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Davenant Foundation School

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Davenant Foundation School
Davenant Foundation School Badge Logo.jpg
Chester Road

, ,
IG10 2LD

Coordinates51°39′45″N 0°05′05″E / 51.66253°N 0.08470°E / 51.66253; 0.08470Coordinates: 51°39′45″N 0°05′05″E / 51.66253°N 0.08470°E / 51.66253; 0.08470
MottoNurturing mind, body and spirit
Religious affiliation(s)Christian
Established1680; 341 years ago (1680)
Department for Education URN136625 Tables
HeadteacherAdam Thorne
Age11 to 18
HousesDebden, Abbey, Valley, Epping, Nazing and Theydon

Davenant Foundation School is a Christian Ecumenical secondary school, founded in 1680, currently in Loughton, Essex, England.


Foundation in Whitechapel[edit]

In February 1680 the Reverend Ralph Davenant, rector of St Mary's Whitechapel, drew up his will, leaving all of his household goods and plate to his wife with the provision that it should eventually be sold and that the monies raised should be used to build a school for 40 boys of Whitechapel in the East End of London.[citation needed]

In addition to this bequest, a number of properties were also given over to the school so that rents and capital could be raised. These consisted of a farm at Sandon near Chelmsford, the site of Tilbury Fort and land on which the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway was built.[citation needed] Funds raised thereby went towards the additional educating of 34 poor girls. Boys were to learn reading, writing and arithmetic, whilst the girls were to learn reading, writing and sewing.

A site for the proposed school was found in the Whitechapel Road on the Lower Burial Ground. The old school buildings still stand there.

In 1813, Davenant earned itself the title of 'Cradle of the National Schools of England'.[citation needed]

Monitorial system[edit]

Dr Andrew Bell invented a system for educating hundreds of children with only one Master assisted by senior boys. This became known as the monitorial system. 1,000 children (600 boys and 400 girls) were educated by this system in a new building which was erected in Davenant Street.

The charity school continued to function in the original buildings which were eventually enlarged in 1818 to accommodate 100 boys and 100 girls. The school by now maintained two institutions educating 1,200 children – extraordinarily large for 1818. The third strand of the school came into being in 1858 when a Commercial or Grammar School was built in Leman Street under the direction of the Reverend Welden Champneys, the then Rector of Whitechapel. In 1888 the two charities of Whitechapel and Davenant merged to become 'The Foundation School'.

New buildings[edit]

In 1896, the new Renaissance Building was erected behind the 1818 building providing additional classroom space and an assembly hall which remains. In 1939 the school was evacuated and the buildings were taken over by the Heavy Rescue Service.[citation needed] In 1944 the school became Davenant Foundation Grammar School for Boys, a title which it retained until 1980. By then it educated only some 200 boys.[citation needed]

Move to Loughton[edit]

In 1965, at the invitation of the Essex County Council, the school moved to the suburb of Loughton. Many East End families had in any case moved out to the suburbs by this time. The population in London was in decline and there was a need for grammar school provision for boys in Loughton. Davenant's best chance of survival was to move.[citation needed]

The new buildings at Loughton were located on the edge of the town and open farmland between Loughton and Theydon Bois, and were opened in 1966 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Comprehensive and coeducational school[edit]

The school continued as a two-form entry boys' grammar school until 1980. In that year Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother made her second visit to the school, to celebrate 300 years since its founding. The school returned to co-educational status and developed as a Christian Ecumenical School for 1,000 girls and boys. The school also gained specialist status as a Language College and a Sports College.


The school converted to academy status on 1 April 2011.


Davenant students appeared on Channel 4's Teens programme in 2015.[1]

House system[edit]

A new house system was introduced in 2005 with the school being divided up into six houses, one for each form in each year. The houses are named after places in the school's surrounding area.

The houses were:

  • Debden - Mascot: Dragons - Colour: Red
  • Abbey - Mascot: Angels - - Colour: Blue
  • Valley (after Roding Valley) - Mascot: Lions - Colour: Yellow
  • Epping - Mascot: Tigers - Colour: yellow
  • Nazeing - Mascot: Shark - Colour: Purple
  • Theydon (after Theydon Bois) - Mascot: Phoenix - Colour: Green

The initial letters of the house names were D, A, V, E, N, T; which are the letters that make up the school's name - Davenant (minus the repeated letters). Each house had a mascot, house colour, sixth form house prefects, and a member of staff as head of house.

In 2019, the house system was changed. The houses stayed as individual form groups, while three new houses were introduced. The houses are:

  • Gillingham - With forms D and E in this house
  • Salisbury - With forms A and N in this house
  • Whitechapel - With forms V and T in this house

These houses are named after significant places in Davenant's history.


The school has been on four rugby tours so far; Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and South America. The tour to South Africa was a successful tour where the team won 3 matches out of 5 - while on this tour Davenant played a team which came from the local townships. The Canada tour in 1994 was more successful as all 5 tour games were won. Every year the school is entered for the Daily Mail cup at both Under 18 and Under 15 levels.

Notable former pupils and staff[edit]

Cycling event[edit]

The school was the start and end point for the 2017 London–Edinburgh–London cycle ride.

See also[edit]

  • Davenant International
  • Davenant Centre
  • The History of the Davenant Foundation Grammar School by Roland R. Reynolds, M.A., Former Headmaster
  • The Davenant Foundation Grammar School: The War Years 1939 - 1945. Edited by Arnold A. Zimmerman. ISBN 0-934314-49-7. (LCCN 00-13242)


  1. ^ "Teens" Archived 2016-04-25 at the Wayback Machine, Channel 4
  2. ^ "James Brokenshire". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 21 January 2014.
  3. ^ "James Brokenshire appointed Northern Ireland Secretary - PM's office". Reuters. 14 July 2016. Archived from the original on 15 July 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  4. ^ Goldman (2013). Goldman, Lawrence (ed.). Oxford dictionary of national biography, 2005-2008. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 438–439. ISBN 9780199671540. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  5. ^ Mayall, David (1995). Taylor, A. T. (ed.). Biographical dictionary of European labor leaders (illustrated ed.). Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 758. ISBN 9780313299001. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Professor Sir Martin Roth". The Daily Telegraph. 13 October 2006. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  7. ^ Rubinstein, William D.; Jolles, Michael A., eds. (2011). The Palgrave dictionary of Anglo-Jewish history (illustrated ed.). Basingstoke: Springer. ISBN 9780230304666.
  8. ^ Dave Evans. "West Ham defender proud to be a Davenant School boy". London 24. Archived from the original on 13 October 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  9. ^ "{title}". Archived from the original on 20 August 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  10. ^ "Everything Epping Forest - Sport Archive 2013" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 August 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2016.

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