About

About

Westminster is one of the UK’s leading academic institutions and is the only ancient London school to occupy its original site, immediately next to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.

Westminster is a school for both day and boarding pupils; it is a busy, passionate and purposeful place where independent thinking is encouraged and excellence is nurtured. Our ethos resides in the enduring values of the liberal tradition, reflected in the 1560 Charter of Westminster’s Elizabethan foundation where it states that our pupils should be “liberally instructed in good books to the greater honour of the state.”

This outward-looking approach to education defines the School today. We are a place that embraces learning, encourages deep thinking and takes great pleasure in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding; but, most importantly, we want to encourage our boys and girls to use their skills and intelligence to benefit society.

We seek to encourage young people to engage in a loyal dissent. Whilst our pupils are loyal to the principles of a liberal education, respectful of genuine scholarship and appreciative of the learning process, they are equally prepared to challenge, to question and to explore the content of that learning, pushing boundaries and overturning expectations.

For centuries Westminster has been the educational home of some of the world’s most influential thinkers, writers, poets, politicians, artists, actors, musicians, economists, linguists, scientists, philosophers and social entrepreneurs and we look forward to many more years of playing such a role in the shaping of history.

Westminster Milestones

1394

Abbey Account Rolls record payments to the ‘magistro scolarum pro erudicione puerorum’.

1461

The School moves from the Almonry to Dean’s Yard.

1540

The Benedictine monastery is dissolved but Henry VIII ensures the survival of the School.

1560

Following the brief restoration of the monastery under Mary I, Elizabeth I issues a new charter to ‘The College of St Peter at Westminster’.

1562

First Election Dinner following the Election of scholars to Trinity College Cambridge and Christ Church Oxford.

1564

Elizabeth I attends the annual Latin Play.

1599

The former Monks’ Dormitory is first used as the schoolroom.

1638

Richard Busby becomes Head Master, remaining in post until his death in 1695.

1649

Execution of Charles I: Busby leads the School in prayers for the King on the day of his beheading.

1659-65

The Busby Library and Ashburnham House are built.

1666

Fire of London – Dean Dolben and the Scholars save St Dunstan’s in the East.

1685

Westminster boys first formally attend a Coronation.

1731

The Scholars move into the new dormitory designed by Lord Burlington.

1746

First recorded cricket match: Old Westminsters vs Old Etonians.

1750

Grant family begins to manage a boarding house.

1753

First recorded ‘Pancake Greaze’.

1796

First cricket match against Eton at Hounslow Heath.

1810

Vincent Square is secured as a playing field for the School by Dean Vincent.

1815

The Water ledger, recording rowing at the School, begins.

1837

Westminster’s victory over Eton at rowing hastens the death of William IV.

1855

Last wholly oral format of The Challenge (scholarship examination).

1858

Prince Albert and the Prince of Wales attend Latin Play.

1868

Public Schools Act gives Westminster independence from Westminster Abbey.

1881

Ashburnham House is purchased on the death of Lord John Thynne; new day boy house (Ashburnham) is started.

1883

First non-classical curriculum.

1905-06

The School’s first science building is built in Great College Street.

1919

George V, Queen Mary, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) and Prince Albert (later George VI) attend the Pancake Greaze.

1921

The School unveils its First World War memorial – 224 Old Westminsters are known to have died in the conflict.

1940

The Busby Library is destroyed in an air raid and the Head Master’s secretary is killed.

1941

College and School are severely damaged in the air raid that also destroyed the House of Commons.

1943

The Under School is started in Dean’s Yard.

1973

Girls first become full members of the School.

1986

Opening of the Robert Hooke Science Centre.

2001

Opening of the Millicent Fawcett Hall (the School’s theatre).

2005

Opening of the Manoukian Music Centre and the Weston Building.

2010

Queen Elizabeth II visits the school to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter and unveils a statue of Queen Elizabeth I by sculptor Matthew Spender.

2012

Opening of the Sports Centre in the former Royal Horticultural Hall.

2017

First female Queen’s Scholars join College.