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Boarding with the master

engraved drawing of a young man captioned age 16 dressed in suit with waistcoat signed with initials R TSabine Baring-Gould (1850)Boarding house life has never been easy for students and has been the subject of numerous letters, skits and parodies.

One, published in 1902 entitled 'boarding-House Geometry', compared it to an unchanging mathematical formula:

'Any two meals at a boarding house are together less than two square meals', the author adding dryly that 'The clothes of a boarding house bed will not meet however far they may be produced in either direction'.

Pupils of King's College School often lodged at the homes of their masters where they might be supervised more closely. This was not always a satisfactory arrangement.

Sabine Baring-Gould (image reference: Wikimedia Common, retrieved April 2015), who later achieved fame by composing the hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers, described the austere regime as a boarder with his master, Mr Hayes, on the corner of Queen's Square:

'We had for supper bread and scrape, and sky-blue, i.e. diluted milk. On one occasion the boys discussed whether there existed butter enough on the slabs of bread to make them adhere anywhere. 'I will try', said I, and flung my piece against the ceiling, and lo! It stuck!

The footman was obliged to bring a broom to get it down.

Mr Hayes was informed… and sent for me to receive a reprimand. 'Please, sir,' said I, 'I proved to the boys that we are not skimped for butter. They will all write home… and praise the way the butter is laid on.'

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