Friday 21 August 2015

A Walk Through Eton + The Eton College Natural History Museum

After starting my day in Windsor, after lunch I headed to Eton to continue exploring.

Eton is just a short walk from Windsor Castle (very convenient for a quick visit!). I walked down to the river, over Eton Bridge...

... and along Eton High Street, peering in the windows of the tailors and other shops.


After spotting several interesting post boxes that morning (two green ones and a blue airmail one) it was nice to spot this quirky design!

The college was closed for the summer holidays, so the streets and courtyards were filled with tourists instead of boys in their uniforms. It'd been a while since I last visited Eton, so it was great to rediscover the college's many charms. 

It is no overstatement to say this place is WONDERFUL. There are so many old and interesting buildings, with quirky little details and beautiful architectural features. Individually each building is lovely and collectively the whole place is quite magical. Wandering the courtyards you can't help but imagine what it must be like going to a boarding school like this! (Did you read boarding school novels when you were a kid? I read loads).


It's also quite similar to Oxford's older colleges, which gives you the slightly surreal feeling that you've walked through a portal from Windsor and magically ended up in Oxford (well, I felt like that, anyway! I may also have read a lot of books involving magic portals when I was a kid).


I also loved this little peaceful patch (of park? common? I'm not sure). Such a lovely place for a summer stroll.

My next stop was the college's Natural History Museum. Set up to enrich the boys' scientific education (at a school that traditionally focused heavily on Classics) the museum is open to visiting school groups by appointment and the general public on Sunday afternoons (2.30 - 5pm).


This museum is a delightful hidden gem!

It's a smallish space, two floors crammed with cabinets and display boards and interesting objects. Lots of old Etonians became scientists and/or travelled the world, and brought back collections which they later donated to the museum. There's a fabulous mix of things to see - including a collection of coral, a four-legged duck, tribal jewellery and weapons, a collection of model elephants and much more.

There's an obvious passion for making the exhibits come alive for visiting children with lots of fun facts to discover and little quizzes along the way, and the staff member on duty when I visited was very friendly and interested in whether I'd enjoyed my visit (I had).

One famous old Etonian was Sir Joseph Banks, who sailed on HMB Endeavour with Captain Cook. I loved the replica of his cabin on the Endeavour. There's also a small garden in the neighbouring courtyard "planted with species which includes direct descendants of plants brought back by Banks from that famous voyage."

It's definitely worth scheduling a visit to Windsor & Eton on a Sunday so you can pop in here.

After I'd finished looking round the museum I walked back to the river, finishing my day out with an icecream (Eton Mess flavour!) and a stroll along the Thames in the sunshine.