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House System

The House system is at the very heart of school life at the RGS as boys derive great pride and enjoyment from their sense of identity through their involvement with their House.

Each RGS boy is assigned to one of the six Houses on entry to the School. Boys are carefully and fairly allocated to Houses, although if there is some family connection to a House then a boy will follow this family tradition. Each house has its own distinctive character and colour and is led by a Housemaster and his or her Deputy, a team of House Tutors and a group of senior boys led by the House Captain. The regular meetings and competitive events serve to produce a close-knit, cohesive group which provides strong links between age-groups and supportive, vertical pastoral structure. The Houses compete in the annual Cock House Cup which is an enthusiastically contested competition which allows all boys to represent their Houses in a range of events from sports, to public speaking, to quizzes. The two events which serve as the culmination of this competition are Sports Day and Swimming Sports; traditionally, these help to determine the overall winner of the competition.


There are six Houses in the School – Austen (yellow), Beckingham (red), Hamonde (dark blue), Nettles (light blue), Powell (maroon) and Valpy (white) – named after six prominent men of Guildford, all of whom were at one time benefactors of the School.


John Austen was one of a pair of former Guildford mayors, the other being William Hamonde, who moved the School to its present site and oversaw construction of the Old Building ‘beinge all of Brick and Stone of a stronge and faier buildings of three storyes highe covered with Horsham stone ’ in the 1560s.


Robert Beckingham was a Tudor resident of Southwark, a wool merchant of whom little of his personal life is known. His will of 1509 marked the beginning of the history of the Royal Grammar School, bequeathing funds for either a priest to say prayers for his soul or failing that to ‘ make a free scole at the towne of Guildford’. The sum appears to have been the then considerable amount of £20 per annum, and by 1520 a school had been created using this endowment.


William Hamonde was a Mayor of Guildford who, in the reign of Elizabeth I, lacking heirs, bequeathed his home and wealth to the School. The Old Building, the oldest existent part of the School was built on this land in the 1560s with financial and managerial assistance from another former Mayor, John Austen.


Joseph Nettles was a 17th century landowner who by his will of 1691 endowed the School with land in Stoke, the rents of which were to maintain the son of a freeman of Guildford at Oxford or Cambridge ‘ taught and fitted for the University in Guildford free grammar school, and who has read and learned some Greek author and been well instructed in the Latin tongue ’. This was the first university scholarship provided for pupils of the School.


The Powell family were longstanding benefactors to the school. When the School was faced with financial ruin in the 1880s, TW Powell staved off disaster with a gift of £1,000 whilst his son Herbert Powell presented lands at Boxgrove and Allen House field to serve as playing fields.


The Reverend Arthur Valpy, Rector of Holy Trinity Church, was the driving force behind the preservation of the School when it had fallen into material and financial decay in the 1880s. The committee he chaired successfully raised the funds needed for the repair of the School buildings and its rejuvenation as a place of learning.

Cock House Cup

During the course of the year, the Houses compete for the prestigious Cock House Cup over a wide range of events. The main aims of the Cock House Cup competition are to promote participation by every single boy over a range of events; close collaboration between different year groups; a sense of pride and identity; healthy competition; and enjoyment.

The School’s main sports appear in the Cock House Cup; however, to ensure active participation other events also feature, ranging from drama to chess, from dragon boat racing for the new First Form boys to debating.

Year Winner of Cock House Cup
2000 Nettles
2001 Hamonde
2002 Valpy
2003 Valpy
2004 Valpy
2005 Powell
2006 Powell
2007 Hamonde
2008 Hamonde
2009 Hamonde
2010 Hamonde
2011 Hamonde
2012 Powell
2013 Hamonde
2014 Nettles
2015 Beckingham
"[Pupils] are consistently polite and courteous"
ISI Report 2014