Salisbury Cathedral School

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Salisbury Cathedral School
Salisbury Cathedral School, from Catherdal tower.jpg
1 The Close

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Coordinates51°03′49″N 1°47′46″W / 51.0637°N 1.7961°W / 51.0637; -1.7961Coordinates: 51°03′49″N 1°47′46″W / 51.0637°N 1.7961°W / 51.0637; -1.7961
TypeIndependent preparatory day and boarding school
Choral foundation school
Cathedral school
MottoDomine dilexi decorem domus tuae[1]
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1091; 932 years ago (1091)
FounderSaint Osmund
Department for Education URN126518 Tables
Chair of GovernorsRobert Key
HeadmasterClive Marriott
Age3 to 13
Houses4 Edit this at Wikidata

Salisbury Cathedral School is a co-educational independent school in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, which was founded in 1091 by Saint Osmund. The choristers of Salisbury Cathedral are educated at the school.


The school was founded in 1091 at Old Sarum[2][3] by Saint Osmund, the Bishop of Old Sarum and Earl of Dorset, who was recognised for his good works when he was canonised several hundred years later in 1456.[4][5] Osmund was born in Normandy and was a first cousin of William the Conqueror, King of England: William's father, Robert the Magnificent, Duke of Normandy, was the brother of Isabella, Countess of Séez, the mother of Osmund.[4]

The first notable pupil of the school was John of Salisbury, who served Archbishop Thomas Becket until the latter was murdered in 1170. John was quoted by Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.[6]

Originally, the school would have been housed near the cathedral at Old Sarum. At the start of the 13th century the centre of the Diocese of Salisbury was moved from Old Sarum to its present site, and the choristers would then have lodged with various canons in the new Cathedral Close. After 1319, a house was built in The Close to accommodate the school (known as 'The Choristers' House'), and the school remained here for the next 300 years. The choristers were educated in the Chancellor's Grammar School nearby.

In 1714, the school moved to a new School House built for it on the northwest side of The Close. This became known as Wren Hall which, with the house connected to it (Braybrooke House), acted as the centre of the school campus until the middle of the 20th century. As this site could not keep pace with the growing number of pupils, the school was relocated in 1946/47 to the former Bishop's Palace in the grounds of the cathedral. The building is designated as Grade I listed by English Heritage.[7]

In 1987, the first girls were admitted. The cathedral became the first in England to have female choristers when it opened its choristership programme to girls in 1991.[8]

A library partly funded by the former bookshop chain Ottakar's was opened in October 2002. Two members of the Heneage family, who owned the company, were former pupils.[citation needed]

Leaden Hall School[edit]

In 2016, Leaden Hall School, a nearby independent school for girls aged 2 to 13, was merged into Salisbury Cathedral School.[9] At first, the Leaden Hall site was to be for younger pupils at the enlarged school.[10]

The Leaden Hall site, owned by the dean and chapter,[11] is west of the former Bishop's Palace, on West Walk, and is bounded to the west by the River Avon. Its buildings include Leaden Hall (or Leadenhall), which has its origins in one of the first stone houses constructed in the new cathedral close, as a canon's residence.[2] The present house is a 1717 rebuilding to the north, reusing some of the older stonework. Of two storeys under a tiled roof, the west front has four bays (including a later northern bay) and a 19th-century Gothic porch. The building was designated as Grade I listed in 1952.[12]

Occupants of Leaden Hall include Henry Chichele (d. 1443), archdeacon, chancellor, and later Archbishop of Canterbury; Gilbert Kymer (d. 1463), Dean of Salisbury and twice Chancellor of Oxford University;[13] and (after the rebuilding), John Fisher (1748–1825), Bishop of Salisbury.[14]

There was a school on the site from at least 1953.[15] A charity was linked to the school from 1963 to 2018.[16] In 2003 there were 261 pupils, including 40 boarders,[15] and around the time of the merger there were 130.[17]


Salisbury Cathedral School (below left of centre)

The school's 27-acre campus[18] is next to Bishop Wordsworth's School, in the southern part of Salisbury Cathedral Close, which at 80 acres (320,000 m2) is the largest Cathedral Close in Britain.[19] The main school building is the former Bishop's Palace, parts of which date from the building of the cathedral in the 13th century. The pre-preparatory part of the school is located in newer buildings adjacent to the palace, but uses some of the main school facilities. The boarding house is also in The Close. Sports facilities include football, rugby and cricket pitches, an athletics track, tennis courts/hockey pitches (Astro Turf) and an outdoor swimming pool.


Scholarships are offered on entry to the school at Years 3 and 6, with choral scholarships offered at Years 4 and 5. An exchange programme with pupils from Union High School, South Africa, is available to Year 7 students.

Pupils generally take the Common Entrance Exam at the end of Year 8 and many progress to senior independent schools.[20] Some also leave at Year 6 for local grammar schools, or other independent schools.


The school continues to serve its original function of educating choristers of the cathedral choir. Every year auditions are held for children between ages 7 and 9 and successful applicants receive scholarships to attend the school.[21] It was the first English cathedral to allow girls to become choristers, and is unique in that the girls have equal duties with the boys. Many choristers board in a large boarding house located near the school.[22]

In media[edit]

The school featured in a BBC television documentary entitled Angelic Voices: The Choristers of Salisbury Cathedral, which was first broadcast in March 2012.

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ Salisbury Cathedral School Motto: "Domine dilexi decorem domus tuae" Psalm 25:8: 'I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of thy house'. [Originally suggested as the School's motto by Bishop George Moberly - c.1885]
  2. ^ a b Pugh, R.B.; Crittall, Elizabeth, eds. (1956). "The cathedral of Salisbury: From the foundation to the fifteenth century". A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3. London: University of London. Retrieved 24 October 2020 – via British History Online.
  3. ^ Nicholas Orme, 'School founders and patrons in England, 597–1560', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, Oct 2006, accessed 28 Jan 2008
  4. ^ a b Powicke Handbook of British Chronology p. 81
  5. ^ Robertson, Dora H., Sarum Close (Jonathan Cape, 1938; 2nd.ed. 1969)
  6. ^ Power of a woman:Memoirs of a turbulent life: Eleanor of Aquitaine p.339 by Robert Fripp. ISBN 978-0-9780621-0-1 accessed 24 January 2008
  7. ^ Historic England. "Cathedral School (11251561)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  8. ^ History Archived 8 September 2012 at
  9. ^ "Leaden Hall School". GOV.UK. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  10. ^ "New Deputy Head to join SCS in September". Salisbury Cathedral School. 5 July 2017. Archived from the original on 2 February 2019.
  11. ^ "Annual Report 2018/19" (PDF). Salisbury Cathedral. p. 5. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  12. ^ Historic England. "Leaden Hall (11355816)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  13. ^ "Map of the Close: Leaden Hall". Salisbury Cathedral. 1997. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011.
  14. ^ Ronald Brymer Beckett; John Constable (1952). John Constable and the Fishers: The Record of a Friendship. Routledge and Paul. p. 43.
  15. ^ a b "Leaden Hall School, Salisbury". Wiltshire Community History. Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  16. ^ "Leaden Hall School Limited, registered charity no. 309489". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
  17. ^ "Leaden Hall School". The Independent Schools Directory. 10 February 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  18. ^ Salisbury Cathedral School. Pre-Prep School prospectus, accessed January 2008
  19. ^ "Visitor Information, Salisbury Cathedral". Retrieved 25 January 2008.
  20. ^ Curriculum Archived 21 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Choristers
  22. ^ "Day in the Life of a Border". Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Osmond, Stephen E., Register of Past & Present Pupils of the Cathedral School Salisbury (5th.Ed. 2002; publ. Salisbury Cathedral School Association)
  24. ^ Diary of John Evelyn: (6 September 1680)
  25. ^ a b c in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  26. ^ Clay, Christopher: 'Public Finance & Private Wealth; The Career of Sir Stephen Fox', (Oxford University Press, 1978).
  27. ^ Probyn, Clive T.: 'The Sociable Humanist; The Life & works of James Harris' (Oxford University Press. 1991)
  28. ^ Burrows, Donald and Dunhill, Rosemary. 2002. Music and Theatre in Handel's World: The Family Papers of James Harris 1732–1780. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816654-0.
  29. ^ Harris, James, first earl of Malmesbury (1746–1820), diplomatist by H. M. Scott in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  30. ^ Earle, William Benson, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  31. ^ Glover, Gareth: Wellington's Lieutenant – Napoleon's Gaoler (The Peninsula Letters & Diaries of Sir George Ridout Bingham), Pen & Sword Books, 2005
  32. ^ Ellis on The Comprehensive Guide to the Victoria & George Cross
  33. ^ a b Smith, Peter L.: In the Shadow of Salisbury Spire, The Hobnob Press, 2011
  34. ^ Catalogue of papers of Stephen Clissold (1913–1982), 1940–1982, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
  35. ^ DANIEL, Nicholas in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  36. ^ Barker, Sebastian. Obituary: David Gascoyne. The Independent. 28 November 2001.
  37. ^ HILLS, Air Vice-Marshal David Graeme Muspratt in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  38. ^ KEY, (Simon) Robert in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  39. ^ MATES, Lt-Col Rt Hon. Michael (John) in Who's Who 2007 (London, A. & C. Black, 2007)
  40. ^ a b Meades, Jonathan (2014). An Encyclopaedia of Myself. Fourth Estate, London. ISBN 978-1-85702-905-5.

External links[edit]