Westminster School annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Greaze. Westminster, London. 1976
Westminster School annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Greaze Westminster, London, England 1976. Head Chef Sam Sellars. tosses the pancake. Boys scramble for a piece of the pancake.
It can be safely assumed that the Pancake Greaze at Westminster School has a long history although the first reference to it is in the works of the philosopher of Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham, a scholar there from 1755 to 1760. He wrote: 'The Higher School was divided from the Lower by a bar, and it was one of our pastimes to get the cook to throw a pancake over it.' Regrettably, he gives no further detail.
In the nineteenth century, as in Bentham's time, the whole school of over two hundred pupils took part. Disapproval by the headmaster in 1883 led to a change whereby only one boy from each form was allowed to try for the pancake.
Traditionally the pancake is brought into school at 11 a.m. preceded by the college beadle with his mace, and followed by the dean's verger, the dean and the headmaster. On a signal from the latter the cook attempts to toss the pancake over the pancake bar to a line of waiting boys. A Greaze ensues and the boy with the most cake is declared the winner. In the past he received a golden guinea from the dean, but for some time now this has always been returned after the ceremony and cash is given in its place. Until 1860 the guinea was not presented if the pancake was torn or touched the ground. Also if the cook failed to toss the pancake over the pancake bar he was 'booked'. For the last decade it has become the custom to wear fancy dress, which might be anything
from a specially-hired gorilla's outfit to the colours of a Chelsea football supporter.
At the end of the ceremony, as is customary at all official functions, the dean 'begs a play', which the headmaster grants. This is a half-holiday for all the school, and nowadays is normally fitted into half-term break.