About Westminster

Westminster is an independent boarding and day school with a long history, a distinctive ethos, and a unique sense of place.



About Westminster

Westminster is an ancient school in the heart of London, the only one still to occupy its original site, immediately next to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. Its origins can be traced to a charity school established by the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of St Peter, and it is more than likely that this spiritual and educational tradition goes back as far as 960 AD.

After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1540, King Henry VIII personally ensured the School’s survival by statute. His daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, confirmed the royal patronage in 1560 whereby the Abbey and School formed the one collegiate foundation. She is therefore celebrated as the School’s Founder and her importance is marked by a statue in Little Dean’s Yard by Matthew Spender OW, unveiled by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in June 2010.

Today, Westminster is one of the leading academic schools in the country. Pupils achieve exceptional examination results and entrance to some of the top universities in the world. It is a busy, passionate and purposeful place where independent and deep thinking is enjoyed, encouraged and respected by all, and where holistic excellence is nurtured and valued.

Fundamentally, we want our pupils to engage in a constructive, thoughtful process of “loyal dissent”. While we encourage them to embrace the principles of a liberal education, respect genuine scholarship and appreciate a deep and rigorous learning process, they are equally encouraged to challenge, question and explore the content of that learning, to push boundaries and overturn expectations – mindful at all times of the feelings of others.

Most importantly, we want our pupils to use their skills and intelligence to help others, to build up not put down, and to benefit society. For centuries, Westminster School has been the educational cradle of some very distinguished people. Our task is to help future generations of pupils to follow in their footsteps and make a positive difference in the world.

Our Ethos →

Open Days
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.

Join Us

Find out when your child is able to join the School using the personalised age checker and timeline.

read more →

Support Us

Westminster School gratefully welcomes any donations to support our fundraising efforts across the School and its community.

read more →