Steeped in fascinating history and positively crammed with old world charm, a tour of Rugby School and its museum is not to be missed. Top of many international visitors’ ‘must–see’ venues in the UK, the impressive school buildings and hallowed rugby ground alone never fail to impress. In fact, there’s so much to see, a tour of the school’s highlights takes an hour and-a half with one of the knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides.
The scene is set with a wander round the charming museum, home to a wealth of carefully displayed Rugby School artefacts and information. Step inside the former coach house and experience the nostalgia of school days dating back to the 18th century, complete with top hats, birching stool and cane. Discover the lives of famous past pupils, from poet Rupert Brooke to the author Lewis Carroll, whose Alice in Wonderland adventures are still enthralling the pupils of today.
Sporting memorabilia features ancient rugby balls, an original ‘death cart’ used to trundle away injured players, and the very first ‘caps’ from the game’s beginnings. Rugby enthusiasts just can’t wait for a glimpse of The Close, the ground on which the sport was first played with William Webb Ellis’s fine disregard for the rules of football in 1823.
But there’s far more. Step inside the Butterfield-designed Main Chapel and marvel at the splendid décor and exquisite stained glass windows. Experience the heady atmosphere of Old Big School, at almost 200-years-old, where the pupils’ original carvings still remain on the wood panelling. In a setting reminiscent of Tom Brown’s School Days, the heady ‘birching tower’ is a sobering sight, and in the atmospheric, arched Old Quad stands the pump under which Mr Brown was ducked.
Scale the winding stone stairs to Upper Bench to experience a room worthy of a scene from Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. With its balcony library crammed with ancient books and old carved desk lids covering the walls, it’s a fitting end to this unique tour.
Keen to ensure everyone gets the very best from their Rugby School experience, tours can be tailor made for specific groups, with timings kept as flexible as possible. Feedback from many visitors is that the tour represents excellent value for money at just £6.95 for adults and £4.95 concessions. Large groups are very welcome and can be booked by prior arrangement, or the ‘drop-in’ tour currently operates at 2pm on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. We would, however, always advise a quick call to the Shop to ensure the tour is going ahead.
For all tour enquiries please call the School Shop on 01788 556169.