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Winchester College was founded in the fourteenth century by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor to Edward III and Richard II. The charter of foundation was granted in 1382, the buildings were begun in 1387 and the first scholars entered the School in 1394. The original foundation included a Warden and ten Fellows, two schoolmasters, three chaplains, seventy Scholars and sixteen Quiristers. Most features of this foundation are still in place, including the quiristers who are now part of Pilgrims' School but continue to sing in Chapel. As well as the seventy scholars, however, there are now also over six hundred 'Commoners' and instead of only two schoolmasters over eighty full-time teachers or 'dons'.
William of Wykeham was one of the greatest architectural and artistic patrons of his day and his mediaeval buildings at the College are still in use, mostly for their original purposes. As well as Winchester College, he also founded New College, Oxford. These colleges were on a scale hitherto undreamed of in English education and became the model for Eton and King's College, Cambridge later in the fifteenth century. The Archives of Winchester College have unique and important records of the history and the life of Winchester College from its foundation to the present day.