On Thursday June 30, 2016 I visited Christ’s Hospital School in Horsham, West Sussex to see the famous school that my grandfather attended from 1898 to 1904. The grounds and buildings look something like the Hogwart’s School out of a Harry Potter movie. This resemblance is particularly strong in the very large Dining Hall that also houses the eighty-six foot long painting by Antonio Verrio that has been a feature of the school dining room for over 320 years even though the school moved from London to Horsham in 1902. The painting is known as The Verrio and the scene about the founding of the Royal Mathematical School in 1673 is appropriate for a school that had some famous mathematicians in its past including Williams Wales, the astronomer to Captain Cook. Special tours are provided by the school called Verrio Tours organized by Michelle Smith but because my grandfather was a graduate of Christ’s Hospital School she kindly gave us a private tour of the grounds and buildings that he once knew including his dormitory called Thornton B and the school museum..
Prior to 1902 the school was located in London where my grandfather attended since 1898 but he was among those students who moved to the campus at Horsham at that important moment in school history. Christ’s Hospital School was originally founded in 1552 by King Edward VI and its students became known as the Bluecoats because of the Tudor-style long blue coat uniform that they still wear today. My grandfather was a Bluecoat and Elizabeth Bridges, CHS Museum Curator showed us a photo of him that we had never seen before that was taken at Lent in 1904 of the group of housemates of Thornton B.
We also brought a couple of photos of my grandfather to share with the museum staff.
And, I even brought a copy of my grandfather’s report card that is now an over 100 year old historical document.
The museum has a number of publications about the school history and I purchased a copy of “Christ’s Hospital Heritage Engravings” by Mike Barford after seeing a framed woodcut in the museum of “The Bluecoat boy”created in by William Nicholson and published in the book London Types published in 1898 by William Heinemann. An original copy of the print was passed down by my grandfather to our family.
The print was paired with a poem by William Ernest Henley
So went our boys when Edward Sixth, the King,
Chartered Christ’s Hospital, and died. And so
Full fifteen generations in a string
Of heirs to his bequest have had to go.
Thus Camden showed, and Barnes, and Stillingfleet,
And Richardson, that bade our Lovelace be;
Thus to his Genevieve young S. T. C.
With thousands else that, wandering up and down,
Quaint, privileged, liked and reputed well,
Made the great School a part of London Town
Patent as Paul’s and vital as Bow Bell:
The old School nearing exile, day by day,
To certain clay-lands somewhere Horsham way.