Castle, Coach and College
Around 1700, Charles Seymour, the 6th Duke of Somerset, built a splendid mansion in the Castle grounds as a hunting lodge, now “C” house of the College. Marlborough was becoming an important staging point on the fast coach route between London, Bath and Bristol. The Seymour mansion became the Castle Inn, one of the most famous in England. This trade virtually ceased with the coming of Brunel’s Great Western Railway in 1841 which went through Swindon and contributed much to Marlborough’s economic decline. The celebrated Castle Inn was obliged to close but was not empty for long.
A group of enthusiasts for the educational principles expounded by Dr Arnold of Rugby School, was looking for a place to establish a school based on his methods. They chose the Castle Inn. At this stage Marlborough College was founded as a school to educate the sons of the clergy and the first boys started in 1843. However the College did not have the endowments of the older public schools. Friction between staff and boys led to the “Great Rebellion” of October to December 1851 which involved the local militia. The problems overcome, the college went on to become one of the most famous public schools in the land.
The school was put on a sound footing after 1855 by Dr Cotton who had served under Thomas Arnold. He instituted the House system with House Masters, Priory and Preshute Houses being among the first to be established. The College went from strength to strength and achieved Dr Cotton’s aim of competing with the best English Public Schools such as Winchester and Rugby. The College was an all boys school until girls were admitted to the sixth form after 1968 and to the whole school after 1989.
Old Marlburians have not only served as Mayors of the town but gained 13 VCs and one George Cross in the two World Wars. They suffered 750 deaths in action in WWI and 415 in WWII. Famous old Marlburians include Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie, grand-daughter of the Queen, notorious double agent Anthony Blunt, poet John Betjemen and William Morris, poet, artist and social reformer, to mention but a few. The full list is available, like everything else, on the web.