Cultural Learning Alliance

The principal difference I can see between young people at Eton and those in our partner state schools is that the cultural reservoirs of our boys are continuously filled.

Tony Little
Head Master, Eton



What was your most memorable cultural experience when you were young and how has it stayed with you?

Below is a sample of your inspiring examples of the power of cultural learning. Please see the menu on the right for more videos and stories.

Ashley Walters, Musician & Actor

Ashley Walters, Musician & Actor
“The whole experience left a big impression”
Jean M. Franczyk, National Museums of Science & Industry

My local public library is what opened up the world for me. It’s where I fell in love with books and with reading. We took weekly trips there when I was a little girl and I’d leave loaded up with as many books as I could carry. I had my own library card, which, when held in my little-girl hands, made me feel grown-up and sophisticated. From the South Side of Chicago, that card and that library let me go anywhere – back in time through the Little House books or forward through A Wrinkle in Time. It set me on my way and seeded a love for reading that runs deep within me.
Sue Wilkinson, Museums, Libraries & Archives Council

As a young child my most important cultural experience was being taken to the library twice a week. Books were a route into different worlds. I was particularly entranced by a series of books on the childhood of famous people – the young Elizabeth Barratt Browning; the young Elizabeth Fry. Drawn from diaries and memoirs they gave a surprisingly accurate (I discovered later) account of the childhoods of famous women – and it was only the women I was interested in. I think they showed me that the world I was growing up in was not necessarily the world I had to stay in for the whole of my life. I knew from a very young age that I wanted something more than seemed to be on offer in the town in which I lived – books and collections helped me to understand more about what I wanted and how to get it.
Lesley Butterworth, NSEAD

I grew up in Newcastle Upon Tyne. My mother used to take me regularly to the Hatton Gallery and the Laing Art Gallery when I was very young, before I went to school. At the Hatton Gallery I would sit in front of Kurt Schwitters' Merzbarn. There was an egg shaped form that I especially liked. It puzzled and amused me. At the Laing I can remember paintings by John Martin and Willian Holman Hunt. I used to make up stories about them when I got home. I have lots of early memories about fabric, one aunt had a heavy velvet tablecloth with a fringe that could be plaited and tangled up. My grandmother embroidered flowers onto white cotton curtains. I had a 'best' frock with french smocking on the front and a wide sash. I cried bitterly when I outgrew it. It remains today the best dress I ever had!
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