Our Victorian Origins
Maritzburg College was founded as the Pietermaritzburg High School in 1863 to accommodate the influx of children arriving at the new city of Pietermaritzburg and its surrounding farmlands within the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. As the school swelled, “the best-trained architect in the Colony”, PM Dudgeon, was commissioned to design – on the then outskirts of the city – a larger classroom and boarding block, which was completed in 1888 and later became known as 'Clark House', honouring the school's third headmaster, Mr RD Clark (MA (Oxon)), who is often referred to as ‘the Father of College’.
Clark House is a Pietermaritzburg landmark and carries South Africa's heritage seal, certifying it as a national monument. A similar honour was bestowed on the school's Victoria Hall, the building of which commenced in 1897 (Queen Victoriea's Diamond Jubilee year) and which served as a British Army hospital from November 1899 until July 1900 during the Second Boer War.
Our School Crest
The school crest is a red shield with a crossed carbine and assegai (a traditional Zulu weapon), over the Latin scroll bearing ProAris et Focis (For Hearth and Home). In our 151st year, grey laurels and our year of establishement were added.
The College colours of red, black and white were first introduced in 1891 by the captain of the school's football team, EJ Holgate. A short while later, Mr RD Clark instituted the school motto (derived from the Latin inscription he composed for the Colonial War Memorial, now in the foyer of Clark House) and the badge of carbine-and-assegai, both of which were initially connected more with the school’s Old Boys' Association than the school. An ardent Victorian, Mr Clark was especially proud that so many of his young school’s sons had perished in the valiant struggle 'for hearth and home' (the motto) – hence the school's martial insignia too.
Debate has taken place as to why Holgate chose the combination of red, black and white for the school's colours. A popular belief is that they highlight the various skirmishes, battles and wars between the British and the Zulu that took place in the late 19th century, with the colours representing the warring parties (white and black) and the blood that was shed between them (red). As recently as 2005, this issue had not been conclusively settled by the school's Archives Committee.
Privileges, Traditions and Discipline
One of the school's distinct features is its hierarchical system, which is underpinned by a long-established set of privileges and duties. The most well-known duties include 'team-testing' (the rote-learning of school teams etc. by juniors), 'running' (the carrying out of small errands by Form 2 boys for prefects), 'fagging' (a watered-down version of the old Victorian custom) and 'waiting-at-doors'. School traditions include the wearing by all boys of straw boaters (known as bashers), which are hurled into the air at First XV rugby matches, and the saying of the word 'please' when a junior is addressing a senior boy.
Because of its possibly contentious nature, the hierarchical system of privileges that underpins the school's ethos is carefully monitored by the staff, hostel masters and senior prefects. College's rigorous structure of traditions and concepts date back to similar styles found in pre-1900 British boarding schools, and this is perhaps the only school in Pietermaritzburg where this structure is retained to something like its original extent.
The History of Sport at Maritzburg College
The first inter-schools cricket and rugby matches were both played against the Deutsche Schule Hermannsburg, on 6 October 1870, with the old Pietermaritzburg High School (now Maritzburg College) winning both fixtures. The cricket match was played in the morning on the Camp Grounds and the rugby match was played in the afternoon on the Pietermaritzburg market square.
Maritzburg College now offers a wide variety of sports, including rugby, cricket, canoeing, hockey, athletics, swimming, water polo, tennis, shooting, soccer, basketball, cross-country, cycling, table tennis, squash and golf.
The school has fixtures against its rival schools such as Durban High School, Glenwood High School and Westville Boys' High School in and around Durban, and the local private schools, Michaelhouse, Hilton College and Kearsney College. Records show College to be the strongest sporting school in the province in sports such as rugby, cricket, canoeing, polo, polocrosse and hockey.