bishop of York was created. A bishop is a high Christian religious leader. A cathedral was built at York. It is called the Metropolitical Cathedral and Church of St Peter. This is such a mouthful that the place is usually known as York Minster.

The Romans withdrew soon after Christianity came. The Angles, Saxons and Jutes attacked. In the 9th century AD the Norsemen came over. They sailed from Norway, Sweden and Denmark. They conquered the area. Soon the Norsemen were the majority in York. They called the city Jorvik.

Yorkshire became a county. England was divided into many counties. Yorkshire is the largest of these. The Bishop of York was made Archbishop of York. An archbishop is in charge of several bishops below him. There were only two archbishops in England. These were the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York. Canterbury is senior to York.

In the 1066 there was a fight for the Crown of England. The King of Norway and Denmark claimed to be the rightful King of England. His name was Harald Hardraada. He sailed up the River Ouse. His men left their longships at Riccal. That was because they ships were too big to sail any further up the river. They surprised the Anglo-Saxon earls and defeated them at the Battle of Fulford Gate which is just south of York.

In October 1066 Harald Hardraada and his men were relaxing at Stamford Bridge near York. He had left half his men at Riccal to guard the ships. That is several miles from Stamford Bridge. Hardraada and his men were surprised by another Anglo-Saxon army. Hardraada and the Norwegian Army were being defeated. He sent a messenger to Riccal to summon reinforcements. It took a couple of hours for the reinforcements to come. They arrived exhausted. By the time they arrived Hardraada was killed and so were most of his men. The reinforcements were easily defeated.

William the Duke of Normandy became King of England in 1066. In 1069 the people of York rebelled against him. He led the harrying of the north. Many houses were burnt and people were killed.

In 1087 a survey of England was made. It was called the Doomsday Book. It recorded that York had 940 houses. Most of them were still empty. That was because the king had killed so many people.

York gradually grew again. Soon it was the principal city of northern England. It was a centre of commerce and government. The king built a strong city wall to protect the city since it so was so vital. A motte and bailey castle called Clifford’s Tower was built. There was also another minor castle built which no longer survives.

In the Wars of the Roses (1455-85) the English royal family was riven. There were two factions: the House of Lancaster and the House of York. The Lancastrians had the red rose as their symbol. The House of York had the white rose as their symbol. That is why it is called the Wars of the Roses. Many crucial battles were fought near York. In the end the Lancastrians won. People jokingly say that the Wars of the Roses still continues. There is a Roses match in cricket every summer. It is called ‘the Roses match’ because it is between Yorkshire and Lancashire.  There is an intense rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire. These counties are adjacent to each other.

The Flag of Yorkshire has a white rose in the middle with a royal blue background. Yorkshire is known as the White Rose County. Yorkshire people tend to be exceptionally proud of their county and call it  God’s own county. The Yorkshire people are said to have a distinctive bluff persona.

In the 18th century York started to decline in relative importance. Newer cities such as Sheffield and Leeds became larger even within Yorkshire. Other cities in northern England like Manchester and Newcastle also outstripped York.

The Rowntree family founded a chocolate factory at York. The Rowntrees belonged to the Religious Society of Friends who were known as the Quakers. The Quakers believed in treating workers well. The Rowntree Factory was one of the nicest places to work in York. Mr Rowntree did a study into poverty in York. In the late 19th century he found much privation. He founded the Rowntree Trust to combat pauperism.

Yorkshire was so large they decided to divide it into four ridings – north, south, east and west. It is called a riding because you could ride across the riding in a day. North Yorkshire has York as its main city. South Yorkshire has Sheffield. West Yorkshire has Leeds as its main town. East Yorkshire has Hull as its city. The name Humberside is sometimes used for East Yorkshire since the River Humber flows through it.

There was a fire in York Minster in the 19th century. The roof collapsed but the rest stayed intact. It was rebuilt. In 1984 a lightning strike caused another fire. Only a small portion of the cathedral was affected.

In the 20th century an air force base was built near York. However, York has no airport. There are other airports in Yorkshire at Leeds-Bradford and at Teesside. There was even Yorkshire Airlines but it is now defunct.

In the 1960s the University of York was founded. It is one of the UK’s finest. Later on St John University was founded in the city. St John University is completely separate to the University of York.

There is a race course just south of the city. This is for horse races.

The city walls are largely intact. They are gates called ‘bars’. There are many churches, art galleries and museums. There are several theatres. Much of the city centre is a pedestrian zone. There are ghost tours and cruises to go on.  There is a railway museum.


  1. Is York in England?
  2. Which county is York in?
  3. Who founded York?
  4. What is a county town?
  5. What is the symbol of York?
  6.  What is an archbishop?
  7. What is the main place of worship in York?
  8.  How many fires did York Minster suffer?
  9. What is the eye of York?
  10.  How many rivers flow through York?
  11. Which county has the largest area in England?
  12. When were the Wars of the Roses?
  13. What is the Eye of York?
  14. Which county has a red rose symbol?
  15. Who won the Wars of the Roses?
  16. What is the Roses match?
  17. What special name do Yorkshiremen call their county to show they love it?
  18. Who set up the chocolate factory at York?
  19.  What is the nickname of the Religious Society of Friends?
  20. How many airports does York have?
  21.  Is there an airline called Yorkshire Airlines?
  22. How many universities are there in York?
  23. Which is the third most visited city in the UK?
  24. Who won the Battle of Stamford Bridge?
  25.  Would you like to visit York?




A dream of SA


I was in the old house – the one  I moved to in 1987. Walking all around the outside. So jam packed with memories. Do not recall what tales came up.

Next I was in South Africa. I presume Cape Town. No idea why we were there. Got on the train. do not know why. It was a fairly modern choo choo. A few passengers abroad. all white. that struck me as curious. whizzed through tiny stations. finally stopped at one called Witwatersrand. But that is in Joburg.

got out in the concourse. many black people stading around. I was scared to approach men – might be touts. we walked out. we anted to go to a sports bar and watch a macth. not sur wwhich sport

suddenly we were in the wilderness. did not seem strange. long grass and bushes on either side. she had vanished. I was anxious and called out to her

then I saw her to the left sitting in a bush

reflects desire to visit SA.

new course lesson 10 . Lewis Carroll


LEWIS CARROLL. New course lesson 10

Alice in Wonderland is one of the best known children’s stories in the world. It was written by Lewis Carroll. Not many people know much about the author.

Lewis Carroll was born in the United Kingdom. His real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. His family was affluent and well-connected. He attended Rugby School. This is one of the most celebrated schools in the realm. In the early 19th century it was on the up and up because of its legendary headmaster Rev Thomas Arnold.

Lewis Carroll was exceptionally academically able. He had no trouble with Latin and Greek. However, his passion was mathematics. He went to Oxford University. There he covered himself in glory graduating with a first class degree. He was immediately offered a fellowship at Christ Church. Christ Church is the most magnificent college in Oxford. As a ‘fellow’ of the university he was teaching undergraduates. He was also producing research papers.

Photography was only invented in the 1840s by two French brothers named Daguerre. Cameras came to the UK shortly after this time. Cameras were extraordinarily expensive. Lewis Carroll was one of the first people in the country to own a camera. He was an enthusiastic photographer.

Most Oxford dons were priests in those days. A ‘don’ at Oxford or Cambridge is someone who teaches at a university. The word ‘don’ does not have this meaning outside Oxford or Cambridge. The two great English universities were affiliated to the Church of England. People of other Protestant denominations could attend these universities. Lewis Carroll decided to take holy orders – that means to become a priest. This involved some study of theology. He found that simple and passed the exam easily. Soon he was ordained a priest in the Church of England. He was entitled to wear clericals (special clothes for priests). He was also allowed to lead worship and to perform particular ceremonies such as marriages and funerals. Lewis Carroll was allowed to put the word ‘Reverend’ in front of his name. People called him ‘The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’. Reverend is a word that means ‘respected’. For short people write ‘Rev.’ before the name thus ‘Rev. Dodgson’.  But if you see ‘Rev’ it is pronounced ‘ the reverend’. Notice that the word ‘Reverend’ is used before the surname or the whole name. To say ‘The Reverend Charles’ would be wrong unless you say the surname too ‘ The Reverend Charles Dodgson’. Usually people simply used the surname as in ‘The Reverend Dodgson’.

Most Oxford dons were not permitted to marry. If they wished to marry they could do so with the blessing of their college but they must leave. Dons who married moved to be clergy in parishes controlled by their colleges. One of the exceptions to this was the head of house. Each Oxford college had a head of house. The head of house was the man in charge of the college. At Christ Church the head of house was the Dean. Dean Liddell was married and had children.

On Sunday 4 July 1861 Dean Liddell decided to take his family on a jolly boat trip down the Thames. Liddell asked his friend Lewis Carroll to come along. They set off from Folly Bridge in Oxford. They rowed at a sedate pace. This was leisure and not a race.

As they paddled along that afternoon Dean Liddell’s daughter Alice asked Lewis Carroll to tell her a story. Lewis Carroll made up a story on the spot.  The protagonist was named Alice after the child in the boat. It was so vivid and enthralling that Alice said that he should write down the story. When Lewis Carroll got home he did just that.

The story was reworked. Lewis Carroll added a character called the mad hatter based on an eccentric furniture dealer in Oxford.  Hatmakers used quicksilver (mercury) to treat felt. Felt is animal’s fur and skin. Quicksilver made the felt stiff and therefore suitable as a hate Continued exposure to mercury made people mentally ill. Insanity was an occupational disease of milliners.

Carroll then presented the manuscript to a publishing house. His story was printed and sold. It was an overnight sensation.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wanted to be taken seriously as a mathematician. He thought that if he published a children’s storybook under his real name it would undermine his reputation. Therefore he took the name Charles and turned it into ‘Carroll’ because it is related to the Latin for Charles. Lutwidge he turned into Lewis. He dropped ‘Dodgson’ for his pen name.  He reversed the order of his names. It should have been Carroll Lewis but he put them in the opposite order. Therefore he published the book under the name Lewis Carroll.

Alice in Wonderland was groundbreaking. It did not conform to the conventions of a fantasy novel. It was not a fairytale with witches, goblins, wizards, enchantment, miracles and so forth. It was zany and memorable. The novel contained some characters whose names have now entered common parlance such as the Mad Hatter. The expression ‘off with their heads’ is well known now.

The book was read avidly in the United States. The US was in the throes of its civil war. This book distracted people from their travails.

Queen Victoria asked Lewis Carroll to come to meet her. The don duly traveled to Buckingham Palace. Her Gracious Majesty expressed her delight at this sublime book. She requested a copy of his next publication. The following year Lewis Carroll published a book on higher mathematics and sent it to the Queen. She was perplexed by the book. It was beyond her. She had not realized that Lewis Carroll was first and foremost a mathematician.

Lewis Carroll preferred photographing people to things.  He never married or had children. Rev Dodgson (to give him is real name) conducted worship until the last months of his life. He lived out his days in Oxford. He died there and is buried in the city. After he died his family destroyed most of his albums.

Alice grew up married and had children.


  1. In which country was Lewis Carroll born?
  2. What was his real name?
  3. What school did he go to?
  4. What was his favourite subject?
  5. Which university did he go to?
  6. Was he clever?
  7. What is an Oxford don?
  8. Did Lewis Carroll marry?
  9. Who was Dean Liddell?
  10. What was the name of Liddell’s daughter?
  11. On which day did the Liddell’s take Lewis Carroll on their boat?
  12. How did the name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson turn into Lewis Carroll?
  13. Which bridge did they set off from on their boat?
  14.  On which date did Lewis Carroll tell a story to Alice?
  15. Why is the main character in Alice in Wonderland named Alice?
  16. Who was the mad hatter based on?
  17. Was Lewis Carroll’s book popular?
  18. Did Queen Victoria read the book?
  19. Why did people in the US need cheering up in the 1860s?
  20. What happened to Alice Liddell?







C S Lewis. New course page 9


C S LEWIS. New course page 9

Charles Staples Lewis was born in Ireland in 1899. The city of his birth was Belfast. He was Irish but his ancestors had come from Wales and England not many generations before. Lewis had one brother to whom he was very close. C S Lewis had no sisters. His family was well off due to his father’s successful legal practice. The Lewis family were communicants of the Church of Ireland. The family was intensely religious. The mother of the family had been to university. Tertiary education for women had only just become available. Therefore the Lewis family must be recognized for its academic prowess.

When Lewis was nine years old his mother died. He felt this blow very heavily. His father was not much good at commiserating with his children or providing them with the warmth that their mother had. Instead the father of the family threw himself into his work even more. C S and his brother were sent to a boarding school in England.

C S was very bright. He was gifted in several subjects but gravitated more towards the humanities. When he was 15 the First World War broke out. As he approached school leaving age he knew that he would be expected to join the British Army or the Royal Navy. He sat exams for a scholarship to University College, Oxford.  University College is the oldest college in Oxford University. He won his scholarship in classics. That means Latin and Ancient Greek. He was allowed to go up to Oxford for one year on condition that after that he join the army. Once the war was over he would be welcomed back to the university to finish his degree.

C S Lewis hugely enjoyed his year at Oxford. He strove to make the most of it. But he knew it was delaying the time before he must go and fight. News of the war was everywhere. Some university buildings were taken over as hospitals for wounded soldiers. There were war refugees in the town. Young men who had just graduated went off to fight. Every Sunday names were read out in chapel of men who had recently left the college and been killed in the war.

The time came when  C S Lewis volunteered for the British Army. The army was class stratified. Those from the higher socio-economic stratum could be officers. C S Lewis had been to a fee paying school so was eligible. Further, he had attended university. He was selected for officer training. He was soon commissioned as an officer. Lewis was soon dispatched to France. There he saw action. Understandably he was horrified by war. He was not nationalistic. He did not detest the German enemy. Lieutenant Lewis was a man of peace and he derived no satisfaction from killing.

The war ended only a few months after C S Lewis had been sent to the front. He returned to Oxford. He soon graduated with a First Class degree. He was offered a fellowship at a college. This means a job teaching and being part of the governing body of a college. C S Lewis accepted without hesitation. Classics was his subject and he also delved into philosophy. He was fascinated by literature in various languages.

The war had badly shaken C S Lewis’ faith. For a time he became an atheist. He blamed God for all this suffering.

The early 1920s was a period of intense political upheaval. There was conflict in Ireland. The communists took over Russia. The coalition government came to an end. The economic dislocation engendered by war in the UK caused mass unemployment. All this seems to have passed C S Lewis by. He was indifferent to politics. Although he was Irish he spoke with a totally English accent and seldom visited Ireland.

In the 1920s Lewis returned to his faith. He began writing about philosophy and literature. One of his undergraduates was John Betjeman. Betjeman found Lewis to be fusty, prissy, precious and dull. Lewis thought that Betjeman was a banality – debonair but superficial, brash and mediocre. Betjeman went on to be poet laureate.

The Inklings was an informal social set of writers in Oxford. They called themselves ‘inkling’ as in a drop of ink but it also means a presentiment. The Inklings met at the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford.  The inklings were all men. The group included J R R Tolkien.

C S Lewis savoured the convivial life of a don. A don is a lecturer or professor at Oxford or Cambridge. It was very collegial. He dined on high table in his college and socialized with the other dons. He also had a house outside the college. He and his brother shared a house called the Kilns to the east of Oxford. C S Lewis’ brother had been a career army officer. Neither of them was married.

In the 1930s Lewis began writing about his faith. He tried to reach a wider audience. He wondered if he could pen an allegory that would appeal to children.

In the Second World War many children were evacuated from urban areas. Major cities were the target of bombing. Children would be moved to remote areas where they would not be killed. C S Lewis wrote The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe about some children from the city being sent to live with a kindly old retired professor in the countryside. The fuddy duddy professor is a bachelor and has a huge rambling houses with a wooded garden. It seemed very like C S Lewis. He invented a land called Narnia. The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of five novels by Lewis. The best known of the five is the first in the series – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lewis wrote these tales in sparse yet sparkling prose. The stories had to have an engaging plotline and be pared. They are fast moving to hold the attention of children. There are plenty of surprises.

In the 1950s Lewis became a world famous broadcaster. Despite that he was still fairly private. A fan of his in the United States began corresponding with him. Her name was Joy Davidman. Joy was married and had two young sons. She had been brought up Jewish but abandoned her faith. She had been a communist in the 1930s. Miss Davidman had been a prodigy. She was also a published poet.

In 1955 Joy Davidman visited the United Kingdom for the first time. She brought her children with her. Her marriage was breaking up. She finally met C S Lewis whom she knew so well through his letters and books. Soon she found that she wished to remain in the United Kingdom. This was no simple matter. Her friendship with C S Lewis became intense. She asked him to marry her because that would grant her to right to reside in the UK. C S Lewis agreed and they married in a registry office. However, they lived separately.

Some of C S Lewis’ colleagues were distinctly cool on Joy Davidman. A few of them were suspicious of this woman 20 years younger than C S Lewis who had come into his life. C S Lewis was in his 1950s and had never evinced the slightest interest in women. He was a confirmed bachelor. They felt that she had seduced Lewis.

Joy Davidman contracted cancer. It went into remission. In 1958 she and Lewis decided to marry in a church. This was a real wedding so far as Lewis was concerned. This time they lived together.  She and Lewis had no children together. Then the cancer returned. Joy’s health deteriorated rapidly. She died in 1960. Her sons were adopted by C S Lewis.

In 1963 Lewis died on the same day as John F Kennedy. Therefore Lewis’ death garnered little press comment.


  1. When was Lewis born?
  2. In which city was he born?
  3. What was unusual about his mother?
  4.  How many siblings did he have?
  5. What was his father’s job?
  6. Where did C S Lewis school?
  7. Which university did he attend?
  8. What was his subject?
  9.  Was he in the army?
  10. Did he like fighting?
  11. What happened to his faith after the war?
  12. Was he a don?
  13. Which university did he work at?
  14. What did he make of John Betjeman?
  15. What was the name of his first novel?
  16.  How many books are in the Chronicles of Narnia?
  17. Is Narnia real?
  18. Why were children evacuated in the Second World War?
  19. Who was Joy Davidman?
  20. Why did some of Lewis’ colleagues dislike Joy?
  21. How many children did Davidman have?
  22. When did Joy die?
  23. Why did Lewis’ death get little publicity?
  24.  What do you think of him?



Edinburgh show

  1. book early. January. register. described show. venue. accom , transport. pollok halls. air B N b. HOTEL stay near

2. What is success for you? money? breakthrough? fun? grow as a comic?


3. no leaflets. 170. 5 000. right before show.

4. central venue. foot traffic.

5 . go in with other people. share show. begin late.

6. there are spots.

Kurt Hahn. New course lesson 8


KURT HAHN. New course lesson 8
Kurt Hahn was a German educationalist.
Hahn was born in Berlin in 1886. He was from a liberal Jewish family. His education was conducted in Germany. He suffered sunstroke as a child and this affected him permanently. He had to avoid hot climates which is why he gravitated to the frigid north.
Kurt Hahn attended a number of universities as was common for German undergraduates at the time. These were Heidelberg, Frieberg and Gottingen. An undergraduate would go to one university for a year, to another for two years and perhaps another for a further year. He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford University. Hahn perfected his English. He was very broadminded and happily attended chapel. At that stage he did not convert to the Christian faith. Like many Germans he raved about Shakespeare. He was convinced that Shakespeare’s works were better in German than the original. In the summers of 1910-14 he took holidays in northern Scotland.
Hahn was in the United Kingdom when the First World War broke out. All voyages to and from Germany were forbidden. He attempted to reach the coast and take ship for the Netherlands. From there he planned to travel to his homeland.
Kurt Hahn was arrested an interned as an enemy alien. After two years an exchange of civilians was agreed between the UK and Germany. German civilians were repatriated to Germany by way of the Netherlands which was neutral.
Hahn then spent the war in a government office in Berlin. His task was to translate British newspapers into German so that his government would have an idea of what the Allies were thinking.
Kurt Hahn came to work for the Margrave of Baden as his private secretary. Max von Baden was a man of liberal nostra. This was unusual for a German nobleman. Von Baden had briefly been chancellor in 1918. He had been one of those who saw that the military outlook was utterly hopeless for Germany and the only sane thing to do was to seek an armistice immediately. The Margrave of Baden is credited as one of those people who ended the First World War.
Hahn had come to develop his own educational philosophy. This was predicated on the teachings of Plato. He wanted a school that provided an education that was both classical and modern. Pupils were to be taught integrity, teamwork and a respect for nature. He wanted to do away with the petty rules of most schools and the overemphasis on academic learning. He aimed to provide a holistic education encompassing sports, camping, music and theatre. Drama played almost no role in formal education at the time. He considered the example of Eton. He saw much that he admired in terms of scholastic achievement and sports. However, he looked askance at Eton’s snobbery, artificiality and frippery.
The Margrave of Baden invited Hahn to open at school at his palace in southern Germany: Schloss Salem. Salem is short for Jerusalem and means ‘peace’ in Classical Hebrew. The name is pronounced ”ZA – lem”.
Kurt Hahn opened his school at Schloss Salem. This has an idyllic setting by Lake Constance. The school was mixed. The uniform was unpretentious and allowed for ease of movement. He also promoted pupils to have power over the others. If a group of boys were found to be misbehaving and one of them was a prefect then only the prefect was punished. This was because he should have been responsible enough to stop it.Hahn was a very generous spirited person who despised national prejudices. He had remained friends with many Britishers despite the First World War.
Hahn used the hymn ”We kneel and appeal to the God of all justice” as the Salem school song. It was in German of course.
Hahn wanted to challenge pupils. He insisted that they must be made physically fit. They must all be imbued with manual skills. They must also provide a public service by learning first aid or helping the fire brigade. His ideas were too reformist for some. In 1923 a reactionary tried to assassinate him.
In the late 1920s the Nazi Party became prominent. Hahn admitted to having some respect for the Nazis discipline and energy but he was a centrist. He was horrified by the Nazism glorification of brutality. He was an outspoken critic of their mindlessness, their thuggery and their philistinism. Hahn recognised that after 2 000 000 deaths in the First World War the last thing Germany needed was another war. The Nazism virulent anti-Semitism worried him since he was Jewish by parentage. The increasing viciousness of the National Socialists alarmed Hahn. Hahn read about a left winger who was kicked to death by Nazis in the immediate presence of his mother. Kurt Hahn then wrote a letter to all past pupils of Salem and said they must either support Salem or the Nazis but they could not support both. The two philosophies were totally incompatible. It was a gallant thing to do but Hahn was a marked man.
Adolf Hitler became chancellor in January 1933. Hahn was immediately arrested and his school was closed down. He had notable friends in the United Kingdom including the Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald. Ramsay MacDonald was contacted and he interceded for Hahn. After three days the Nazi Government released Hahn at the UK Government’s request.
Dr Hahn travelled to the United Kingdom. He cast around for suitable locations to set up a new edition of Salem. He visited Moray in Scotland. It was an area where he had holidayed before the Great War. He found out about an old stately home in Scotland called Gordonstoun. Gordonstoun House that had belonged to the Gordon Cumming family. Hahn had a look and decided it would be ideal. It was deep in the countryside and therefore far from the distractions and temptations of city life. The huge grounds provided plenty of scope for sports and camping. It was within walking distance of the coast.
Hahn opened his school in 1934. Gordonstoun School began with two pupils. Hats off to this parents who were courageous enough to take a gamble on Gordonstoun. The school grew rapidly.
The boys wore knee length shorts, grey shirts, blue jumpers. They did not wear ties expect on formal occasions. This was a marked contrast to the overly formal and restrictive uniforms of the time. Boys in almost every other school wore hats or caps. Gordonstoun was very go ahead right from the start.
Hahn tried to keep punishment to a minimum. Nevertheless he allowed caning and administered the punishment in person.
Sports were a major part of the time table. Everyone had to learn to sail. It was called seamanship. Everyone had to go on regular camping expeditions. There was also military training. This was perhaps the first outward bound school. Outdoor education was a crucial part of the curriculum. Hahn practised what he preached and was a fiercely competitive tennis player well into his 50s.
Dr Hahn also made sure that design and technology was in the timetable. Many independent schools sneered at this as being something for the working class. Pupils who could afford Gordonstoun were middle class or upper class. Hahn disliked snobbery but financial reality meant that his school could take very few proletarian pupils.
All pupils were required to join a service. This could be the fire brigade or coast guard service for example.
The school was founded as a Christian school but did not align itself with any denomination. The great majority of pupils were Church of Scotland or Church of England.
Hahn brought some of his colleagues with him from Germany. The school had very little money so some of them had to work for bed and board for the first couple of years. They received no salary! Some of his Jewish pedagogical friends were especially eager to get out of Germany for reasons that do not need stating. The boys of Gordonstoun gained an excellent grounding in German because most of their masters were German!
Gordonstoun founded a preparatory school called Wester Elchies in 1936. This was 20 miles away. Boys would attend Wester Elchies from the age of 7 to 13. Thereafter they would go on to Gordonstoun.
Hahn invented a flag for the school with a white and a purple bar. The white denoted purity and the purple honour. The motto is ‘Plus est en vous’ – there is more in you (than you think). Plus est en vous had been seen written on a wall in Belgium and it inspired Kurt Hahn.
The buildings of the school were very widely dispersed over the estate. This compelled boys to walk fast to all activities. Hahn thought this was tremendous for their athleticism.
In 1936 the school welcomed a most distinguished pupil. He was Prince Philip of Greece. Prince Philip had left Greece as a baby and grown up in London and Paris. He was a second cousin of King George VI. Prince Philip was partly of German extraction.
The school was soon attracting pupils from all over the United Kingdom.
Dr Hahn became a British citizen. This was vital since it meant he was not interned in 1939. Dr Kurt Hahn converted to Christianity. He sometimes preached in the Church of Scotland.
Dr Hahn helped to bring more Jewish Germans to the UK. He saved their lives.
Although Dr Hahn’s English was impeccable he had an unmissable German accent. It caused him to receive many frosty stares when travelling by train during the Second World War.

At the outbreak of the Second World War many called for Adolf Hitler to be assassinated. Hahn showed his extreme perhaps inane degree of humanity in saying that Hitler should not be assassinated. Dr Hahn said that shooting people solves nothing. He cited the example of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Gordonstoun recruited a PE teacher who was a refugee from Russia. When he was exasperated with the boys he would recite gobbets of the Bible to calm himself down. This was the only thing they had been taught to do at school in Russia.
In the Second World War the army commandeered the school under the Defence of the Realm Act. The school was moved to Wales for a few years. It returned after the war.
Dr Hahn was prominent in seeking to restore amicable relations between Germany and the UK after the war. He reopened Salem as soon as was practicable. He visited his devastated native land. He arranged many exchanges between Gordonstoun and Salem. Except Salem was said to be haunted by a ghost named ‘Spookie’.
In 1947 Prince Philip wed Princess Elizabeth. This brought publicity to the school. This princess became queen in 1952.
In the 1950s it became the norm for Gordonstounians to spend one of their five years in Salem.
The Prince of Wales and other members of the royal family attended Gordonstoun.
With his former pupil Dr Hahn helped to found the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. This awards people a bronze, silver or gold for achievement. Someone on the D of E scheme must participate in sport, serve their community and go on an expedition.
Dr Hahn also helped to set up the United World Colleges. These exist around the world and provide two years of pre university schooling. One of them is Atlantic College in Wales.
Altyre School was founded about 10 miles away from Gordonstoun. Altyre was very small. For some lessons they had to cycle to Gordonstoun. This arrangement did not last. Eventually Altyre School was closed and a house called Altyre was built at Gordonstoun.
Wester Elchies outgrew its size. So another house was purchased across the river Spey in 1947. It was called Aberlour House. Wester Elchies and Aberlour House were one school on two sites. They were 3 miles apart. Juniors would be at Wester Elchies for three years. They would proceed to Aberlour House for a further three years. Therefater they would go on to Gordonstoun for five years. The prep school began to take girls in the 1950s but Gordonstoun did not.
A levels started to be considered important after the Second World War. Prior to that pupils had sat the schools certificates exams. Gordonstoun took the fateful decision to take A levels which are not a Scottish qualification. Almost every other school in Scotland does Highers which are a uniquely Scottish exam.
The school’s fame spread rapidly. It took pupils from the United States, India, Australia and many other lands.
One of the houses in Gordonstoun is called Round Square. This is because there are no corners in it. Gordonstoun established fraternal links with many schools around the world. They meet at Round Square conferences.
Hahn was loaded with honours. He was made a Commander of the British Empire. He was given the cross of merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
In the early 1970s Gordonstoun admitted girls.
Dr Hahn retired in 1953. Except he did not. He returned to Salem and ran a house but taught no lessons.He jogged into his 80s! He died in 1974. He had never married.
Dr Hahn was fondly remembered by his pupils and colleagues alike.
Gordonsount is known as ”Stoun” to its pupils. He is the subject of a number of biographies.


  1. Where was Kurt Hahn born?
  2. What was his nationality?
  3. Which three German universities did he attend?
  4. Which UK university did he go to?
  5. What happened to him in 1914?
  6.  Did he speak English?
  7. What did he do in the war?
  8. Who did he work for in 1918?
  9. What was the name of Hahn’s first school?
  10. What does Salem mean in Hebrew?
  11. What lake is Salem beside?
  12. What did Hahn think of the Nazis at first?
  13.  Why was Hahn arrested under the Nazis?
  14. Which philosopher did Hahn most respect?
  15. Which British statesman secured Hahn’s release from prison?
  16. Which country did Hahn move to in 1933?
  17. What house did Hahn buy in Scotland?
  18. What uniform did Hahn have for his school?
  19.  Did he marry?
  20.  What is an outward bound school?
  21. What religion is Gordonstoun School?
  22. What social service does the school perform?
  23. What is the motto of the school?
  24. What prince came to the school in the 1930s?
  25. Which prep school did he found?
  26. Did Hahn become a British citizen?
  27.  Did he convert to Christianity?
  28. Did Hahn reopen Salem after the war?
  29. Who is Spookie?
  30.  When did Hahn die?
  31. What do you think of his ideas?