TitleRecords of the Central Foundation Girls' School and Predecessors
Extent2 metres
AdminHistoryA small school for twenty boys had been set up in the parish of St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate in 1702. Little is known of this school except that it was evidently poor and struggling. The origins of the Central Foundation School can be traced to 1717 when Mary Turner left £100 apiece to eight charity schools to be chosen by her executors and 1718 when Jonathan Parker left £100 to the parish to be "applied towards the education and instruction of the poor children of the said parish". As a result two houses were bought in Artillery Lane in April 1726 and a school established for twenty girls and twenty boys. In 1732 £200 more was bequeathed and the Alderman, Deputy, and Common Councilmen of the Ward were included amongst the Trustees.

While many charity schools languished in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centurues, the Bishopsgate Ward Schools (otherwise known as the St. Botolph Bishopsgate Charity Schools) prospered under an astute treasurer, Sir William Rawlins. Under his guidance, money was collected in the Ward in 1815 and in 1821 a large school-house for five or six hundred children was built in Peter Street on empty parish land. In 1837, when he was 82 years old, Rawlins gave the schools £1,000. By 1840 the national school opened in Liverpool Street had been absorbed.

The coming of the Great Eastern Railway made it necessary for the schools to move from Peter Street, and the money received in compensation for the site secured a new site on the very edge of the new railway line with a frontage to Primrose Street and Skinner Street where a large block of buildings was erected in 1873, including a parish hall and a new parsonage as well as school buildings. At this point the St. Ethelburga's Society's School was absorbed. This smaller charity school had existed in the Inner Ward since 1720. It was founded by members of the St. Ethelburga's Society (so called because its members were of St. Ethelburga's Parish, though it was quite independent of St. Ethelburga's Church. This school had been growing poor for years; an attempt to transform it into the Inner Ward School had failed, and with the coming of the School Board for London it was faced with death or absorption. The Trustees chose to amalgamate with the Bishopsgate Ward School.

Initially the Charity children were accommodated on the ground floor of the new building, and upper departments for boys and girls were opened on the floors above, but, as elementary education was now effectively provided by the School Board for London, by about 1874 the Charity school effectively ceased. Under the guidance of the rector, the Rev. William Rogers, the Upper Girls and Upper Boys Schools prospered. In 1878 the first training college for secondary teachers in England, the Maria Gray Training College, was founded in the building of the Upper Girls School.

Further change resulted from the loss of the school site, again to the Great Eastern Railway, in 1889. The Boys School closed with those who wished it being transfered to the Middle Class Corporation Boys School in Cowper Street, St. Luke's, while the Girls School found temporary accommodation in Whitfield's Tabernacle in Tabernacle Street. In 1891 a new Foundation was created when the Governors of Alleyn's College of God's Gift at Dulwich re-endowed the Bishopsgate Upper Girls School and the Middle Class Corporation Boys School as The Central Foundation Schools of London. The new building in Spital Square was opened in 1892.

The Girls' School remained in Spital Square administered by the Trustees as a voluntary aided, non-denominational grammar school until the mid 1970s when the decision was taken to merge with Bowbrook Secondary Girls School and become a comprehensive. It had been hoped initially to build a purpose-built school on the site of Coborn School in Bow Road but in the end the old Coborn School buildings were utilised together with the former Coopers Company Boys School in Lichfield Road. The new school opened in September 1975.
Access StatusOpen
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