History of the House System & Houses
Aims of the House System
The House system was first introduced in February 1914 by the then Headmaster G E Blanch, just before he retired. Six Houses were created: Bromby, Morris, Ross, Rusden, School and Witherby. His aim was to see that "a boy in a large school (500) was preserved from isolation". The House was essentially run by boys mainly for internal games organisations culminating in the Cock House Cup. A House was deemed a 'good' House if it was a successful sporting House.
In 1951, Brian Hone was appointed Headmaster from Cranbrook School and was the first Headmaster in Australia to see the House, not just as a must for games competitions, but as a cross section for the welfare of boys in all activities in and out of school.
In 1952 Bruce and Perry were created, in 1961 Deakin and Miller. In 1979 Hone House was established and Creese House in 2005.
Bromby House, established 1914, named after John Edward Bromby, 1809-1889
John Edward Bromby, MA, DD was appointed in 1858 the first Headmaster of Melbourne Grammar School. In accepting the position in a new school in far-off Victoria, he gave up a private ecclesiastical living in Hull that was the gift of his father. On three Saturdays spread over five weeks in the first year of his headmastership, he allowed his students to play Scotch College in the first game of Australian Rules football. He was author of the School Prayer. He routinely detained misbehaving boys in the school lock-up. Dr Bromby retired his Headmastership in 1875.
House colour: Black
Bruce House, established 1952, named after Stanley Melbourne Bruce, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, 1883-1967
Lord Bruce shared with John Macdonald Ross the distinction of having a House named after him during his lifetime. Lord Bruce was the first House Father to be recognised for the influence of Melbourne Grammar on the world, rather than vice versa. He was Prime Minister of Australia 1923-1929. After a catastrophic electoral defeat, he removed to Britain, where he was elevated to the peerage. He held many important posts in Imperial administration. Melbourne Grammar School had given him ample opportunity to wear with easy grace the mantle of leadership: Captain of Athletics, Boats and Cricket, Cadet Lieutenant, and School Captain. Even his detractors admitted that he proved himself the exemplar of the qualities Public Schools strove to produce.
House colour: Scarlet
Creese House, established 2005, named after Nigel Creese, 1927-
Nigel Creese succeeded Brian Hone as Headmaster in 1970. The beginning of this tenure coincided with the widest chasm of the 'generation gap' and the flood tide of the 'permissive society'. Blue-suited conformity had lost much of its appeal in the minds of those who imagined they foresaw a permanent alteration in the order of things. Exercising enormous discretion, Mr Creese identified core values of a grammar school education. He trusted his staff to translate those values into a deliverable curriculum and he supported his staff when their judgement and professionalism sustained ill-considered critisism. Mr Creese steered the School through turbulent times. He delivered MGS in good order when he retired in 1987. The School was by then in a position to prepare its students to cope with the unprecedented opportunities and perils of a rapidly globalising world - a change in the order of things unimagineable in 1971.
House colour: Silver Grey
Deakin House, established 1961, named after Alfred Deakin, 1856-1919
Alfred Deakin was the second Prime Minister of Australia. He was born in semi-rural Fitzroy two years before the foundation of Melbourne Grammar School. The suggestion that Alfred Deakin might become the second Australian Prime Minister found ready contradiction in his unexceptional school record. Yet, finding time in a career of tremendous labour and significant achievement, he returned frequently to school reunions where he delighted his fellow revellers with anecdote and reminiscence of a happy childhood and adolescence. Deakin's influence in the fundamental institutions of Australian national life is to be found everywhere. His belief in the possibility of ameliorating an often harsh natural environment, and in improving the prospects and sensibilities of his fellow citizens bears the powerful stamp of the ideals of his Headmaster, Dr Bromby. Deakin's death in 1919 after a long and distressing illness stimulated the school's recognition that it had educated one of Australia's Founding Fathers. The Headmaster was one of the pall-bearers at his state funeral.
House colours: Light Green and White
Hone House, established 1979, named after Brian William Hone, 1909-1978
In 1951 Mr Brian Hone arrived as Headmaster of Melbourne Grammar School determined to achieve the goal of having boys derive the maximum from their schooling. "We make no apologies for coercing boys into new experiences." He revolutionised administration of the school, shocking the complacent and galvanising those who shared his sense of urgency but who had previously felt denied of the opportunity to act upon it. Students experienced the Hone philosophy as a deep and sincere interest on the part of the best of their teachers in their development as scholars, as sportsmen, as artists, as human beings. It is said that students of Sir Brian Hone, many of them occupying posts of high importance in the land, came to acknowledge the privilege they enjoyed of coming under the influence of this great man. Sir Brian retired as Headmaster in 1970. His bodily remains lie near the Norfolk Island pine planted in Dr Bromby's honour.
House colour: Old Gold
Miller House, established 1961, named after Edward Eustace Miller, 1881-1944
Edward Eustace Miller was descended from Old Money. For indeed, his grandfather, Henry Miller, rejoiced in the nickname Money. Edward Eustace Miller, heir to a vast fortune, attended Melbourne Grammar School, and remembering fondly, no doubt, his formative years under the tutelage of kindly but impoverished masters, bequeathed in 1944 £35,000 to establish a superannuation fund. Edward Eustace Miller's long-lived legacies are twofold: a lengthening roll call of distinguished educators who can contemplate with some equanimity their modest but comforting reward for a lifetime of dedicated service, and a standing challenge to later generations of Grammar students to emulate in some material way his esteem of his teachers.
House colour: Magenta
Morris House, established 1914, named after Edward Ellis Morris, 1843-1902
Mr Morris succeeded Dr Bromby as Headmaster in 1876. He was a career schoolmaster and a determined educational reformer. Mr Morris established the prefect system, honour boards, a staff common room and a tuckshop for the boys. Mr Morris desired that the school have it own chapel: he established a fund with £100 of his own money and a promise to add ten per cent to whatever was raised. In the next twelve months, two small donations were received from England, and £1 betting winnings confiscated from a student and added to the fund. Mr Morris decreed that the school would no longer have lock-ups. After six years of remarkable achievement, Mr Morris took a chair in Languages at the University of Melbourne. During his relatively brief tenure, Mr Morris connected Melbourne Grammar School to a new world of educational possibility.
House colour: Red
Perry House, founded 1940, established as a senior boarding house 1952. Named after Bishop Charles Perry, 1807-1891
On 30 July 1856, Bishop Perry, the first Bishop of the Diocese of Melbourne presided over the laying of the foundation stone of Melbourne Grammar School, two years before classes were first conducted. On that July day, Bishop Perry thanked the colonial government for the grant of land to the Church of England to assist in the accomplishment of that necessary and patriotic purpose. He declared that he desired Melbourne Grammar School to be, as nearly as possible, of the same character as the great grammar schools of England. He expressed the view that whatever may be argued against a classical education, there was none more efficacious for a fortunate after life. Moreover, the location of Melbourne Grammar School campus, at a remove from the city, rendered boarding necessary. Boarding relieved the educator of the interference of parents who were inclined to pay attention to the complaints of their sons, encouraged stricter discipline, and reduced the frequency of breaks from the routines of learning. Such a regime, he predicted confidently, would prove a blessing to the colony of Victoria.
House colour: Royal Blue and white
Ross House, established 1914 named after John George (Jack) Ross and Hugh Macdonald Ross
The Ross brothers were brilliant all-round students. Hugh received from Headmaster Morris the gift of a silver-mounted whip at the final assembly in 1876, a "testimony of the affection of his school fellows and of their admiration for his manly and sterling qualities". And in his role as a polymath, Hugh Ross had merely paralleled the accomplishments of John George (Jack) Ross, his preternaturally gifted older brother. With modesty befitting the truly phenomenal, both brothers drew down the curtain on the broad stage of their triumphs, returning to lives of genuine but unspectacular accomplishment in the pastoral regions of Victoria's Western District. Jack died in 1904, Hugh dedicated the Ross Gates to him in 1910. In 1914, Ross House was created, the first to be named after old boys. Hugh died in 1937 at the age of eighty.
House colour: Dark Green
Motto: "Spem Successus Alit" – " Success Nourishes Hope"
Rusden House, established 1914, named after G W Rusden, 1819-1903
Mr Rusden was a public servant, an historian and a controversialist. Politely sidestepping the received wisdom about G W Rusden, in 1914 ‘Parvus’, writing in The Melburnian, accorded G W Rusden pride of place as "chief among the financial benefactors" of Melbourne Grammar School. Alfred Deakin, on the other hand, had already opined that his monumental History of Australasia was "as untrustworthy as a partisan pamphlet well can be without dishonesty." Throughout his long life, Rusden delighted in outraging polite opinion. He bequeathed Melbourne Grammar School £2000 and the bulk of his manuscripts.
House colour: Yellow
School House, established 1914
Traditionally, English schools named their boarding house "The School House". School House has been situated in a number of different locations during the years and is now situated in the boarding precinct on Domain Road.
House colour: Royal Blue
Witherby House, established 1914, named after Hubert Witherby, died 6 October 1875
Mr Witherby was a man of considerable means who had one sickly and one healthy son. Hubert Witherby, a student of Radley in England, had a weak constitution. The diagnosis was consumption; English physicians persuaded Mr Witherby to send Hubert on a long recuperative voyage to Auckland. Unfortunately, the effects of a storm-tossed passage across the iceberg-strewn Southern Ocean upon a consumptive were all too predictable. Unfortunately, also, Auckland medicos made the opposite diagnosis – a voyage back home would be the only cure. Hubert got only as far as Melbourne in the winter of 1875, where, in extremis, he arrived unannounced at the door of Edward Morris, by now Headmaster of Melbourne Grammar School. Little could be done for Hubert. In a few weeks, he was dead. But Mr Witherby was grateful to Melbourne Grammar School. Hubert merited a substantial memorial, "A new wing or an exhibition or two". In the hands of the School Council this donation materialised as a tower designed to keep green forever the memory of an innocent and pure-minded young man.
House colour: Light Blue