‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’, written by Thomas Hughes, includes extensive descriptions of life in Uffington in the 19th century. Hughes, who was born in 1822, was the son of Uffington’s Vicar, and much of the village is still as it was during his childhood.
The book recounts Tom’s adventures at Rugby public school, and it illustrates Hughes’s radical ideas about education with his characterisation of the kindly headmaster Doctor Arnold.
Another of Hughes’ books, ‘The Scouring of the White Horse’, records the celebrations that accompanied the renovation of the Horse in 1857.
Hughes was an important influence for social reform in the 19th century. He supported Christian Socialist causes, was the first President of the Co-operative Congress, and founded a colony in Rugby, Tennessee which still exists today. (See Historic Rugby)
Thomas Hughes died on 22nd March 1896. There is a statue of him at Rugby School. ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’ is still in print, and is of course available as an electronic ‘e-book’. We have 136 different editions of the book in the Museum.
There is a memorial plaque to Hughes in the North Transept of Uffington Church. It was donated by his friend and fellow worker, Walter Morrison, and unveiled on 29th November, 1912.
Our new exhibition includes a display on Thomas Hughes.