FIONA RITSON delves into the history and iconography of the eight Houses at Tanglin Trust School Singapore. If you were still at school, which one would suit you best?
The House system has been a staple of British schooling for centuries, originating from the physical boarding houses where students lived during term time, and evolving into a byword for student teams that connect age groups.
Throughout this time, there has always been the idea that a House is a home in itself, populated by a close-knit “family” with a unique bond. Added to that, there is a certain magic to a House; you need only to look at the enduring appeal of the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter to know young people are drawn to this kind of kinship.
The 8 Houses Of Tanglin Trust School Singapore
Tanglin Trust School’s House system dates back to 1981. In that year, Tanglin Preparatory School, Raeburn Park School and Weyhill Preparatory School merged to form Tanglin Infant and Junior schools on Portsdown Road.
Four decades on, the Tanglin House system has been unified across all three schools. Each of the House names – Claymore, Cameron, Raeburn, Alexandra, Weyhill, Wessex, Winchester and Portsdown – honours a significant location in the school’s rich history.
As readers who live in Singapore’s historic areas and houses know well, they have many talking points and stories to tell. Inhabited by heritage and brought alive by the generations who lived there, they develop a family narrative and offer a spiritual home.
So, with the magic of the sorting hat at our fingertips, we ask the age-old question, “If these walls could talk, what would they say?” as we step inside the history of the Tanglin Houses to discover their character, shield and colourway.
“Endurance is one of our key strengths”
History: Claymore is the area of Singapore where “Miss Griff” first founded the school in 1925 within the Tanglin Club’s grounds. Beginning with just five students, the school went from strength to strength, to become the Tanglin we know today. Claymore reminds us that humble beginnings can lead to extraordinary accomplishments.
Icon: With a crossed pair of Scottish Claymore broadswords as its icon, the House character is ever determined; those who wear the shield enthusiastically look to the future with ambition.
“Courage and perseverance define us”
History: The Cameron Highlands Boarding School was opened by Miss Griff in 1934, and staff and students encountered much adversity there. In 1942, during World War II, the school was forced to close during the Japanese occupation; Miss Griff and several of her colleagues were held in Changi Prison. In 1948, the Malayan Emergency brought more hardship to overcome together.
Icon: The fortitude, adaptability and vitality of this House spring from the alpine setting, which gives the energy for growth and renewal.
“We see beyond the immediate horizon”
History: Raeburn Park School was established in 1954 by Singapore Harbour Board officials who were concerned about the educational provision for non-service expat children. In 1972, the school moved to Alexandra Park, and later came under the management of Tanglin Trust Ltd.
Icon: The lightning flash references Singapore’s tropical climate and symbolises innovation and foresight, while the blue evokes a storm and the calm that comes before and after. Together, they reflect depth, trust and confidence.
“Inspired and reflective, our resilience and optimism shine brightly”
History: Alexandra Park was the scene of bitter fighting during WWII. When Raeburn Park School decamped there in 1972, bars had to be removed from the cell windows. In 1974, Alexandra Park then became the home of Winchester Nursery, managed by Tanglin.
Icon: The flaming yellow sun symbolises the hope and warmth of the idyllic Alexandra setting, as well as the enthusiasm, imagination and creativity of children starting out on their learning journey.”
“Unity and purpose keep us moving forward”
History: Weyhill Preparatory School was opened in 1971 to cater for the waiting list at Tanglin Preparatory School. When Raeburn Park School moved onto a neighbouring site in 1976, the two schools joined forces. This collaboration was fully realised in 1981 when all three schools amalgamated to form Tanglin Infant and Tanglin Junior schools.
Icon: The flaming torch symbolises connection across communities and through generations since Tanglin’s inception in 1925; the blue represents open communication and clarity of thought.
“We are team-spirited, taking service and solidarity seriously”
History: Military influences come from the Wessex Estate area where Tanglin Trust School is now located on Portsdown Road. The lush greenery of the site is punctuated by clusters of black-and-white houses, and blocks of walk-up apartments where the British Army were once garrisoned. The name also originates from when Weyhill was established on the site of a previous army school, Wessex Infant School.
Icon: Along with the military reference of the symbol, the Wessex maroon reflects respect, surety and positivity – seeking challenges to step outside comfort zones.
“Explorers at heart, we learn without limits”
History: Winchester School Nursery was opened in 1976 and managed by Tanglin Trust Ltd. Situated in idyllic Alexandra Park, for 20 years Winchester gave its children a bridge between home and the bigger school. When a dedicated Nursery unit was opened alongside Tanglin Infant and Junior schools on Portsdown Road, Tanglin Trust School was born.
Icon: The Winchester purple combines the calm stability of blue and the energy of red – ingredients that drive curiosity and a lifelong love of learning.
“Community runs through everything we do”
History: Portsdown Road links the old-world charm of the Wessex Estate to the One-North area, Singapore’s biomedical, media and technology hub. Portsdown’s physical connection between the republic’s heritage and its future mirrors Tanglin’s journey and reflects the holistic approach of the House.
Icon: The banyan tree that grows on the current school site was the inspiration for the Portsdown icon. The green in the hue of the leaves symbolises growth, harmony and balance – a community of learners who nurture and challenge in equal measure.
Tanglin is at 95 Portsdown Road. Find out more at tts.edu.sg.
This article first appeared in the September 2021 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!