From the Godalming Museum
Newsletter - Autumn/Winter2004
Two Men of Their Time
Aldous Huxley and Philip Heseltine
1894 saw the birth of two men, Aldous Huxley and Philip Heseltine. Aldous
was born in Godalming, the son of Leonard Huxley, a master at Charterhouse
School, and his wife Julia. Philip was born in London (at the Savoy Hotel)
to Arnold Heseltine and his second wife, Edith.
They both lived for a brief time in fine houses. Aldous was brought up in
Prior’s Garth, Godalming, which had been built by Voysey in 1901. Philip was
to spend time in his stepfather’s family home in Wales, built by G. F.
Bodley and Philip Webb in 1869.
Both boys went to private schools. Aldous, at 7½ to Prior’s Field, the
school his mother founded in 1902, and then to Hillside Preparatory School
in Godalming. At the age of 5, Philip went to a school just off Sloane
Square, very near his home in Hans Street, and at 9½ proceeded to Stone
House, a private boarding school in Broadstairs where he spent the next four
They both lost a parent when young. Aldous’s mother died just before her
46th birthday in 1908 when Aldous was 14. Philip’s father died in 1897 when
he was not yet three years old. In 1903 his widowed mother married a wealthy
bachelor from Wales. Aldous’s father also remarried and moved to London.
Both boys were contemporaries at Eton and both won scholarships in 1908.
Aldous was a King’s Scholar and lived in
the central College buildings. Philip started at the same time as Aldous,
but Philip’s family decided it was ‘not the done thing’ for wealthy parents
to accept a scholarship, so he became a fee-paying pupil, an Oppidan, in
Warre House, one of the better houses where a Mr Brinton was the
housemaster. Both Aldous and Philip were piano pupils of Colin Taylor while
at Eton. Aldous was forced to leave the school due to an eye infection in
the Easter of 1911 and continued at home with tutors to read Braille, type
and play music. Philip had urged his mother in March 1911 to let him leave
school. In May she agreed and he left in the summer.
Aldous and Philip both went to Oxford in 1913. Aldous went to Balliol
College, having regained enough sight to study. In 1916 he gained a 1st in
English and the Stanhope Prize. Philip went to Christ Church and, although
not winning a scholarship, reported well on his work. However he left Oxford
in June 1914 as a commoner and, after attending University College, London,
for a term, decided to devote himself entirely to music.
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