Westminster Abbey Choir School

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Westminster Abbey Choir School
Established c.1560; 1848
Type Independent boarding prep school
Choral foundation school
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Mr Jonathan Milton
Chair of Governors The Very Rev Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster
Location 20 Dean's Yard
Local authority Westminster
DfE number 213/6044
Students 35 (2014)
Gender Boys
Ages 8–13
Publications Wacs Lyrical
Website www.westminster-abbey.org/choir-school

Westminster Abbey Choir School is a boarding preparatory school for boys in Westminster, London and the only remaining choir school in the United Kingdom which exclusively educates choristers. It is located in Dean's Yard, by Westminster Abbey. It educates about 30 boys, aged 8–13 who sing in the Choir of Westminster Abbey which takes part in state and national occasions as well as singing evensong everyday (except Wednesday) and gives concert performances around the world. Its most recent tour[when?] was to Moscow, singing in the International House of Music there. Other tours included trips to Australia,[1] America, and Hong Kong.

The headmaster is Jonathan Milton, former headmaster of The Abbey School, Tewkesbury. The organist and master of the choristers is James O'Donnell, former Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral.


The choir school was thought to have been founded around 1560 as the choir boys of Westminster Abbey have been educated since Elizabethan times. The present school was built in 1919 and underwent major renovations in 1990s.


The Chairman of the Governors of the school is the Very Reverend John Hall, Dean of Westminster and former Chief Education Officer for the Church of England.


The school was inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate in November 2006. The inspection report stated that the school provides an outstanding education.[2]


As a choir school, boys are selected by musical ability. The Dean and Chapter meet the cost of their vocal training and at least eighty per cent of the cost of their education. The regular school curriculum is not neglected and pupils are taught the required National Curriculum subjects as well as Latin, French and Greek.[3]

The choir[edit]

The choir makes frequent broadcasts and recordings.[4] The choir's two most recent recordings are: Remembrance, with pieces including the Durufle requiem, Vaughn-Williams and Taverner , "Missa Euge bone & Western Wynde Mass" and "Music from the reign of King James", both on Hyperion. The Sub-organist, from September 2013, is Daniel Cook and the assistant organist is Martin Ford and,since September 2014 the organ scholar has been Jeremy Woodside, with James O'Donnell as the Organist and Masters of the Choristers. In 2009 it was decided to no longer have the positions of Head Chorister and Second Chorister so that the choir would be like other choirs.But,in 2013 Benjamin Maclean was chosen as head chorister and Omar Lingemann As Second chorister.In 2014 the head chorister was Sam Grindlay and the second chorister was John Hindley.In 2014-15 the two senior choristers are [5]Dominic Stokes(Head) and Hugo Millard (Second).


The choir has travelled across the world to perform tours most recently in Australia, the USA, China, Moscow, Rome, and Hungary. Generally these tours take place once every two years. The Choir was due to go to Spain in 2009 but due to the recession it could not go ahead. The next tour the choir is due to experience is to the U.S.A in October 2014.

Notable former pupils[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Westminster Abbey Choir tour to Australia
  2. ^ The Quality of Education at Westminster Abbey Choir School, Independent Schools Inspectorate, 2006
  3. ^ 2010 ISI Inspection report
  4. ^ Recent recordings of Westminster Abbey Choir
  5. ^ Dominic Stokes

Coordinates: 51°29′55″N 0°07′46″W / 51.49864°N 0.12934°W / 51.49864; -0.12934