George Heriot's School

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George Heriot's School
Lauriston Place


Coordinates 55°56′45″N3°11′40″W / 55.945918°N 3.194317°W / 55.945918; -3.194317 Coordinates: 55°56′45″N3°11′40″W / 55.945918°N 3.194317°W / 55.945918; -3.194317
Former nameGeorge Heriot's Hospital
Type Independent day school [1]
(I Distribute Chearfullie)
Established1628;391 years ago (1628)
Founder George Heriot
OversightGeorge Heriot's Trust
Chairman of GovernorsMr Alexander Paton
PrincipalMrs Lesley Franklin
Staffapprox. 80
Teaching staff155
Gender Co-educational
Age3to 18
Enrolmentapprox. 1600
HousesCastle, Greyfriars, Lauriston, Raeburn
Colour(s)Navy Blue, White
SongThe Merry Month of June
Rival George Watson's College
PublicationThe Herioter

George Heriot's School is a Scottish independent primary and secondary school on Lauriston Place in the Old Town of Edinburgh, Scotland, with over 1600 pupils, 155 teaching staff and 80 non-teaching staff. [2] It was established in 1628 as George Heriot's Hospital, by bequest of the royal goldsmith George Heriot, [3] and opened in 1659. It is governed by George Heriot's Trust, a Scottish charity. [4]

Independent school (United Kingdom) fee-paying school in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, independent schools are fee-levying private schools, governed by an elected board of governors and independent of many of the regulations and conditions that apply to state-funded schools. For example, pupils do not have to follow the National Curriculum. Many of the older, expensive and more exclusive schools catering for the 13–18 age-range in England and Wales are known as public schools as defined by the Public Schools Act 1868, the term "public" being derived from the fact that they were then open to pupils regardless of where they lived or their religion. Prep (preparatory) schools educate younger children up to the age of 13 to "prepare" them for entry to the public schools and other independent schools. Some former grammar schools converted to an independent fee-paying model following the 1965 Circular 10/65 which marked the end of their state funding; others converted into comprehensive schools.

Primary education first stage of compulsory education

Primary education also called an elementary education is typically the first stage of formal education, coming after preschool and before secondary education. Primary education usually takes place in a primary school or elementary school. In some countries, primary education is followed by middle school, an educational stage which exists in some countries, and takes place between primary school and high school. Primary Education in Australia consists of grades foundation to grade 6. In the United States, primary education is Grades 1 - 3 and elementary education usually consists of grades 1-6.

Secondary education education for most teenagers

Secondary education covers two phases on the International Standard Classification of Education scale. Level 2 or lower secondary education is considered the second and final phase of basic education, and level 3 (upper) secondary education is the stage before tertiary education. Every country aims to provide basic education, but the systems and terminology remain unique to them. Secondary education typically takes place after six years of primary education and is followed by higher education, vocational education or employment. Like primary education, in most countries secondary education is compulsory, at least until the age of 16. Children typically enter the lower secondary phase around age 11. Compulsory education sometimes extends to age 19.



George Heriot's School, south side facing Lauriston Place (rear) George Heriot's School, south side facing Lauriston Plce (rear).jpg
George Heriot's School, south side facing Lauriston Place (rear)
The Quadrangle. Heriot Hospital court.jpg
The Quadrangle.

The main building of the school is notable for its renaissance architecture, the work of William Wallace, until his death in 1631. [5] He was succeeded as master mason by William Aytoun, who was succeeded in turn by John Mylne. [6] [7] In 1676, Sir William Bruce drew up plans for the completion of Heriot's Hospital. His design, for the central tower of the north façade, was eventually executed in 1693. [8]

Renaissance architecture architectural style

Renaissance architecture is the European architecture of the period between the early 14th and early 16th centuries in different regions, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance architecture followed Gothic architecture and was succeeded by Baroque architecture. Developed first in Florence, with Filippo Brunelleschi as one of its innovators, the Renaissance style quickly spread to other Italian cities. In particular Venetian Renaissance architecture had a very distinct character. The style was carried to France, Germany, England, Russia and other parts of Europe at different dates and with varying degrees of impact.

William Wallace (mason) Scottish master mason and architect

William Wallace was a Scottish master mason and architect. He served as King's Master Mason under James VI.

William Bruce (architect) Scottish architect (c. 1630 – 1710)

Sir William Bruce of Kinross, 1st Baronet, was a Scottish gentleman-architect, "the effective founder of classical architecture in Scotland," as Howard Colvin observes. As a key figure in introducing the Palladian style into Scotland, he has been compared to the pioneering English architects Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren, and to the contemporaneous introducers of French style in English domestic architecture, Hugh May and Sir Roger Pratt.

The school is a turreted building surrounding a large quadrangle, and built out of sandstone. [9] The foundation stone is inscribed with the date 1628. The intricate decoration above each window is unique (with one paired exception - those on the ground floor either side of the now redundant central turret on the west side of the building). A statue of the founder can be found in a niche on the north side of the quadrangle.

Quadrangle (architecture) space or courtyard

In architecture, a quadrangle is a space or a courtyard, usually rectangular in plan, the sides of which are entirely or mainly occupied by parts of a large building. The word is probably most closely associated with college or university campus architecture, but quadrangles are also found in other buildings such as palaces. Most quadrangles are open-air, though a few have been roofed over, to provide additional space for social meeting areas or coffee shops for students.

Sandstone A clastic sedimentary rock composed mostly of sand-sized particles

Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized mineral particles or rock fragments.

The main building was the first large building to be constructed outside the Edinburgh city walls. It sits next to Greyfriars Kirk, built in 1620, in open grounds overlooked by Edinburgh Castle directly to the north. Parts of the seventeenth-century city wall (the Telfer Wall) serve as the walls of the school grounds. When built the building's front facade faced the entrance on the Grassmarket. It was originally the only facade fronted in fine ashlar stone, the others being harled rubble, but in 1833 the three rubble facades were refaced in Craigleith ashlar stone. This was done as the other facades had become more visible with the new entrance on Lauriston Place. The refacing work was handled by Alexander Black the then Superintendent of Works for the school, who later designed the first Heriot's free schools around the city.

Edinburgh Castle castle in Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland from its position on the Castle Rock. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age, although the nature of the early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until 1633. From the 15th century the castle's residential role declined, and by the 17th century it was principally used as military barracks with a large garrison. Its importance as a part of Scotland's national heritage was recognised increasingly from the early 19th century onwards, and various restoration programmes have been carried out over the past century and a half. As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite rising of 1745. Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1100-year-old history, giving it a claim to having been "the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world".

Ashlar Finely dressed stone and associated masonry

Ashlar is finely dressed stone, either an individual stone that has been worked until squared or the structure built of it. Ashlar is the finest stone masonry unit, generally cuboid, mentioned by Vitruvius as opus isodomum, or less frequently trapezoidal. Precisely cut "on all faces adjacent to those of other stones", ashlar is capable of very thin joints between blocks, and the visible face of the stone may be quarry-faced or feature a variety of treatments: tooled, smoothly polished or rendered with another material for decorative effect.

Alexander Black (architect) Scottish architect

Alexander Black was a Scottish architect, born in Edinburgh around 1790 who is mainly known for his association with George Heriot’s School where he acted as Superintendent of Works for most of his active life.

The north gatehouse onto Lauriston Place is by William Henry Playfair and dates from 1829. The chapel interior is by James Gillespie Graham (1837) who is likely to have been assisted by Augustus Pugin. The school hall was designed by Donald Gow in 1893 and boasts a hammerbeam roof above the later mezzanine floor. The chemistry block to the west of the site was designed by John Anderson in 1911. The science block is by John Chesser (architect) and dates from 1887 incorporating part of the former primary school of 1838 by Alexander Black (architect). [8]

William Henry Playfair Scottish architect

William Henry PlayfairFRSE was one of the greatest Scottish architects of the 19th century, designer of the Eastern, or Third, New Town and many of Edinburgh's neoclassical landmarks.

James Gillespie Graham Scottish architect

James Gillespie Graham was a Scottish architect, prominent in the early 19th century.

Augustus Pugin English architect and designer

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was an English architect, designer, artist, and critic who is principally remembered for his pioneering role in the Gothic Revival style of architecture. His work culminated in designing the interior of the Palace of Westminster in Westminster, London, England and its iconic clock tower, later renamed the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the bell known as Big Ben. Pugin designed many churches in England and some in Ireland and Australia. He was the son of Auguste Pugin, and the father of Edward Welby and Peter Paul Pugin, who continued his architectural firm as Pugin & Pugin. He also created Alton Castle in Alton, Staffordshire.

The grounds contain a selection of other buildings of varying age; these include a wing by inter-war school specialists Reid & Forbes, a swimming pool, now unused, and a granite war memorial, by James Dunn (1922) dedicated to the school's former pupils and teachers who died in World War I and World War II.

Swimming pool Artificial container filled with water intended for swimming

A swimming pool, swimming bath, wading pool, or paddling pool is a structure designed to hold water to enable swimming or other leisure activities. Pools can be built into the ground or built above ground, and are also a common feature aboard ocean-liners and cruise ships. In-ground pools are most commonly constructed from materials such as concrete, natural stone, metal, plastic or fiberglass, and can be of a custom size and shape or built to a standardized size, the largest of which is the Olympic-size swimming pool.

Granite A common type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock with granular structure

Granite is a common type of felsic intrusive igneous rock that is granular and phaneritic in texture. Granites can be predominantly white, pink, or gray in color, depending on their mineralogy. The word "granite" comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a holocrystalline rock. Strictly speaking, granite is an igneous rock with between 20% and 60% quartz by volume, and at least 35% of the total feldspar consisting of alkali feldspar, although commonly the term "granite" is used to refer to a wider range of coarse-grained igneous rocks containing quartz and feldspar.

War memorial Type of memorial

A war memorial is a building, monument, statue or other edifice to celebrate a war or victory, or to commemorate those who died or were injured in a war.


Statue of George Heriot in the quadrangle George Heriot statue.jpg
Statue of George Heriot in the quadrangle

On his death in 1624, George Heriot left around 25,000 Pound Scots equivalent to several tens of millions today to found a "hospital" (then the name for this kind of charitable school) to care for the "puir, faitherless bairns" (Scots: poor, fatherless children) of Edinburgh.

The construction of Heriot's Hospital (as it was first called) was begun in 1628, just outside the city walls of Edinburgh. It was completed just in time to be occupied by Oliver Cromwell's English forces during the invasion of Scotland during the Third English Civil War; the building was used as a barracks, with horses stabled in the chapel. The hospital opened in 1659, with thirty sickly children in residence; its finances grew, and it took in other pupils in addition to the orphans for whom it was intended.

By the end of the 18th century, the Governors of the George Heriot's Trust had purchased the Barony of Broughton, thus acquiring extensive land for feuing on the northern slope below James Craig's Georgian New Town. This and other land purchases beyond the original city boundary generated considerable revenue for the Trust long after his death.

In 1837 the school founded ten "free schools" in Edinburgh, educating several thousand pupils across the city; these were closed in 1885. One of them, with a copy of several of the features of the original Lauriston Place building, is at the east end of the Cowgate (now serving as a Salvation Army hostel).

In the 1880s, it began to charge fees; however, to this day it serves its charitable object, providing free education to fatherless children, referred to as "foundationers". In 1846 there was an insurrection in the hospital and fifty-two boys were dismissed. [10] [ page needed ]

Front view of Heriot's Hospital Jacobite broadside - Front view of Heriots Hospital.jpg
Front view of Heriot's Hospital

In 1979 it became co-educational with the arrival of the first girls, and now has around 1600 pupils. Today, the school is Edinburgh's best performing school by Higher exam results [11] with leavers (in 2014) attending the country's most selective and prestigious universities including St Andrews (31), Glasgow (26) and Edinburgh (14) in Scotland and Oxford (2), Cambridge (4), Bristol (4) and King's College London (3) in England. [12]

Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh by Henry Fox Talbot, 1844. Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh by Henry Fox Talbot.jpg
Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh by Henry Fox Talbot, 1844.

The school also provided funds for the establishment of an institution which later merged with the Watt Institution (named after James Watt) in the 1870s to form Heriot-Watt College, a technical college that became Heriot-Watt University in 1966.

Headmasters & Principals

Rugby team of Serbian students at George Heriot's school in 1918 SerbiaRugby1918Lightened.jpg
Rugby team of Serbian students at George Heriot's school in 1918

Chronological list of the headmasters of the school, the year given being the one in which they took office. [13]

Thereafter, the title of Headmaster was changed to that of Principal.

Other Notable Staff


Pupils at the school belong to one of four houses:

Extra-curricular activities

George Heriot's School has a wide range of extra-curricular activities in which pupils participate.

Notable alumni

Carving of a 17th-century classroom with a dominie and his ten scholars. Positioned at the school's main entrance, the motto reads, DEVS NOBIS HAEC OTIA FECIT - "God hath given us this leisure".. Heriot's Classroom.jpg
Carving of a 17th-century classroom with a dominie and his ten scholars. Positioned at the school's main entrance, the motto reads, DEVS NOBIS HAEC OTIA FECIT - "God hath given us this leisure"..

Academia and Science

Media and Arts

Law and Politics





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