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Gordonstoun is a co-educational independent school in Moraymarker, Scotlandmarker, famed for having educated three generations of British royalty.


Located in a 17th-century house with over in the west of the village Duffus Scotlandmarker - near to RAF Lossiemouthmarker, in Morayshiremarker - the school is named after the estate on which it is located. It was founded as an international school in 1934 by the German educator Dr. Kurt Hahn who also founded Schule Schloss Salemmarker in southern Germanymarker. Although a fierce German patriot, Dr. Hahn had to leave Germany after the Nazis gained power, mainly on account of his Jewish background and critical stance towards national socialism. Kurt Hahn himself was educated at the University of Oxfordmarker. Hahn turned down the prestigious headmastership of Eton Collegemarker to establish Gordonstoun. Hahn had a new vision of education which envisioned a school based on Plato's 'Republic'. In time, it became one of the most distinguished and progressive schools in the western world.

Gordonstoun School’s illustrious history would not be complete without reference to Leila Margaret Rendel, a Gordonstoun School founder and longstanding governor. Ms. Rendel originally ran her own school, The Caldecott Community, a London nursery for homeless boys founded in 1911 and the most talented students were sent on to further study at Gordonstoun.


Gordonstoun House from the South Lawn on an Autumn Afternoon
Hahn blended a traditional private school ethos with a philosophy derived, at least in part, from that of ancient Greece. This is most notable in the title "Guardian", denoting the head boy and girl, which Hahn took from Plato's Republic; the adoption of a Greek trireme as the school's emblem; and, most notably, a routine that could be described as spartan. He placed a high emphasis on militaristic discipline and physical education, particularly outdoor activities such as sailing and hill walking. It is therefore appropriate that the school's motto should be "Plus est en vous" (More is in you). The school formerly had a (possibly undeserved) reputation for harsh conditions, with cold showers and morning runs as a matter of routine, and physical punishments, known as "penalty drill" or PD, in the form of supervised runs around one's house (dormitory) or the south lawn of Gordonstoun House (pictured above).

The school also has a reputation for not placing an over-emphasis on testing and league tables, the school view being that this tends to lead to an education with a lack of time and freedom for a true, imaginative and humane engagement with life. This philosophy has not hindered most of their pupils achieving university places, with many going on to the University of Oxfordmarker, the University of Cambridgemarker, as well as American Ivy League universities such as Yale Universitymarker and Brown Universitymarker.

During World War II, the school temporarily moved to Llandinammarker in Walesmarker.

It is best-known as the school attended during the 1960s by Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, on the recommendation of his father, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who had himself been one of the first students to attend Gordonstoun having previously been educated at Salem in Germany. Princes Andrew and Edward eventually followed in their father's and elder brother's footsteps. Of the four princes, three (Philip, Charles and Edward) were appointed Guardian (head boy) during their time at the school. Princess Anne, the Queen's only other remaining child, was not educated at Gordonstoun, which at that time was boys only. However, she did send her own two children there and also served for some time on the school's board of governors. She still maintains her links with the school, serving currently as a Warden of the school.

William Boyd has written in detail about his time there in Protobiography, although he never mentions the school by name.

Roy Williamson, a folk musician who was part of the Corries and most famously composer of Flower of Scotland, the unofficial Scottish national anthem, was also educated at Gordonstoun.
Gordonstoun School's yacht: The Ocean Spirit of Moray, under sail in the North Irish Sea
The School has a volunteer fire unit attached to the Grampian Fire and Rescue Service.

Boarding Houses

There are nine boarding houses at Gordonstoun School:

  • Bruce House
  • Cumming House
  • Duffus House
  • Gordonstoun House       
  • Round Square

  • Hopeman House
  • Plewlands House
  • Windmill House

  • Altyre House

Aberlour House

Aberlour Housemarker, the preparatory school for Gordonstoun, was relocated to Gordonstoun grounds from Aberlourmarker in 2004. It is made up of dormitories, classrooms and communal areas in one building. Other lessons, like art and design technology for example, are done in the main Gordonstoun classroom area. Construction of the building was completed in 2004 and in 2006, large extensions were added to the existing building, incorporating additional classrooms and dormitories. At the moment around 100 children aged between 8 and 13 years of age attend, but this is expected to rise with the coming extension.


Alumni of Gordonstoun are called "Old Gordonstounians" or "OGs":


  1. BBC News | Scotland | Royal school's exam results questioned
  2. The Caldecott Foundation
  3. [1] "In 1940 David Davies, then Lord Davies offered Broneirion to Gordonstoun school which needed to move from Scotland for the duration of the war. The offer was accepted and many 'old boys' still return for nostalgic visits each year."
  4. Pastoral Care at Gordonstoun naming the dorms. URL accessed 30 June 2006.
  5. Aberlour House homepage at Gordonstoun Schools' website

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