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Christ's Hospital

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Collection: 1552 Establishments in England, Boarding Schools in West Sussex, Charities Based in West Sussex, Christ's Hospital, Church of England Independent Schools in the Diocese of Chichester, Educational Institutions Established in the 1550S, Former Buildings and Structures in the City of London, Horsham, Independent Schools in West Sussex, Member Schools of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, Organisations Based in England with Royal Patronage, Schools with a Royal Charter
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Christ's Hospital

Christ's Hospital
Motto Honour All Men, Love the Brotherhood, Fear God, Honour the King.
Established 1552
Type Independent boarding school
Religion Church of England
President HRH The Duke of Gloucester
Headmaster Mr John Franklin BA MEd Admin
Deputy Head The Hon. Tom Lawson BA MA (Oxon) and Mrs Jo Thomson BA
Chairman of the Council of Almoners Garry Johnson
Founder Edward VI
Location Horsham
West Sussex
RH13 0YP
United Kingdom
DfE URN 126107 Tables
Students 831: 412 girls & 419 boys (2008)
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses 18 Boarding Houses

Blue & Yellow

Publications Housey!
The Blue
The Broadie
Patron Queen Elizabeth II
Former pupils Old Blues
School Song Votum
The Foundation Hymn

Christ's Hospital, also called The Bluecoat School, Housey and CH, is an English coeducational independent day and boarding school with Royal Charter located in the Sussex countryside just south of Horsham in Horsham District, West Sussex, England that follows much of the "public schools" tradition. It is a charity school, giving children from poorer backgrounds the chance to have a better education. The school was originally founded in the 16th century in Greyfriars, London and Hertford.


  • Charitable foundation 1
    • Admissions 1.1
  • History 2
  • Present 3
  • Traditions 4
    • Uniform 4.1
    • Chapel and religion 4.2
    • Beating Retreat 4.3
  • Societies and clubs 5
  • Curriculum departments 6
    • Music 6.1
    • Drama 6.2
    • Art 6.3
    • Design and Technology 6.4
    • Sports and Physical Education 6.5
    • ISI Inspection 6.6
  • Organisation of the school 7
    • Year groups 7.1
    • Houses 7.2
  • Old Blues 8
  • Staff 9
  • See also 10
  • Notes 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

Charitable foundation

View of the Christ's Hospital quad towards dining hall. Picture taken from Big School
Christ's Hospital is almost unique for a British independent school in that it educates a proportion of its students free, and most at a reduced rate. This stems from its founding charter as a charitable school. School fees are paid on a means-tested basis, with substantial subsidies paid by the school, so that pupils from all walks of life are able to have a high quality, independent school education that would otherwise be beyond the means of their parents.
Westward photo of Quad and Front Avenue. (View from Art School)
In 2006 19% of children accepting places were assessed as being in "very high" need, 64% in "medium to high" need and 17% in "low" need.[1]

The trustees of the foundation are the Council of Almoners, chaired by the Treasurer of Christ's Hospital, who govern the foundation according to a Scheme of Administration granted by the Charity Commission. The historic Court of Governors survives as a formal institution consisting of over 650 benefactors but its powers have since the 19th century been largely transferred to the smaller Council of Almoners.

In 2007 Christ's Hospital was formally separated into two related registered charities: Christ's Hospital Foundation[2] and Christ's Hospital School.[3]


Admission of pupils is either by open competitive examination or by "presentation" — in either case the suitability of candidates is judged according to criteria of need and parental income. Certain individuals and corporate bodies exercise rights of presentation, proposing suitable candidates for admission. In effect the selection of pupils is made according to a complex set of scholarships.

  • Donation Governors are individuals who, in return for a financial donation, can propose a suitable candidate.
  • A number of livery companies have rights of presentation, including the Ironmongers' Company, the Cooks' Company, the Drapers' Company, the Grocers' Company, the Fishmongers' Company, the Skinners' Company, the Mercers' Company, the Master Mariners' Company and others.
  • The Guild of Freemen of the City of London have rights of presentation.
  • The Council of Almoners exercises rights of presentation in respect of:
    • Distinguished Service Presentation: sons, daughters, grandsons or granddaughters of persons distinguished in literature, science or art, the service of the Crown or services to Christ's Hospital (established 1866).
    • Royal Mathematical School: sons or daughters of Royal Navy, Royal Marines or Royal Navy Reserve List 1 (Merchant Navy) personnel
    • Girls' Additional Endowment Fund: orphan daughters of various professions (trust established 1904/5)
    • Brodribb Foundation: blood relations of members of the Brodribb family (established 1927)
    • Almoners' Presentees: supplementary places should the number of children presented fall short of vacancies available

In the open competitive examination, precedence is given to candidates who satisfy the conditions of a number of trusts, including:

  • children from schools in the area formerly controlled by the Inner London Education Authority
  • children from schools in certain ancient country parishes
  • Oliver Whitby Educational Foundation: children from Chichester
  • Royal Air Force Foundation: sons and daughters of officers or men of the Royal Air Force, Royal Auxiliary Air Force or Royal Air Force Reserve. The Foundation was instituted by Sir Barnes Wallis, himself a former pupil of Christ's Hospital, using the money he received from the Royal Commission on Awards for Inventors for inventing the bouncing bomb
  • Reeve's Foundation: children of parents connected with the ecclesiastical parish of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in the City of London, the parish of Clerkenwell or that of St Andrew's, Holborn
  • West's Gifts: children of parents resident in the borough of Newbury, borough of Reading, parish of Twickenham (1911 boundaries) or in default any contiguous parish or place thereto. Preference in respect of a third of the places is given to children who can establish a relationship to the founders of the trust, John West (born 1640, Master of the Clothworkers' Company and witness to the will of Samuel Pepys) and Frances West (his wife, born 1643) with the charity paying up to 50% of the pupils school fees.[4][5]
  • Almoners' Nominees are those selected for admission as a result of the competitive examination without satisfying any other means of presentation.

Some of the means of entry are denoted on the uniform by a round metal plate (varying in design according to type of presentation) sewn on the breast of the housey coat.


Christ's Hospital's buildings in London in 1770

Christ’s Hospital was the result of the vision of King Edward VI, assisted by Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, and Sir Richard Dobbs, Lord Mayor of London. Its genesis was the earlier dissolution of the monasteries and the resultant overflow onto the streets of the poor and destitute. Encouraged by a sermon from Ridley, exhorting mercy to the poor, the King wrote to the Lord Mayor encouraging him to action. This he did via a committee of 30 merchants. Henry VIII had already granted the use of Greyfriars to the City for the relief of the poor. Edward granted the Palace of Bridewell, his lands at the Savoy, and rents and other chattels to create three Royal Hospitals — Bridewell Hospital (now the King Edward's School, Witley, Surrey), St Thomas' Hospital and Christ's Hospital, which was for the education of poor children.

The first boys and girls entered the school in Newgate in 1552. The Royal Charter was granted and signed by its Founder, Edward VI, the following year. The first Treasurer was Richard Grafton. The Protestant foundation survived the Marian period and in the 1560s it sent its first scholars to Oxford and Cambridge.

The school occupied Newgate as its major site for 350 years, but from time to time children were housed in other parts of the country. 32 children perished during the

Christ's Hospital was given its second royal charter by Charles II in 1673. This specifically created the Royal Mathematical School, the original purpose of which was to train mathematicians and navigators who would serve as naval officers and merchant seafarers. Samuel Pepys, Secretary to His Majesty's Navy and from 1699 Vice-President of Christ's Hospital, made a considerable contribution to Christ's Hospital. Isaac Newton, Jonas Moore, John Flamsteed, and Edmund Halley contributed to plans for the course of study of the new school within the foundation.

This early 19th-century picture shows the Great Hall on St. Matthew's Day, 21 September. On this day, two Grecians destined for scholarships to Oxford and Cambridge Universities gave orations in praise of the school, one in Latin and the other in English. The Verrio painting can be seen along the wall on the right.

The girls of the hospital settled at Hertford from 1707. The Governors had been paying a teacher in Hertford from 1653, and the removal of some children from London following the Great Fire strengthened the link with the town. In 1761, 200 boys under the age of ten along with the boys from Ware were relocated to Hertford. In 1778 the last girls were moved out of London to join the others at Hertford, where the school was rebuilt 1795–1798 to provide accommodation for the new numbers.

Christ's Hospital's most famous Upper Master was James Boyer who presided from 1778 to 1799 and instructed James Leigh Hunt, Charles Lamb, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Two of 19th-century London's most notable architects, John Shaw Senior and John Shaw Junior, were architects and surveyors to Christ's Hospital throughout the first half of the 1800s. The Shaws' work included the old school hall (c.1825).

HRH The Duke of Cambridge started a tradition of Royal Presidents in 1854.

A commission of inquiry in 1837 proposed reforms, and in 1864 the Taunton Commission investigated the endowed schools. As a result of this a greater number of girls were admitted. However in the 1890s boys still outnumbered girls at Hertford.

Another commission in 1877 proposed a new site for the school, where all the boys would be taught. This proposal was questioned by some of the Governors. The Duke of Cambridge said "I am one of those who are perfectly prepared to go with the spirit of the age in which we live, but I confess that I am also one of those who do not love change for change’s sake. To upset an old and long standing institution... is a very dangerous experiment to try."

However, the proposal was carried out. 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) of land outside Horsham in Sussex was purchased from the Aylesbury Dairy Company for £47,500. The foundation stone was laid by Edward, Prince of Wales on 23 October 1897, on behalf of the Sovereign, the date being the anniversary of the birthday of the founder. Architectural features from the old school buildings (the Grecians' Arch and the Wren Arch) were salvaged and incorporated in the new buildings.

The boys were relocated from Newgate and Hertford to the new site in 1902. Hertford became a girls-only school.

Over the centuries Christ’s Hospital has continued to enjoy royal patronage. In 1919, The Queen in 1953.


The Hertford school for girls merged with the boys at Horsham in 1985 and hence Christ’s Hospital returned to its original co-educational roots. The Charitable Foundation staff, who had remained in Great Tower Street, London, moved to Horsham in 1987.

Mostly due to this, in early 2010, the Council of Almoners decided that the school would take on a small number of day pupils. It was to be limited to one day pupil, per boarding house, per school year.

The magnanimous support of the City of London Corporation and Livery companies of the City (some 20 actively support children in the School) remains uninterrupted. Christ’s Hospital remains true to its founder’s principles of supporting disadvantaged children and by remaining a school for the public.

The school is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. John Franklin was appointed as the new headmaster from September 2007 in succession to Dr. Peter Southern. Mr. Franklin was born in Brisbane and was educated in both the UK and Australia. He was previously Headmaster of Ardingly College.


The composer Constant Lambert as a pupil, wearing the traditional uniform

Links with the City and the Lord Mayor of London are maintained, with an annual parade through the City of London on St. Matthew's Day and a regular place in the Lord Mayor's Show.

One of the Christ's Hospital traditions is marching into lunch with the band, which is done each day except Sunday, weather permitting.

Another is the annual speech-day parade, where the Lord Mayor of London and his procession watch the school perform a march-past through the main quad. They also join the school in chapel for a grand service, and eat lunch with the Grecian year and their parents. Lastly they move to Big School to hear the Senior Grecian's oration and witness the Grecian prize-giving. This is always on the last day before the Summer Half Term.


The school's Tudor uniform: belted, long blue coats, knee-breeches, yellow socks, and bands at the neck. The uniform has been in place since 1552.[6] The nickname "Blue-coat School" comes from the blue coats worn by the students – however, the nickname used within the school community itself is "Housey" and the long coat is called a "housey coat".[7]

Second and third form pupils wear a simple leather belt with a buckle. When pupils reach their "Little Erasmus" (year 9), they are presented with more elaborate hallmarked sterling silver 'broadie' buckles and belts, which the pupils keep after leaving the school.

A complementary uniform was introduced for girls on re-unification of the schools in 1985– knee length pleated skirt, summer jacket, yellow socks (for the boys and junior girls), and grey socks or grey/black tights for senior girls, as well as the long coat in winter, and the bands.

By 2011 students and alumni stated that they see the uniform as an important way of giving the school a unique identity and unifying the school. Around that time the administrators had discussed the idea of updating the uniform. A few of the school's 800 students voted; over 95% voted in favor of keeping the original uniform.[6]

Chapel and religion

As a "religious, royal and ancient foundation", the school chapel is central to Christ's Hospital life.

As part of the commemoration of the fifty years since the artist's death, the chapel hosted an exhibition of the "Brangwyns": cartoons by the artist Frank Brangwyn of the paintings the artist made for the chapel depicting scenes from Christian history such as St Peter standing up with the eleven, famous conversions, and martyrdoms.

At the Leaving Service, school-leavers receive a Bible as a reminder of the school's commitment to Christian values.

Children are encouraged to explore their own worldview in the Theology and Philosophy classes. Pupils are encouraged to respect different religions and cultures. The school welcomes children from other religious and cultural backgrounds.

Beating Retreat

The dining hall with many spectators at the front watching the band play during the Beating Retreat

At the end of every academic year, the Christ's Hospital school band marches out from the music school, and perform a parade in the Quadrangle. The parade lasts for approximately an hour, during which they perform manoeuvers with ranks of the band members forming shapes whilst playing their instruments. Towards the end, snare drummers perform the "Splits"- a short routine created annually by students which combines synchronised drumming and 'tricks' with the drumsticks, usually involving rigidly timed throwing and swapping of the drumsticks. In 2011, a pair of cymbals were utilised during the Splits in addition to the snare drums. It is usually an emotional time, as it is the last time the 'Grecians' will both play for and listen to the school band as pupils.

Societies and clubs

  • Christ's Hospital Debating Society: The Debating Society holds a debate each Friday evening and takes part in school competitions such as Oxford Schools Debating.
  • Christ's Hospital Combined Cadet Force: The CCF at CH is one of the oldest in the country previously being a public school OTC. As a result it is allowed to wear its own CH cap badge. The CCF has nearly 200 members with three sections (RN, Army and RAF) which undertake various activities .
  • Duke of Edinburgh's Award: Many pupils at the school undertake the DofE award at all three levels . Expeditions usually take part in the school holidays .
  • Christ's Hospital Model United Nations: Christ's Hospital Model United Nations (MUN) programme attempts to develop global citizenship amongst the next generation of world thinkers and leaders, and also ordinary pupils. Its team debates international affairs at conferences, and organises its own for students from other schools.[8][9]

Curriculum departments


Christ's Hospital has a long and distinguished musical tradition and has one of the largest school music departments in the country, with around 35 visiting staff and 9 residential staff.

Famous alumni of Christ's Hospital Music School include conductors Sir Colin Davis, Charles Hazlewood, Adrian Bawtree, and Simon Joly, trumpeter David Mason (formerly Principal Trumpet of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), tenor Charles Corp, composer Tim Benjamin, and composer and conductor Constant Lambert.

The school's chapel (seating 1,000 and second only in size to St John's, Smith Square in London, thus providing an excellent performance opportunity for budding soloists and chamber musicians, alongside masterclasses with musicians such as Stephen Kovacevich, Hugh Bean, Adrian Thompson and Patrick Russill. The school is also famous as the first place in England to host a complete cycle of the chamber music of Brahms, under the direction of the then Head of Piano John Thwaites.

Christ's Hospital was featured in the first series of the reality television programme Rock School, in which Gene Simmons of KISS helped a group of pupils form their own rock band.[10]

The Christ's Hospital Band participating in the Lord Mayor's Show in 2008

The school's most famous ensemble is its band, simply named Christ's Hospital Band. It plays for the daily parade and performs in the annual Lord Mayor's Show in the City of London. The band also has a regular engagement each summer at Lord's Cricket Ground. The band played in the prestigious Rose Bowl Parade in California in 2002. The band led the procession at the Queen's 80th birthday in London on 21 April 2006 and has played at Twickenham Stadium on a number of occasions.


An Arts Centre complex (architect: Bill Howell) was opened in 1974 including a theatre with Tudor style auditorium, music school extension, Octagon rehearsal/performance space and classrooms.

The Christ's Hospital Arts Centre served as a principal arts venue for Horsham and the surrounding area until the establishment of an arts centre in Horsham in the 1980s. A programme of performances continues to be open to the public. Former notable pupils in theatre and film include Jason Flemyng, Leo Gregory,[11] James D'Arcy, Michael Wilding, and Roger Allam.

The Department is currently led by Melaine Bloor-Black (Head of Drama), Caroline Kelly (Drama Teacher) and Theatre Manager Jamie Friday. The venue hosts around 30 performances a year including the sell out "Big Band Concert" held in December and June each year. This event is run in conjunction with Music School. The venue also hosts touring productions from various companies credits include, The National Theatre, Not the National Theatre, SNAP Productions, HADOS, CHAOS, Act Two, Ariel Drama, High Gain Promotions and Jazz Dance.


Christ's Hospital has many famous paintings, such as the "Verrio" (painted by Antonio Verrio), the Brangwyn cartoons, and the only picture of Queen Victoria on a horse outside the Royal Collection. Many visitors come to see the paintings. Christ's Hospital Art School gives students the opportunity to work in many different mediums, having halfterms alternated between DT and Art.

Design and Technology

The department is based in a purpose based building behind the Lamb boarding houses.[12]

Sports and Physical Education

At Christ’s Hospital pupils are given the opportunity to participate in a wide range of sporting activities. Boys and girls sport is played against many of the top schools in the region with great success. Christ’s Hospital prides itself on developing excellence with the pupils that attend the School, some have had little of no experience of playing sport at a competitive level.

Competitive Sports on offer at Christ's Hospital include:

  • Rugby (boys and girls but not mixed)
  • Hockey (boys and girls but not mixed)
  • Football (boys only)
  • Cricket (boys only)
  • Netball (girls only)
  • Rounders (girls only)
  • Cross country (mixed)
  • Rugby fives (boys and girls)
  • Swimming (boys and girls but not mixed)
  • Squash (mixed)
  • Athletics (boys and girls but not mixed)

As well as these sports, Physical Education is offered as an academic subject throughout the school. The school has good facilities for sport including a number of sports pitches, a swimming pool, gymnasium, squash courts, fives courts, cricket nets and an astro turf.[13]

ISI Inspection

In late November 2012, Christ’s Hospital underwent a whole school inspection carried out by the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate (ISI). A team of twelve inspectors visited the School and carefully scrutinised all aspects of its operation. The School was rated “excellent” (the top grade) in the report released in January 2013. The optional term 'Exceptional' was not used. The report also said: (ii) Recommendation for further improvement 2.6 The school is advised to make the following improvement. 1. Ensure, through consistent monitoring by its academic leaders, the highest standards of teaching in all subject areas.[14]

Organisation of the school

Year groups

The ages currently range from 11 to 18, although "Leigh Hunt" was originally a prep school which took children from the ages of 8/9, in preparation for the senior school.

The school uses traditional year group names. The nomenclature used by the school and its National Curriculum equivalence are shown in the following table:
School Nat. Curric. equiv.
Second Form (2nd) Year 7
Third Form (3rd) Year 8
Little Erasmus (LE) Year 9
Upper Fourth (UF) Year 10
Great Erasmus (GE) Year 11
Deputy Grecians (Deps) Year 12 (lower sixth)
Grecians Year 13 (upper sixth)


View of Grecians East

The house system is incorporated with the boarding programme and most pupils are boarders. The school houses are named after notable Old Blues, primarily writers. Each house has an "A" and "B" side, each housing roughly 45 pupils arranged from west to east as follows:

The sixteen original main boarding houses stretch from Peele to Leigh Hunt along The Avenue, built as four H-blocks on either side of the main Quad. Leigh Hunt was originally the pair of preparatory houses, Prep A and Prep B, until converting to junior houses on the abolition in 1964 of entry at the age of nine.

The sixteen original houses provided two dormitories (Upper Dorm and Lower Dorm) sleeping up to about 30 boys each. As the merger of the boys and girls approached, some dormitories were divided into cubicles, and subsequent developments created dormitories accommodating about twelve pupils each. Since 2001 there has been a rolling refurbishment programme, with the refurbished houses providing a range of accommodation: four-bed rooms for the junior pupils to one-bed rooms for the more senior pupils.

Until 1964, boys at Horsham lived in all-through houses from 2nd Form to Grecians (with the exception of Prep A and Prep B). Then houses were divided into senior houses (Peele, Thornton, Middleton, Coleridge and Lamb) and Junior houses (Barnes, Maine, Leigh Hunt) with boys transferring to a senior house after Little Erasmus. In conjunction with the merger, a further reorganisation occurred with each house converting to a senior side and a junior side. This system reverted to the all-through houses in 2000; now from 2nd Form to Deps.

Grecians West and Grecians East were completed early in 2001 and provide individual study bedrooms plus several general common rooms and kitchenettes shared by a group of seven to ten pupils in the final year (Grecians) living a transitional style of life in preparation for university or life beyond school.[16]

With the transformation of Thornton from boys' houses to girls' houses in 2007, there are now an equal number of girls and boys at the school for the first time in its history.

Old Blues


Notable members of staff have included:

See also


  1. ^ Council of Almoners Annual Review 2005/2006
  2. ^ CHRIST'S HOSPITAL FOUNDATION, Registered Charity no. 306975 at the Charity Commission
  3. ^ CHRIST'S HOSPITAL SCHOOL, Registered Charity no. 1120090 at the Charity Commission
  4. ^ John & Frances West & their charities
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "Students Vote to Keep Tudor Uniform." British Heritage 32, no. 2 (May 2011): 10. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed 27 August 2011).
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Gene Simmons Rock School
  11. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (11 November 2005). "How I found my inner hippy". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Christ's Hospital, G.A.T. Allan, Shepperton 1984, ISBN 0-86364-005-2
  16. ^


  • Hang on Tight Christ's Hospital:from Girlhood to Governor, ISBN 978-1-84104-499-6
  • Christ's Hospital, G.A.T. Allan (revised J.E. Morpurgo), London 1984, ISBN 0-86364-005-2
  • Christ's Hospital quad and Grecians East photos by Sergiu Panaite
  • Christ's Hospital: A Short History, Nick Plumley 1986 (no ISBN)
  • Christ's Hospital in the Victorian Era, Ken Mansell, Ashwater Press 2011 ISBN 978-0-9562561-2-6

External links

  • Christ's Hospital
  • Christ's Hospital Association website (Alumni website)
  • Christ's Hospital School in 1731
  • ISI Inspection Reports

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