Christ's Hospital

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Christ's Hospital
King Edward's School Witley Logo.png
Quad DH.jpg
Christ's Hospital quad
Established 1552
Type Independent boarding school
Religion Church of England
President The Duke of Gloucester
Headmaster Simon Reid
Deputy Heads Marlene Fleming and Jon Perriss
Chairman of the Council of Almoners Garry Johnson
Founder King Edward VI
Location Horsham
West Sussex
RH13 0YP
United Kingdom
51°02′39″N 0°21′47″W / 51.044167°N 0.363056°W / 51.044167; -0.363056Coordinates: 51°02′39″N 0°21′47″W / 51.044167°N 0.363056°W / 51.044167; -0.363056
DfE URN 126107 Tables
Students 870: 435 girls & 435 boys (2015)[1]
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses Peele, Thornton, Middleton, Coleridge, Lamb, Barnes, Maine, Leigh Hunt

Blue & Yellow

Publications Housey!
The Blue
The Broadie
Patron Queen Elizabeth II
Former pupils Old Blues
School Song Votum
The Foundation Hymn
The Hertford Grace

Christ's Hospital, known colloquially as the Bluecoat School, is an English co-educational independent day and boarding school located just south of Horsham in West Sussex. It is a charity school whose fees are calculated on a means-tested basis.


Christ's Hospital's buildings in London in 1770

Christ's Hospital was established as a school in November 1552 at the instigation of King Edward VI. The king's patronage of the school was confirmed by a Royal Charter granted on 26 June 1553, eleven days before his death.[2][3] The school was founded at Newgate Street, London, on the site of a Grey Friars (Franciscan) friary, with a preparatory school in Hertford, Hertfordshire which had supplementary schools at Ware and Broxbourne.[4]

In 1902 the Newgate Street and Hertford schools relocated to the present location south of Horsham in West Sussex. A new railway station adjacent to the new site was partially sponsored by the school and also opened in 1902. A second boarding-school site in Hertford, which had been bought in 1682, became girls-only after the boys' school moved to Horsham. The girls' school was incorporated into the Horsham site in 1985 when the Hertford site was closed.

The trustees of the foundation are the Council of Almoners, chaired by the Treasurer of Christ's Hospital, who govern the foundation according to a Scheme of Administration granted by the Charity Commission. The historic Court of Governors survives as a formal institution consisting of over 650 benefactors, but its powers have since the 19th century been largely transferred to the smaller Council of Almoners.

In 2007 Christ's Hospital was separated into two related registered charities: the Christ's Hospital Foundation[5] and Christ's Hospital School.[6]


The composer Constant Lambert as a pupil, wearing the traditional uniform (painting by his father, George Lambert)

The school's Tudor uniform consists of belted, long blue coats with knee-breeches, yellow socks, and bands at the neck. The uniform has been in place since 1553.[7] The nickname "Bluecoat School" comes from the blue coats worn by the students – however, the nickname used within the school community itself is "Housey" and the long coat is called a "housey coat".[8]

By 2011 students and alumni stated that they saw the uniform as an important way of giving the school a unique identity and unifying the school. Around that time the administrators had discussed the idea of updating the uniform. A few of the school's 800 students voted;[clarification needed] over 95% voted in favour of keeping the original uniform.[9]


An early 19th-century picture of the Great Hall on St. Matthew's Day. The Verrio painting can be seen along the wall on the right.

In 2006 19% of children accepting places were assessed as being in "very high" need, 64% in "medium to high" need and 17% in "low" need.[10]

Admission of pupils is either by open competitive examination or by "show of skills"; in either case the suitability of candidates is judged according to criteria of need and parental income. Some of the means of entry are denoted on the uniform by a round metal plate (varying in design according to type of presentation) sewn onto the breast of the housey coat.

External inspection[edit]

In late November 2012, Christ's Hospital underwent a whole school inspection carried out by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. The school was rated 'excellent' (the top grade) in the report released in January 2013. The optional term 'Exceptional' was not used. The report also noted: "The school is advised to make the following improvement. Ensure, through consistent monitoring by its academic leaders, the highest standards of teaching in all subject areas."[11]

School activities[edit]

The Quad and Front Avenue, from the Art School


An Arts Centre complex (architect: Bill Howell) was opened in 1974, including a theatre with Tudor-style auditorium, an extension to the music school, the 'Octagon' rehearsal/performance space, and classrooms.

The Christ's Hospital Arts Centre served as a principal arts venue for Horsham and the surrounding area until the establishment of an arts centre in Horsham in the 1980s. A programme of performances continues to be open to the public.

Former pupils in theatre and film include Jason Flemyng, Leo Gregory,[12] James D'Arcy, Michael Wilding and Roger Allam.

The Christ's Hospital Band participating in the Lord Mayor's Show in 2008

Model United Nations[edit]

Christ's Hospital's Model United Nations programme aims to develop global citizenship. Its team debates international affairs at conferences, and organises its own for students from other schools.[13][14]

Rock School[edit]

Christ's Hospital was featured in the first series of the reality television programme Rock School, in which Gene Simmons of Kiss helped a group of pupils form their own rock band.[15]

Names of year groups[edit]

Each year group has a particular names, unique to Christ's Hospital. The standard UK "Year + number" format is not used.

  • Second Form (Year 7)
  • Third Form (Year 8)
  • Little Erasmus ("LE") (Year 9)
  • Upper Fourth ("UF") (Year 10)
  • Greater Erasmus ("GE") (Year 11)
  • Deputy Grecians ("Deps") (Year 12)
  • Grecians (Year 13)


Grecians East boarding house

The house system is incorporated with the boarding programme and most pupils are boarders. The school houses are named after notable Old Blues (the CH-specific term for alumni), primarily writers. Each house has an "A" and "B" side, each housing roughly 45 pupils. The houses are arranged from west to east as follows:

"Avenue houses" – single-sex, accommodating Second Form to Deputy Grecians (Years 7 to 12)[edit]

Grecians' houses – mixed, Grecians only (Year 13)[edit]

  • Grecians West (for pupils who were previously in Peele, Thornton, Middleton and Coleridge)
  • Grecians East (for pupils who were previously in Lamb, Barnes, Maine and Leigh Hunt)


People educated at Christ's Hospital are called Old Blues.


Notable members of staff have included:

Sexual abuse[edit]

Sexual abuse of pupils from 1969 to 2001[17] led to five former teachers being convicted of offences after 22 former students made complaints to the police in 2016.[18][19]

The convictions are as follows:

  • Rev. Garry Dobbie, a chaplain at the school at the time of the offences, was convicted on 5 July 2018 of 15 offences against eight pupils aged between 12 and 19 as follows:
    • six counts of indecent assault on a boy (five of the counts relating to multiple occasions) between 1990 and 1996;
    • one count of indecent assault on a boy between 1988 and 1990;
    • two counts of indecent assault on a woman between 1995 and 1996;
    • one count of indecent assault on another woman between 1994 and 1995*;
    • one count of attempted indecent assault on a man in 1990;
    • one count of indecent assault on a boy aged 17 between 1993 and 1994;
    • one count of indecent assault on a man, a former pupil, aged 21 in 2001;
    • two counts of indecency with a boy between 1989 and 1991.

Prosecutor Eloise Marshall told the court there were "outstanding matters" against Dobbie as "two other complainants had come forward during the course of the trial".[20][21] Police confirmed they were both former school pupils.[22]

  • James Husband (known most commonly by his middle name, Andrew), a co-defendant with Dobbie in the trial in summer 2018, was convicted of:
    • one count of rape; and
    • five of indecent assault including of a girl as young as 14*.[23]

Three further counts of alleged rape of the same girl by Husband were discontinued during the trial.[24] The offences were commuted between 1990 and 2001.[17] Before raping the 16-year-old, he said: "It's OK, I've had a vasectomy". [25] The court was told that Husband and Dobbie were friends and used to laugh together about their exploits. Husband was sentenced to 17 years' imprisonment.[17]

  • Peter Burr pleaded guilty on 11 October 2017 to:
    • 9 counts of indecently assaulting boys aged 11-14 between 1969 and 1973.[26] He was sentenced to 6 years and 7 months' imprisonment, following a ruling by the Court of Appeal that his original sentence of 4 years' imprisonment was unduly lenient.[27]
  • Peter Webb pleaded guilty on 6 September 2017 to:
    • 11 counts of indecent assault against five boys at the school.[28] He was sentenced to 5 years and 6 months' imprisonment, following a ruling by the Court of Appeal that his original sentence of 4 years' imprisonment was unduly lenient.[29]
  • Ajaz Karim, a former sports teacher at the school, was convicted in April 2018 of:
    • 9 counts of indecent assault against six female pupils between 1985 and 1993.[30] On 9 August 2018 he was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment, and made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order.[31]

*The victim of the offences by Husband is the same as the victim of Dobbie on the count of indecent assault on a woman between 1994 and 1995.[32]

Sussex police issued a statement after the conviction of Dobbie and Husband highlighting that these were historic matters, acknowledging the co-operation of the school with the investigations, and reflecting on the conduct of Dobbie in particular:

"Our investigation began in January 2016 when the victim of Husband contacted the school and reported the abuse. She subsequently made a statement to us and also said that Dobbie who was the school chaplain had, on learning of the systematic abuse of her by Husband, indecently assaulted her himself.

"As we began our investigation we spoke to other ex-pupils and ex-staff members and it became clear that Dobbie had also systematically exploited and abused other pupils over a period of up to eight years.

"We have had the fullest co-operation from the school throughout this investigation, and they have supported us in providing all the information we requested, which helped us to contact victims and witnesses."

The school's comments at the time of the convictions of Dobbie and Husband highlighted that it had "transformed beyond recognition" in the 15 years since these events.[33]

Ongoing cases[edit]

The following charges are subject to ongoing judicial proceedings:

  • Roger Martin was charged on 16 July 2018 with indecently assaulting a "vulnerable and homesick" 10-year-old male pupil between September and December 1976; he pleaded not guilty at Crawley Magistrates' Court earlier, and is due be tried at Lewes Crown Court later in 2018.[34][35]
  • Rev. Gary Dobbie as noted above.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CH AT A GLANCE | Christ's Hospital". Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  2. ^ "History of the School". Christ's Hospital. Retrieved 26 March 2017. 
  3. ^ retrieved 24 Mar 2017
  4. ^ retrieved 27 Mar 2017
  5. ^ Charity Commission. CHRIST'S HOSPITAL FOUNDATION, registered charity no. 306975. 
  6. ^ Charity Commission. CHRIST'S HOSPITAL SCHOOL, registered charity no. 1120090. 
  7. ^ Stow, John (1598). Thoms, William J., ed. A Survey of London, written in the year 1598 by John Stow (New edition, 1842 ed.). Whittaker. p. 119. 
  8. ^ "London Metropolitan Archives : Information Leaflet Number 29 : Records of Christ's Hospital and Bluecoats Schools" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  9. ^ "Students Vote to Keep Tudor Uniform." British Heritage 32, no. 2 (May 2011): 10. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed 27 August 2011).
  10. ^ Council of Almoners Annual Review 2005/2006
  11. ^ "Christ's Hospital - ISI - Independent Schools Inspectorate". Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  12. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (11 November 2005). "How I found my inner hippy". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  13. ^ "Christ's Hospital Model United Nations". Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  14. ^ "Host of awards at conference ceremony for pupils - West Sussex County Times". 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  15. ^ [1] Archived 17 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ Christ's Hospital, G.A.T. Allan, Shepperton 1984, ISBN 0-86364-005-2
  17. ^ a b c "Christ's Hospital School teacher jailed for pupil rape". BBC News. 13 July 2018. 
  18. ^ "Teacher guilty of raping pupil". BBC News. 2018-07-05. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  19. ^ "Teacher James Husband, from York, jailed for 17 years for raping pupil". York Press. 2018-07-13. Retrieved 2018-07-13. 
  20. ^ "Teacher guilty of raping pupil". BBC News. 2018-07-05. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  21. ^ "Former teachers convicted of sex offences against pupils at Sussex public school". Sussex Police. 2018-05-07. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  22. ^ Shaw, Neil (2018-07-06). "Two more teachers guilty of child sex abuse at private school". devonlive. Retrieved 2018-07-06. 
  23. ^ "Teacher James Husband, from York, guilty of rape and indecent assault". York Press. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  24. ^ "Former teachers convicted of sex offences against pupils at Sussex public school". Sussex Police. 2018-05-07. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  25. ^ Shaw, Neil (2018-07-06). "Two more teachers guilty of child sex abuse at private school". devonlive. Retrieved 2018-07-06. 
  26. ^ "Jail for ex-teacher who assaulted pupils". BBC News. 2018. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  27. ^ "Sex abuse teacher's jail term extended". BBC News. 2018-03-28. Retrieved 2018-07-18. 
  28. ^ Wynn-Davies, Stephen (6 September 2017). "Former Christ's Hospital teacher pleads guilty to historic sex offences". West Sussex County Times. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  29. ^ "Former private school teacher has his 'unduly lenient' prison sentence for indecent assault increased". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-07-18. 
  30. ^ "Christ's Hospital School sports coach guilty of indecent assaults". BBC News. 19 April 2018. 
  31. ^ "Ex-school sports coach jailed for 10 years for sexually abusing pupils". The Guardian. Press Association. 9 August 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2018. 
  32. ^ "Former teachers convicted of sex offences against pupils at Sussex public school". Sussex Police. 2018-05-07. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  33. ^ "Scandal-hit private school has 'transformed beyond recognition' – headmaster". ITV News. Retrieved 2018-07-24. 
  34. ^ "Former teacher at Horsham public school charged with sex offence against pupil 42 years ago". Sussex Police. 2018-07-16. Retrieved 2018-07-18. 
  35. ^ "Teacher denies assault on pupil aged 10". BBC News. 2018-07-18. Retrieved 2018-08-05. 


External links[edit]

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "article name needed". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.