Notions was the language or slang used by generations of pupils at Winchester College to describe all aspects of their lives at school. Those relating to food are particularly inventive and give an insight into what the boys thought about what they were eating over the centuries.
Lamb or Mutton was the most common dish served at lunch and must have been unappetising given the notions used to describe the various cuts of meat - things like Cat’s Head, Fat Flab and Fleshy. Fish on Friday evidently wasn’t much of an improvement given the use of the term Headless Corpses for herrings. Porges (fried bread served with soup) was perhaps an improvement, helped along by the daily beer ration served in Nipperkins or Nibbikins, with Egg Flip (a hot, spiced beer, with egg and lemon added) served on special occasions and warmed in one the boilers used by the boys.
Puddings may have been a little better than the main course depending on your tastes. Gooseberry fool was either Husky or Non-Husky depending on whether the fruit had been topped and tailed. Verdigris was prunes and custard, and Open Cesspool was an open jam tart. Prunes and custard were at one time know as Ellenberger and Antrobus because of their resemblance to two scholars of those names. Another scholar suffered a worse comparison – Rokeby was the notion for blancmange and jam due to its resemblance to a scholar of that name. Then there is a suet pudding with currants known as Dog Dan, named ‘named after its resemblance to an old spotted spaniel owned by Mr Bather. The dog was a great finder of cricket balls’. Suet or roly-poly puddings were a common desert and are reflected in several notions, some more appealing than others: Chandler’s Finger was a 1920s notion for a long roly-poly pudding, named after a butler called Mr Chandler who had sliced off a finger in the bread-machine; Gobbets was a roly-poly pudding cut in slices and covered with treacle; and then perhaps the best one, King’s Daughter, a roly-poly pudding with jam in the middle, named from Psalm 45.13 ‘the King’s daughter is all glorious within’. Just remember not to ask for ‘Pudding’ because that was the notion for a soft cricket ball….
Away from formal dining, the boys might drink Squish (weak tea) with a Horn of Plenty (a cream horn) or Tug Bun (a currant bun), followed by Suction (sweets) and Condensers (condensed milk), particularly if they were a Grubster (one who eats too much). If they had something to celebrate then perhaps Toad (a piece of burnt toast put into beer to warm it) was on the menu, to accompany a Hot Plate (dish of sausages, eggs, potatoes and peas ordered in from School Shop).
9th August 2022
Each year Winchester College welcomes hundreds of visitors to events, art exhibitions and specialist tours of the school and its collections for Heritage Open Days. This year, in-person events will return to the College with bookings now open.
20th September 2022
A new art exhibition featuring watercolours and drawings from Winchester's collections opens on 28 September 2022 in London.
8th September 2022
The Treasury museum welcomed over 80 children to free Family Craft mornings over the summer.
15th February 2022
A masterpiece by one of the leading artists of the eighteenth century – François Lemoyne’s Annunciation (1727) – has returned to Winchester College after ten years on loan.
19th October 2021
We have an exciting opportunity for four young boys to join the Winchester College Chapel Choir in September 2022 as Quiristers. Find out more about what it's like to be a part of one of the country's most famous choirs.
11th October 2021
An ancient Greek vase, stolen from the school sixty years ago, has been recovered.