About Westminster

Welcome to Westminster, a leading academic school in the centre of London.

A passionate, purposeful and progressive place to study, our pupils discover a deep love for learning and respect for the tradition of scholarship, as well as an openness to fresh ideas and innovative ways of thinking. Westminster pupils go on to achieve exceptional examination results and entrance to a vast array of the world’s most celebrated universities. While this success is a result of their enjoyment of academic enquiry and debate, and the enthusiasm their teachers have for their subject, it is also down to their curiosity and the interests they form outside of the timetabled curriculum. Westminster presents the perfect opportunity for bright pupils to share and develop their thoughts and skills, to ultimately prepare them for a fulfilling and vibrant life after School.

A Westminster education is an accessible one. Our community is friendly and diverse, and is open to both boarders and day pupils. Boys join the School at 13+ and at 16+. Girls and international pupils join us at 16+ and many of our pupils are successful in achieving bursaries and scholarships to the School. The School’s sociable and inclusive nature is characterised by the way in which pupils support one another at daily peer-led events and the collaborative nature of charity fundraisers and whole-school productions. Pupils are taught to appreciate and learn from the knowledge and experiences of those around them, and to engage with current political, cultural and academic developments, within a safe and open environment.

At Westminster, we want every single pupil in our care to enjoy their time, and to flourish and to take advantage of all the opportunities available to them, and we take this responsibility extremely seriously. Underpinning all our work is an excellent system of safeguarding and pastoral care centred around each child: Housemasters, tutors, matrons, school counsellors, a School Nursing Sister and a Chaplain all work to guide them throughout their time in the School. Everyone is welcome, and all are valued and nurtured here.

Beyond the classroom, we foster the diverse range of hobbies and interests our pupils have with an exciting and extensive extra- and co-curricular programme of events. Two entire afternoons each week are dedicated to sport and pupils compete in fixtures against opposing teams in and around London, with cricket, football, netball and rowing being the School’s major competitive sports.

The School is renowned for its culture of music and theatre, and pupils are encouraged to take music lessons and to join orchestras, choirs and theatre projects. Whether it be a night-time opening of the School’s observatory, a lecture with an expert linguist, artist or sports personality, choral evensong in Chapel or a product design workshop, there is much going on throughout the year. Pupils can attend debating or MUN clubs, take part in inter-school general knowledge competitions, compete in an inter-House chess competition or play pool in their House common room. There are options available to each and every pupil, at any time of the day, to help supplement their academic education and to ensure that their development needs are met.

Our History

Westminster is an ancient boarding and day school with a unique sense of place. It is, in fact, the only long-established school to remain on its original site in the centre of London. The School’s origins can be traced to a charity school established by the Benedictine monks of Westminster Abbey. Its continuous existence is certain from the early fourteenth century. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1540, Henry VIII personally ensured the School’s survival by statute. Elizabeth I, confirmed royal patronage in 1560 and is celebrated as the School’s Foundress.

For several hundred years the School continued to be joined with Westminster Abbey, forming one collegiate foundation, until the 1868 Public Schools Act established the school as an independent body. The School still enjoys a close relationship with the Abbey and the Dean of Westminster is chair of the School’s Governing Body.

In 1943 the School expanded its educational scope by forming Westminster Under School, educating boys from the age of 7. Initially both sections of the School shared a site, until 1951 when the Under School secured its own premises. Then in 1973 the School expanded its scope once again, admitting girls as full members of the school at 16+. Today the School proudly educates boys and girls in the Sixth Form and approximately 70 girls join the school each year.

Westminster Milestones
  1. Abbey Account Rolls record payments to the ‘magistro scolarum pro erudicione puerorum’ [‘School master for the education of children’].

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

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

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

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

  6. Elizabeth I attends the annual Latin Play.

  7. The former monks’ dormitory is first used as the schoolroom.

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

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

  10. The Busby Library and Ashburnham House are built.

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

  12. Westminster boys first formally attend a Coronation.

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

  14. First recorded cricket match: Old Westminsters vs Old Etonians.

  15. Grant family begins to manage a boarding house.

  16. First recorded ‘Pancake Greaze’.

  17. First cricket match against Eton at Hounslow Heath.

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

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

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

  21. Prince Albert and the Prince of Wales attend Latin Play.

  22. Public Schools Act gives Westminster independence from Westminster Abbey.

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

  24. First non-classical curriculum.

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

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

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

  28. The School is evacuated due to the threat of air raids on London, eventually returning in 1945.

  29. The Head Master’s secretary, Ruth Mecey, is killed when a bomb falls on Church House. Five days later, the Busby Library is destroyed in another air raid.

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

  31. The Under School is started in Dean’s Yard.

  32. King George VI opens the newly refurbished College Dormitory.

  33. Westminster Under School moves out of Dean’s Yard and into its own premises in Eccelston Square.

  34. A refurbished School is reopened by the Queen.

  35. Girls first become full members of the School.

  36. Opening of the Robert Hooke Science Centre.

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

  38. Opening of the Manoukian Music Centre and the Weston Building.

  39. 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.

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

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

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Westminster School gratefully welcomes donations to support fundraising efforts across the School community.

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