We've lived in Surrey for about 18 months now, and today was my first visit to Eton. It's not even half an hours drive, but for some reason, I've never been and now I have, I can't wait to go back and explore it properly. The architecture is amazing, the High Street has lovely bespoke shops, and of course, there's Eton College.
Today I went as I had a meeting with the delightful people at Eton Stationers regarding our stationery supplies for school, and I'm really glad I did otherwise I might never have made it to this quaint village.
First, a little chat about Eton.
The village lies on the banks of the Thames, opposite Windsor. Royal processions from Westminster to Windsor would pass through the village. Of course, today the village is synonymous with Eton College, one of the most prestigious private boys schools in the world. Established in 1440 by King Henry VI it was originally established to provide quality education to 70 underprivileged boys who would go onto Kings College, Cambridge which he founded the following year.
The school has about 1,300 students from all over the world. They live in one of 25 Eton Houses, and walk to/from school through the village streets. As I was leaving I saw one senior students crossing the road in his black tail coat and thought how delightful and odd at the same time. Young men (aged 13-18), preparing for 21st century jobs, in a school that's over 570 years old, carrying an iPad, wearing a black tail coat and tie. If only those walls and desks could talk! IMAGINE what secrets and observations they might share.
The BBC did a documentary a few years ago, following three new students at Eton, how the settled in, what life in their House was like, what a school day was like. If you get a chance to see it, please do. It was very interesting.
|Commissioned work produced as notepads and|
cards. Each one depicting an Eaton House.
|Thanks Google and telegraph.co.uk for this terrific|
photo of Eton students in their uniform.
Eton Stationers started as a the local post office, and about 30 years ago, the school invited the current owners uncle to consider providing all stationery needs to the school and the students. Expanding into stationery was a huge undertaking. Learning the suppliers, researching the products, meeting the high quality expected by the College was a very steep and enjoyable experience.
The current owner, a qualified chartered accountant, offered to help his Uncle for a few months with systems and procedures and grew to enjoy the business so much, he stayed.
When he talks about the business and the College he speaks passionately and with enthusiasm. I got so excited just listening to him I went into interview mode and asked him if he'd mind if I blogged about it.
Serving a school like Eton take superior customer service, a can-do attitude and above all, discretion. Having worked in advertising sales, and various people-oriented jobs over the years, I absolutely respect businesses whose customer service goes above-and-beyond what's expected. Without sounding too pompous, I've prided myself on the customer service skills I've learned over the years and I was absolutely impressed by what I heard today.
I've also been a customer. Eton Stationery supplies our kids 'stationery kits'. It's a great service offered by school and is a blessing when you're moving from one country to another, you've not arrived and when you do you're in a hotel until you find a home, have no idea where the shops are, and the kids are starting school! Ordering online and having the box delivered to school is a total WOW.
The shop is huge. It's a paradise for those of us who love stationery! From the every-day items like pens and pencils (but what a selection) to unique parchment writing papers and specialist art supplies. If what you need isn't there, just ask and the staff will do their utmost to source it.
It's here that you'll also find the Eton Gift Shop. Quality memorabilia items for those associated with the College but also for visitors to this well known and much loved English village.
If you decide to visit Eton, remember it's not that far from Great Windsor Park, you could walk the Long Walk to Windsor Castle and spend a few hours exploring the Castle. A stroll along the banks of the Thames in fine weather would be great.
I'm all about shopping local and supporting small business. Eton Stationery supplies those of us who are fortunate to live locally, as well as businesses and schools.
Eton Stationers website: http://www.etonstationers.com
Please tell them ms-havachat enjoyed meeting you so much, she's happy to recommend you.