The Grey Coat Hospital

Church of England Comprehensive School for Girls

History of the School

In 1666, after the Great Fire of London, many inhabitants of the Old City of London moved to the medieval town of Westminster.

Sketch of St Andrew's front entrance from March 1975

With its congested and squalid alleys, the area was the home of many criminals who, until 1623, had the right of sanctuary in the Abbey. It was in the first seedy area – home to every type of vice and depravation - that The Grey Coat Hospital was founded.

On St Andrew’s Day in 1698, eight parishioners of the parish of St Margaret’s each invested 12/6 (65p) towards the founding of the school. The aim of the founders was to give an education to the poor of the parish so that they could be ‘loyal citizens, useful workers and solid Christians’. In 1701 the Governors purchased the old workhouse in Tutle fields (Tothill Fields) from Westminster Abbey and established a school for both girls and boys. St Andrew’s stands on the original site of the Elizabethan workhouse, the flagstones of which are walked over daily. After a colourful history which included a murder in 1773 and a rebellion in protest against the dreadful conditions of the school in 1801, the school became a day school of girls in 1874. The Headmistress at that time was Elsie Day, one of the great pioneers of girls’ education.

The hospital has undergone continuous development over the last few years and is provided with excellent facilities in all spheres. In 1998 The Grey Coat Hospital celebrated its tercentenary with the opening of a brand new replacement building for the Upper School, St Michael’s in Regency Street.