Eton Boating Song

Album: Rule Britannia (1863)

Songfacts®:

  • Known variously as "Eton Boat Song", "The Eaton Boating Song", or simply "Boating Song", the music, in 6/8 time, was composed by Algernon H. Drummond, and the words were written by William Johnson Cory. This though was not a regular songwriting partnership but more master and pupil.

    Founded in 1440, Eton College (or simply Eton) is the most famous public school in Britain, and one of the most prestigious in the world. (In Britain, a public school is actually a private school; fees for Eton in 2011 were upwards of nine thousand pounds per half term). The Battle of Waterloo is said to have been won on the playing fields of Eton; according to an article in the Independent of December 7, 2005, its alumni included no less than nineteen former prime ministers.

    Cory - then known as William Johnson - wrote the words at Torquay over Christmas, 1862.

    The song was first performed on June 4, 1863, and is sung at the school's end of year concert and other important occasions, including during the procession of boats, Eton being on the Thames, and the College having a long boating tradition.
  • The song's authors were both Eton alumni. After graduating from Eton, William Johnson Cory (1823–92) went on to Kings College, Cambridge, then returned to take up a post as Assistant Master and remained until 1872, when he inherited an estate. He was not a regular lyricist but a classical scholar whose forte was writing verse in Latin.

    Drummond chose a military career, and wrote the music to his best known work at Lahore, India while a captain serving with The Rifle Brigade. Eton College retains the copyright of the song, which has been used in a number of films and TV series, and its melody has been used for alternative versions. "The Sky Blue Song" is the official song of Coventry City Football Club; the alternative words were written by soccer player turned commentator Jimmy Hill, who managed the club from 1961-7.
  • An unprintable parody is called "All Queers Together" by an appropriately anonymous author. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3

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