Christ’s Hospital (CH) is one of the famous Royal Hospitals of London, whose foundation marked the beginning of the social services in Tudor England. Inspired by a sermon by Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, the young King Edward VI instructed the Lord Mayor, Sir Richard Dobbs, to appoint a committee of leading citizens to consider remedies and relief for the City’s homeless poor. Their work, and subsequently their philanthropy, led to the founding of the five great Hospitals all supporting different needs. CH, established in the monastery of the Grey Friars in Newgate Street, embraced the task of educating and nourishing the destitute children of the City and took children of all social backgrounds and ages.
In November 1552, CH opened its doors to 380 pupils and, within a year, the number had increased to over 500. Many children, including 100 of the first 380, were infants who were sent away to CH Hertford to be looked after. When they reached 10 they returned to CH London.
Christ’s Hospital Today
Christ’s Hospital is an independent co-educational boarding and day school of 900 pupils with an equal mix of boys and girls aged 11-18. The School is located in West Sussex in the south east of England. It is situated in stunning countryside between London and Brighton, 20 miles south of London Gatwick and 38 miles from London Heathrow. The School is fortunate in having its own mainline railway station with regular trains to London, Gatwick Airport and the South Coast.
Christ’s Hospital is unique for a UK independent boarding school in that it offers more bursary places than other schools. This stems from our 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 corners of society are able to have a high quality, independent boarding school education that would otherwise be beyond their means.
“Whilst other school fee assistance schemes have come and gone, Christ’s Hospital has stuck to its charitable aims since it was founded in 1552: educating the financially, socially and otherwise needy for free, or at a reduced rate, in a caring boarding environment. Today these pupils sit happily alongside the full fee payers and the School’s pupil profile is one of which its royal founder, Edward VI, would have been proud.” Kate, former parent
Why we are called Christ’s Hospital
Christ’s Hospital’s name derives from being founded in the parish of Christchurch, London. During the Middle Ages, hospitals served different functions from modern institutions. Medieval hospitals were alms houses for the poor, hostels for pilgrims, or hospital schools. The word “hospital” derives from the Latin noun hospitium and came to signify hospitality.
One hundred years after the founding of Christ’s Hospital and the signing of the Royal Charter by Edward VI in 1553, a painting was commissioned to celebrate this historic event.
Alumni (Old Blues)
With a history as long and a rich as ours, it is not surprising that there are many famous alumni (known as Old Blues). From the 19th and early 20th Centuries, writers and poets including Charles Lamb, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Edmund Blunden. From the world of music, conductors Sir William Glock, Sir Colin Davis and Charles Hazlewood. From academia, we are proud to have educated recent principals of Oxbridge colleges – Elizabeth Llewellyn-Smith (St Hilda’s), Ruth Deech (St Anne’s), and Alan Ryan (Warden of New College, Oxford).
Journalists Bernard Levin and Con Coughlin; trade unionist John Edmonds; aviation engineer Barnes Wallis; senior members of the military including General Sir Garry Johnson and from the world of politics Michael Stewart (former Foreign Secretary).
A number of Old Blues have gone on to make a career in sport, most notably former Sussex and England bowler John Snow and of course the current England rugby player Joe Launchbury and more recently cricketer Stuart Whittingham. Theatrical Old Blues include Olivier Award winners Howard Davies (stage director), Roger Allam (actor) and Michael Wilding (actor). Film actors and directors such as Jason Flemyng, Susannah Fielding and Peter Hewitt, screen writers for television including Clive Exton, and comedians who include Mark Thomas and Holly Walsh have all benefitted from a Christ’s Hospital education.