Purpose built room intended for the teaching of public speaking which figured prominently in the classical curriculum. Converted 1976 by Alan Irvine into modern gallery with mezzanine floor.
Regular tours every 30 mins (2pm-4.15pm) max 35 per tour
C R Cockerell,
Public speaking figured prominently in the classical curriculum stipulated by the school’s founder, John Lyon. The tradition at Harrow can be traced back to the 17th century, but there was no real pressure for a purpose-built room until after the introduction of Speech Day in 1772. The room erected during 1819-21 by C R Cockerell was intended to meet this need. Its cruciform shape with blank walls and no permanent fittings was adaptable to a number of purposes.
The room’s utility and severity are relieved only by moulded cornices, corbels depicting the spurious arms (a lion rampant argent) of John Lyon and the School’s own device of Crossed Arrows, and armorial glass showing the arms of Elizabeth I (who granted the foundation charter), George III (during whose reign the room was built), Governors, Benefactors and Head Masters.
The Old Speech Room was converted into a gallery by Alan Irvine in 1976 as a repository for the School’s varied and distinguished collection of antiquities and fine art and temporary, changing exhibitions, by inserting a mezzanine and installing showcases. The Gallery runs the Old Speech Room Gallery Arts Society, through which boys help to design and curate exhibitions.