Images of Christ's Hospital London

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Mid A 15
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Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by Mid A 15 » Sun Jun 05, 2016 10:14 pm

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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by LongGone » Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:38 am

Do any of the school historians know if there was a significant fight against leaving the London site, or was it almost universally accepted that the move was a good idea?
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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by Richard » Mon Jun 06, 2016 11:39 am

Here’s some speculation. There was naturally some resistance from City grandees to the move out of London, mainly because of fears that with the school no longer in the City the close ties to the City and its institutions would tend to dissipate. However the Royal Society’s appointed governor (Prof. Henry Armstrong) recognised the potential for an innovative addition to a new CH. This was a totally novel emphasis on the serious teaching of science. It included the adoption of his revolutionary method of teaching science (the heuristic method), so he strongly encouraged the move. He was so convincing (and logical) that soon the President of CH, Queen Victoria’s cousin the Duke of Cambridge, supported Armstrong. Once that was done, it was relatively plain sailing to make the move in 1902. Some suggested there would be improved health for the boys in the countryside. But for Armstrong the reason was science teaching. His persuasive powers were such that the governors finally included four very large science laboratories (each of size 60x30ft, or 18x9m) of Armstrong’s unique design, in a very prominent location, on one side of the main quadrangle. In a modified form they function well today as the Old Science School. At the London CH the only teaching of science was a most unimportant and rudimentary activity, taught by maths teachers in a disused dormitory. Armstrong further persuaded the governors to appoint a head of science in 1899, well before the move to Horsham. This was his protégé the most successful Charles E Browne, a chemist. Also for the new school three more competent science teachers for both chemistry and physics, together with lab technicians, etc were engaged. In 1911 this was increased to seven science teachers, one of whom taught biology. It must be emphasised that the existence of such laboratories, teaching of science by competent people and the heuristic method were all totally unique then in the UK (but certainly not in Germany, France and the USA). Of course after CH’s demonstrable successes in science teaching this was copied elsewhere in UK schools; public and other.

Excuse so long a post, but I find the subject fascinating and Armstrong’s overwhelmingly important influence on all science education in the UK is far too little appreciated today. There is so much more to say. In the later part of the 19th century the City’s Livery Companies were well aware of the poor quality of science education in general (in stark contrast to scientific progress made by researchers in British universities and British engineering applications). Lack of general science knowledge caused enormous commercial disadvantages for UK manufacturing and commerce. (For those interested see the example below.) So in 1876 the City and Guilds Institute (long since a part of London University) was founded by the City of London and its Livery Companies to reduce this ‘knowledge gap.’ Armstrong played a prominent part in all such activity. His direct influence on CH went much further and in fields other than science - in the teaching of art, history, modern languages, engineering and crafts. Also Brangwyn’s paintings were acquired mainly through the urging of Armstrong.

Again, dear readers, please excuse the excessive length of this posting, but when one has a bee in one’s bonnet … …


How 19th century UK lagged in applications of science

There was the unexpected discovery by William Perkin, son of a London carpenter, in 1856 of the first synthetic dye, an intense purple, based on the organic chemical aniline. It was a great improvement on existing dyes, which were derived from natural substances. The synthetic dye was easier to produce and more colour-fast, both in sunlight and after the washing of dyed clothes, than its predecessors. But the general teaching of science, and particularly chemistry, were then far more advanced in Germany than Britain. Perkin patented his discovery, set up a factory to manufacture his dye and made a fortune. But in spite of this, before long the synthetic dye industry was totally controlled by the German chemical industry, to such an extent that British textile manufacturers had to pay royalties to German companies, which had discovered many more synthetic dyes. German progress in devising dyestuffs, as well as fertilisers, pharmaceuticals and photographic products, were at the core of the successes of dominant German industrial companies in the 19th century. This resulted from superior German general scientific (particularly chemical) knowledge and researches.
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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by jhopgood » Mon Jun 06, 2016 3:40 pm

Naturally, for me, I don't have all of my papers to hand, and will have to rely on my memory.
When I was OB editor, and the CHC was about to cease existence, I prepared a Blue which contained House articles from each decade for which the Blue had been produced. Since the Blue was started whilst in London, I read some of the "ancient" Blues.
There was discussion about the move, and indeed, I believe it was also the subject of a leader in the Times, but most discussion was about the increasingly restricted ability to provide an overall education, including sports. With the possible exception of rowing, where they just went down to the Thames, and runs through the streets of London, any other sporting activity meant travel.
Naturally there were questions of continued contact with the City, but I doubt that much formal contact changed following the move.
I cannot remember any discussion on science, (not to say that there was none), but believe that starting building from scratch, allowed them to include many facilities that could not have been contemplated in Newgate.
I know that there were various proposals for the new layout, but have no knowledge whether they all included the same facilities.
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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by postwarblue » Mon Jun 06, 2016 7:35 pm

The top (1868) print is interesting for me partly because of the settles. I bought one in the selloff on OB day a while back and it fits neatly behind our sofa. Do we know if they predate 1868 in fact?
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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by Foureyes » Tue Jun 07, 2016 10:22 am

The full story of the move to Horsham is given in Ken Mansell's outstanding book "Christ's Hospital in the Victorian Era" known to its many fans as "Chive." The book is available from the C.H. Museum and is well worth reading. Not only does he document the move which actually took place, but also the alternatives considered, such as Wimbledon and atop Sharpenhurst (what a view that would have given!).
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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by michael scuffil » Wed Jun 08, 2016 7:44 am

Do any of the school historians know if there was a significant fight against leaving the London site, or was it almost universally accepted that the move was a good idea?

Certainly not universally. In the 1963 (fund-raising) Pageant, written and directed by David Jesson Dibley, I played the Duke of Cambridge, Queen Victoria's cousin and the President of Christ's Hospital, who was dead against it. I was surrounded by others playing reactionary Old Blues moaning about it -- mainly how the clay soil was unsuitable (ironically, the drainage problems in 1963 formed another tableau in the Pageant).

The Duke's picture is in the Dining Hall, but for a rather nice photo, see https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/George,_2 ... e-1819.jpg
(He married an actress, who was not allowed to be seen with him in polite society.)
Last edited by michael scuffil on Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by michael scuffil » Wed Jun 08, 2016 7:53 am

Re the pictures:

It is noteworthy that the top picture, which is described as a 'dormitory', is in fact a 'ward' (i.e. a house); as one can see from the tables, the same room doubled as dayroom and dorm.

I have an inkling that the print with the interior view of the hall shows a different building from that shown in the exterior views. The interior print dates, I think, from the 18th cent., but the Hall shown from the outside was built in the 19th century.
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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by Katharine » Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:14 am

I thought I had written a reply to Richard's interesting post about science education. Did Armstrong embrace the idea of girls learning science? At Hertford we believed we were one of the earliest girls school to have a dedicated science block. It was contemporary with the rebuilding of the school after the little boys went to Horsham. I believe that the Physics lab went to the Science Museum at the merger as it was an example of a very early lab for a girls school (and not changed much in the subsequent 60 years!)
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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by Richard » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:52 pm

Katharine be reassured, Armstrong initiated much to improve the teaching of science at all levels and certainly both greatly encouraged (and personally provided) education in science for women and girls. He believed that all school pupils should learn some science (including girls, then a most radical idea) even if their later careers were in other fields. In 1894 Armstrong wrote the following, published originally in Nature, “ …. will take steps to secure the teaching of scientific method in all the schools under its charge, whether boys' schools or girls' schools.”

Dr WH Fyfe was a most important and influential HM. Although a classicist, well known as an Oxford don who has published translations of Aristotle and Tacitus, he fully appreciated Armstrong and wrote (in the CH Book, page 357), “Those who love Christ’s Hospital ought gratefully to remember Henry Armstrong. He was the school’s second founder.”

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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by Katharine » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:57 pm

Thanks Richard, very interesting.

I am a speaker for the charity WaterAid, and the topic we have been focussing on recently is teenage girls in the developing world dropping out of school at puberty - mainly because of difficulties coping with menstruation and lack of facilities. A quote I use is from Aggrey of Africa “The surest way to keep people down is to educate the men and neglect the women. If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation"

Not my quote gents, but one I use! Armstrong evidently agreed.
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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by Kit Bartlett » Tue Jun 21, 2016 10:11 am

"George" Seaman's "The Last Years in London" published in 1977 gives a great deal of information on the proposed move from London and also includes excellent Bibliography.

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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by postwarblue » Thu Jul 07, 2016 11:26 am

There is an image of CH ca.1809 by Pugin (who drew the building) and Rowlandson (who drew the people) at

https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/illu ... oat-school

published by Ackermann in his Microcosm of London, which was in part republished as a King Penguin in ca.1950.
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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by sejintenej » Thu Jul 07, 2016 3:59 pm

postwarblue wrote:There is an image of CH ca.1809 by Pugin (who drew the building) and Rowlandson (who drew the people) at

https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/illu ... oat-school

published by Ackermann in his Microcosm of London, which was in part republished as a King Penguin in ca.1950.
I think there is an error in the blurb attached to that illustration. The title given is "
The Hall, Blue Coat School from Microcosm of London. Published: 1808-10, London"


I have an Ackermann illustration of a Bluecoat Boy which comes from the same Microcosm of London and it states that it was published in 1818. The print was given to me on June 2nd 1953 (Coronation Day) - the first day I ever saw TV, and I was required to wear school uniform.
Interestingly Ackermann was a German from Stollberg (wherever that is) and was a saddler before moving to Paris and eventually to London.
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Re: Images of Christ's Hospital London

Post by michael scuffil » Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:07 pm

There are three places in Germany called Stolberg, or Stollberg (no standard spelling until the mid-19th century). One is near Aachen, and is best-known for its historic brass foundries, one is in the Harz Mountains, and was an important metal (mostly silver) mining town, but the one that Ackermann came from is in the Ore Mountains in Saxony, close to the Czech border. (That too is a silver mining region; close by is Joachimstal, which gave its name to the Taler, and hence to the dollar. It is now in the Czech Republic, and called Jachimov. One of its more curious features, which took me aback when I was passing through, is the Grand Radium Hotel, where you can take 'curative' radioactive baths; it's where the Curies got their material from.)
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