Kensington School

Last updated

Kensington Proprietary Grammar School
Kensington School

Coordinates 51°30′01″N0°11′27″W / 51.5002°N 0.1908°W / 51.5002; -0.1908 Coordinates: 51°30′01″N0°11′27″W / 51.5002°N 0.1908°W / 51.5002; -0.1908
TypeProprietary School
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Age11to 18

The Kensington Proprietary Grammar School, colloquially referred to as the Kensington School, [1] was an educational establishment founded in 1830 that is perhaps best remembered for being one of the founders of the Football Association in 1863. [2]



Kensington School was established in 1830 in union with the Corporation of King's College London for the purpose "of providing an efficient course of education for youth, comprising religious and moral instruction in conformity with the principles of the Established Church, the Greek, Latin and Modern languages anc literature, History, Geography, Mathematics and such other branches of knowledge and such accomplishments as it may be practicable and advantageous to introduce." It was intended to create a first-grade institution in connection with the Church of England. The Vicar of Kensington was the President the Bishop of London was the Patron. [1] The school opened on 24 January 1831 with twenty pupils. The proprietors had taken a house on a short tenure in Kensington Square, the intention being that if after a trial period of two years the school was a success they would either take a lease or go elsewhere. The school quickly established itself. [3]

The system of education to be adopted was prepared a few days before the school opened in 1831 by the Rev. T. S. Evans, the first headmaster. Approximately one third of the boys' time was to be devoted to the study of Latin and Greek, slightly more time to religious instruction, history, mathematics and arithmetic, and slightly less to French, geography and writing. The monitorial system of teaching was employed, whereby the masters taught only the monitors who in turn passed on the instruction they had received to their schoolfellows. By the time the school was about to take possession of the new schoolroom in January 1834, this system was abandoned in favour of the boys being divided into six separate classes. These classes were all held in the one large room, until 1837, when two new classrooms were added to the existing building. In 1838 the school acquired the next-door house at No. 26 and in 1845 another two classrooms were built on top of the original schoolroom. In 1834, dancing and drawing were introduced.

The school had immediately established an annual award of an exhibition at the Universities of the value of £50 a year for three years. Additionally it awarded an Indian cadetship, said to have formed the greatest attraction for pupils. In 1841 the school provided special courses to prepare boys for the East India Company's colleges at Haileybury and Addiscombe. As a result, Hindustani, military drawing, fortification, drill and fencing were all gradually introduced. [3] A cadetship was created in 1842 by Sir Henry Willock, a Director of the East India Company, who was also one of the Directors of the School. The cadetship was an annual appointment to Addiscombe. This was to be "for the youth at Kensington School who may surpass his fellow students in merit and learning". The award lasted for nineteen years and not only attracted boys to the school but also directed school studies towards preparation for military life.

In 1845, when the number of pupils had reached 130, of whom 85 were boarders, the directors decided to buy No. 28 Kensington Square and use it as a boarding house, in order to relieve pressure on the headmaster's own house. [3] However, only a part of No. 28 was used in this way, the rest being let to the second master at £70 per annum, while his former residence at No. 26 was added to the headmaster's house. In 1849, gas-lighting was installed in the lower rooms at Nos. 26 and 27 and later the school library was in No. 26. More classrooms were built in the back garden of No. 28 in 1853. [3] By 1857, Kensington School held a high position, due to the success of its scholars at the Universities and more especially to the number of boys trained for the military services. It is said that the curriculum of Kensington School supplied a want which the public schools had not yet attempted to meet in that, prior to the mid-nineteenth century, the study of classics was supreme in the public schools, with mathematics, modern languages and science but only tolerated. Although this changed in the latter half of the century, Kensington were already satisfying the requirements of parents and giving also what the Universities and military examiners wanted.

Records suggest that by 1857, despite the school's enhanced academic reputation, the headmaster of the time had allowed general discipline in the school to relax, so deeply immersed was he in the study of oriental literature. The indiscipline was not confined to pupils. The second master was allowed to keep as boarders private pupils who did not belong to the school. The formidable Haig Brown joined the school in 1857 instilling a sense of discipline once again and he remained at Kensington till 1863. His departure for Charterhouse was perhaps one of the causes which led eventually to the collapse of Kensington School. It is possible that, had he remained there, his powerful influence might have induced the Directors to oppose the Bill presented in Parliament by the Metropolitan Railway Company for powers to appropriate the playground, and they might thus have obtained sufficient compensation to enable them to remove the school elsewhere. [1] The loss of the playground in 1865 was the chief cause of the final disbandment of the school. A much smaller playground was made in the back garden of No. 25, taken on lease in about 1864 and sub-let as a boarding house to one of the assistant masters. [3]

By 1869, there were only 45 pupils left, and the school had accumulated debts of over £2,000. In July 1869, therefore, the proprietors voted to close it down and sold the school buildings to the Rev. Charles Tabor Ackland, one of the assistant masters. His intention to open an Endowed Grammar School did not take place until 1873. In the meantime Ackland assumed the headmastership and carried on the school on his own responsibility as the Kensington Foundation Grammar School, formally established under this name in July 1873. [3] Under Ackland's headship the school flourished and within ten years of re-opening it had 130 pupils. In 1881, Ackland resigned and soon numbers began to fall off, particularly after the opening in 1884 of St. Paul's School in Hammersmith, only one-and-a-quarter miles from Kensington Square. In 1890 the headmaster tried to close the school but the trustees would not allow this, and it struggled on for a few more years until in 1896, When there were only ten or twelve pupils, it did finally close. The trustees, who by then had let all five houses fronting the square to private tenants, still hoped to use the back premises for educational work, and their scheme for the Kensington School of Science and Art received the approval of the Charity Commissioners in 1898 but was abandoned when the trustees found themselves unable to pay off the mortgage debt on the property. [3]


The school was also famous for its athletic attainments and for the zeal with which all games, especially cricket and football, were pursued. It contributed more than one captain to the Cambridge and Oxford University elevens, and was the first school in England to institute a public "sports" day. The sports were known to fashionable London as the "Kensington Races." [1]

At the time of the school's inception in 1830, football had yet to find a uniform code of play, and neither Association or Rugby football had yet been formalised. The style of football that had become increasingly popular since its inception at Rugby School was not adopted by the Proprietary School. They tended towards the dribbling game, represented to an extent by Eton's code and which would be set down formally in Cambridge rules in 1848. However, even the apparent acceptance of these rule sets for these two variations in the game did not avert controversy over the rules by which teams should play. With the exception of a rationalised and uniform football culture that was emerging in Sheffield in the 1850s, across the United Kingdom from club to club and school to school there was little agreement over the elements of a football game, be that the time it should take to play, the number of players in a side, or indeed whether running with the ball was illegal or not. Teams had to agree on rules before a match, or had to agree to play the code of each team for one half of the match each. In order to allow matches to take place without such constraints and problems, a number of captains and representatives from various London clubs met at Freemasons' Tavern in Lincoln's Inn Fields on 26 October 1863. Kensington School was one of the twelve teams represented, and thus became a founder member of the Football Association. [2]


The school was established at No. 31 Kensington Square in 1831 [3] [4] The proprietors had taken that house on a short tenure and within a year of opening the number of pupils had doubled and the schoolroom had had to be enlarged. The proprietors nevertheless decided against taking a lease of No. 31, due to the potential £600 ‘substantial repairs’, and in June 1833 purchased the freehold of No. 27. This was an old house that had stood empty for some years and the proprietors planned to rebuild it. At the same time two-and-a-half acres of ground was leased behind the house, previously William Cobbett's nursery, for use as a playground. No. 27. had always been the largest house on the west side of the square and was the second to be erected on the site and dated from 1833–4, especially built for the school. The original house was built in the mid-1690s by the woodmonger John Kemp. Later occupants included the Marquis du Court 1700–1, ‘Lady Illey’ 1722, and Stephen Ashby (c. 1732–52), benefactor of St. Bartholomews Hospital, Christ's Hospital and Bethlehem Hospital.

The rebuilding of No. 27 was carried out by George Todd of Chelsea in 1833–4 at a cost of some £3,500, the architect was William Crake of Notting Hill, "a gentleman of professional eminence and skill", although William was a builder and it is likely his relation John was the architect. The new school was in two parts: a front building, on the site of the old house, known as School House, intended as the headmaster's residence, but it also contained other facilities such as a dining-room for the boys and bedrooms and a dormitory for boarders. A separate schoolroom was behind. The school was four storeys high with an austere brick fronth. Certain original elements were kept, such as the staircase above the ground floor. The walls were originally painted ‘light Tea-Green’, the skirting a shade darker and the cornices lighter: the colour of the ceiling was to be either ‘a reflection of the wall’ or cream ‘as may be designed best to Harmonise the General Appearance of the Room, Observing that the prevailing color of the furniture is Red’. The boys' bedrooms were on the top floor. The first and second floors were evidently occupied by the headmaster, to whom the house was let for £80 a year. [3]

The schoolroom was housed in a free-standing single-storey building at the back of the main house from which it was separated by a paved playground covered by a corrugated-iron roof, known as the ‘tectum’. A passageway through the basement storey of No. 27 gave direct access to the playground and schoolroom from Kensington Square. West of the schoolroom was the large open playground. In 1838 the proprietors acquired the next-door house at No. 26, where two more classrooms were erected in the back garden. At the same time the ‘tectum’ was extended behind No. 26. with the house itself was leased to the school's second master for £65 a year. In 1845 another two classrooms were built on top of the original schoolroom. [3]

In 1881, the year of Ackland's resignation, the trustees spent £3,650 on building works at the school enlarging classrooms and building fives courts behind Nos. 28 and 29, and other various alterations. The alterations at the three houses were partly intended to prepare them for letting to private tenants as the school contracted. [3] In 1898 the whole site was then offered for sale at auction but failed to attract a buyer, and in 1900 the trustees agreed to sell it to Derry and Toms for £20,500 but this was superseded when the Crown, which had been negotiating to buy the free hold of various properties occupied by Derry and Toms, agreed to buy the freehold of the Grammar School site and let it to Derry's on a lease expiring in 1949. Although Nos. 28 and 29 Kensington Square continued to be occupied by private tenants, the other three houses in the square were used to provide accommodation for Derry and Toms' staff, and the back premises were converted for use as workshops. The only survival from the days of the school is the ‘cottage’ behind No. 28, known as 27a, which is the ‘new building’ of 1846. [3]


Notable former pupils

Related Research Articles

Charterhouse is a boarding and day school in Godalming, Surrey. Originally founded by Thomas Sutton in 1611 on the site of the old Carthusian monastery in Charterhouse Square, Smithfield, London, it educates over 800 pupils, aged 13 to 18 years, and is one of the original 'great' nine English public schools. Today pupils are still referred to as Carthusians, and former pupils as Old Carthusians.

Clifton College Public school in Bristol, England

Clifton College is a co-educational independent school in the suburb of Clifton in the city of Bristol in South West England, founded in 1862. In its early years it was notable for emphasising science rather than classics in the curriculum, and for being less concerned with social elitism, e.g. by admitting day-boys on equal terms and providing a dedicated boarding house for Jewish boys, called Polack's House. Having linked its General Studies classes with Badminton School, it admitted girls to the Sixth Form in 1987 and is now fully coeducational. Polack's House closed in 2005 but a scholarship fund open to Jewish candidates still exists. Clifton is one of the original 26 English public schools as defined by the Public Schools Yearbook of 1889.

Sherborne School Public school in Sherborne, Dorset, United Kingdom

Sherborne School is an English independent boarding school for boys, located beside Sherborne Abbey, in the parish of Sherborne, Dorset. The school has been in continuous operation on the same site for over 1,300 years. It was founded in 705 AD by St Aldhelm and, following the dissolution of the monasteries, re-founded in 1550 by King Edward VI, making it one of the oldest schools in the United Kingdom. Sherborne is one of the twelve founding member public schools of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference in 1869 and is a member of the Eton Group.

Oswestry School Public school in Oswestry, Shropshire, United Kingdom

Oswestry School is an ancient, co-educational independent school, located in Oswestry, Shropshire, England. It was founded in 1407 as a 'free' school, in other words it was independent of the church. This gives it the distinction of being the second-oldest 'free' school in the country, between Winchester College and Eton College (1440).

Oakham School Public school in Oakham, Rutland, England

Oakham School is a British co-educational independent school in the market town of Oakham in Rutland, with a school roll of about 1,000 pupils, aged from 10 to 18.

Foyle College Grammar school in Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Foyle College is a co-educational non-denominational voluntary grammar school in Derry City, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The school's legal name is Foyle and Londonderry College. In 1976, two local schools, Foyle College and Londonderry High School, merged under the Foyle and Londonderry College Act 1976 to form Foyle and Londonderry College. In 2011, the Board of Governors re-branded the school as 'Foyle College' and updated the school's crest.

The College of Richard Collyer Sixth form college in Horsham, West Sussex, United Kingdom

The College of Richard Collyer, formerly called Collyer's School, is a co-educational sixth form college in Horsham, West Sussex, England. Students have achieved exam results which enabled a number to progress to universities. The college is rated as being ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, and is the only further education college in the county to have achieved this.

The Kings School, Parramatta Independent day and boarding school in North Parramatta, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

The King's School is an independent Anglican, early learning, primary and secondary day and boarding school for boys, located in North Parramatta in the western suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Founded in 1831, the school claims to be Australia's oldest independent school; and is situated on a 148-hectare (370-acre) campus.

Windermere School Independent day and boarding school in Windermere, The Lake District, England

Windermere School is an independent, coeducational boarding and day school in the English Lake District. It has approximately 350 pupils between the ages of 3 and 18, around half of whom are boarders. This day and boarding school was established in Windermere in 1863. The School is split across three campuses on over fifty acres of land. The Elleray Campus is the Infant and Junior site and the Browhead Campus is the Senior School and Sixth Form site. These sites are approximately 2 miles apart. The School also has its own Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Watersports Centre on the shores of Lake Windermere. In 2018, Hodge Howe Watersports Centre became a British Youth Sailing Recognised Club by the RYA for its race training, becoming the first school in the UK to earn this status. In 2010, the school changed its name from Windermere St Anne's School to Windermere School. It was named as the Sunday Times International Baccalaureate School of the Year for 2017-2018 and is a member of Round Square and the Society of Headmasters & Headmistresses of Independent Schools. The Good Schools Guide describes Windermere as 'a school which revels in a hearty approach to everything from academia to friendships'. In the latest inspection report by the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate, Windermere School received the highest grades for the quality of the education provided; it was recognised as ‘Excellent’ for both categories: academic and other achievements, and personal development.

Bablake School Co-educational Independent school in Coventry, England

Bablake School is a co-educational independent school located in Coventry, England and founded in 1344 by Isabella of France, widow of Edward II, making it one of the oldest schools in the United Kingdom. Bablake is part of the Coventry School Foundation, a registered charity, along with King Henry VIII School, King Henry VIII Preparatory School and Cheshunt School. The current headmaster is Andrew Wright, who succeeded Mr John Watson following his move to Leicester Grammar School in 2019. Today Bablake is a selective, fee-paying independent school and a member of the HMC.

Kent College Independent day and boarding school public school in Canterbury, Kent, England

Kent College, Canterbury is a co-educational independent school for boarding and day pupils between the ages of 3 months and 18 years. It was founded in 1885, and is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. Originally established as a boys' public school, it admitted girls into the sixth form in 1973 and since 1975 it has been fully co-educational.

St Boniface's Catholic College is a secondary school for boys, under the direction and trustees of the Roman Catholic Community in the Plymouth area in the South West of England. Founded in 1856 as an independent boarding and day school for "young Catholic gentlemen" in the West Country, it is now a comprehensive school. The College is named for St Boniface who was born in Crediton, Devon and is the patron saint of Germany. The school has a list of distinguished former pupils including Air Chief Marshal Sir John Gingell GBE KCB KCVO, the writer and intelligence agent Alexander Wilson, and Sir Julian Priestley KCMG, Secretary General of the European Parliament from 1997 – 2007.

Brewood Grammar School Grammar school in Brewood, Staffordshire, England

Brewood Grammar School was a boys' school in the village of Brewood in South Staffordshire, England.

Elmfield College, York (1864–1932), originally called Connexional College or Jubilee College in honour of the Primitive Methodist Silver Jubilee in 1860, was a Primitive Methodist college on the outskirts of Heworth, York, England, near Monk Stray.

Buxton College

Founded in 1675, Buxton College was a boys' Public School and, from 1923, a grammar school in Buxton, Derbyshire whose site has been expanded since 1990 to be used as the fully co-educational comprehensive Buxton Community School. Dorothy Dewis, born in 1898, was the first Headmistress of Silverlands Girls Secondary School which was purpose built and was opened by the Duke of Devonshire who remained a supporter of the School for many years. Miss Dewis had previously been Head of Barrs Hill School. Miss Dewis was passionate about girls education and ensured all girls received a high standard of education. She also ran a very successful Folk and Country Dancing club which performed widely and won many prizes. She retired after 20 years service in 1960. She never married and was totally dedicated to her, proving to be very popular with both girls and teachers. Silverlands school building was demolished to make way for a housing estate.

Hazelwood School Independent preparatory day school in Oxted, Surrey, England

Hazelwood School is an independent preparatory school located in Limpsfield, Surrey.

The Lodge School Government secondary school in St John, Barbados

The Lodge School is a co-educational government secondary school in Saint John, Barbados, established in 1745. The school has closed and reopened four times, and has been known as Codrington College, The College, The Mansion School, the Codrington Grammar School, The Codrington Foundation School, Codrington Collegiate School, Codrington Endowed School, Codrington Lodge Grammar School and The Lodge Collegiate School. By 1882 the school's name had finally settled on The Lodge School, after the Chaplain's Lodge where some of the early classes were undertaken.

Springvale House Independent, preparatory, boarding and day school in Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe

Springvale House Preparatory School is an independent, preparatory, boarding and day school in Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe that was established in 1952. The school shares facilities with Peterhouse Girls' School on the Springvale Estate of approximately 1,200 acres (490 ha) with Gosho Park, a conservation area on the estate, being adjacent to the two schools. The majority of the pupil population are boarders while the remainder are day scholars.

William Haig Brown

William Haig Brown (1823–1907) was an English cleric and reforming headmaster of Charterhouse School.


Harrisford is a heritage-listed former residence, school building, factory and workshop at 182 George Street, Parramatta, City of Parramatta, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was built between 1823 and 1829. The property is owned by The Kings School Old Boys Union. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.


  1. 1 2 3 4 William Haig Brown of Charterhouse : a short biographical memoir (1908) - London : Macmillan
  2. 1 2 Gibbons, Philip (2001). Association Football in Victorian England – A History of the Game from 1863 to 1900. Upfront Publishing. pp. 13–15. ISBN   1-84426-035-6.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Kensington Square and environs: Individual houses (west side and Derry Street), Survey of London: volume 42: Kensington Square to Earl's Court (1986), pp. 29-40.
  4. British History online
  5. Papers of the Mayor and related families Charlotte Mayor jun to JBM. congratulations on marriage and appointment as Head of Kensington School, dinner for the servants: The Priory.