The Pilgrims' School

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The Pilgrim's School
Established c.7th century
Type Independent preparatory day and boarding
Choral foundation school
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Tom Burden
Chair of Governors The Very Rev James Atwell, Dean of Winchester
Location 3 The Close
SO23 9LT
Coordinates: 51°03′32″N 1°18′47″W / 51.059°N 1.313°W / 51.059; -1.313
Local authority Hampshire
DfE number 850/6013
Students 255~ (2011)
Gender Boys
Ages 4–13
Pilgrims' School

The Pilgrims' School is a boys' preparatory school and cathedral school in the cathedral city of Winchester, Hampshire, England. The official date of establishment is unknown but historical records indicate that choristers of Winchester Cathedral's renowned choir have been educated in the Close as early the 7th century.[1] As it also educates choristers of the Winchester College Chapel Choir, the school maintains close links with the college. It is not to be confused with the Pilgrim School, Bedford, built in 1962 (formerly called "Pilgrim Grammar School").

The school hall contains England's oldest surviving wood double hammer-beamed roof, which used to accommodate the pilgrims travelling to the cathedral.


A number of schools set up to educate the choir boys of Winchester Cathedral are known to have existed since Saxon times. Some scholars link them with Alta Schola, established in Winchester around AD676. The school moved to its present site in 1931. The main building, redesigned by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th Century, is on the site of a former Roman villa, and includes a medieval hall and barn.[1]

A pre-preparatory department was opened in 2007 to meet the growing demand for an early years programme.[2]


Upon entry, each boy is allocated to one of the 5 houses, known as 'Sets'. They compete in inter-set competitions and points are given for good conduct and academic performance, etc.[3]

  • Romans
  • Saxons
  • Normans
  • Monks
  • Wrens

Boarding Houses[edit]

Most boys are day pupils but the boarding programme is open to all. Cathedral Choristers or Quiristers generally board full-time while others return home for the weekend.

Main School[edit]

There are seven dormitories, and the building mainly houses the Winchester Cathedral Choristers and the majority of 'Commoners' (other pupils).

Q School[edit]

Q School, short for 'Quiristers School', is the property of Winchester College, because the Quiristers sing in the College Choir and used to be taught separately in this building when they were a full part of the Winchester College community. However, in the 1960s it became uneconomical for the college to organise a separate school and curriculum from the rest of the boys, who were from Years 9-13, and so from 1966 onwards The Pilgrims' School welcomed Quiristers to be educated with the 'Commoners'.[1] The Quiristers continue to sing and rehearse at Winchester College, but are educated at The Pilgrims' School; staff at Q School are now solely members of staff at The Pilgrims' School.

Q School is situated on Kingsgate Street in Winchester, close to the main school site.


Years in appointment Headmaster
1931-63 Humphrey Salwey
1963-69 Rodney Blake
1969-74 Martin Briggs
1975-83 Stephen McWatters
1983-97 Michael Kefford
1997-2011 The Revd Dr Brian Rees
2011-2013 Patrick Watson
2014 Jeremy Griffith
2015- Tom Burden


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]

External links[edit]