(From The Oundelian, published June 2020)
Nestled in the quiet Northamptonshire countryside is Oundle School. In this hive of activity, two of the most famous, interconnecting houses, with a long history of rivalry, are Grafton and Sidney. At times these Houses have a symbolic brother-like relationship. But in the past, these two Houses have hated each other as much as the U.S. and North Korea. So after two years at Oundle, I have decided to explore this unique relationship in Oundle culture.
The wailing bullet roared out of the Tippmann A5. It was a cold, bleak and wet day in March 2018, playing host to the annual Grafton-Sidney paintball match. There was a sense of euphoria amongst the Grafton boys, anticipating (yet again) Sidney’s crushing defeat. Dr Quiddington stormed the barracks, flanked by a cohort of Upper Sixth Form boys. The Grafton boys, gallantly led by Mr Gough, repelled them, as if animals in a zoo. At the end Grafton came out on top, 11-9. However, the annual House paintball match shows more than just points.
"The old paintball match was the greatest metaphor for Grafton and Sidney’s unique relationship… it demonstrated camaraderie, companionship and friendly rivalry"Charles Aldous, Grafton
To me, as a Graftonian, the old paintball match was the greatest metaphor for Grafton and Sidney’s unique relationship. It was a mixed day of emotions, from Mr Gough lifting the trophy (for the fourth year in a row) to Dr Quiddington’s despair at yet another loss. But it demonstrated camaraderie, companionship and friendly rivalry. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for certain Houses.
Whether it’s Grafton boys venturing into the Sidney laundry room, or Sidney boys cruising down the Grafton stairs, both houses are geographically and socially very similar. Take, for example, the internal layout: both houses are virtually identical. We are both blessed with caring matrons. Further, we have an agreement that guarantees reciprocal rights on both sides of the corridor.
"The unique Grafton-Sidney relationship is the best example of how Houses should stand together in solidarity"Charles Aldous, Grafton
The social side of the School is like a beehive and Grafton-Sidney relations are at the forefront of this. When the Grafton Third Form play football on their first day of the School, they play against Sidney. When Grafton messes up House Shout, the only House which gives us a standing ovation is Sidney. There are many differences between our two fine Houses but we, in a vast array of ways, support each other much like the steadfast Anglo-American relations of the 21st century.
In many ways, the unique Grafton-Sidney relationship is the best example of how Houses should stand together in solidarity.
Junior day pupils in the First and Second Forms are accommodated in Scott House, sharing the generous grounds of The Berrystead, the junior boarding House for pupils aged eleven to thirteen. Each of the senior boarding Houses are specifically designed to have family accommodation for a Housemaster or Housemistress and, aside from the smaller Berrystead, each houses approximately sixty pupils, with roughly twelve in each year group.