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Tiffin Life

The House System

Since 1919 every student and teacher at Tiffin School has been assigned to a house upon arrival at the school. Each house is led by a teacher – the head of house, and a student or students from within the house – the House Captains. They are responsible for overall control and organisation of house activities throughout the year.

Houses compete annually for the House Trophy which is awarded to the winning house at the end of the competition, which consists of academic and sporting events. The house with the highest points score is presented the trophy on Sports Day, usually the Wednesday of the last week of the Summer Term. The name of the winning house and year is recorded on the gallery in the school hall.

Through the House system, all students are able to participate in representative activities such as Sports, Music, Drama, and Public Speaking. The profligacy of the House System across the whole school community is exceptional with every student in the school (including the Sixth Form) competing in between 4 and 5 house competitions on average. There are 75 different competitions run in 20 different disciplines.

The Houses

There are currently eight houses at Tiffin. These houses and their associated colours are:

  1. Churchill-Gordon, Black and White

  2. Darwin-Wilberforce, Silver and Navy

  3. Drake, Black and Red

  4. Kingsley-Montgomery, Black and Green

  5. Livingstone, Blue and Yellow (formerly Brown and Yellow)

  6. Raleigh, Maroon and White

  7. Scott, Blue and White

  8. Turing-Nightingale, Silver and White

To find out about the origins of our House names, please click below.


Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (KG OM CH TD PC DL FRS RA) 1874-1965

Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace on 30 November 1874. At 13 he scraped into the lowest class at Harrow before enrolling at Sandhurst as an officer cadet in September 1893; though it took him three attempts to pass the entrance exam. He would later fight both in the Boer War (1899-1902) and the First World War (1914-1918). He was also First Lord of the Admiralty during WW1 but resigned in disgrace after the botched invasion of Gallipoli.

Churchill became a Conservative MP in 1900. Becoming PM in 1940, Churchill was characterised as a stubbourn pitbull due to his unwavering determination and eloquent speeches which helped carry Britain through its darkest hour onto eventual victory against Hitler during WW2. For this he received a full state funeral on his death in 1965 and was named the ‘Greatest Britain of All Time’ in a 2002 public poll.

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”

Major-General Charles George Gordon “Gordon of Khartoum” (CB) 1833-1885

Gordon began his military career in the Crimean War before forging his reputation in leading the ‘Ever Victorious Army’ in a series of significant victories often against overwhelming odds during what proved a bloody counter-insurgency campaign. For this he was given the position of Governor-General of the Sudan in East Africa where he continued to suppress revolts as well as the slave trade before returning to England to retire in 1880.

Within a year of his leaving Sudan there was a serious revolt led my Islamist Muhammed Ahmad. In 1884 Gordon was dispatched to Khartoum to secure the evacuation of loyal soldiers and their families. Having completed this mission he defied orders and led a small force in a defiant defence of the city during a year long siege. A British relief force arrived two days after the city fell, with Gordon’s death romantisiced as a last stand against a swarm of enemy troops. He became a Victorian hero who exemplified stoic bravery but his sometimes brutal suppression of native rebellions has made him a controversial figure in recent times.

“Success isn’t given, it’s earned.”


Charles Darwin (FRS FRGS FLS FZS) 1809 – 1882

Darwin was an English naturalist and geologist and the father of the theories of evolution and natural selection.

His famous book ‘On The Origin of Species’ laid out overwhelming evidence in support of his theories and eventually lead to the overthrowing of the earlier transmutation of species theory and church teachings on the subject to become the commonly held theory amongst scientists today. For all intents and purposes, his theories are seen today as scientific fact.

Darwin was an explorer and pioneer in his time, especially in his challenging of the teachings of the church. In particular his views on the origins of humans drew much criticism and scorn at the time.

Today Darwin is seen as one of the most influential men in human history, and his name is commemorated throughout the world in buildings, mountains, harbours, cities, species and much, much more.

“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

William Wilberforce 1759 – 1833

William Wilberforce was an activist and politician who dedicated most of his career to the abolition of slavery.

He tirelessly fought as a Member of Parliament, taking on almost half the House, who took donations from slavers.

One month after he died, the slave trade was abolished in this country, largely as a result of his work.

He embodies the dedication and drive Tiffinians should have, and the social activism that should be their responsibility.

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you didn’t know”


Sir Francis Drake 1540 – 1596

Sir Francis Drake was an English explorer involved in piracy and illicit slave trading who became the second person ever to circumnavigate the globe.

In 1577, Drake was chosen as the leader of an expedition intended to pass around South America, through the Strait of Magellan, and explore the coast that lay beyond. Drake successfully completed the journey and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I upon his triumphant return. In 1588 was appointed Vice Admiral of the Navy and saw action in the English defeat of the Spanish Armada. He died in 1596 from dysentery.

“There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory”


Mary Kingsley 1862 – 1900

Mary Kingsley was an English scientific writer and explorer who had little formal education because, at that time, and at her level of society, education was not thought to be necessary for a girl.

She disregarded the cultures of her time and extensively travelled throughout Western Africa with her resulting work helping to shape European perceptions of African customs.

Kingsley’s tales and opinions of life in Africa helped draw attention to British imperial agendas abroad and the native customs of African people that were previously little discussed and misunderstood by the European people. The Fair Commerce Party formed soon after her death, pressuring for improved conditions for the natives of British colonies.

“I remember one of my tutors saying, ‘Always when on a long march assume the attitude you feel most inclined to, as it is less tiring’.” 

Bernard Montgomery (1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, GCB, DSO, PC, DL) 1887 – 1976

Nicknamed “Monty” and the “Spartan General”, was a senior British Army officer who fought in both World Wars.

During the Second World War he commanded the British Eighth Army in the Western Desert until the final Allied victory in Tunisia in May 1943. This command included the Second Battle of El Alamein, a turning point in the Western Desert Campaign. He subsequently commanded the British Eighth Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily and then Italy.

He was in command of all Allied ground forces during Operation Overlord from the initial landings until after the Battle of Normandy. He was the principal field commander for the failed airborne attempt to bridge the Rhine at Arnhem, and the Allied Rhine crossing. On 4 May 1945 he took the German surrender at Lüneburg Heath in Northern Germany.

After the war he became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in Germany and then Chief of the Imperial General Staff (1946-8). He then served as Deputy Supreme Commander of NATO in Europe.

“I was well beaten myself, and I am better for it.”


David Livingstone 1813 – 1873

Was a Scottish Christian Congregationalist, pioneer medical missionary with the London Missionary Society, an explorer in Africa, and one of the most popular British heroes of the late-19th-century in the Victorian era. He had a mythical status that operated on a number of interconnected levels: Protestant missionary martyr, working-class “rags-to-riches” inspirational story, scientific investigator and explorer, imperial reformer, anti-slavery crusader, and advocate of commercial and colonial expansion.

His fame as an explorer and his obsession with discovering the sources of the Nile River was founded on the belief that if he could solve that age-old mystery, his fame would give him the influence to end the East African Arab-Swahili slave trade. “The Nile sources,” he told a friend, “are valuable only as a means of opening my mouth with power among men. It is this power which I hope to remedy an immense evil.”

“I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward.”


Sir Walter Raleigh 1554 – 1618

Was one of the most famous explorers of Elizabeth I’s reign colonising North America and paving the way for future English settlements.  His courage and good looks made him a favourite of the Queen’s, and she rewarded him handsomely. Raleigh was also a scholar and a poet, but he is usually remembered for introducing the essential potato, and the addictive tobacco to England.

However, his reckless nature eventually made him unpopular at court. He managed to displease both the Queen and her successor James I, and so found himself a prisoner of the Tower of London – no less than three times! However, on his release, Raleigh angered the King once again. He was charged with treason and executed outside the Palace of Westminster in 1618.

“Talking much is a sign of vanity, for the one who is lavish with words is cheap in deeds.”


Captain Robert Falcon Scott (CVO, RN) 1868 – 1912

Was a British Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions: the Discovery Expedition (1901–1904) and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition (1910–1913). On the first expedition, he set a new southern record by marching to latitude 82°S and discovered the Polar (Antarctic) Plateau, on which the South Pole is located. On the second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, four weeks after Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian expedition. On their return journey, Scott’s party discovered plant fossils, proving Antarctica was once forested and joined to other continents. A planned meeting with supporting dog teams from the base camp failed, despite Scott’s written instructions, and at a distance of 150 miles from their base camp and 11 miles from the next depot, Scott and his companions perished.

“We are very near the end, but have not and will not lose our good cheer.”


Alan Turing (OBE FRS) 1912 – 1954

Alan Turing was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher and theoretical biologist. He is often referred to as the father of modern computing and artificial intelligence.

He was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formulisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation. During WW2, Turing worked at Bletchley Park where he played a pivotal role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements.  Churchill stated that he helped to shorten the war by 2 years.

Despite all that he achieved, he was never fully recognised in England during his lifetime due to his homosexuality, which was then a crime in the UK.  Fortunately in modern times he is seen as a hero and is a great inspirational figure due to his sustaining passion, his keen intellect and aspirations through hard times.

“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”

Florence Nightingale (OM RRC) 1820 – 1910

Florence Nightingale was a trailblazing figure in nursing who greatly affected 19th- and 20th-century policies around proper care. She was born in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820. Part of a wealthy family, Nightingale defied the expectations of the time and pursued what she saw as her God-given calling of nursing. She had always dreamed of being a nurse; during her adolescent years, nursing was a job only for poor women – ones who could not do any other jobs as they did not have enough social status.  Florence Nightingale changed that – she set up multiple schools to train anyone (rich or poor) with the same dreams she had.

She also played a key role in the development of graphs and charts for presenting statistics. This helped doctors and patients alike to understand data and interpret results better and so better equipped them to make life changing decisions. During the Crimean War, she and a team of nurses improved the unsanitary conditions at a British base hospital, greatly reducing the death count.  She was known for her night rounds to aid the wounded, establishing her image as the ‘Lady with the Lamp.’ Nightingale was a prodigious and versatile writer. Her writings sparked worldwide health care reform, and in 1860 she established St. Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses.  A revered hero of her time, she died on August 13, 1910, in London.

“I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.”

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