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Foundation on a Hill can be ordered through the School Office.
Tel: (01227) 475600, email: email@example.com
The School developed from very small beginnings. On 30th May 1751, John Pyrke was elected as the first boy to be educated at the expense of the recently formed Clergy Orphan Society - later to become a Corporation. John Pyrke was sent to a school in Thirsk, Yorkshire. After one temporary move, to Silton Hall in the parish of Leake near Thirsk, the first separate Clergy Orphan Boys' School was opened at Acton, Middlesex. In 1812 the School was moved to St John's Wood at the nursery end of Lord's Cricket Ground. The Sister School for girls was on the same site.
On 2nd October 1855 the boys' School moved to Canterbury, the site and building being paid for by Doctor Samuel Warneford; the chapel was completed in 1858. The name of the school was changed from the Clergy Orphan School to St Edmund's School in 1897; Junior School was opened in 1898 and the first non-Foundationers were admitted in 1902. The following year the Cadet Corps was formed. During the First World War, ex-pupil BH Geary was awarded the VC. In 1923 the chapel was extended by eighteen feet and the Houses were given their present names. Electric light replaced gas in 1926. The first dayboys were admitted in 1937. 1940 saw the evacuation of the School to Cornwall for the duration of the war.
1949 marked the Bicentenary of the Clergy Orphan Corporation and Princess Margaret visited the School the following year. The Close houses were built in 1955 which also featured a visit by Princess Alexandra. In 1957 Science moved from the bottom end of the asphalt to the old sanatorium; four years later the classroom block was built. The Dining Hall was extended in 1963 and the New Wing opened five years later followed in another two years by the swimming pool.
The School took on the education of the Cathedral Choristers in 1972. The School Hall was opened in 1975 releasing Big School for conversion into house premises including Grant House which lasted twenty years until the return to four houses when the boarding numbers were reduced. The first girls were admitted in 1982. The Sports Hall was opened in 1987. Pontigny, the new house for the Headmaster came into use in 1990. In 1996 the School was refounded as a fully independent school. The new Junior School building was opened in 1998. Boarding girls took over much of the Clock Tower wing. In 2003 the last Foundationer left. 2004 saw the opening of the new Music School, completing the Francis Musgrave Performing Arts Centre. In 2011 St Edmund's welcomed their first female Head.
This summary is drawn from Jock Asbury-Bailey's excellent history of the School, Foundation on a Hill. Until this book was published in 2007, the only available School history was a booklet assembled by Junior School teacher, Harry Winter. Jock has used a little of Winter's material but has produced a wonderfully researched and complete account of the School's early years and development right through to the present day, and all fully illustrated with fascinating photographs. Foundation on a Hill can be ordered through the School Office. (Tel: (01227) 475600, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Martin Clifford, Archivist, St Edmund's School Canterbury