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Giving Students their Beer Money

What better way to mark the end of the school term than by giving all of the students Beer Money?  This is what the Master Brewer did at Dame Alice Owen’s School last week.  Of course, the £1 received by students in Year 8 won’t buy much beer these days but that’s not really the point; the ceremonial giving of money to the students by the Master is a longstanding tradition which reinforces the bond between the school and the Brewers’ Company and refers back to the days when beer was actually a lot safer to drink than the dirty water which was available.

And so, on the last day of the summer term, all of the students in the school line up and, one after another, meet the Master and receive their money – £1 for Year 8, £2 for Year 9 and so on up to £6 in Year 13.  Of course the students in Year 7 weren’t left out either, they visited Brewers’ Hall earlier in the week and were given their first Beer Money – a commemorative £5 coin – by the Middle Warden in a special ceremony.

The Beer Money ceremony at the School followed on the back of Visitation Day.  More commonly known as Prize Giving or Speech Day at other schools, the name is a reference to the fact that this was traditionally the day that the Master, Wardens and Court of the Brewers’ Company would visit and inspect the School each year.  While the governance is of course somewhat different these days, the Master (who this year is himself a Governor of the School) still attends Visitation and presents some of the prizes.