Over the centuries, Westminster has stood apart from other prominent schools. Firmly grounded between Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, it has remained curiously unswayed by the influence and ethos of figures such as Thomas Arnold and the Victorian public school tradition, combining a distinctive evolution with the retention of much of its unique character.
A great many of the school's former pupils are famous names. At one time, some of those pupils were uncontrolled outside school hours and notoriously unruly about town, but always encouraged to question, challenge and debate - and above all to respect genuine scholarship. They rank among this country's most distinguished thinkers, writers, theologians, scientists, politicians, artists and musicians.
Ben Jonson, George Herbert, Richard Busby, John Locke, Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, Lord Mansfield, Charles Wesley, Warren Hastings, Jeremy Bentham, Henry Mayhew, A. A. Milne, John Spedan Lewis, Richard Doll and Tony Benn are the individuals the authors recognise as 'loyal dissenters', at once respectful of peers, staff and principles, yet unafraid to forge their own direction.