Sunday, 30 September 2012

460th Anniversary of the Foundation of Christ’s Hospital

As the school I attended in South Africa was only 25 years old at that stage I am somewhat in awe of schools that have survived for hundreds of years.

September 21 saw me back at St Paul’s for the second time that week for the celebration of the 460th Anniversary of the Foundation of Christ’s Hospital School.  For my overseas readers – hospital in this context was closer to its earlier meaning  charitable institution to house and maintain the needy” rather than place for the sick.

The school was the result of the vision of King Edward VI, assisted by Nicholas Ridley the Bishop of London and the Lord Mayor of the City of London. King 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’ — including Christ's Hospital, which was for the education of poor children. The first boys and girls entered the school in Newgate in 1552.
The school is very unusual for a British independent school as a proportion of the pupils are educated free and most at a reduced rate. Pupils are means tested and the fees adjusted accordingly so that children from all walks of life are able to have a high quality education.  It is therefore no surprise that the school is enthusiastically supported by City of London institutions, (including the Needlemakers).
The service was most impressive with a school choir and orchestra.  The pupils still wear the traditional dress with their long coats (it was originally known as the Bluecoat School) and I am assured that when regularly asked about the uniform they have no desire to change.  Do look at the website Christ's Hospital and an interesting cutting Local pupils vote to keep their uniform!

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