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History of the Foundation

The United Westminster and Grey Coat Foundation was formed from the merger of United Westminster Schools Foundation and The Grey Coat Hospital Foundation on 31 March 2019. The two foundations had worked closely together since 1873.


The United Westminster Schools Foundation

As part of the reorganisation brought about by the Endowed Schools Act, the United Westminster Schools’ Foundation comprised Emanuel School, Westminster City School and Sutton Valence School. It came into being in 1873 when the scheme was approved by Queen Victoria, and brought together four medieval Foundations.

Emanuel Hospital was founded in 1594 by Lady Dacre and was initially set up to provide education for 10 boys and 10 girls.

Following the decisions of the Education Endowment Commission in the 1860s, there was a change of name to Emanuel School, a relocation to Wandsworth and the girls who attended the old hospital were sent to The Grey Coat Hospital and the school remained boys only until 1995.

Emanuel School opened on its present site on Wednesday 22 January 1883.

In 1944 Emanuel became a voluntary aided grammar school until 1976 when it became an independent school. Today it remains a co-educational independent day school for pupils aged between 10 and 18.

Westminster City School is located in the gardens of the original Emanuel Hospital site and has origins in five educational charities, including the Emanuel Hospital.

St Margaret’s Hospital was established by the Churchwardens of St Margaret’s Westminster in 1624 and granted a Charter of Incorporation by Charles I in 1633. The children wore green and it became knowns as The Green Coat School.

The Reverend James Palmer, Vicar of St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street established a charity which included a school house erected for provision of ‘the education of 20 poor males within the Parish of St. Margaret.” The school was open between 1671 and 1728 as the Black Coat Hospital, and was revived in 1817.

The Emery Hill Foundation was founded in 1674 by Emery Hill, a Churchwarden of St Margaret’s Church, for the purpose of teaching, “twenty poor children, born in Westminster.” The first students enrolled in 1817.

Westminster City School opened in its present location in 1877 and was given its name in 1890. In 1944 the school became a Voluntary Aided Grammar School with Church of England affiliations. In 1977 the school became a Non- Diocesan Voluntary Aided boys’ all ability school with a mixed sixth form. The school became an Academy is 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 becoming co-educational in 1980. From that date it was closely associated with Underhill Preparatory School which became Sutton Valence Preparatory School in 1995. With the opening of Little Lambs nursery the school now provides a co -educational independent education for pupils aged 2-18.


The Grey Coat Hospital Foundation

The Grey Coat Hospital was formally established in 1698, with eight members of the congregation of St Margaret’s, Westminster donating towards its founding as a day school for 50 boys. In 1701, the Trustees purchased a former workhouse, renamed the St Andrew’s building, still its home to this day and from this point on girls were admitted.

In 1706, the school received the Queen Anne’s Charter and was formally titled, The Royal Foundation of Queen Anne in the Parish of St. Margaret’s Westminster” though its popular name was the Grey Coat Hospital, because of the colour of the pupils clothes.

The Foundation was reconstituted as a result of the Endowed Schools Act in 1869 and would operate as The Grey Coat Hospital Foundation, and from this point The Grey Coat Hospital became an all-girls school, with the boys moved to a number of other schools including moving to what had become Emanuel School.

Following a decision by the Trustees to establish a girls’ boarding school, the Foundation purchased the site in Caversham and opened Queen Anne’s School in 1894.

With the introduction of the Education Act of 1944, the Grey Coat Hospital operated as a Voluntary Aided Church of England girls’ grammar school. In 1977, the Grey Coat Hospital amalgamated with St Michael’s, a Church of England secondary school to become a comprehensive school. The school became an Academy in 2013 for girls 11-18, welcoming boys into the sixth form.

Queen Anne’s continues to operate as an independent day and boarding school for girls aged 11-18.
Both The Grey Coat Hospital and Queen Anne’s School continue to enjoy close links with Westminster Abbey, holding regular services for students, staff and parents.