In 1546 the buildings of the former Grey Friars Monastery in Newgate Street were given by Henry VIII to the City of London. Christ’s Hospital (CH) was founded in London by King Edward VI for the orphan children of poor Londoners and was given the use of the old Grey Friars buildings. It admitted its first 380 children in November 1552 and was given its Royal Charter by Edward VI in 1553, being part of a foundation which included St Thomas’s Hospital (for the sick) and Bridewell Hospital (for idle vagabonds).
Many children, including 100 of the first 380, were infants who were sent away to Ware, Hoddesdon or Hertford to be looked after by nurses, who were paid a weekly allowance, and to attend local day schools when they were old enough. Children usually came to London to be educated only at the age of 10 or older.
Girls were admitted from the beginning but were always in a minority. In 1563, when the first children’s register was compiled, there were 132 girls out of 396 children, although the proportion thereafter was usually much smaller.
In London, the great majority of children were educated in the Writing School for a position in commerce or trade, leaving when aged 15. The few who stayed on beyond the age of 15 studied either in the Grammar School for University or, from its foundation in 1673, in the Royal Mathematical School (RMS) for service at sea. The RMS received its Royal Charter from Charles II, with Samuel Pepys, Sir Isaac Newton and Sir John Flamsteed being influential figures in its early years.
CH lost 32 children in the Great Plague of 1665, but did not lose any children to the Great Fire in 1666, although most of the buildings were burned down. With only a few children able to return to the ruined buildings, many were sent out to be billeted in Hertfordshire. In 1682 a site in Hertford was acquired for a self-contained boarding school, which CH was to own for over 300 years. This site was initially intended only for young boys, although in 1778 they were joined by the girls, who occupied a separate school there.
Thanks to the great generosity of benefactors, the rebuilding of school after the Great Fire was completed in 1705, with Sir Christopher Wren designing the South front as well as Christ Church, the parish church immediately a outside the walls of CH, which the school used for its worship. A second major rebuilding took place from 1793 to 1836, including a Grammar School completed in 1793, a new Great Hall in 1829, Grammar and Mathematical Schools in 1834 (replacing the 1793 Grammar School and the 1684 Mathematical School) and the cloisters known as the Grecians Cloister in 1836. The above watercolour, by Arthur Ellis, shows the 1836 Grecians Cloister, the central arch of which was brought to Horsham and now forms the outside halves of the archways to the main quadrangle. In the background are the two Wren spires of Christ Church and St Paul’s.
In 1902 all the boys from both the London and Hertford schools transferred to a new site in Horsham, and the school at Hertford became a girls-only school. In 1985 the Hertford site was closed and the girls transferred to Horsham, once again to form a co-educational school. CH now has about 800 boarding pupils, with an equal number of boys and girls, and takes day pupils.
Christ’s Hospital is in many ways unique, offering an independent education of the highestcalibre to children with academic potential, from all walks of life in a caring, boarding and day environment.
Pupils’ fees are assessed according to family income, so that it is a child’s ability and potential to benefit from a Christ’s Hospital education that determines their selection. This results in a social and cultural diversity that enriches our school community and offers our pupils unique opportunities as we prepare them to take their place in the modern world.
We believe in the benefits of a rounded and balanced education for our pupils. In practice, this means that as well as a challenging academic programme, pupils are also involved in music, art, drama, public speaking, community action and sport.
The School has an impressive history of high academic achievement with an average of 10 pupils each year taking up places at Oxford or Cambridge, and 98% of leavers going on to top Universities in this country and abroad. http://www.christs-hospital.org.uk/