Printed Ephemera


The word “ephemera” derives from a Greek word which means lasting for no more than one day, and ephemera has been described as the “minor transient documents of everyday life.”   Ephemera reflect the moods and social customs of the day in a way which more formal documents cannot do, and they are often evocative reminders of the age in which they were produced.

The museum has an extensive collection of loose printed ephemera which relate to CH, covering all aspects of its history.  When ephemera is sorted and like items brought together, the resulting collections can help to bring alive some of the long history and traditions of the school.  For example, there are runs of programmes and related items for annual events such as sports day, school concerts, St Matthew’s Day celebrations and Speech Day as well as souvenirs of events such as House, School and Grecians plays. 

Some ephemera have assumed great importance, belying the description of a “minor transient document” which might have applied when it was originally produced.  For example, a printed list of Governors in 1716 includes people such as Sir Isaac Newton, John Flamsteed and John West, who along with his wife, Francis, was one of CH’s greatest benefactors; the annual Anthems, discussed and illustrated in this website, were produced for one or two church services but now form an invaluable record; and a fascinating set of school rules, printed on a single sheet and signed by the CH clerk on 7 May 1790, is reproduced and discussed in the CH Heritage Series booklet Memorabilia.

Whilst most CH memorabilia has been produced by CH in the normal course of school life, CH is the subject of externally produced ephemera, such as cigarette or tea cards, playing cards for the game of “snap” and souvenir items produced by local shops.

The image on the left shows a ticket to attend the laying of the Foundation stone of the NewHall in London on 28 April 1825, incorporating an engraving of the New Hall as it would be when it was completed in 1829.