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Davenant Foundation School

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Davenant Foundation School
Davenant Foundation School Badge Logo.jpg
Motto Nurturing mind, body and spirit
Established 1680
Type Academy
Religion Christian
Headteacher Adam Thorne
Location Chester Road
IG10 2LD
51°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
DfE URN 136625 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 1078
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses Debden, Abbey, Valley, Epping, Nazing and Theydon
Website Davenant Foundation School

Davenant Foundation School is a Christian Ecumenical secondary school, founded in 1680, currently located in Loughton, Essex, England. The school has a large catchment area with most of its pupils coming from the West Essex or North East London areas.


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 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 then London, Tilbury and Southend Railway is built. 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, a dramatic change[clarification needed] took place when Davenant earned itself the title of 'Cradle of the National Schools of England'.

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 up to date classroom space and a magnificent assembly hall which remains to this day. In 1939 the school was evacuated and the buildings were taken over by the Heavy Rescue Service who did irreparable damage to the buildings and destroyed many of the documents and honours boards - which were used to board up broken shop windows.[citation needed] In 1944 the school became Davenant Foundation Grammar School for Boys, a title which it retained until 1980. By now it educated only some 200 boys.

Move to Loughton[edit]

In 1966, at the invitation of the Essex County Council, the school moved to the leafy 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. There were, in 1966, many fine grammar schools in the East End including Raine's, George Green, Coopers Coborn and Parmiter's. Davenant's best chance of survival was to move.

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 are:

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


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. The school have had many players who have represented at county level (mainly Essex but also Middlesex).[citation needed] Every year the school is entered for the Daily Mail cup at both Under 18 and Under 15 levels.

The current Davenant 1st XV squad has recently[when?] taken on a new coach: Dave Brown, a Blackheath flanker, former Wales Rugby League player and Head of Business studies. He succeeds Richard Vaughan who left after the 2007/2008 season after nine years as head coach at the school. Prior to this, and certainly throughout the 1977-83 period, the school had L. Haydn Davies, the former WASPs full-back, as head of P.E., leading development of successful year group rugby teams.[citation needed]

In the past years the school first team has consistently reached the 3rd or 4th round of the Daily Mail Schools' Cup and last year was knocked out by eventual winners St Benedict's School, Ealing.[citation needed] There is a great rivalry between Davenant and schools close by in the area such as West Hatch and Debden Park.

Notable former pupils and staff[edit]

Cycling event[edit]

The school is 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", 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. 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. 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. ^
  10. ^ "Everything Epping Forest - Sport Archive 2013" (PDF). Retrieved 23 June 2016. 

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