Royal Masonic School for Boys

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Former Royal Masonic School for Boys, Bushey. Architect: Gordon & Gunton [1], London[2]

The Royal Masonic School for Boys was an independent school for boys in England.

From 1798 charities were set up for clothing and educating sons of needy Freemasons. They originally provided education by sending them to schools near to their homes. A specific masonic boys' school was set up at Wood Green in North London in 1857 following amalgamation of the charities in 1852.[2]

A new school was built in Bushey, Hertfordshire in 1903[3] and a Junior School was added on the other side of The Avenue in 1929. By 1939 there were 800 boys at the school.[2][4] Following a decline in pupil numbers the junior school closed in 1970; but the site is now occupied by Bushey Academy.

The senior school did not fare well in the '70s. It has been alleged that due to the OPEC oil cartels, the cost of running the school's heating systems became prohibitive. Furthermore, the enormous cost of upgrade risked the entire school. It is further suggested that decisions were taken by the Masonic Benevolvent Fund (the charity that ran the schools) to dispense the funds of the charity educating boys at other public schools, rather than meeting the enormous cost of running the Masonic School or indeed, re-engineering the heating systems and other fabrics of the school. No formal reasoning was ever provided except that of financial burden in an inflationary climate. No shortage of figures were conjured to backup the false impression of impecuniousness, projections relied upon continuing low city performance and high inflation coupled with groundless suggestions of low donations from provinces. Furthermore, Freemasonry was making huge donations to other charities and proposing money for other capital projects. Note that there wasn’t even a special appeal to the provinces on behalf of the RMIB. In times past, when the school’s future was in doubt, total capitulation was never a serious consideration. But this time the school's fate was sealed and it closed for good in 1977.

For a time, the buildings housed the United States International University (Europe). This institution did not adopt a kind disposition toward the special nature of the school's architecture and associated special needs and consequently, the building's condition declined, fell into disrepair and indeed, an advanced state of dilapidation.

They have now been redeveloped by a consortium led by the Comer brothers, as exclusive, luxury housing. The project has revitalized the place, but there are aspects of the development that cause great sadness. The school chapel has now been completely gutted (furniture, stone floors, everything) and it seems to have been left to its fate. The grounds (especially at the back of the former school) are a building landfill site; this area is to be redeveloped into 150 new dwellings.) The tree line at the back of the school does still exist with many of the mature Oaks, Horse-chestnut, Sycamore still stand, but are in need of care. The running track and Dell area were excavated by the boys during WWII and this area is much dilapidated.

Both schools were commonly used for films (such as Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Lucky Jim (twice), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and numerous TV shows) from the 1950s until recently. The opening scenes of the children's classic story, 'Thunderbirds' were filmed in the old science block' (and also filmed at Wellington School.) The senior school and its grounds were used throughout the long running series of Judge John Deed starring Martin Shaw (employing much of the teaching block (in particular Dr.Sawyer's mathematics classroom) as the judges's chambers) and 'Big School' for many of the in-court scenes).

[5] Note that the rumours of the ghost known as the 'Old Grey Lady' who reportedly roamed the corridors of both the senior and junior schools were never conclusively confirmed, and probably mere high-jinks!

The Royal Masonic School for Girls at Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire still thrives today.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Architecture of Hertfordshire [1]
  2. ^ a b G. Montague Hall (1938). A History of Bushey. Bushey: Bournehall Press. 
  3. ^ Nunn, JB (1987). The Book of Watford. Watford: Pageprint (Watford) Ltd. ISBN 0-9511777-1-0. 
  4. ^ Bushey, Hertfordshire: Official Guide. Bushey: Bournehall Press. 1956. 
  5. ^ Glancey, Jonathan (27 October 2010). "The scariest building in Britain?". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 November 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°39′08″N 0°22′13″W / 51.6522°N 0.3702°W / 51.6522; -0.3702