OC Memories of Boarding at Caldicott

15 October 2020


Boarding lies at the heart of Caldicott; it helps build a unique sense of community. The Boarding House plays a key role in developing the School’s strong sense of family values, encouraging boys to live and work together harmoniously, build friendships and develop independence before going onto their senior schools.

From the forbidden dorm raids late at night (shhh...don’t tell Matron!), treat nights with hot coco in the snug, to boarders’ BBQs on warm summer evenings out on the lawn, many OCs have fond memories of their time as a boarder at Caldicott. Although the initial thought of boarding may have felt rather daunting at first, within no time the busy evening activities programme and blossoming friendships created a home from home.

We asked OCs Guy Stonor (2012-2017), Toby Ferneyhough (2012-2018), George Hanlon (2015-2018) and Jonah Pinsent (2013-2019) about their boarding experience and how this prepared them for life at senior school.


What was the best thing about boarding at Caldicott? 

George - The best thing about boarding at Caldicott must have been the fact that every night was like a huge sleepover, with all of your friends. I remember looking forward to going upstairs and having a laugh with my dorm all the time.

Toby - One of the great advantages which I have only come to realise recently is the long-term friendships which you form in the Boarding House. Furthermore, meeting up with a few fellow OC's and reminiscing on our times at Caldicott always brings joy. 

Guy - I would say the best thing for me personally about boarding at Caldicott was the seemingly endless free time and the vast amounts of clubs and activities I could participate in to occupy my time.

Jonah - The best thing about boarding was probably the after-class activities and messing around with your friends in the cricket nets, IT labs and outside on the pitches.


How did boarding at prep school prepare you for life at your senior school? 

George - Boarding before senior school was so useful, I’m really grateful to my parents that they made that decision as once I arrived at Radley, I felt much more comfortable and much more prepared for the first couple of weeks as I had some idea what boarding would feel like, I know some of my friends did struggle with homesickness within the first couple of weeks - having boarded before I didn’t have this issue, it made my first couple of weeks much more enjoyable.

Toby - The preparation which you receive for senior school at Caldicott is unparalleled. Once you arrive at senior school, you appreciate heavily how similar the routine is that you are used to, and seeing other boys not used to the routine further emphasizes just how important it is. Harrow, like many senior schools, is just a stepped-up version of prep school, which is why it's so pivotal to get into the routines early. 

Guy - I feel that Boarding prepared me very well for senior school as it allowed me to settle into the boarding aspect of secondary school which in turn allowed me to devote my time to academics, sport or extra-curricular activities rather than worrying about boarding as some people at Tonbridge did.

Jonah - Boarding at Caldicott was definitely a good step up. I think the sudden change from being home every day to going home every three to four weeks, like we do at Eton, would result in a bit of homesickness had I not boarded before.


How did you overcome homesickness? 

George - I found that just knowing that you are going home at the weekend worked best for me, I could have all the fun during the week knowing full well that come Saturday afternoon I’d be all cosy at home after my rugby match.

Toby - It is important to utilize all of the resources available to you; Caldicott's staff are all trained extremely well to deal with homesickness and it's so important to talk about it. There is no need to be embarrassed, or nervous to talk about it, as it's something which we all go through. There are so many resources available at Caldicott, such as the Outside Listener, and it is vital that boys use that opportunity rather than going straight to their parents. 

Guy - I personally experienced homesickness early on at Caldicott however, I would say the best way to get over this is to always be keeping your mind occupied whether it be through sport, academics, activities or even just talking to friends. After doing this for a couple of weeks I realised I had stopped getting homesick and started to properly enjoy boarding.

Jonah - I didn’t really have a problem with homesickness as I had boarded in the Summer Term of 4th Form (Year 5), but I could sympathise with my friends if they had it. I definitely thought the teachers did a good job with supporting us and there were plenty of opportunities to phone or email home and our parents could also visit us on Wednesday evenings.  


Do you have any funny anecdotes about Caldicott boarding? 

George - During the last term after Common Entrance, my dorm hosted ‘Hanlon of the Opera,’ This was staring yours truly. Although it was silly it was a lot of fun and we hosted a small concert in our dorm - each member of the dorm had a role in our concert, I still look back on it being a highlight! It was so much fun and everyone had a really good time - even Mr Whitmell (our corridor teacher) attended.

Toby - The first one which comes to mind was the adventures of Dorm 14 in the Autumn Term of 5th Form. We were known as somewhat a rebellious dorm at times, who perhaps should have listened to Ma'am Quinn a bit more. To cut to the chase, on Halloween one night, Ma'am Quinn had a noise maker which created scary noises and sounds which she played on her balcony which came through our window. I think one boy got quite a shock when she snuck up behind a door with a zombie mask. These little moments are what made boarding at Caldicott so enjoyable, creating life-long memories.

Guy - I feel as though many of the anecdotes make for funny stories at reunions now, one of these events was in my second term of boarding where all but five of my year got caught dorm raiding with us somehow managing to wake up certain members of staff, this was made even funnier by the fact that we were all given an 'ASBO' despite us feeling that it was in fact quite a social thing to do!

Jonah - I remember in the last couple of nights at Caldicott when we decided it would be a great idea to run across the hallway and into the 5th Formcorridor and start a pillow fight, not exactly the most sensible of activities, but fun nevertheless.


Boarding at Caldicott: Having attended Caldicott in Years 3 - 6 as day pupils, all boys go on to board in Years 7 and 8. This gentle and nurturing introduction to boarding, embarked upon with established friendship groups in a setting that the boys already know and love, fosters a unique sense of community and helps boys build independence before transition to senior school. Full and weekly boarding is available, with the majority of boys going home on Saturday after matches and returning to school on either Sunday evening or Monday morning. Boarding is also optional in Years 5 – 6.


Old Caldicotian Memories of Boarding

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