This area outside of Upper School, separated from the road by a low wall coped with stone, is called Long Walk. Be sure to look at the milestone flanking the wall with the date 1817, recording that Eton College is ‘XXI miles from Hyde Park’.
This stretch of pavement has been the site of many royal encounters.
George III would stop here on his way back from hunting to speak with the boys and in 1505, it is recorded that Henry VII and Philip of Castile rode by ‘when all the children of Eton stood along the bars of the Churchyard’. The funeral procession of Henry VIII passed by in 1547, and Queen Victoria was welcomed by the school here to celebrate her Jubilees in 1887 and 1897. More recently, the school community welcomed Queen Elizabeth as she passed on her Golden Jubilee in 2002.
Here too, in former days, congregated the ‘Sock cads’ (vendors of food). In 1883, it was recorded that…
the low long wall in front of upper school was infested by a whole gang of strolling sock-sellers who lived by allowing credit. Who does not remember old Brion with his hand-cart and twopenny ices; old red-faced ‘Misses’ who sat at the school-yard door selling bullfinches and dormice, as well as apples and nuts; and, above all, old ‘Spankie’, with his eternal greasy hat, his long blue frock coat, and his japanned tin-box full of trays and pastry which he used to open with an unctuous smile, saying, “Anything got you today, sar? Thank you, sar. You can pay next half, sar”.
This photograph from 1860 shows the food and flower vendor Mrs Lipscombe (known as ‘Missus’) with her baskets outside Upper School. By this time, she was in fact the only vendor allowed in this space, as all others had been forbidden by the Head Master, Dr Keate, after a showdown in 1829.
Point yourself in the direction of the turreted and crenelated brick building at the end of long walk.
Built to mirror some of the stylistic features of Lupton’s Tower (at the far end of School Yard behind the statue of Henry VI and visible through the entrance to Upper School), this mock Gothic Victorian lodge was built to house the Head Master’s butler, who had previously resided in a room in Upper School. The building now functions as the duplicating department.
Diaper patterning, like the designs you see on this building, emerged during the Tudor period when builders inserted the heads of overburnt brick into a predominately red-brick wall to create patterns. Here, however, the Victorian builder has chosen to use an arguably inferior technique and has applied the decorative black patterning using paint. This technique was used throughout the Victorian period to adorn buildings all over the country. See how much evidence of this later diaper technique you can spot in Eton!