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News > From the Archives > Selwyn's House

Selwyn's House

Ever wondered about the origins of your house's name at the College, then read on....In a series of six brief articles Lerpoolian, Mike Askham, explores the inspiration behind each house's name.
Selwyn's Coat of Arms
Selwyn's Coat of Arms

Founded in 1918 during the headship of the seventh Principal, Rev Harold Costley-White, as Prestwich's, the name of its first housemaster, Selwyn's House achieved its more permanent identity in 1921, along with three of the other names still in use today. Its colours of red and white were established, as were its badge, a porcupine gules (ie a red porcupine - probably retained as Mr Prestwich's family crest), and its French motto, 'Always ready' - a play on the name of Prestwich possibly belonging to that family. 

The Rev Edward Carus Selwyn, a former King's College Cambridge scholar, was appointed Principal at the age of 28 in 1882. Straightaway he set about rejuvenating an old, and increasingly ineffective, Common Room by persuading three of his Cambridge contemporaries to join him. He pressurised the governors into moving the Upper School from Shaw Street to Lodge Lane on the edge of Sefton Park. Discipline was important to him, and he soon stood up to parents, challenging anyone who disapproved of the school rules to remove his boy.

Selwyn believed, as Wainwright notes, that there was the potential in Liverpool to build a school of which the city would be proud and to which her sons would be sent instead of the fashion for sending them away from home and home influences at enormous expense to unhealthy swamps and desolate hillsides in remote parts of England. But, despite some fine school examination results, and successes at both Oxford and Cambridge, the novelty of Liverpool College, with city attention increasingly diverted to the new University College, was wearing off.

Realising that his dream of creating an Upper School with two or three boarding houses to rival the likes of Cheltenham and Clifton Colleges in the south-west was not going to come to fruition, Selwyn moved on, at the end of 1888, to Uppingham School in the rural county of Rutland, where he remained in post for twenty years.

Rev C.S. Selwyn, Principal 1882-1888


The author gratefully acknowledges three sources for his information and pictures: David Wainwright OL, 'Liverpool Gentlemen' (1960); Ken Siviter OL, '175 years, Past, Present & Future' (2015); and T.R Wilton in an article published in the College Magazine (1952).

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