Eton Boating Song

Eton Boating Song

The Eton Boating Song is the best known of the school songs associated with Eton College that are sung at the end of year concert and on other important occasions. It is also played during the procession of boats. The words of the song were written by William Johnson Cory, an influential Master at the school. The melody was composed by an Old Etonian and former pupil of Cory, Capt. Algernon Drummond and transcribed by T. L. Mitchell-Innes. The piano accompaniment was written by Evelyn Wodehouse. [British Library Catalogue] It was first performed on 4 June 1863. Contrary to popular belief however, it is not the school song, that being Carmen Etonense.


Ordinarily only the first, sixth, seventh and eighth stanzas are sung (as shown here):

:1.:"Jolly boating weather,":"And a hay harvest breeze,":"Blade on the feather,":"Shade off the trees,":"Swing swing together,":"With your bodies between your knees,":"Swing swing together,":"With your bodies between your knees."

:2.:"Rugby may be more clever,":"Harrow may make more row,":"But we'll row for ever,":"Steady from stroke to bow,":"And nothing in life shall sever,":"The chain that is round us now,":"And nothing in life shall sever,":"The chain that is round us now."

:3.:"Others will fill our places,":"Dressed in the old light blue,":"We'll recollect our races,":"We'll to the flag be true,":"And youth will be still in our faces,":"When we cheer for an Eton crew,":"And youth will be still in our faces,":"When we cheer for an Eton crew."

:4.:"Twenty years hence this weather,":"May tempt us from office stools,":"We may be slow on the feather,":"And seem to the boys old fools,":"But we'll still swing together,":"And swear by the best of schools,":"But we'll still swing together,":"And swear by the best of schools."


The traditional status of Eton as the training grounds for Britain's wealthy elite endowed the song with a peculiar cultural cachet. For instance, writer George Orwell, an Old Etonian himself, wrote in his famous autobiographical essay 'Such, Such Were the Joys' that:

:From the whole decade before 1914 there seems to breathe forth a smell of the more vulgar, un-grown-up kind of luxury, a smell of brilliantine and crème-de-menthe and soft-centred chocolates — an atmosphere, as it were, of eating everlasting strawberry ices on green lawns to the tune of the Eton Boating Song.

Other uses

In 1939 the tune (at a higher than usual tempo) was used as the theme for the film "A Yank at Eton". In the 1960s, the tune was adopted by Coventry City as their club anthem. The lyrics were rewritten by Jimmy Hill and Derrick Robbins in order to be relevant to the club, and the song is still regularly sung by City fans today.In an interview on Bravo, Hugh Laurie, a graduate from Eton sang, with great embarrassment, the first verse of the Eton Boating Song. He also dryly commented on the homoeroticism of the phrase 'With your bodies between your knees.' [cite web|url=|title= Hugh on ITAS]

The Eton Boating Song also features in the 1960s television series The Prisoner, in the episodes The Girl Who Was Death and Once Upon a Time.fact|date=July 2008

The song also features in the 1953 British British comedy film The Titfield Thunderbolt.

ee also

* Eton College


"A.D.E.W." The Eton Boating Song London: Robert W. Ollivier 1878 & J Roberts & Co 1920. Both 9 pp folio.

External links

* [ The Eton Boating Song] Eton College

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