Lancing College Digital Archives


Welcome to the Lancing College digital archives. It is now possible to view a selection of interesting items from the archives such as the Lancing College Magazine, audio and video files as well as a selection of house photographs.

Walking around the grounds of Lancing College one often tries to imagine how it might have been in days gone by, perhaps trying to visualise some of the pupils who were here in the previous century (or two). Though these things are pondered using a 21st century mindset, the very fabric of Lancing College is a constant reminder of its long and rich history. The Lancing College archives contain many clues and glimpses into the past, and people who visit the archives will often find something of great interest to their specific search. Many of these archives have been brought to life digitally, and can now be viewed on this digital website. In wondering how students went about their daily lives, what people wore or how lessons were conducted, it is possible at the click of a 21st century mouse, to see things hitherto filed away in drawers and boxes.

In the Video section of the website, who could fail to be moved by the archived video clip of the 1938 Athletic Sports for example? Here, boys at Lancing College in 1938 can be seen participating in an athletics competition in the grounds that are so familiar, yet at the same time a lifetime away. The digitised media file converted from old cine film, offers a unique insight into sporting life at Lancing College almost 80 years ago.


In the Lancing College Magazine section, several years of the school magazine have been digitised, and can be searched using the Search facility. Several decades of the magazine are available including the earliest edition in 1877, the First World War years and the 1950s and 60s. It is hoped that as fund become available, the remaining years will be added to the digital collection, and OLs interested in funding a project such as their particular school years are invited to get in touch.

In the Diaries and Correspondence section, there is a rare glimpse into daily life at Lancing College between 1916 and 1921, thanks to a very kind lady who donated the papers of her late father Stephen Dalston. Stephen was a pupil at Lancing College during the dark years of the First World War and he hand wrote regular weekly letters to his mother throughout his time at Lancing College. Mostly the letters described daily life in school and newsworthy events typical of a teenage (before the word was invented of course) boy, carefully chosen and described for his mother. We can perhaps imagine Stephen's mother sitting down to read her son's letter and finding out what he had been up to.


One letter of particular interest was written on 11th November 1918, the day the war finally ended. In the letter Stephen describes to his mother how everyone at school in the morning was on tenterhooks, hoping that the Armistice would be signed. Then suddenly, the porter's bell was heard ringing from the turret, and this relayed the good news all around Lancing College that the war had ended. Immediately everyone gathered in the Upper Quad and started cheering. A group of boys tried to hoist the Union Jack at the top of the Master's Tower, but as one of the ropes was broken, it fell to one of the boys to climb up the flagpole and manually tie the Jack to the pole (it would be several decades before Health and Safety would curb such initiative). A half day holiday was declared, and whilst some like Stephen took the opportunity to study the stiff terms of the Armistice, others decided to seize the fire engine and let off the hoses in celebration. A quick check of the Lancing College magazine confirms that “Monday November 11th, was a great day for everyone, but we are given to understand that the condition of the fire engine is critical”. Perhaps Stephen joined in with these shenanigans also, but perhaps he didn't trouble his mother with this detail.

Stephen's letter affords us a trip back to life at Lancing College almost a century ago, and offers a unique insight into events on that historic day, from a schoolboy's perspective. The letters survived yet another world war, and having been beautifully kept for so many years, are now available to read in a digital format. Today hand written letters are a rarity and it's perhaps harder to imagine the modern day equivalent of a text message or Tweet being stored in the archives, at least not in a box with tissue paper. It is hoped that by preserving archives digitally as well as the traditional way, they will be available for many generations to come.