If the large, wooden gates are open, you should be able to spy the bronze statue of Henry VI in the centre of School Yard designed by Francis Bird in 1719. School Yard is the larger of two quadrangles, which together, make up the most historic area of the college. School Yard is bordered by the north façade of College Chapel, Lupton’s Range, containing Lupton’s Tower with its clock (1517-1520), Lower School and above it Long Chamber where the Kings’ Scholars sleep, and Upper School (1689-1694).
The elevation you can see from Long Walk is Upper School, erected by Provost Allestree in 1665. Until then, School Yard was bordered by a low wall with a gap in the middle. The original building was deemed unsafe by 1689, and it was reconstructed to become the building you see today. This work was probably by Matthew Backers, Master Carpenter to the Royal Works, who worked very closely with Sir Christopher Wren. The two-storied, eleven-bayed building is constructed in dark brick with stone dressings.
The entrance has rusticated stone surrounds which support a flat archway with pronounced voussoirs. These weathered stone surrounds are constructed from Bath Stone, which although very weathered in places, is a very fine grain stone and has allowed boys to carve into it. Be sure to get a closer look at the fourth stone up on the left on the entrance. This historical graffiti can be spotted on the exterior walls of numerous buildings at Eton College. The roof is hidden from the ground by a stone balustrade that runs the length of the building. Take notice of the bricked-up window on the right of the façade — a reminder of the window tax introduced in 1696 under William III. Perhaps it was hoped that this window would be glazed later?
One story that is almost impossible to read from the reconstruction of the building is that of the bomb which exploded in the corner of Upper School in December 1940. It destroyed part of Upper School along with the Headmaster’s School Room and the windows on the north side of the chapel, together with the East Window. The photograph below was taken from School Yard, looking towards School Hall and School Library.
If you would like to read more about the bombing, do take a look at this report in the Eton Chronicle, written on 30 January 1941.