About Westminster

Situated directly next to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster School has a rich history that dates back centuries to its foundation in 1560.

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. Girls and international pupils join us in the Sixth Form 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.

Open Days
Westminster Milestones

1394

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

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.

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.

1939

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

1940

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.

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.

1950

King George VI opens the newly refurbished College Dormitory.

1953

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

1960

A refurbished School is reopened by the Queen.

1973

Girls first become full members of the School.

1988

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.

2014

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

2017

First female Queen’s Scholars join College.

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