St. John's College, Johannesburg

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St John's college
St John's College Bell Tower. JPM.JPG
South Africa
Grades Pre-Preparatory (0–3) Preparatory (4–7) College (8–12) Sixth Form ( Cambridge A Levels)
Enrollment 1350
Colour(s) Navy blue and maroon
Dayboy Houses Thomson, Alston, Clarke, Fleming
Boarding Houses Nash, Clayton, Hill, Hodgson, Runge, Clayton
Fees R 150000 p.a. (tuition and boarding)
R 100000 p.a. (tuition only)

St John's College is a private school for boys in South Africa. It is situated in Houghton, Johannesburg.


St John's College main Chapel.

St John's College was founded in Johannesburg on 1 August 1898 and is an Anglican school. It was founded by Rev. John T. Darragh, rector of St Mary's Anglican Church, Eloff Street, Johannesburg. He persuaded his parish council of the need to establish an Anglican school for boys. His curate, Rev J L Hodgson, was appointed the first Headmaster. The first classes started in a house in Plein Street, Johannesburg with two desks and seven pupils aged six to 14. However the school was forced to close at the end of 1899 due to the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Boer War. St John's re-opened in 1902 two months after the signing of the peace treaty, and grew rapidly under Rev. Hodgson and eight staff.[citation needed]

Soon there were 180 boys which was too many for the Plein Street premises, and St John's moved to larger premises in a wood and iron building near the Union Grounds between Joubert Park and the old Wanderers (now Johannesburg's main railway station). However, the British colonial government under Lord Milner was ideologically opposed to private schools believing that they were not beneficial to society. Over the next few years the school's enrolment plummeted as a result of policies introduced by the Transvaal administration, including the creation of public schools (such as King Edward VII School) within a short distance of their private counterparts. By 1903 45 state schools were open across Johannesburg.[citation needed]

In 1904, the parish was relieved of the responsibility for St John's College which became a Dioscesan institution. However by 1905 St John's was facing closure, and an approach was made by the Diocesan Board of Education to the Community of the Resurrection (an Anglo Catholic order of missionary priests and lay brothers) to take over the school. In 1906 Father James Nash became the new headmaster and oversaw the move north out of the city to the current site on 23 hectares (56 acres) across Houghton Ridge.

In 1907 the School had opened in Houghton and accepted its first boarders. By then it had 100 boys, and four College houses had been instituted: Nash, Thomson, Alston and Rakers (which became Hill in 1910). Sir Herbert Baker designed the new Houghton school buildings and initially used rough-hewn quartzite quarried on the site, but subsequently rock was sourced from Krugersdorp and hand-chased by Maltese craftsmen. The school is arranged around a number of quadrangles, each with its cloisters. Leonard Fleming[1] later worked with Baker on certain of the buildings.

The College has two chapels, a main one and a crypt chapel. Construction began in 1915 on the Crypt Chapel designed by Fleming as a foundation for the main chapel. The Crypt Chapel seats about 100 pupils, and is adjacent to the Garden of Remembrance. Each House of the College has a week in which it is to attend the chapel service in the crypt. Above the Crypt Chapel is the War Memorial Chapel. The superstructure was completed in 1925 and dedicated in 1926 to commemorate staff and pupils who fell in battle. Inside the War Memorial Chapel is the Delville Wood (All Souls) Memorial Chapel, which houses one of only five Delville Wood crosses in the world. It seats about 500 pupils, including staff, and has a fully functioning pipe organ and a choir gallery at the rear of the chapel above the main entrance. Its pipe organ is the largest of its kind in South Africa.

The Bell Tower houses one of the largest bells in South Africa. It also has the largest clock in South Africa, the only other one comparable to it in size was in the Rissik Street Post Office. The flag at the top of the bell tower is changed every day, from the South African flag, to the St Johns College flag, to the flag of St George.

The Community of the Resurrection handed over their charge to the Diocese of Johannesburg in 1934. In 1935, Rev S.H. Clarke began his two decades as Headmaster. In 1955 Deane Yates became the first lay headmaster. By then there were 664 boys, 375 in the College, 100 boarders in the Prep.

Today there are five stages to a St John's education:

  • The Bridge Nursery School offers two classes for the three to five years old.
  • The Pre-Preparatory School is for boys who start Pre-Grade (Grade 0) at the beginning of the year in which they turn six.
  • The Preparatory School is for boys typically until they are 13 (end of grade 7)
  • The College for boys, where the main point of entry is at Remove (Standard 6, now Grade 8) typically at the age of 13 (although a few vacancies do become available at other levels from time to time) and boys typically leave at the age of 18. There is an entrance test, and the applicant's interests and cultural activities, sporting achievements and general demeanour are taken into consideration. A confidential report from the pupil's preparatory school Headmaster/Headmistress is requested. Special consideration is given to siblings, sons of Old Johannians, sons of Clergy and those who come from a disadvantaged background
  • The VIth Form for both boys and girls offers a Sixth Form year to enable students to focus on three subjects of his/her choice in preparation for Cambridge A-level exams (written in November); the class numbers average between 60 and 90 boys and girls a year.
View of the North Facade.


IEB Results 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Number of candidates 120 124 127
Number of failures 0 0 0 0 0 0
University endorsement (%) 97 97 95 92 98 94
A aggregates (%) 27 35 33 30
A-B-C aggregates (%)
Subject distinctions 158 247 220 220
Number in top 50 7 2 2 3 3 3

Notable alumni[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FLEMING, Francis (Frank) Leonard Hodgson". Artefacts. 
  2. ^ Beresford, Belinda (29 May 2008). "Craig Williamson: Apartheid careerist". The M&G Online. Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  3. ^ "Rugby365 | ST JOHN'S COLLEGE". Retrieved 2015-07-16. 
  4. ^ "Find a grave". 
  5. ^ SA Consulate article on Xuza
  6. ^ Royal Academy of Music Bio of Ballieu
  7. ^ Ivan Hewett (2 November 2011). "James Baillieu: new face". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-10-23. < 
  8. ^ "Spedding's tears of joy for France". Planet Rugby. 2 November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 26°10′35″S 28°03′27″E / 26.17639°S 28.05750°E / -26.17639; 28.05750