a fine old house it must have been to go to school at

park sang joon

Senior Member
Korean
The narrator recalls his adolescence.
He is an apprentice for the lawyer Mr. Spenlow.
His grand aunt and her best friend came to London after her going bankrupt.
He came to the front of his best friend Steerforth's house on the way to Doctor Strong's house in Highgate, to get the job of secretary for him, who was the head master of the school the protagonist went to.

The conservatory doors were standing open, and Rosa Dartle was walking, bareheaded, with a quick, impetuous step, up and down a gravel walk on one side of the lawn.
......................
I came softly away from my place of observation, and avoiding that part of the neighbourhood, and wishing I had not gone near it, strolled about until it was ten o'clock. The church with the slender spire, that stands on the top of the hill now, was not there then to tell me the time. An old red-brick mansion, used as a school, was in its place; and a fine old house it must have been to go to school at, as I recollect it.
[David Copperfield by Charles Dickens]
I'd like to know what "a fine old house it must have been to go to school at" means.
Thank you in advance for your help.
 
  • Minnesota Guy

    Senior Member
    American English - USA
    It's an inversion of the more typical word order: "It must have been a fine old house to go to school at"; or, "Without any doubt, it was a fine old house [etc.]"
     

    park sang joon

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you, Minnesota Guy, for your so very helpful answer. :)
    I'm so sorry for my ignorance, but I don't know why old school goes to school and why there is "at" at the end of the sentence.
     
    Last edited:

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    If you think of "go to school" to mean "be educated" (which is what it means here), the text becomes "it must have been a fine old house to be educated at". He is saying that the house seemed to be a fine place in which to have a school.

    The "at" is the preposition telling you where pupils went to school. They went to school at the fine old house.
     
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