Charterhouse School

Charterhouse was founded in 1611 by Thomas Sutton. The original buildings still survive behind St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London and provide a meeting place for the Governing Body and for gatherings of the Old Carthusians.

Charterhouse moved to its present site at Godalming in 1872. Former students include Roger Williams, Lord Liverpool, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Leech, Robert Graves, William Beveridge, Claud Fraser, John Cartland, Orde Wingate, Hastings Ismay and Hugh Trevor-Roper.

Primary Sources

(1) Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That (1929)

In English preparatory and public schools romance is necessarily homosexual. The opposite sex is despised and treated as something obscene. Many boys never recover from this perversion. For every one born homosexual, at least ten permanent pseudo-homosexuals are made by the public school system: nine of these ten as honourably chaste and sentimental as I was.

In the second term the trouble began. A number of things naturally made for my unpopularity. Besides being a scholar and not outstandingly good at games, I was always short of pocket-money. Since I could not conform to the social custom of treating my contemporaries to tuck at the school shop, I could not accept their treating. My clothes, though conforming outwardly to the school pattern, were ready-made and not of the best-quality cloth that all the other boys wore.

The most unfortunate disability of all was that my name appeared on the school list as 'R. von R. Graves'. I had hitherto believed my second name to be 'Ranke'; the 'von', encountered on my birth certificate, disconcerted me. Carthusians behaved secretively about their second names, and usually managed to conceal fancy ones. I could no doubt have passed off' Ranke', without the' von', as monosyllabic and English, but 'von Ranke' was glaring. Businessmen's sons, at this time, used to discuss hotly the threat, and even the necessity, of a trade war with the Reich. 'German' meant 'dirty German'. It meant: 'cheap, shoddy goods competing with our sterling industries.' It also meant military menace, Prussianism, useless philosophy, tedious scholarship, loving music and sabre-rattling.

One of my last recollections at Charterhouse is a school debate on the motion 'that this House is in favour of compulsory military service'. The Empire Service League, with Earl Roberts of Kandahar, V.C., as its President, sent down apropagandist in support. Only six votes out of one hundred and nineteen were noes. I was the principal opposition speaker, having recently resigned from the Officers' Training Corps in revolt against the theory of implicit obedience to orders. And during a fortnight spent the previous summer at the O.T.C. camp near Tidworth on Salisbury Plain, I had been frightened by a special display of the latest military fortifications: barbed-wire entanglements, machine-guns, and field artillery in action. General, now Field-Marshal Sir William Robertson, who had a son at the school, visited the camp and impressed upon us that war with Germany must inevitably break out within two or three years, and that we must be prepared to take our part in it as leaders of the new forces which would assuredly be called into being. Of the six noes,

Nevill Barbour and I are, I believe, the only ones who survived the war.