Boys’ boarding


In this section:

Whitelaw House, 4 Hillmorton Road, Rugby, CV22 5DE
Tel: +44 (0) 1788 556 230  |  Email:

Whitelaw House is one of the oldest boarding Houses, standing in impressive grounds at the heart of the School. As we are the largest of the boys’ boarding Houses it allows us to excel in a number of different aspects of School life, as well as enjoy facilities that compare favourably with other Houses within the School campus.

The main House accommodates the vast majority of the boys, who start off life in a dorm and their own separate study, progressing the following year into spacious twin rooms as well as single study bedrooms. All boys have single study bedrooms in the D block (Yr 11) and the lower sixth. Once they progress to the upper sixth, the senior boys enjoy their own kitchen, common room and single study bedrooms within ‘the Link’. This feature is unique to Whitelaw, and is slightly separate from the main House and yet still a part of it – after all, they are helping me to organise the rest of the House in their role as senior prefects. Their tasks include helping keep the common rooms for each year group tidy! Whitelaw’s happy and friendly atmosphere fosters a reputation for welcoming boys with a wide range of interests and talents, be they academic, sporting, musical or artistic. It is very important to us that each individual feels valued and we instil those fine virtues of consideration, humility and respect for each other during their time here at Rugby.

The desire to give of one’s best for individual success and for the collective good of the House continue to typify today’s Whitelaw boy. We aim to give the boys confidence but never arrogance. When the boys leave Whitelaw they are going to be judged on what they are and can do, not where they came from. However, we also hope that they leave us with what will be some of the happiest memories of their lives, and having made friends to last a lifetime.

For a true flavour of the House from the boys themselves, click on the links below to read the House newsletter Whitelaw Waffler.

The Housemaster

Ashley Ellis joined Whitelaw in September 2023 following three years as Deputy Housemaster in School House and a year as Resident Tutor in Michell. Ashley read Physics at the University of Nottingham and then completed a PGCE and Masters in Education at the University of Cambridge. His teaching career began with the founding of a private tuition company, a role which he continued until the end of his degree.

Ashley is heavily involved in the co-curricular arm of the School; taking the U16A team for soccer, the U16B team for rugby football, and the senior squad for summer squash. Alongside sport, Ashley helps lead the Army Section of the CCF, supports the Duke of Edinburgh’s expedition programme, and for those students interested in studying for a GCSE in Astronomy, Ashley facilitates this off timetable. When term ends, Ashley enjoys an adventure, with recent enjoyable trips including swimming in Lake Bled, Kayaking around remote Swedish islands, and trekking around the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.

Above all, Ashley enjoys being around the House, and making sure the boys in Whitelaw make their most of their time at Rugby School.

The Deputy Housemaster

Sam Robinson joined Rugby School in January 2016 as a Teacher of Biology and tutor in Michell House. Sam read Pharmacology at Newcastle University and completed a Masters in Neuroscience. He started his teaching career at a boys day school in Nottingham and was Assistant Head of Years 10/11 for five years whilst living in Stanley House with his wife, Liz Robinson, who was DHm. Sam then moved into Griffin House for six years whilst Liz was Hm. He was appointed as Head of Science in September 2018.

Throughout Sam’s time at Rugby, he has been fully involved in the major sports programme; coaching the 1st XI for Cricket and co-leading cricket tours to Dubai and Barbados, as well coaching Rugby (Bigside) and Hockey, and he enjoyed accompanying the EB boys and girls A teams on a Hockey tour to Barcelona. Sam is also a key member of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award staff, as a trained assessor, he is able to support Bronze, Silver and Gold Award expeditions. He is experienced at leading trips, having organised and led a biology trip to Madagascar at his previous School, and he enjoys helping to organise the annual Biology trip to Pembrokeshire.

Having spent the past 11 years living in girls’ Houses due to his wife’s pastoral roles, Sam relishes the opportunity to live in Whitelaw and get stuck into boarding life with 50+ boys! Sam will be joined in House by wife Liz, baby Isla (born April 2023) and black Labrador Raphie.


Julie Zettel joined Whitelaw House as Matron in September 2018.  She lives on site with her partner Jim and their two West Highland Terriers, Freddie and Frisky. Julie has previously worked as matron in Tudor House and also secretary in Stanley and Sheriff Houses. She is keen to help the Housemaster settle new boys into school life and to create a happy and well-disciplined atmosphere. She cares for boys with minor illnesses and supports their general welfare, ensuring the House runs smoothly on a daily basis. Julie cheers on the boys in House and School events and her ‘open door’ policy encourages the boys to feel they can talk to her at any time. In her spare time she likes to get creative with her sewing machine, to read and walk the dogs.

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