TitleRecords of the Central Foundation Girls' School
DescriptionRecords of the Central Foundation Girls' School and its predecessors and schools with which it has amalgamated. The archives include records of pupils, school management and other papers. Records mainly survive from 1801.

The records include archives of the school's predecessors, the Bishopsgate Ward/Charity Schools and also to schools which have merged with it namely, St. Ethelburga Society Schools and Bowbrook Secondary Girls' Schools. The records of Bowbrook Schools also contain records of Wrights Road/Roman Road and Fairfield Road Girls' Schools. There are also some records relating to the City and Spitalfields School of Art.

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Extent92 files, 137 volumes, 88 bundles and 356 items
AdminHistoryThe school was founded in the late 17th century (as far back as 1697) as a small charity school for boys in the parish of St. Botolph Bishopsgate, City of London. It was supported financially by church collections taken every second Sunday.

By the early 18th century the school had a small number of girls on its role. Bequests and endowments enabled the minister and church wardens to purchase in trust, two houses in Artillery Lane. These premises became the Bishopsgate Ward School, which undertook to teach a 'certain number of poor and intelligent' (1) children to read and write.

In 1803, Sir William Rawlings (1753-1838) the Sheriff of London became Treasurer of the Board of Trustees. The improved fortunes of the school were attributed to 'his careful and judicious management' (2). He drove a programme of expansion, culminating in the building of a new school and dwelling houses in 1821, on unoccupied land in Peter Street. The school's aim became 'to train up the poor children of the do their duty in the state of life to which it has pleased God to call them' (3). The school would be partly fee-paying. Of its 350 pupils, 80 boys and 80 girls would receive their education and clothing free.

Throughout the 19th century, donors continued to support the school. By 1840, the National School in Liverpool Street had been absorbed. The children from the Workhouse were able to attend the school. In 1856, Mr. Henderson was the Headmaster, and Mrs. Hoskins the Headmistress. In 1863, Rev. William Rogers was appointed Rector of St. Botolph's. He drove many improvements, including enabling children from other denominations to attend the school by waiving the requirement for baptismal certificates for non-church children. The curriculum evolved, together with the introduction of a School Band; a (circulating) Library for senior scholars; cricket and football clubs and a Boys Drill Club.

Wider changes followed introduction of compulsory education through the The Education Act 1870, and the development of the railways. The advent of the Great Eastern Railway necessitated a move from Peter Street. Grants for elementary education made development possible. The cost of building the new schools on the site(s) in Skinner Street and Primrose Street was largely defrayed out of compensation paid by the GER for the old ward schools 'when it found it necessary for the proper working of their lines, to extend their premises' (4). The leasehold premises in Primrose Street were also purchased following which architects drew up plans for the site (5). The resulting spacious building could accommodate 800 scholars (6).

By 1873, the school moved to its new home and amalgamated with St. Ethelburga's Society School which had been based at Wormwood Street. City of london. The school came to symbolise changes in the education system via bigger endowments and financial assistance facilitated by the 1870 Act. Further expansion was possible. Rev. Rogers wanted to open a middle-class school for girls in the city. There were issues with funding, so he settled for an Upper School Department for boys and girls. The fee-paying and charity schools were separate departments. The advent of the new Board Schools saw certain children disappear from local charity foundation schools.

The late 19th century saw the establishment of the Maria Grey Training College in 1878, the first training college for secondary teachers. Besides Government grants, the schools received grants for science and art classes from the Board of Trade. The Schools ceased to receive the Government grant on the grounds that the London School Board tended to lower educational standards. Thereafter inspections were conducted by representatives from Balliol College, Oxford. In 1887, when the railways required land for further expansion and following a court case, the Skinner Street School site was relocated. The Girls' School found a temporary home in Tabernacle Street until the new building in Spitalfields was ready. Rev. Rogers successfully persuaded the Governors of Alleyn's School to re-endow the two existing schools, rather than establish new schools.

The Central Foundation Schools of London were established in 1891. This incorporated the Bishopsgate Upper Girls' School and the Middle-Class Corporation Boys' School in Cowper Street. Rev. Rogers had ensured the transformation of the charity foundation schools into fully-fledged secondary schools.

The new school in Spital Square opened in 1892. It included music rooms, a Cookery Kitchen and dining rooms. In the 1890s the Department of Education facilitated grants to secondary schools willing to register as schools of science and art and allocate at least 12 hours a week to the teaching of science and mathematics. Rev. Rogers used these opportunities to obtain funding for the school. He died in 1896. When Mrs Stanton retired in 1898 she was replaced by Miss Henbridge.

The original charitable schools were maintained by 30 boys and 20 girls, the Alleyn's Scholars. They were exempt from fees, although half had undergone two years of elementary education. There were some half-fee paying Foundation scholars, with sixteen LCC free scholars in the Boys' School. No religious restrictions meant that every child could benefit from endowments. A proportion of Jewish children promoted interest, rather than dissent. With a view to training new teachers some older girls spent time in local schools as pupil teachers. The school's science work was exhibited at the Imperial Institute, and at the British Pavilion at the Paris Exposition in 1900.

In 1903 the school became an 'aided' school under the London County Council and qualified for the Government Grant for secondary schools. In 1904, a permanent Medical Officer and a PT mistress were appointed. The school introduced Remedial Drill Classes for children. In November 1917, the school narrowly escaped bomb damage during a daylight raid.

In 1926 an historical pageant was staged, as a Bicentenary celebration of the opening of the schools in Artillery Lane in 1726. The display included a Roman wedding. The school museum contained many relics, the school having been built near a Roman burial ground.

When Miss Henbridge resigned in 1929, she was succeeded by Dorothy Menzies, the school's Science mistress between 1915-1922. She played a prominent role in maintaining the school during its evacuation to Ely, Cambridgeshire during the Second World War.

During the war children gradually made their way back to London. Bishopsgate tutorial classes were opened at the school to provide some education. By 1942, larger classes accommodated girls from George Green, Coborn and Raines secondary schools and the Central Foundation School. In 1943, the school officially returned from Ely. Following the passing of the Education Act of 1944, the Central Foundation School became a Voluntary Aided Grammar School. When Miss Menzies retired in 1945, she was succeeded, variously, by Miss West (1945-1954); Miss Roberts (1954-1960) and Mrs Dunford (1960-1976).

By 1964, there was a question whether the school building in Spital Square could remain close to the thriving Spitalfields Market. The school was the only original building from among the network of local charity schools which still stood in the parish of St. Botolph's.

The Central Foundation School for Girls moved from Spital Square to Bow in 1975. Plans had been made for amalgamation with Bowbrook Secondary School to form a larger girls' comprehensive school. Coborn Girls' and Boys' Grammar Schools were due to move to Havering. This development facilitated two empty school buildings in Bow. Temporary classrooms were built to provide extra space. These classrooms were being used until 1997, by when the new building was finally ready for use. Pupils attended at Harley Grove and 6th Form at part of the site in College Terrace. In January 1998, Princess Anne attended the opening ceremony unveiled a plaque at the entrance to the foyer. In 2013, the school acquired 47 Bow Road. Its 6th Form relocated there from College Terrace. The school then became housed on one site.

For further background details see individual introductions to each school.

School Sites

Bishopsgate Ward School:

1726-1821 Artillery Lane, London E1
1821-1872 Peter Street, London EC2
1872 Salvador House, Bishopsgate, London EC2
1873-1890 Primrose Street, London EC2
1890-1891 Tabernacle Street, London EC2

Central Foundation Schools:

1891-1900 Spital Square London E1.
1900-1975 Spital Square (with Montagu Court), London E1
from 1975 Bow Road (including 47 Bow Road) - Harley Grove/College Terrace, London E3

St. Ethelburga's School (prior to amalgamation with Bishopsgate Ward School):

1719-1783 Helmet Court, Wormwood Street, City of London
to 1838 Cavendish Court
1838-1872 Wormwood Street, City of London

References include
1-3: Central Foundation Girls School History on (accessed November 2021)
4-5 'Bishopsgate Ward Schools': page 3 in London Evening Standard, Tuesday 24 December, 1872 (British Newspaper Archive)
Central Foundation Girls School Magazines available on (accessed November 2021)
CustodHistThese records were placed in the Local History Library and Archives by the school on indefinite loan in 1988.
Related MaterialFurther material relating to the school, including news cuttings, photographs and pamphlets, is held the Local History Library collections.
NotesCatalogued by Malcolm Barr-Hamilton, Archivist, December 1997.
Subject(s)Secondary schools
Educational foundations
Charity schools
Bow and Old Ford
Access StatusOpen
Access_ConditionsSome material within this collection has been closed under the current Data Protection legislation as the records concerned contain personal data. Please check specific items for details and refer any queries to the Heritage Officer (Archives).
RequestNO - This does not represent a physical document. Please click on the reference number and view list of records to find material available to order at file or item level.


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