Merchiston Castle School

Coordinates: 55°54′42″N 3°15′13″W / 55.911729°N 3.253568°W / 55.911729; -3.253568
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston Logo.svg
294 Colinton Road

EH13 0PU

Coordinates55°54′42″N 3°15′13″W / 55.911729°N 3.253568°W / 55.911729; -3.253568
TypePublic school
Private boarding and day school
MottoReady Ay Ready
Established1828; 195 years ago (1828)
FounderCharles Chalmers
Local authorityEducation Scotland
Edinburgh City
Chairman of GovernorsGareth Baird
HeadmasterJonathan Anderson
Staff90 full and part time
Age7 to 18
Enrolment400 (approx)
Student to teacher ratio1:7
Chalmers West
Chalmers East
Colour(s)Navy, red & white
PublicationThe Merchiston Messenger
The Merchistonian
School fees£15,030-£35,190 per year[1]
Education Scotland ReportsReport

Merchiston Castle School is an independent boarding school for boys in the suburb of Colinton in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has around 470 pupils and is open to boys between the ages of 7 and 18 as either boarding or day pupils; it was modelled after English public schools. It is divided into Merchiston Juniors (ages 7–13), Middle Years (ages 13–16) and a Sixth Form.


In 1828 Charles Chalmers started a small school in Park Place on a site now occupied by the McEwan Hall. In May 1833, Charles Chalmers took a lease of Merchiston Castle (the former home of John Napier, the inventor of logarithms) — which at that time stood in rural surroundings — and moved the school. It is from here that the school name is derived.[2] Over time, the number of pupils grew and the Merchiston Castle became too small to accommodate the school. The governors decided to purchase 90 acres of ground at the Colinton House estate, four miles south-west of Edinburgh. Building began in 1928 including the Chalmers and Rogerson boarding houses, designed by Sir Robert Lorimer.[3] In 1930 the school moved to Colinton.[4]

Three years later, in 1933, Merchiston celebrated its centenary, attended by the Duke and Duchess of York.[5] Fifty years on, in 1983, at a time of further expansion and with 350 boys on the roll, their daughter, now Queen Elizabeth II, visited the school for its 150th anniversary.[5]

Academic performance[edit]

In 2018, 50% of grades achieved at A Level were A*/A.[6]

Sports and games[edit]

A range of sports and activities is available at the school; particularly in rugby union, which over 60 Merchistonians have played at international level. The Merchistonian Football Club for former pupils of the School was a founding member of the Scottish Rugby Union and was involved in the very first rugby international,[7] supplying three players.[8] The former 1st XV coach, Frank Hadden, who was at the school from 1983-2000, was the head coach of the Scottish national team from 2005-2009. The school has won the Scottish Schools U18 Rugby Cup a record eight times: 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2008, 2018, 2021 and 2022.[9] Merchiston also participates, with the Edinburgh Academy, in the oldest continuous rugby football fixture in the world, the first being on 11 December 1858 at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh.[10]

Boarding Houses[edit]

Merchiston Castle School at Colinton

The boarding houses are:[11]

  • Pringle
  • Chalmers West
  • Chalmers East
  • Rogerson
  • Evans
  • Laidlaw

The boarding houses are named after:[11]

  • Mr James Summer Pringle, a benefactor.
  • Charles Chalmers, founder, owner, and headmaster of Merchiston Castle School from 1828-1850.
  • Dr John Johnston Rogerson, headmaster from 1863-1898 and owner from 1863-1896 when it became a public school rather than privately-owned in 1896.
  • Cecil Evans, headmaster from 1936-1957.
  • Irvine Laidlaw, Baron Laidlaw, former pupil and benefactor.

Merchiston tartan[edit]

Merchiston Castle School tartan

The Merchiston Castle School tartan was designed by Kinloch Anderson in 1988. It is based upon the Napier tartan as the school was founded in the 1830s in the original home of John Napier of Merchiston, now part of Edinburgh Napier University. The tartan retains the sett of the Napier tartan, but changes the white to royal blue, the royal blue to navy, and the white line to scarlet to reflect the school colours.[12]

Historical abuse[edit]

Gordon Cruden, a French teacher, stood trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and was found guilty in December 2015 of three charges of indecent exposure at the school between 1980 and 1985. The court did not proceed to a conviction, but dealt with the matter in terms of section 246 (3) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 by way of an absolute discharge. This means that although Cruden was found guilty, he was not convicted of the offences for which he stood trial.[13]

In 2021 at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, the lawyer representing Merchiston said there was at least one member of the staff where the warning signs were missed. He gave an "unreserved apology" to former pupils who were abused at school.[14]

Former pupils described abuse at Merchiston as comparable to "the Lord of the Flies" in further hearings at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. One of the pupils stated that you had to "accept there was a form of corruption" alongside the school behaving "in whatever manner pleased it" and that "staff did 'nothing whatsoever' to help pupils". The inquiry resumed its proceedings in January 2022, already discovering a culture of ‘don’t yell and don’t tell’ at the school with a former pupil stating that "No one would have listened" to issues raised by pupils and that "the school would not have taken action after complaints" during their tenure.[15]

Merchiston International School in Shenzhen[edit]

Merchiston Castle School developed Merchiston International School after a year of collaboration with Chinese investor Lv Jianjun. Merchiston International School in Shenzhen is under Lv Jianjun's management. Merchiston International School opened its doors in August 2018 as the first school in Longhua District, Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China. It offers student living arrangements along with a British education. The school is the first overseas campus for the 185-year-old Merchiston Castle School. The school can cater to 1,200 students aged between 5 and 18. Lessons are taught in English and pupils from grades 1 to 9 follow the English national curriculum, with additional access to Mandarin language learning. Senior students study for the IGCSE and A-levels. With accommodation for 600, the senior school is exclusively for boarding students. 80 percent of the teaching staff are from the United Kingdom.[16]


Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Current Fees". Merchiston Castle School. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  2. ^ "History & Traditions". Merchiston Castle School. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  3. ^ Dictionary of Scottish Architects: Robert Lorimer
  4. ^ "Merchiston and Glenalmond. Edinburgh and Perthshire: The Public School Tradition. School Life in Admirable Surroundings". The Glasgow Herald. 4 February 1938. p. 10. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Merchiston marks the arrival of Prince George". 14 November 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Academic results". Merchiston Castle School. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  7. ^ Alex Gordon. "The first international rugby match". Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  8. ^ Rugby Football History. "Historical Rugby Milestones 1870s". Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  9. ^ Schools Rugby. "Scottish Schools Competitions". Archived from the original on 4 March 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  10. ^ Chris Thau. "The oldest running rugby fixture in the world". Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  11. ^ a b "History & traditions". Merchiston Castle School. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  12. ^ "Merchiston Castle School Tartan Modern". Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  13. ^ Hutcheon, Paul (20 February 2016). "Teacher found guilty of indecent exposure at top private school in Edinburgh gets absolute discharge and is still in classroom". Herald & Times Group. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  14. ^ "Scottish private schools apologise to former pupils abused in their care". BBC News. 16 March 2021. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  15. ^ Mitib, Ali. "Abuse at top school 'like Lord of the Flies'". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  16. ^ Bo Leung (15 August 2018). "Scottish school opens branch in Shenzhen". China Daily.

External links[edit]