“The future is bleak, the present is burdensome, only the past, dead and buried bears contemplation “ - G R Elton
Sir Geoffrey Elton was Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University and he knew a thing or two about the past. He was born Gottfried Ehrenberg in Germany, the son of the classical scholar Victor Ehrenberg and he was forced to flee his homeland with the coming of the Nazis. The Ehrenberg’s friends said that it would ruin young Gottfried's education and sure enough after less than a year of being in England [and less than a year of speaking English] he failed to win a place to read History at Cambridge University. Undeterred he completed a correspondence degree at London University before becoming a lecturer there, after which he returned to Cambridge in triumph. This German born but quintessentially English Historian was knighted for his services to History in 1983. His tale is a story of his time but it also serves in our time as an inspiration to us all. History was not only his passion but it was the vehicle that he used to succeed in life and it can be for you as well which is one of the many reasons why the past ”bears contemplation”.
But what is the study of this subject all about? Elton’s particular historical passion was not the Nazis but that most English of topics the Tudors. He revolutionised the study of Henry VIII and provoked a debate which is still raging today. You see, debate – interpretations, lie right at the heart of historical study; for history is not a single truth, rather it is a collection of different views and the role of the historian is to weigh up the various arguments and decide for themselves which is the more convincing and why. In other words, to pass a judgement - that is what Elton did and our job as historical detectives is to decide whether we agree with him or not. It is that uncertainty that makes History so interesting. That is why “only the past, dead and buried bears contemplation.”
The History Department exists for the promotion of History and Politics in the school.
History is taught through the whole school age range and is examined externally at GCSE, A Level and AEA, whilst Government and Politics is taught in the Sixth Form at A Level.
Both subjects are popular options and the qualifications gained are highly regarded.