Classics – the study of the Greeks and Romans, their languages, literatures, history and cultures – is clearly studied much less than in centuries past: it dominated school and university syllabuses right up until the first half of the 20th Century.

Mr Lewis, head of classics at Winchester College, believes most of its decline can be put down to space needing to be made for other subjects – and the absence of classics teachers in the great majority of schools.

However, classics has never been cooler in popular culture! There has been a steady rebound in the subject for some time now.

Mr Lewis encourages would-be classicists, and has set up a number of projects aimed at the wider community: the Winchester Greek Club, a fun collaboration with the u3a (where our sixth formers teach u3a members Latin GCSE) and hosting trainee teachers on PGCE courses for enrichment days, as well as promoting the wonderful classics summer schools, which are brilliant opportunities for those interested in the ancient world, in fact he regularly teaches at the JACT Greek Summer School hosted each summer at Bryanston School in Dorset.

He came up with the idea of the club in 2022, growing out of the collaboration the college had been doing with three schools in and around Winchester which offered Latin at GCSE: Kings’, Perins and Westgate.

Their Latin teachers had been bringing pupils for afternoons of classics enrichment based around the historical collections at Winchester College, including the 100 Greek vases in the Treasury (the school’s museum, open to the public free of charge 2-4pm every day) which they use for handling sessions.

It was obvious to Mr Lewis that there was a lot of interest among the pupils in the classical world and, ever keen to spread the good news of Greek, he thought two or three might want to try it. In fact, he got 25 or so, of whom 18 completed the first year (receiving the Intermediate Certificate of Classical Greek) and 14 are about to finish the second (sitting the GCSE); meanwhile another cohort of 18 is following behind.

Meeting for an hour after school on a weekday during term time (currently Thursdays for the first years, and Tuesdays for the second years), their primary focus is learning the Greek language; however, they also spend time learning about Greek civilisation, with set texts and two civilisation topics as part of the GCSE course. This year they have been studying some tales of ancient Egypt from the Greek historian Herodotus and learning about the Olympic Games and the experience of women in ancient Greece. The pace is fast, and the pupils have to do roughly an hour’s homework a week, but they have all proved highly motivated.

Upon asked what his favourite part about running it, Mr Lewis said: “It is always a huge pleasure to introduce something you are passionate about to pupils who are keen to learn. However, one aspect I particularly enjoy is the fact that pupils come from a range of schools, and this is an opportunity for them to meet new and like-minded people.

"Above all Greek Club gives them an insight into the world – and the magnificent cultural and intellectual achievement - of the ancient Greeks. It also stretches them academically, which must be a good preparation for university and for life in general.

"Pupils in the club are planning to study a whole range of subjects at university, including Physics and Illustration, but there are also several who wish to study classics, which obviously delights me.”

The first year of the club is designed for Year 11s, partly so the GCSE will fall at the end of Year 12 and so will not be competing with public exams; however, exceptions can be made to this rule.

An information letter with details of how-to sign-up is circulated to parents of Year 10 pupils in schools in and around Winchester in June, and the first session is in mid-September.

Parents of interested pupils are welcome to contact Mr Lewis before then at

With wonderful stories, from the Graeco-Persian Wars to Antony and Cleopatra, and as a common inheritance, certainly to the whole of Europe, and arguably to the whole world – classics is most certainly a wonderful subject which should be encouraged amongst young people, and thanks to Mr Lewis and the classics department at Winchester College, many young students are able to meet like-minded enthusiast and develop their passion further.

  • This article was written by Poppy Hill, from Peter Symonds College, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter Scheme.