St Peter's School, York

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St. Peter's School
Old logo St Peters School.jpg
Motto Super Antiquas Vias
("Upon ancient roads")
Established AD 627
Type Independent day and boarding
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Leo Winkley
Founder St. Paulinus of York[citation needed]
Location St. Peter's

North Yorkshire
YO30 6AB
53°57′59″N 1°05′34″W / 53.966418°N 1.092850°W / 53.966418; -1.092850Coordinates: 53°57′59″N 1°05′34″W / 53.966418°N 1.092850°W / 53.966418; -1.092850
Local authority City of York Council
DfE number 816/6002
DfE URN 121724 Tables
Students circa 1,000
Gender Co-educational
Ages 3–18
Houses Dronfield (girls' boarding)
The Rise (girls' boarding)
Linton (boys' boarding)
The Manor (boys' boarding)
Clifton (day house)
The Grove (day house)
Queen's (day house)
School House (day house)
Temple (day house)
Hope (day house)
Colours Brown, Blue, White
Former pupils Old Peterites

St Peter's School is a co-educational independent boarding and day school (also referred to as a public school), in the English City of York, with extensive grounds on the banks of the River Ouse. Founded by St Paulinus of York in AD 627, it is the third oldest school in the UK and the fourth oldest in the world. It is part of the York Boarding Schools Group.[1]


St Peter's School, York in c. 1870

Founded in the English city of York by St Paulinus of York in the year AD 627,[2] the school was originally based at York Minster. An early headmaster Alcuin (Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus), went on to be Chancellor to the Emperor Charlemagne, and founded several of the earliest schools in mainland Europe. It is the third oldest school in the UK and the fourth oldest in the world.[3] For most of its history, the school has been a boys' school and only admitted its first girls into the sixth form in 1976, following a trend set by many previously single-sex independent schools. In 1987 it became fully coeducational.[4]


The school has a large campus near to the centre of the city of York, stretching to the banks of the River Ouse. The main front of the school faces along Bootham; this is the oldest part of the site and comprises the Memorial Hall, Alcuin Library and Chapel, as well as dining facilities. Temple House and School House, the Department of Politics, the Department of Business, the Department of Economics, and the Department of Latin and Classics are also based in these buildings, accessed from an area known to the school community as the 'monkey cage'. Behind here is the Scott Block (Maths), Old Science Building (Chemistry), New Science Building (Physics, IT, and DT), Shepherd Rooms (Languages), The Grove and Clifton House. The Music School, the Dame Judi Dench Drama Centre, Hope House, and Queen's Building (History, Religious Studies, and English) are also located along the top of the Campus.[citation needed]

Boarding Houses Wentworth and Rise border the main campus, while Linton, Dronfield and Manor are located across the road from the main school front accessible by footbridge. In the 2000s the school expanded its site under Headmaster Andrew Trotman to include the new lower campus, formally the site of Queen Anne's, a state school that had been recently closed. The move was not without its challenges, including the distance between the old and new sites and the dissection of a public footpath.[citation needed]

In September 2001, St Olave's, the prep school, moved from the White House, Chilman Building and its half of the Queen's Building to the newly acquired Queen Anne site. The pre-prep, Clifton Prep moved from its original 19th-century building on The Avenue to occupy the buildings previously used by St Olave's. The Lower Campus now contains St Olave's prep school and the senior school Biology and Art Departments.

in 2006 St Peter's School closed a public footpath running through the school grounds using The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. This was hotly disputed by local people.[5]


St Peter's offers a continuity of education from the Clifton Pre-preparatory School (ages 3–8), to St Olave's School (ages 8–13) and through to St Peter's School (ages 13–18).

The school has a history of high academic achievement across all age ranges.[6][7] The curriculum is broad from a young age, offering a solid grounding in the sciences as well as in English and maths.

Language-learning is also encouraged from a young age, so too the teaching of Latin, compulsory for the first four years of study[8] and also offered at GCSE and A-level.[9] Religious Studies is a compulsory GCSE subject.[10]


A wide range of activities are available at the school: these include rugby, football, hockey, netball, tennis, cricket, rowing, athletics, basketball, badminton, cross-country, climbing, squash, swimming, weight training, trampolining, water polo and aerobics. The school has extensive sporting fields, modern gymnasiums, an indoor swimming pool, two multi-sport indoor centres, tennis courts, multi-use astroturf pitches, a rifle range, and a boathouse.

The school's commitment to sport is shown by the employment of professional coaches for all sports. For 27 years, cricket was coached by Keith Mohan. St. Peter's has a particular strength in rugby and is seen as one of the top rugby schools in the North of England. In 2002 the school's U15 rugby team won the national Daily Mail Cup competition and the U18 team were narrowly beaten in 2005 in the final against Exeter College, Exeter[citation needed]. In 2011 the U16 team won the UCLAN Northern Schools Floodlit Competition.[11]

The school is also widely acknowledged as an up-and-coming rowing school with improvements made every year. St Peter's School Boat Club was founded in the 1850s and is one of the oldest school rowing clubs in the world. It has enjoyed considerable success at international level with over 28 GB 'vests' earned by Peterites since 1998. On the domestic scene it has won nine medals at The National Schools' Regatta,[12] 12 medals at The National Championships, and 25 appearances at Henley (both Men's and Women's), all since 1991.

St Peter's largest sporting rival is Ampleforth College, over whom the school has enjoyed great success in recent years.[13] Internally the school also has sporting competitions between Houses, as well as swimming galas, cross-country running and a full summer Sports Day.


The School Choir averages 170 members a year,[14] but there is also a more selective Chapel Choir as well as an elite Chamber Choir. Highlights of the choral calendar include the Carol Service at York Minster, as well as visits to the Minster and further afield to sing Evensong.

The school offers Barbershop Quartets, a Brass Group, Chamber Groups, a Choral Society, a Close Harmony Group, String Orchestras, String Quartets, Swing Band/Traditional Jazz, a Symphony Orchestra, Senior Wind Band, Woodwind, Quintets and Quartets.

Concerts are put on regularly, with the Cabaret Concert a popular example. Sometimes (e.g. Verdi's Requiem), concerts are performed in York Minster.[citation needed]

A musical is performed every two years, with the help of the Drama Department. The latest musicals performed were: "My Fair Lady" (in 2008), and "Dream a Little Dream" (in 2010).

A music trip is also held every year.[15] Previous destinations have included: Budapest, Italy, Prague, New York and Bavaria.


In addition to art as a subject, there is the Whitestone Gallery, located at the school, close to the Art Department on the Lower Campus, in which many exhibitions are held, including the pupils' own work and the work of visiting artists.


The School encourages students to partake in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. Students contribute to their local community; those who achieve 50, 100 or 200 hours are rewarded through enrolment in the Millennium Volunteers Program. The CCF, or Combined Cadet Force, is available to students for the Army and RAF, but not the Navy. There is a school expedition every year, in addition to the field trips, academic holidays and sports tours organised for pupils.[16] St. Peter's has an exchange programme with Selborne College and Clarendon High School for Girls[17] in East London, South Africa.


  • 2010–date Leo Winkley
  • 2004–2009 Richard Smyth
  • 1995–2004 Andrew Trotman
  • 1989–1995 Robin Pittman
  • 1984–1985 David Cummin (interregnum)
  • 1979–1984 Peter Hughes
  • 1967–1979 Peter Gardiner
  • 1937–1967 John Dronfield
  • 1913–1936 Stanley Mease "Sam" Toyne
  • 1900–1912 Edward Cunliffe Owen
  • 1864 Richard Elwyn
  • William Hey
  • John Pulleyn
  • 767–780 Archbishop Aethelbert
  • c. 750 Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus (Alcuin)
  • 633–648 School closed
  • 627–633 James the Deacon


The school has ten day- and boarding houses, and each house has its own colour. Dronfield (pink) and Rise (white) are girls' boarding houses; Linton (baby blue) and the Manor (gold) are boys' boarding houses. The rest are day houses: Clifton (yellow), The Grove (red), Queens (purple), Temple (green), School (maroon), and Hope (orange). The house system is a long-standing tradition throughout the school's history. As the houses are physical, located in various buildings and parts of buildings throughout the school campus,[18] a sense of community is developed, bringing pupils of all ages together to compete in inter-house competitions, like rugby. "House Colours" are an award that is given in the form of a tie (formerly a badge for female students as they did not wear ties when they were first admitted) to pupils for an outstanding contribution to house activities.

In 1982 there were only seven houses: the boarding houses were: School, Rise, Dronfield, and Manor; the day houses were: Queens, Grove, and Temple. Hope, Clifton, and Linton are of more recent origin. Houses were mixed and female boarders had their own quarters.


St Peter's and its prep school, St Olave's, under headmaster Andy Falconer, have received an overall quality rating of 'Outstanding' in their 2007 Ofsted Boarding Inspection.[citation needed]

In order to be classed as 'Outstanding' by Ofsted, a school's boarding provision must be "of exceptionally high quality". In the inspection report, St Peter's and St Olave's were judged to "provide an outstanding quality of care for boarding pupils. Boarders' health and well-being are actively safeguarded and promoted by the school. Relationships between boarders and staff are excellent and boarders have a highly positive experience of school life".[19]


The school has a Chapel with compulsory services 3 mornings a week. Eucharist is also held once a term and there are special services to mark Festivals in the Christian calendar.[20] A service is held on Remembrance Sunday during which all pupils place poppies on the book of remembrance in the Ante-chapel (which contains names of alumni killed in conflict). The school's Christmas Carol Service is held in York Minster.[20]

Religious education is compulsory at the school until Sixth Form,[citation needed] and is taught by both academic staff and the school's two Church of England clergy. The school remains predominantly Christian in demographics and in teaching[21]

York Minster[edit]

York Minster has a long connection with St Peter's, as the school's founder was an Archbishop of York. This relationship is also evident in the school's name, which mirrors the formal title of the Minster, The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter. At its foundation, the school was probably housed next to the earliest cathedral building.[22]

At the end of each academic year a Commemoration and Prizegiving service is held in the Minster and a Carol Service is also held there at Christmas. The school choir often sings in the Minster and in the 2006/2007 year they participated in Verdi's Requiem, which brought together the wider York community.


  • Morning Prayers – all members of the school attend a chapel service – the senior school on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday the prep school on Tuesday and Thursday. There is also a Sunday service for boarders.
  • Eucharist – a whole school Eucharist service takes place each term and at other significant Christian festivals.[20]
  • Uniform – the school has a distinctive brown uniform featuring the "cross keys" of St Peter for all pupils (except members of the Sixth Form) which must be purchased from the school's online shop, or uniform shop on campus. The old woollen blazer was later replaced with a more modern cotton jacket. Other changes to the uniform have also taken place, including the removal of ties for female pupils, who now wear an open blouse. In Sixth Form, dark suits must be worn.
  • Gowns – the school has a tradition of gowns which reflect pupils' authority or commitments. These are worn during public events such as services at York Minster and during school events (including Chapel and Assembly). The Head Boy and Head Girl wear brown, followed by the Head Master's Prefects who wear navy. These are issued during the 'gowning' at First Assembly each academic year. Members of the Chapel Committee and choirs wear red gowns, which are fuller depending upon level (Chamber Choir; Chapel Choir; School Choir). School masters also wear collegiate gowns for services and public events.
  • Meritorious & Distinction Achievement – high academic achievement can be commended by teachers. If recommended, a pupil must take their work to the Head Master's Study, where he will review it and ask for a signature to go down in the recording book which is then stored in the school archives. Awards are read out and applauded at assembly. Merits are the most common, with Distinctions being an exceptional and noteworthy occurrence.
  • Capping – is the practice of reward for exceptional sporting achievement and is awarded at the end of the relevant sports season.
  • 5 November – on Guy Fawkes Night, the school does not partake in the common tradition of burning a 'Guy' on the bonfire, as Guy Fawkes was an Old Peterite (alumnus).[23] There is, however, a long tradition of putting on a firework display for the Boarders.[24]
  • Fagging – the tradition of younger pupils serving older pupils was abolished in 1977.
  • Booking - the long held tradition that on the last hymn of chapel. Sixth former's place hymn books facing upwards for third formers to sit on.

Friends of St Peter's[edit]

Membership of this association is open to all staff, parents and guardians, past and present, former "Friends" and Old Peterites. The committee consists of representatives from the Houses and four members of staff, elections take place in the Summer term. The Headmaster is the President. The Friends run a variety of social and fund-raising events for the benefit of members and the school.

Old Peterite Club[edit]

School Alumni are known as Old Peterites. Every member of the school becomes a member of the Old Peterite Club (or OP Club). This keeps alumni updated with developments and achievements at the school as well as taking an interest in the further success of individuals in later life. There are often events organised to allow Old Peterites to meet at balls and dinners. The current President of the Old Peterite Club is Mark Hepworth.[25]

Notable alumni[edit]

Current members of the school are known as 'Peterites' (and 'Olavites' for St Olave's Junior School) with alumni referred to as 'Old Peterites', or OPs for short. Notable OPs include:


Academics & Historians:

Artists and media figures:

Political figures:

Religious figures:

Armed Forces:

Business leaders:

Historical Figures:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of Schools". York Boarding Schools Group (YBSG). Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "About the School". St Peter's School. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Mortimore, M.J.A. Bridlington School: A History, p. 13. Hutton Cranswick, East Yorkshire: Alan Twiddle Publishing, 1999. ISBN 1-902508-03-3.
  4. ^ About the school – Timeline
  5. ^ "footpath closure". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  6. ^ High Grades2
  7. ^ St Peter's academic ratings High Grades1
  8. ^ St Olave's
  9. ^ St Peters school
  10. ^ Religious Studies at St Peter's School
  11. ^ "Competition Microsite - UCLAN Northern Schools U16 Floodlit Competition". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  12. ^ "Results can be seen here". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  13. ^ "". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ St Peter's school expeditions
  17. ^
  18. ^ see the school's website
  19. ^ "Ofsted review". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c "Chapel". St Peter's School. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  21. ^ "R.E. at St Peter's and St Olave's". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  22. ^ "St Peter's association with York Minster". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  23. ^ Bonfire Night at St Peter's
  24. ^ "BBC report on North Yorkshire". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  25. ^ "Old Peterite Club website". Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  26. ^ Nicholls, Mark (2004). "Fawkes, Guy (bap. 1570, d. 1606)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 17 January 2012. (subscription required)
Secondary sources
  • Hamilton, D.M., ed. (1977). A history of St Peter's school published in the year of the school's 1350th anniversary. 

External links[edit]