King Edward’s Schools, Witley | London Metropolitan Archives

RESEARCH GUIDE

King Edward’s Schools, Witley

Research Guide 30 - Pupil Records of King Edward’s Schools, Witley

Introduction

The present day King Edward’s School, Witley, has evolved slowly from Bridewell Royal Hospital founded in 1553 by King Edward VI. Children were taken into Bridewell and apprenticed to learn trades from the late 16th century. They were trained by “artsmasters” who were craftsmen and tradesmen, not schoolmasters. The artsmasters resided in the Hospital where they kept, fed and instructed their apprentices. The first schoolmaster was appointed in 1632 to teach apprentices reading and writing for a couple of hours a week. Subsequent schoolmasters were appointed at intervals but the apprentices were only permitted to attend until they could read and write.

In the 18th century the apprentices were often punished for disobedience to their masters and for absconding and rioting, attributed by the Bridewell governors to their close contact with the prisoners. There was considerable debate towards the end of the century amongst officers and governors about the real purpose of Bridewell. The educational party won, no more apprentices were accepted into Bridewell, and in 1830 a new House of Occupations opened at St George’s Fields, Southwark, away from the corrupting influence of the prisoners.

In the 18th century the apprentices were often punished for disobedience to their masters and for absconding and rioting, attributed by the Bridewell governors to their close contact with the prisoners. There was considerable debate towards the end of the century amongst officers and governors about the real purpose of Bridewell. The educational party won, no more apprentices were accepted into Bridewell, and in 1830 a new House of Occupations opened at St George’s Fields, Southwark, away from the corrupting influence of the prisoners.

The House of Occupations accepted children (boys and girls) aged 8 - 18 from the City, County of Middlesex and Borough of Southwark. There were apprentices at first in the House of Occupations but the focus of the school was clearly on educating children and there are no records of apprenticeship after 1837.

In 1860 a new charity scheme was established for Bridewell Royal Hospital (BRH). The House of Occupations was renamed King Edward’s Schools (for boys and girls) though still funded by BRH. Under the new scheme, children could be admitted from anywhere in the UK at 10 (girls only); 11 or 12 (girls or boys). The pupils were taught reading, writing, arithmetic, geography and history and they were trained in occupations as well. The girls generally entered domestic service when they left school; boys went to factories, city firms or the armed forces. Several headmasters forged a strong link with the Royal Navy and many boys entered the Navy on leaving school.

In 1867 the boys’ school moved to Witley in Surrey where it remains to the present day. The school is known as King Edward’s School, Witley. The girls’ school remained at Southwark and became known as King Edward’s School, London. In 1922 the girls’ school closed, after which grants were made to other educational establishments for girls in lieu of direct provision of education for girls. In 1952 King Edward’s School, Witley, became co-educational, an early example of a 20th century boarding school for boys and girls.

King Edward’s School, London, closed in 1922. Records of King Edward’s School, Witley, after this date, including records of the co-educational school from 1952, have been retained by the School, as have photographs.

Records of Boys

Admission and Discharge Registers

Indexed. The registers give name, age, date of admission, by whom recommended, offence (if any), description of character, date of discharge and remarks about subsequent career.

1835-1844 (CLC/275/MS33159/001)

1844-1854 - No records

1855-1880 (CLC/275/MS33159/002) - Also gives date of birth, level of education on entry and occasional remarks with later annotations giving date of discharge and employment.

1881-1900 (CLC/275/MS33159/003) - Also gives date and place of baptism, occupation in school, to where discharged and length of stay

Register of Inmates

Arranged alphabetically. The registers give name, age, date of admission, place admitted from, occupation prior to admission, name and address of relatives, character on admission, conduct and occupation whilst in the school, date of discharge, to where discharged, dates of any subsequent good conduct rewards, and occasional additional remarks

1867-1878 (CLC/275/MS33161/001)

1879-1889 (CLC/275/MS33161/002)

1890-1908 (CLC/275/MS33161/003)

1908-1927 (CLC/275/MS33161/004) - Restricted Access

Records of Girls

Admission and Discharge Register

Indexed. The register gives name, age, date of admission, by whom recommended, offence (if any), description of character, date of discharge and remarks about subsequent career.

1835-1844 (CLC/275/MS33159/001)

Register of Inmates

Arranged alphabetically. The registers give name, age, date of admission, place admitted from, occupation prior to admission, character on admission, conduct and achievements, date of discharge, names and occupations of parents, date of reward, and (occasionally) other remarks.

1858-1874 (CLC/275/MS33160/001)

1875-1878 (CLC/275/MS33160/002) - Includes a few entries up to 1881.

1879-1895 (CLC/275/MS33160/003)

1895-1919 (CLC/275/MS33160/004) - Restricted Access

1919-1920 (CLC/275/MS33160/005) - Restricted Access

Discharge book

Before 1860, the entries are for the House of Occupations. The book gives name, date of leaving school; name, address and occupation of employer, brief references about the employer and later details of each girl's service. After 1872, details of good conduct rewards are given.

1854 - 1885 (CLC/275/MS33162)

Character reference books

The books give age, length of time in school, conduct; name and address of employer and position to which appointed (e.g. housemaid). Only volume 3 is indexed.

1874-1888 (CLC/275/MS33163/001)

1889-1905 (CLC/275/MS33163/002)

1905-1922 (CLC/275/MS33163/003) - Restricted Access

Access Restrictions

Please note that pupil records of King Edward’s Schools, Witley are subject to a 100 year closure period. All records which have restricted access require written permission from King Edward’s School, Witley. Please ask staff at LMA for further information.

Later pupil records and photographs of the school and school life have been retained by the headmaster.

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