St George's School, Harpenden

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St George's School, Harpenden
Sun Lane

, ,

Coordinates51°49′20″N 0°21′13″W / 51.82233°N 0.35367°W / 51.82233; -0.35367Coordinates: 51°49′20″N 0°21′13″W / 51.82233°N 0.35367°W / 51.82233; -0.35367
Day and boarding school
MottoLatin: Levavi Oculos (Aim Higher)
Religious affiliation(s)Christian
FounderCecil Grant
Department for Education URN138356 Tables
HeadteacherHelen Barton[1]
ReverendStephen Warner
Age11 to 18
Colour(s)Red, Green,
Former pupilsOld Georgians

St George's School, Harpenden (also known as St George's) is a day and boarding school in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, England, educating students of both sexes between the ages of eleven and eighteen, with an emphasis on its Christian ethos. It was founded in 1907 as one of Britain's first mixed-sex boarding schools. The school has International School status.


Aim higher entrance with clock tower above. Old Library and the chapel on the right. Girls boarding house to the left of clock tower

The school was founded in 1907 by Reverend Cecil Grant, having relocated his school southwards from Keswick, Cumbria in the Lake District.[2] However, the site was originally constructed, containing only the now Keswick boarder house, Grant block and chapel, by Rev. Wix for his boys school in 1893. Rev. Wix's school was disbanded in 1900 before Rev. Cecil Grant brought his school to Harpenden. It was originally a public school and then a voluntary aided school, receiving support from the Church of England. [3] On 1 July 2012 St George's became an academy, funded by the new St George's School Harpenden Academy Trust. It continues to be supported by the Cecil Grant Founder's Trust, a charity set up after Grant's death in 1946.

St George's was one of the first independent schools in Britain to provide mixed-sex boarding education.[4] The St. George's motto Levavi Oculos (Aim Higher) appears on the uniform badges.[5] It derives from their School Hymn,[6] Assurgit, which is sung in Latin. Levavi Oculos means "I have lifted up mine eyes" and alludes to Psalm 121, beginning "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help; my help cometh even from the Lord, who hath made Heaven and Earth." In the sense of "I have raised my sights" this is equivalent to the English motto Aim Higher, which appears over one archway at the front entrance of Keswick House. In 1917 a Montessori unit was opened.[7]

Christian ethos[edit]

Admission to the school for day students is based mainly on location of students' homes, with students coming from many of the surrounding towns and villages. Regular attendance at a local church is required; however, the school itself is non-denominational and does not receive funding from any religious group or church. [8]

The school maintains what it sees as a Christian basis in most aspects of school life, but the school community contains Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish students as well. The chapel is used daily for worship and assemblies. In addition to weekly chapels, students in the years 7–11 are required to attend three chapels per term on either a Sunday morning or evening. The school offers special carol services at Christmas for both the lower school (years 7–8) and upper school (years 9–13) students. As the school has many ex-pupils who fought, died and were wounded in the first and second world wars, there is also a special Remembrance Sunday service. Chapels are generally taken by the current preacher, Rev. Warner, but are often taken by guest speakers or the headmistress.[9]

House system[edit]

The school is split into four houses: Watts (yellow) Grant (green), Monk (blue) and Goddard (red) named after Rev. Arthur Watts, a former headmaster, Rev. Cecil Grant, the founder of the school and Bertram Monk and Lister Goddard, two young men who died in the Great War. [10]


St George's is ranked third in examination results in the country for state schools and rivals some of the private schools. Its academic Sixth Form has the third highest progress score in the county, beating almost all local Independent Schools [11] (Including St Alban’s School and Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School).

Extra-curricular activities[edit]

The school music department (via on-site tuition company Musicale) offer peripatetic instrumental tuition for all woodwind, string and brass instruments as well as classical and jazz piano, guitar, drums and voice. Regular concerts take place in the chapel and the old library. [12]During the autumn term each year, the Music Department collaborate with the Drama and Performing Arts Department to produce a whole school production. The Drama Department also host an 'Inter-House Drama Festival', which is adjudicated by a professional actor, and a lower-school drama production. [13]

St George's has a longstanding history of sporting excellence. The two main sports played are lacrosse for girls and rugby union for boys. The school also has netball, cricket, tennis, gymnastics, Football, rounders, basketball and athletics teams who compete in Hertfordshire and sometimes further afield. The Girls Lacrosse Team have had a reputation for being one of the best in the UK. They also take part in tours across the United Kingdom.

In 1939 St George's School won the first National Schools Sevens tournament and has continued this Rugby success producing Rugby Sevens and Rugby Union internationals. The Rugby teams continue this legacy today producing many England Under-18 and Under-16 Rugby Players.

The school is notable for having first fielded Owen Farrell the English national player, alongside two other members of England's rugby union team (as of 2016). [14]


Aim Higher entrance on Carlton Road leading to girls boarding house

Keswick and Crosthwaite House provide boarding accommodation foro girl and boy boarders respectively. [15]

St George's was one of the first schools in Britain to provide mixed-sex boarding education.[16]

Old Georgians[edit]

Distinguished members of the schools alumni, known as 'Old Georgians' include;

Name Description
Sir Christopher Ball Academic. Warden of Keble College, Oxford from 1980 to 1988. The first Chancellor of the University of Derby.
Sacha Bennett Actor, writer, producer and director for film and television.
Lennox Berkeley British composer of French influence, moving towards serialism in later life. [17]
Donald Coxeter One of the great geometers of the 20th century. [18]
Sir Maurice Drake DFC High Court Judge of England and Wales, in charge of the jury list from 1991 to retirement in 1995. Appointed Treasurer of Lincoln's Inn in 1997. Officer in the RAF and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross during World War II.
Hilary Evans British pictorial archivist, author, and researcher into UFOs and other paranormal phenomena.
Owen Farrell[14] Rugby Union player For Saracens and England Triple Crown, Calcutta Cup, Six Nations and Grand Slam Winner 2016
George Ford[14] Rugby Union player Leicester Tigers and England Triple Crown, Calcutta Cup, Six Nations and Grand Slam Winner 2016
Victor Goddard Air Marshall. A senior commander in the Royal Air Force during World War II.
Laura Haddock Actress – played Alison in The Inbetweeners Movie, Meredith Quill in the Guardians of the Galaxy (film) series, and Lucrezia Donati in Da Vinci's Demons.
Patrick Heron English abstract artist with work currently hanging in the Tate Gallery, St Ives.
George Hogg British journalist who rescued 60 Chinese orphans during the Japanese occupation,[19] as portrayed in the 2008 film The Children of Huang Shi.[20] A biography Blades of Grass – The Story of George Aylwin Hogg was published in January 2017
Francis Hollis Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak from 1938 to 1948.
Francis House Archdeacon of Macclesfield from 1967 to 1978
Kenneth Horne Comedian.
Andrew Hunter Former MP.
Maro Itoje[14] England and Saracens Rugby Union Player- Debuted for England 14/2/16 6Nations England V Italy. Triple Crown, Calcutta Cup, Six Nations and Grand Slam Winner 2016
Wanda Jablonski Leading journalist of the oil industry from 1948 to 1988.
Frances Lincoln Publisher and founder of Frances Lincoln Publishers.
Edward Martell Politician and Libertarian activist.
Kate Mullins One of The Puppini Sisters.[21]
Frederick Moore Cricketer for Cambridge University and Schoolmaster.
Athol Murray First-class cricketer for Warwickshire.
Peter Alan Rayner British coin-book author having written English Silver Coinage 1649 to date.
Michael Oakeshott English philosopher with particular interests in political thought.
Dr Denis Wright Composer and conductor of brass band music.


  1. ^ "Staff Listing". St Georges School website. Archived from the original on 22 October 2017. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  2. ^ Pennell, Joe (15 October 2013). "A Brief History | St.George's School | Topics – from Archaeology to Wartime". Harpenden History. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  3. ^ St George's School Website, History Page Retrieved 29 May 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Ofsted Report 2011 – St George's School" (PDF). Ofsted. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  5. ^ "St George's School Harpenden - Headmistresses Welcome Page".
  6. ^ "Reeves is offside again". Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
  7. ^ Weatherley, Pam (1982). "A History of St Georges School, Harpenden", St George's School Association of Parents & Staff, Harpenden. ISBN 0950820407.
  8. ^ "St George's School - 2020 Admissions Policy" (PDF). Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  9. ^ "St George's School - Chapel Homepage".
  10. ^ "St George's School Website - House Page".
  11. ^ "All schools and colleges in Hertfordshire - GOV.UK". Find and compare schools in England. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  12. ^ "St George's School - Music Curriculum Page".
  13. ^ "St George's School - Drama Curriculum Page".
  14. ^ a b c d "How England's Class of 2016 was made in Harpenden". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 26 April 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  15. ^ "St George's School - Boarding Homepage".
  16. ^ "Ofsted Report 2011 – St George's School" (PDF). Ofsted. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  17. ^ "Life Timeline". Lennox Berkeley Socitety.
  18. ^ Porteous, Ian (25 April 2003). "Obituary: Donald Coxeter". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  19. ^ The long march of a forgotten English hero Archived 7 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine, The Times.
  20. ^ The Children of Huang Shi (2008) on IMDb
  21. ^ Harpenden Magazine, July 2006.

Further reading[edit]

  • Storrie, Paddy (2004). Here I Am: Send Me. Harpenden, Hertfordshire: St. George's School.

External links[edit]