The wooden spoon

The wooden spoon


Watching the rugby yesterday, my son asked why it’s called the wooden spoon.  I didn’t know, so here we are…


It actually originated at Cambridge University and was awarded to the student who got the lowest mark but still got a third class degree in mathematics.  


Back in the 1800’s, at the graduation ceremony, degrees were awarded in order of merit.  The person at the bottom of the class would be last in the queue and have the spoon waiting for them. 


Naturally, the traditional booby prize got bigger and bigger each year until the spoons got sufficiently huge and ridiculous that the university banned them in 1875.


The tradition continued regardless, until eventually, in 1910, the university started issuing degrees in alphabetical order, so the last place was no longer obvious.  


The last recipient, in 1909, was Cuthbert Lempriere Holthouse, photographed with his spoon below.


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