Category Archives: Great Fire

Christ’s Hospital’s School

is one of the oldest boarding schools in England

In 1552, the young King Edward VI responded to an impassioned sermon on the needs of London’s poor, and summoned the preacher, the Bishop of London, to talk more about this pressing situation. It was suggested that Edward should write to the Lord Mayor of London, to set in motion charitable measures to help the poor.

Christ’s Hospital was consequently founded in the old buildings vacated by the Grey Friars in Newgate Street, London and provided food, clothing, lodging and learning for fatherless children and other poor men’s children. The children were not only cared for but prepared for future careers. Money for such reform was raised by the City of London. The Church, businesses and householders in London were asked for donations. Governors were elected to serve the school and in November 1552, Christ’s Hospital opened its doors to 380 pupils. Within a year, the number had increased to over 500.

Many children, including 100 of the first 380, were infants who were sent away to Ware, Hoddesdon (Herts) or Hertford to be looked after by nurses, who were paid a weekly allowance, and to attend local day schools. When they reached 10 they would return to London to be educated.

Girls were admitted from the beginning, and in 1563, when the first children’s register was compiled, there were 132 girls out of 396 children, although the proportion thereafter was usually smaller.

In London, the great majority of children were educated in the Writing School for a position in commerce or trade, leaving when aged 15. The few who stayed on beyond the age of 15 studied either in the Grammar School for University or, from its foundation in 1673, in the Royal Mathematical School (RMS) for service at sea. The RMS received its Royal Charter from Charles II, with Samuel Pepys & Sir Isaac Newton being influential figures in its early years.

CH lost 32 children in the Great Plague of 1665, but did not lose any children to the Great Fire in 1666, although most of the buildings were burned down. With only a few children able to return to the ruined buildings, many were sent out to be billeted in Hertfordshire. In 1682 a site in Hertford was acquired for a self-contained boarding school, which CH was to own for over 300 years.

Thanks to the great generosity of benefactors, the rebuilding of the school in London after the Great Fire was completed in 1705, with Sir Christopher Wren designing the South front as well as Christ Church, the parish church immediately outside the walls of CH, which the school used for its worship.  A second major rebuilding took place from 1793 to 1836, including a Grammar School completed in 1793, a new Great Hall in 1829, Grammar and Mathematical Schools in 1834 and the cloisters known as the Grecians Cloister in 1836. .

In 1902 all the boys from both the London and Hertford schools transferred to a new site in Horsham, and the school at Hertford became a girls-only school. In 1985 the Hertford site was closed and the girls transferred to Horsham, once again to form a co-educational school.

Today CH has 830 boarding pupils, with an equal number of boys and girls, and 70 day pupils.

Great Conduit

Laid in 1245 this supplied water from springs near Tyburn to the west of the City (where Marble Arch now stands)

The main consumers were brewers, fishmongers and chefs but some private houses also purchased a supply. Households could fill up a bucket for free.

In 1270 when Edward 1 brought his wife, Eleanor of Castille, to London for the first time the Conduit ran, not with water, but wine for all to drink (red and white, reportedly).

The conduit was almost 3 miles long. It comprised pipes which were ten to twenty feet in length. These were made from tree trunks hollowed out with a 6” auger and then shaped at the end to dovetail into each other.

The conduit was lost to the Great Fire of 1666.

City Heights

Where can one go to look down at the City? Here are some possibilities in literally ascending order.


Fish St Hill, EC3R 8AH

202′ high, 360 degreee view.

Tickets are £6, can be had on the day or in advance.

There may a bit of a wait as only so many people are allowed up at once. Access to the top is via a narrow spiral staircase which may not suit everybody.

Cannon Street and London Bridge BR stations are 10 minutes walk away. Monument Underground (Circle, District and Northern lines) is right by the Monument.


120 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 5BA

226′ high. Has a 360 degree view. Not as high as Sky Garden (see below) but this can mean things are clearer as they are easier to see. Great view of Docklands as well as the City.

Entry is free and there is rarely a queue.

Fenchurch Street BR stations is 5 minutes walk away. Monument Underground (Circle, District and Northern lines), 10 minutes. Bank Underground (Central, DLR, Waterloo and City), 15 minutes.


20 Fenchurch Street/Philpot Lane, EC3M 8AF

Atop the 525′ high ‘Walkie-Talkie’, the City’s most popular viewpoint.

Tickets are free but one often needs to book to avoid long queues

Cannon Street and London Bridge BR stations are 10 minutes walk away. Monument Underground (Circle, District and Northern lines) , 5 minutes.


22 Bishopsgate, EC3V 4QT

912′ high, the City’s tallest building. Great views East, South and West. Also look down on Tower 42, previously the NatWest tower, to see the Natwest logo on the top.

Tickets are free but must be booked. There is a limit on the size of bags that may be taken so check the website.

Cannon Street, Liverpool Street and London Bridge BR stations are 10-15 minutes walk away. Monument Underground (Circle, District and Northern lines), 10 minutes. Bank Underground (Central, DLR, Waterloo and City), 10 minutes.