Not long from now, it may add the name of the new prime minister to its roll call of illustrious alumni — already a tapestry of Nobel Prize winners, judges and philosophers.
But before learning whether Rishi Sunak has become the first incumbent of Asian heritage at 10 Downing Street, his alma mater, Winchester College, where fees are £45,000 a year, has made an arguably even more radical decision — appointing the first ever female headmaster in its 640-year history.
What’s more, Elizabeth Stone isn’t transferring her allegiance from another British public school — she’s being lured away from her native Australia, where she’s currently Principal of Queenwood School, a girls-only establishment in Sydney.
In charge: Elizabeth Stone will be Winchester’s new head
‘She’s a brilliant teacher and a really nice person,’ a friend tells me. ‘Very, very bright, very organised and cuts through all the bull***t.’
Neither of Winchester’s great rivals, Eton and Harrow, has ever appointed a woman as head. Fond of asserting that it’s defined by its motto, manners makyth man, Winchester tends to be better known for its academic atmosphere. But that will present no problem for Stone.
She graduated from the University of New South Wales and won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford, where she completed a master’s in law.
‘She practised law for a few years before she went into teaching,’ the friend adds.
Her teaching career has been similarly spectacular, and has included stints Down Under and here, where she spent two years as vice-principal of Cheltenham Ladies’ College and three years at Winchester.
Neither of Winchester’s great rivals, Eton and Harrow, has ever appointed a woman as head Pictured: Winchester College
This will be of particular importance as Winchester takes its first step towards co-education. ‘The first day-girls arrive in September. Then there will be boarders once a couple of new boarding houses have been built.’
Stone takes up her new role in September next year. ‘She will get a grip on the things that need to be gripped.’
And as a judo black belt, she certainly knows a thing or two about that.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a new niece. Catherine’s sister, Pippa, 38, has given birth to her second daughter with her husband, investment banker James Matthews. The couple, whose elder children are called Arthur and Grace, decline to reveal the baby’s name, but Pippa’s father, Michael Middleton, confirmed the birth when I bumped into him in a Pret a Manger near Kensington Palace yesterday
Spandau son weds true love in Vegas
#Hollywood stars Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are not the only couple to have wed in Las Vegas this week.
Finlay Munro Kemp, 31, son of Spandau Ballet guitarist Gary Kemp and actress Sadie Frost, eloped with tattoo artist Charlotte Mallory, also 31 to Vegas
I hear Finlay Munro Kemp, 31, son of Spandau Ballet guitarist Gary Kemp and actress Sadie Frost, eloped with tattoo artist Charlotte Mallory, also 31, to the Little Church Of The West in Sin City. They shared this picture of themselves driving off and she says: ‘Me and Fin got hitched.’
Finlay Munro Kemp’s new bride Charlotte Mallory shared the news on Instagram
President Joe Biden has given Boris Johnson’s toddler a bicycle similar to the one he got for the Prime Minister last year — a Union Jack racing bike. Newly published records from the Cabinet Office show that the balance bike for Wilf, two — to help him learn to ride — arrived in January.
Wedding shots show Ellie’s fella in high spirits
When Ellie Goulding took up acting lessons last year, she said it had made her more entertaining at parties.
Ellie Goulding’s pop star husband, Caspar Jopling brought the party to her pal’s wedding
Eton and Oxford-educated art dealer Caspar Jopling, 30, served a tray of tequila slammers watched by the bride with a lime slice clenched between her teeth
Then Jopling carried the bride, stylist Zoe Jervoise Graham, round on his shoulders
But the pop star’s husband, Caspar Jopling, clearly needs no lessons.
At the wedding of Ellie’s pals, stylist Zoe Jervoise Graham and sales director Ben Sullivan, Eton and Oxford-educated art dealer Jopling, 30, served a tray of tequila slammers watched by the bride with a lime slice clenched between her teeth.
Then Jopling carried her round on his shoulders — as bridesmaid Ellie, 35, looked on.
Robin Ellis has been linked with Cornwall since he played Captain Ross Poldark in the original BBC version of Poldark. The actor, 80, has started a petition to save the Royal Cornwall Museum, in Truro, which may have to close after the county council cut its £80,000 a year funding. ‘This is part of Cornish history,’ he says. ‘To threaten it with closure is inept.’ The museum holds the archive of Poldark author Winston Graham.
Meg’s oasis of happiness
Oasis star Noel Gallagher’s ex-wife Meg Mathews has fallen for a man who has another pop star tattooed on his chest.
Meg Matthews, 56, with influencer Jay James in Newquay, Cornwall
Meg, 56, is dating influencer Jay James, who showed off his Elvis Presley inking on the beach at Newquay, Cornwall, where they are on holiday.
‘Meg’s so happy with Jay,’ says a friend of Mathews, who has daughter, Anais, 22, with Noel.
EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: It’s a female first for Rishi Sunak’s alma mater as college has first woman head