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3 April

From the Archives: A History of School House

Welcome to the first of our ‘From the Archives’ series on the King’s School houses written by our school archivist, Harriet Patrick. We will be exploring the houses in chronological order and so are of course beginning with School House.

 1888: Establishment of School House

School House opened after King’s governors secured the site of Castle Hill and the County Prison on which they could build and make gardens.  The architect, Ewan Christian, began the building of School House in late 1886; upon its opening in 1888 it was capable of holding 30 boarders, the Headmaster’s House, and a gymnasium on the top floor.

On 7 March 1884 the Dean of Worcester Cathedral, all the four Canons, and William Ernest Bolland (Headmaster 1879-1896) met and drew up specifications of a new School House for Ewan Christian, of Gloucester and London, the architect to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.  The building was to “provide for 30 Boarders, besides the Head Master’s family and household, a Dining Room, Drawing Room, Study, School Library and Class Room combined, two other Class Rooms, a Laboratory and a Music Room, a Dining Hall for 45 boys, four Bed Rooms, two Dressing Rooms and two Nurseries and a small Sitting Room and Bed Room for the House Master in the Boys’ quarter”.

The original intention was to build both a Head Master’s boarding house and a block of classrooms with a laboratory.  The architect’s first conception was extremely grandiose, and its cost would have been far too expensive.  Mr. Christian then produced a simplified modification; but even this proved more ambitious than practical; the classrooms, to Mr. Bolland’s disappointment, had to be abandoned.  (They would subsequently be built in 1899.)

The planning of School House, as revised in the light of Mr. Bolland’s wider knowledge of the requirements, proved admirable.  The arrangement in the dormitories of dressing cubicles at the head of each bed was adapted from a plan sent in by Dr. Thring of Uppingham, who had seen it in a girls’ school.  This was apparently the first use in a boys’ school of a device that afterwards found many imitators.

In 1886 the King’s School’s Governors secured from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners a substantial part of Castle Hill in which to build, and as a result Mr. Christian began the building of School House in the late summer of that year.  Mr. and Mrs. Bolland moved into School House at Christmas 1887 and their boarders joined them in their new comfort in January 1888.

For almost 60 years School House was run by the Headmaster, with another master as house tutor. This system was changed by Ronald Kittermaster (Headmaster 1942-1959), who appointed Dan McTurk as the first dedicated housemaster of School House in 1946.

School house photo in 1898

School House in 1898, a decade after it first opened.

Here, the Housemaster is W.H. Chappel (Headmaster 1896-1918), seated next to his wife Mary and two of their three daughters.

In the centre of the back row (wearing a mortar board) is House Tutor, T.E. Rammell.

Photo of School House in 1905 for school prospectus

School House, photographed for the 1905 King’s School prospectus.