When is a Hospital not a Hospital?

Posted by Susan Baker, City of London Tour Guide on Thursday, July 22, 2021 Under: City of London

When is a Hospital not a Hospital?

When it’s a school founded by a Tudor king. In the Middle Ages a hospital was not what we think of today. The word has the same origins as hospitality or hotel, coming from the Latin hospes meaning both guest/visitor and host. A medieval hospital could be almhouses for the poor, a hostel for pilgrims or a school for the poor.

The sculpture by Andrew Brown commemorates the founding of Christ’s Hospital in 1552 by King Edward VI on part of the site of Greyfriars, a Franciscan monastery in the City of London, which had been dissolved by his father Henry VIII. Having heard a sermon about the plight of the poor, Edward galvanised the City of London to raise money to set up Christ’s Hospital to provide food, clothing, lodgings and a good education for poor children. The school still has close links with royalty, the Queen being its patron.

Children of all ages were accepted and, somewhat unusually for the time, girls. Until the age of 10 they were looked after at sites in Hertfordshire. Then the boys moved to the London school where, until they were 15, they were educated for a career in commerce or trade. A few, presumably those seen to have real potential, continued beyond 15 preparing for university (the first pupil went to Oxbridge in 1566) or in the Royal Mathematical School (part of the school from 1673) with a view to serving at sea - luminaries such as Sir Isaac Newton, Sir John Flamsteed and Samuel Pepys were involved with the school.

Like so many other buildings in the City of London the London school was destroyed in 1666 by the Great Fire but all the pupils survived. The children moved to a new site in Hertfordshire until the rebuilding of the London site was completed in 1705 when the older boys moved back. In 1902 all the boys moved to a new site in Horsham and the school finally became co-educational in 1985 when the girls joined them there.

The sculpture marks the original site of the school. It shows the distinctive Tudor, possibly most famous school uniform in the world which the pupils wear to this day – long navy blue coat with leather belt, matching knee breeches (or a skirt for girls), yellow socks and white neckband. There were thoughts of modernising the uniform but the pupils voted overwhelmingly in 2011 to keep the traditional one.

The school is renowned for its musical education and traditions. If you have ever been to the annual Lord Mayor’s Show you will have seen the school’s marching band which was formed in 1868 and has been part of the parade since 1974.

Although an independent school, Christ’s Hospital continues with its original charitable ethos with the majority of its students receiving bursaries, so those less well-off continue to be able to receive a private education over 450 years after the school was founded.

To hear more stories about what happened on this spot before and after the school was here come on our Heretics and Horrors or new Secret Spaces in the City walks.

In : City of London 

Tags: tudor  city of london  great fire of london  17th century  history  school. sculpture  walks  poor  1666  susan 
comments powered by Disqus


"online bookings' cpd #earthrise 17th 1830s 18thcentury 1930s 20th 50th a abbey adele afternoon afternoon tea age ages alastair ancient and animals annie anniversary apps architecture arsenal art arts attack autumn awards baker bank bankside barbican barrier bathhouses battersea bazalgette bear beasts becket bells bexley bishopsgate black blackfriars blackout blitz bloomsbury bombers book books borough bowie breakfast brewery brick bridge britain british bronze bronze age brunch buckingham burger burlesque buses cab cabaret cake canal canary captain care carl carol caroline carols cathedral cemetery cenotaph century chapman charles charlton cheap cheapside cheese childhood chips chiswick chocolate christmas church city city of london clapham clerkenwell cocktails coffee coffeehouses common company concert corporate covent covent garden covid-19 cream crime cross crown cruise crystal danson david davy day december dental deptford dick dickens dinner dinosaurs do dock dockland museum dragons dreamtime druitt earth east eat eating eats ecommerce edward edwardians edwin egypt elizabethan end engineering era ernst event events exhibition exhibitions facebook fair fairytale fall family fantastic farringdon fashion february festival film finance fire first fiscus florence folklore food for francis free friars frost gallery galliard garden george georgian georgians german germany gibb gift girls globe grade great greenhithe greenwich group guided guides gun half hall halsk handel harle harry potter hats havering havering hoard hawksmoor hazel heroes hidden highbury hill hilton history holloway homes hooke hot hotel house housing how humphry i ian ianmcd ice ice cream icelandic ii iii in india inigo isaac islington italian iv jack jack the ripper jack's james jenny jewels john johns jones joseph katharines kelly kenneth kew gardens kids kidstours killer kim king kings kingston lambeth lane lewis lights limestone literature liverpool locations londinium london london bridge london's londoners londonhistory lunch lutyens macaulay magnus management maritime market markets martyr mary match matilda maufe mayfair mcdiarmid measure medical medieval memorial middle military millennium mock-tudor modern modernist montague month monument moorgate mosaic murder murderers museum museum of london docklands music musicals mystery n7 national gallery national history museum ned new newcomen news newton nhs nichols night nightingale nurse of old street oliver open opera paddington palace palaces pancakes pandemic panoramic park parties path pauls people philip photo photograhy photography photos pizza places plague plantation plays plumstead podcast poetry pokemon polly poor pop poplar port poverty prince priory private tours pub public pubs purbeck qe2 queen queenhithe quirky railways recording regency reid religion rembrandt renaissance restoration ripper river road rob robert roman romans roundhouse royal saga saints salute saxon school. science sculpture scupture seacole second serial servants sewers shakespeare shoreditch siemens sir slave slavery small smartphone smith smithfield smithfields soap soho somme south southbank southwark spitalfields spy squirrels ss st statue stories stow street strike stuart stuarts studios subscription suffragettes sugar summer susan sydenham tate taxi tea ten term terror thames thamesmeade the theatre thiepval things things to do thrifty thriftytheatre to toothbrush tour tours tower trade travel truman tudor tudors tumblety twelfth twentieth twist und underground update v&a ve victims victoria victorian victorian london victorians viking virtual vouchers wales walk walking walks wall war water werner west westend westminster wharf wheeler whitechapel wilde wildlife willelm william windrush wine winter women wood woodland woolwich world wyatt york zachary 1666 1888 2019 2020





Site by Hazel  |  Photographs by Hazel or Ian