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History of United Westminster Schools

History of United Westminster Schools’ Foundation

The United Westminster Schools’ Foundation is an educational charity and its registered number is 309267.  The Trust’s object is “the provision and conduct of three schools in which the religious instruction is in accordance with the principles of the Christian faith”.

United Westminster Schools’ Foundation springs from the union in 1873 of four ancient foundations: Emanuel Hospital, founded in 1594 by Lady Dacre; St. Margaret’s Hospital founded in 1633 by King Charles 1; Palmer’s School, founded by the Rev James Palmer in 1650; and Hill’s Grammar School, founded by Emery Hill in 1708.

Emanuel Hospital, was associated with the City of London, since its governance and administration of its property were originally in the hands of the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen of London. There was strong resistance to the scheme as they wished to retain overall control of the proposed new School.  After two passages through Parliament the scheme was given royal assent on 26th June1873. A compromise was reached and the girls from Emanuel Hospital were transferred to the Grey Coat Hospital and Emanuel Hospital remained a boarding school until it moved to its new site in Wandsworth in 1910.  The School remained a single sex boys’ school until 1995 when girls were finally re-admitted.  Another important change was the decision to charge fees for some pupils (pupils prior to 1879 were educated for free). The School became a voluntary added Grammar School for the period from 1944 – 1976, before reverting back to independence.

Westminster City School is a direct successor of St. Margaret’s Hospital, Palmer’s School and Hill’s Grammar School.

  • St. Margaret’s Hospital was established for “poor boys and girls of tender years may not only fully be maintained with meat, drink and apparel but also be instructed in manual arts”. It was granted a Charter for Incorporation by Charles 1 in 1633. Charles 11 made an endowment to the Hospital of £50 a year. St Margaret’s Hospital was on the site of the House of Fraser Department Store in Palace Street. The new School opened with 100 pupils but the numbers rapidly increased and on 9th April 1877, United Westminster Schools (which was later known as Westminster City School) was opened which had been built in the gardens of Emanuel Hospital in  Palace Street in Westminster.
  • Palmer’s School was founded “to teach and educate twenty poor male children born in St. Margaret’s Westminster”. It took 10 years to reach that number of scholars and within 20 years there were no boys at all.  It was re-established in 1717 and again in 1816. From this time until 1873 it managed to maintain its full complement of pupils.
  • Hill’s Grammar School, although founded as an Almshouse in 1674 by Emery Hill, as “a free school to teach twenty poor town born children, born in Westminster”.   The first master, the Rev Wiseman Holt, was appointed in 1738 and died in 1767 without apparently ever having enrolled a single scholar.  And so matters stood until 1817 when 20 pupils were enrolled. They were not housed in the Almshouse built for them 100 years’ before and were educated at Palmer’s School for many years.  They did in fact have their own premises and Master before the re-organisation in 1873.

Westminster City School was a Grammar School for the period 1944 – 1976.  It then became a Comprehensive School and then an Academy on 1st July 2013.

Sutton Valence School was founded in 1576 as the Free Grammar School of William Lambe in Sutton Valance, by William Lambe, Master of the Clothworkers and a member of the Chapel Royal of Henry VIII.  It remained under the control of the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers until 1910 when it was taken under the control of United Westminster Schools.

Sutton Valence School was a boarding and day school for boys and became co-educational and in 1980 it became closely associated with Underhill Preparatory School which became Sutton Valence Preparatory School in 1995.  It is now a co-educational day and boarding school with pupils from the age of 3 – 18. (490 in the Senior School and 295 in the Preparatory School).