Queen Elizabeth's Hospital

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Queen Elizabeth's Hospital
Queen Elizabeth's Hospital crest.png
Queen Elizabeth's Hospital.jpg
The main building
Motto dum tempus habemus operemur bonum
(Latin: "Whilst we have time, let us do good.")
Established 1586
Type Independent day school
Headteacher Stephen W Holliday
Founder John Carr
Location Berkeley Place

England Coordinates: 51°27′18″N 2°36′32″W / 51.455°N 2.609°W / 51.455; -2.609
DfE number 801/6014
DfE URN 109370 Tables
Capacity 650
Students 675
Gender Boys
Ages 7–18
Houses Bird's
Colours Blue and yellow
Website qehbristol.co.uk
Main school building

Queen Elizabeth's Hospital (also known as QEH) is an independent school for boys in Clifton, Bristol, England founded in 1586. Stephen Holliday has served as Headmaster since 2000, having succeeded Dr Richard Gliddon. The Queen is the School's patron, although QEH is named after its original patron Queen Elizabeth I

Known traditionally as "The City School", Queen Elizabeth's Hospital was founded by the will of affluent merchant John Carr in 1586, gaining its first Royal Charter in 1590. It is now Bristol's only boys' school.

The school began as a boarding school, accepting 'day boys' for the first time in the early 1920s. Boarders continued to wear the traditional blue coat uniform on a daily basis until the 1980s. After that, it was only worn on special occasions. Following a steady decline in numbers, QEH stopped accepting new boarders in 2004. Boarding closed completely in July 2008.

A Junior School opened in September 2007 in terraced Georgian town houses in Upper Berkeley Place, adjacent to the main school.[1]

The school is located in central Bristol, near Cabot Tower, in a building built of Brandon stone, designed by local architects Foster and Son and dating from 1847. It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade II listed building.[2] The terrace steps and walls are also grade II listed,[3] as are the walls, lodge and gates.[4] Before moving to the site on Brandon Hill, it was previously housed at Gaunt's Hospital mansion house, Unity Street (1590–1767) and St. Bartholomew's, Christmas Steps (1767–1847). The Red Maids' School, the oldest girls' school in the UK, is sister school to QEH.


The QEH Yard

The school's yard is a listed structure owing to the complex nature of the tiling involved in construction. It is one of the largest tiled surfaces in Europe[citation needed].

The school also has an up-to-date ICT suite which allows boys access to the internet. Boys can log onto the school server through a link on the school website.

The school library, located at the top of the main building, contains both fiction and non-fiction. The library also takes 35 periodicals, including magazines and national newspapers, in English, as well as French, Spanish and German, which are the three modern foreign languages offered to the boys for curricular study.

New 6th form centre

The school possesses playing fields outside Bristol, near the village of Failand.

A new sixth form centre was completed early in the new millennium.


For much of its history, QEH has provided education for boys aged 11 to 18, although it now has an all-boys junior school as well. QEH has its own entrance examination in January for students entering at Year 7 and Year 9 levels (ages 11 and 13 respectively), boys take papers in three subjects – Maths, English and Reasoning. The year 7 entrants are chosen by Easter (roughly), and attend an initiation day during the summer term. Boys also regularly enter the school at sixth form level.

School day[edit]

The school day begins at 08:35 with registration in each class's form room. This is followed on Mondays and Fridays by a full school assembly in the dining hall led by the headmaster or, occasionally, the school chaplain on Fridays. The day is divided into nine 35-minute periods. The first two are from 9–10:10 am, followed by a 10-minute break known as 'movement time', then two more periods, before break starts at 11:30 am and ends at 11:50. After two more lessons, at 1 pm, lunch break starts. This lasts until 2 pm, when there is a 15-minute form period before three more periods between 2:15 pm and 4 pm.[5]

All boys have one afternoon of sports per week. For year 7 and 8, it takes place on Wednesdays at the school's Failand playing fields, where rugby is played during the autumn and spring terms, and cricket or athletics during the summer. Years 9 and 10 have games on Tuesdays, and are given a choice of sports, while year 11 and sixth form have games on Thursdays. There are also gym periods for years 7–11 during the rest of the week.

In year 7, boys are taught Latin, English, French, maths, geography, history, religious studies, Art, biology, physics and chemistry, as well as periods for sport. In year 8, boys are taught all of the above as well as an extra language (German or Spanish). In year 9, boys must choose 2 creative subjects (design technology, information technology, art, drama, music or Latin, the latter occupying both choices), which are each taught once a week for a double period. Boys are expected to take ten GCSEs, including a modern foreign language, maths, English language, English literature, and two out of the three sciences, taught as separate disciplines. Boys take four AS Levels in the lower sixth form, with new subjects such as economics, classical civilisation, further mathematics and politics also available. One subject can then be dropped for their final year at the school in the upper sixth.

Public occasions[edit]

Prize giving 2004 in the Wills Memorial Building. The boarders and prefects can be seen in their bluecoat uniforms at the centre of the picture.

As well as performances at the QEH Theatre, some school activities are open to the public. At the end of the first half of the autumn term, the school holds its prize giving in the Wills Memorial Building, part of the University of Bristol. The headmaster reads his annual report, and a guest speaker gives the prizes to the winning pupils.

At the end of the winter term, the school holds its carol service at Bristol Cathedral. The school returns to the cathedral at the end of the spring term for its Charter Day service, celebrating the founding of the school. This service is attended by the Lord Mayor of Bristol, and the school's charter is put on display. The final public event of the school year is the school's sports day at the Failand playing fields after the end-of-year exams.

In addition, the school choir often sings Council Prayers at the Lord Mayor's Chapel on College Green, where school founder John Carr is buried.

House system[edit]

QEH operates a house system whereby students are allocated to one of four houses and engage in house activities including academic competitions (such as literature or foreign language readings), sports competitions, house drama, house choir, house music ensemble and many others.

Each house is named after one of the school's notable patrons. The four houses are Bird's, named after William Bird; Carr's, named after school founder John Carr; Hartnell's, named after Samuel Hartnell; Ramsey's, named after Lady Mary Ramsey. Hartnell was also a benefactor of the nearby school Clifton College a fact reflected in them also having a house named Hartnell's.

Each house has its own colour, and that colour is worn on the school tie for all students up to year 11. Sixth Form students who are house captains also wear house colours on their ties. The colours for the houses are:

  • Bird's (yellow)
  • Carr's (blue)
  • Hartnell's (green)
  • Ramsey's (red)

Students who excel at helping their house in some manner or other (usually sporting) are awarded "house colours" consisting of a rectangular badge in the colour of their house.

The organisation of each house is carried out by a designated House Master, and two sixth-form students, the Captain and Vice Captain of the house, who are picked by the House Master in conjunction with senior members of staff.


The QEH Captain of School 2002/3, wearing traditional bluecoat uniform, standing next to a statue of a QEH boy, also in bluecoat uniform, in the school entrance hall.

Standard school uniform for years 7 to 11 consists of blue blazers and trousers with white shirts and the house tie.

Sixth-form students wear a grey or blue suit with pastel-coloured shirt. Students who excel at sports are often awarded with "house colours" for that sport in the form of a special tie. Prefects also wear a tie and badge of office.

Traditional bluecoat[edit]

For a long time the school was a traditional bluecoat school. This dress was eventually phased out as day uniform, but was still sometimes worn by boarders (until the cessation of boarding in 2008), and is still worn by choir members, and by the Captain and Vice Captains of the school, for special occasions such as prize day.


The QEH News, Autumn 2008 edition. The QEH News publishes snippets about school trips, staff appointments and general school news.

The school publishes several periodicals. QEH News is a small newsletter, published biannually and available from the school's website, containing information on sports activities, gap year students, development plans and future events. There is also an annual publication, The Elizabethan, which gives a more in-depth commentary, as well as giving a showcase of pupils' artistic and literary talents.

Notable pupils[edit]

Former pupils of the school are known as Old Elizabethans. Notable pupils include Ashley Pharoah (1971–1978), writer and co-creator of the television series Life on Mars, Professor Roy Harris, linguistic theorist and philosopher of language, Jonathan Pearce (1971–78), a British football commentator for the BBC, William Friese-Greene, portrait photographer and inventor, and pioneer in the field of motion pictures,[6] Hugo Weaving, film and stage actor, and Sir Ivor Jennings, jurist, educator and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.[7]

QEH Theatre[edit]

The QEH Theatre.

The QEH theatre seats 220, and since opening in 1990 has been host to many productions both by QEH pupils and professional companies performing plays, dance and poetry. It also hosts concerts and other musical events, such as the biennial 'Battle of the Bands' and regular acoustic-only 'Unplugged' events, which showcase the musical talent in the school.


  1. ^ "About QEH". Retrieved 5 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Queen Elizabeth's Hospital". Images of England. Retrieved 4 May 2007. 
  3. ^ "Terrace wall, steps and lamps to west of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital". Images of England. Retrieved 4 May 2007. 
  4. ^ "Walls, lodge and gates to Queen Elizabeth's Hospital". Images of England. Retrieved 4 May 2007. 
  5. ^ Note: all information in the school day section was correct as of the 2013 school year.
  6. ^ Bristol Evening Post 15 July 2008
  7. ^ "Jennings, Sir (William) Ivor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (subscription required). Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  • The Elizabethan, 2000 edition.
  • QEH News, Issue 20 – Spring Term 2008.

External links[edit]