School History

    A brief history of Westminster City School

    Through its long and rich history, the school has strong roots in the educational heritage of the City of Westminster. It continues to be supported by the United Westminster Schools Charity whose resources are dedicated to the enhancement of educational provision for its schools' students in the spirit of the original bequests of its many benefactors.

    The present building in Palace Street was opened in 1877 and the Westminster school grew from 307 to 850 by 1890 when it was given the name of Westminster City School. In 1892 the first open scholarship to Cambridge was won. Under the 1944 Education Act the School was designated a Voluntary Aided Grammar School, with Church of England affiliations, and in 1977 became a Non-Diocesan Voluntary Aided boys' all-ability school with a mixed sixth form. It has a strong Christian ethos and commitment to equal opportunities, and continues to have particularly strong links with St. Margaret's, Westminster Abbey.

    The school has its origins in five educational charities founded in the 17th Century. The first, resulting from a petition to Elizabeth I by Ann Sackville, Lady Dacre, in 1590, was granted its Charter of Incorporation in 1601 and eventually led to the establishment of the Brown Coat School (now Emanuel School) in 1736. The site of the original Emanuel Hospital is now occupied by the St. James Court Hotel in Buckingham Gate, and Westminster City School is located in the former gardens of the Hospital.

    In 1624 the Churchwardens of St. Margaret's, Westminster, established St. Margaret's Hospital to which Charles I granted a Charter of Incorporation in 1633. As the children of St. Margaret's were dressed in green, the Hospital became known as The Green Coat School. St. Margaret's Hospital was sited near the present Green Coat Place and "The Green Coat Boy" public house.

    Another charity was established in Westminster in 1654 by the Reverend James Palmer who had been the Vicar of St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street. He erected twelve alms-houses and a school house for "the education of 20 poor male children born within the parish of St. Margaret". After fluctuating fortunes, the school was closed less than ten years later, to be re-opened in 1671 as the Black Coat Hospital which survived as a school until 1728 in what is now Palmer Street. The school's fitful existence was matched by that of a similar forerunner of Westminster City School, the Emery Hill foundation. Emery Hill, Churchwarden of St. Margaret's Church, founded his school in 1674 but in practice nearly 150 years elapsed before it began to operate. In 1817 both Palmer's (Black Coat) and Emery Hill's schools were revived and continued until 1873 when a scheme for the establishment of the United Westminster Schools was approved by Queen Victoria. Emery Hill's school and alms-houses were located in Rochester Row in SW1, where the alms-houses still operate.

    The United Westminster Schools now consist of Emanuel School in Wandsworth, Sutton Valence School in Kent and Westminster City School. In 1909 the Blue Coat charity school (founded in 1688) closed and the charity's total funds were divided between The Grey Coat Hospital and the United Westminster Schools. Thus Westminster City School, an amalgamation of the Brown Coat, Green Coat and Black Coat schools, shared with The Grey Coat the inheritance from the Blue Coat School. The Blue Coat School building has been preserved in Buckingham Gate where it is now a National Trust shop.

    The Old Westminster Citizens' Association
    Past students, teachers and friends of Westminster City School.

    The Association of Old Boys of Westminster City School, aims to keep Old Boys from around the World informed, in touch, entertained and suitably nostalgic for their schooldays! A Century ago in 1908 the then Headmaster Dr. Stevens, with remarkable vision for the future, saw the importance of lifelong friendships that could be fostered amongst Old Boys and so the Old Westminster Citizens’ Association was born. The OWCA is a flourishing association one hundred years on and celebrated the centenary at a dinner in London on 28th March 2008 attended by some 200 Old Boys, past teachers and special guests.

    OWCA maintains very close links with the school and, through its Trust Fund, provides finance to support a number of activities and projects.

    The OWCA website is enjoying hits from numerous old boys and past teachers worldwide.

    Famous old boys

    With such a long history of education as a secondary (now ex grammar) school within Westminster it comes as no surprise that many of our students have gone on to enjoy notable success in their careers.

    Here are a selection of some of Westminster City's higher profile old boys. For details on many of our other successful old boys please visit:

    John Boyega, a British-Nigerian actor, known for the leading role in Star Wars The Force Awakens.

    Wes Streeting, (born 21 January 1983) Cambridge graduate and MP for Ilford North.

    Gary Alexander, (born 15 August 1979 in Lambeth) is an English footballer who scored one of Wembley's best ever goals.

    Terry Marsh, (born 7 February 1958 in Stepney, London, England) is a former professional boxer who was an undefeated world champion.

    Sir Cyril Hinshelwood, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1956.

    Sir Martin Broughton, (born 1947) is a British businessman who was chairman of British Airways and Liverpool FC.

    Andy Mackay, (born 23 July 1946) Musician, best known as a founding member of the art-rock group Roxy Music.

    Andy Hamilton, (born 28 May 1954) is a British comedian, game show panellist, television director, comedy screenwriter, and radio dramatist.

    Christopher Warren-Green, (born 30 July 1955, Gloucestershire) is a British violinist and conductor.

    John Auguste Pouchot, (known as Jack) was the youngest man to be decorated with the Distinguished Conduct Medal in battle during the First World War.

    Percy Edgar Lambert, (1881 – 31 October 1913) was the first person to drive an automobile a hundred miles in an hour.

    Westminster City School Prospectus 1899 | PDFWestminster City School And Its Origins | PDF