Classics – the study of the languages, literature, history and culture of ancient Greece and Rome – remains as important a part of an education at Charterhouse as ever. The range of discipline can be fundamental in the study of philosophy, archaeology, philology and anthropology, and useful in modern languages, history, science and mathematics; the study of our subjects, in addition to any intrinsic interest, fosters within our learners a set of high-grade, transferable skills that remain valued by universities and employers alike.
The School has a proud tradition of Classical scholarship. Amongst our alumni are Sophoclean scholar Richard Jebb, lexicographer Henry Liddell, and novelist Robert Graves; former Housemasters include TE Page and GS Davies. We are fortunate to have a remarkable collection of antiquities in our archive, including a wide range of pottery in some cases over 3000 years old.
Charterhouse remains one of the few schools to offer an entrance scholarship in Classics – the Benn Scholarship, named after two Carthusians who lost their lives in WWI. All Fourths study Latin, and uptake to GCSE is around 50 boys; all pupils this year achieved 7-9 grades, with over 50% at grade 9. At Pre-U pupils enjoy a wide range of Classical reading and a thorough grounding in advanced language material; all grades this year were at Distinction level. Greek is available throughout the school and similarly excellent results are achieved at all levels. Oxbridge numbers are good, with all three applicants from Year 13 this year gaining places, and an Old Carthusian achieved the top Classics Mods First at Oxford this year.
We have a rich co-curricular programme that includes trips, conferences, competitions and a departmental magazine. The Classics Society meets every week with talks from pupils, teachers and external speakers (often from Oxford and Cambridge); these are sometimes paired with other societies. We host a conference for schools each year to enable pupils at Charterhouse and beyond to hear world-class lectures from academics on classical literature, and regularly run prep school taster days in Classical Greek. Each year pupils take part in classical reading and recitation competitions and devise performances from Greek theatre for the annual Art Festival, Artifex.
Members of the Department
Mr Jonathan Nelmes, MA Oxon – Head of Department
Mr Nelmes was educated at Lancing and Oriel College, Oxford, and before joining Charterhouse taught at Blundell’s and St Edward’s. He enjoys teaching all courses in Latin and Greek literature but is especially interested in epic and tragedy, and in particular the poetry of Virgil. Mr Nelmes runs the Classics Society and supervises the department’s Oxbridge programme; outside of the classics department he is the school’s Teaching and Learning co-ordinator and a tutor in Girdlestoneites, as well as coaching Fives and U15A cricket.
Dr Tasos Aidonis, MA, PhD
Dr Aidonis is a native of Athens and graduated in Classics and Ancient History from the University of Ioannina before he moved to Glasgow to write his PhD. His special area of interest is Greek history. Outside the classroom he is an officer in the CCF and a hockey coach. Dr Aidonis is also Housemaster of Bodeites and Master of the Scholars.
Mr Jim Freeman, MA Cantab
Mr Freeman graduated in Classics and Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge. Mr Freeman is particularly interested in the connections between classical literature and the history, politics, philosophy and material culture of the ancient world. Some of his favourite reading is the epic poetry of Homer and Virgil. He also coaches sports (rugby, football, cross-country and athletics) and is co-ordinator of the School’s Creativity, Action and Service Programme.
Mr Richard Haynes, MA Cantab
Mr Haynes is also a University of Cambridge graduate. Whilst interested in all classical courses, from beginner to Oxbridge level, he particularly enjoys teaching courses in art and architecture and the archaeology of the Bay of Naples. He is an examiner of the CIE Pre-U course in Latin and also coaches hockey and squash.
Dr Simon Northwood, BA, PhD Cantab
Dr Northwood graduated from the University of Cambridge, and went on to teach at several notable schools and universities, including Oxford. His particular area of interest is in Roman history and historiography.
Mr Charles Sparrow, MA
Mr Sparrow teaches English and Classics, having studied Classics at Edinburgh University and English at University College, London. He is especially interested in the reception of Classical literature and can often be found giving lectures to ClassSoc about everything from Rousseau and Lucretius to the neoterics’ influence on Ezra Pound. Outside of the classroom Mr Sparrow is Master of the Yearlings (Year 9) and Prep Schools Liaison; he also coaches football, cross-country and cricket, and looks after the Junior English Society.
Mr Andrew Turner, BA, LLM
Bachelor of Arts in Government, Politics and Law, Mr Turner went on to earn his LLM in International Human Rights Law at the University of Essex. He specialises in teaching US and Comparative Government and Politics and has written the Essential Words Dictionary for Government and Politics; nowadays he also enjoys teaching some Fourth Form Latin. Mr Turner is the Second Master, and also runs the Second Year Specialist (Sixth Form) Politics Society, The Liverpool Group, tutors in Weekites and coaches football.