Head Masters

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The Head Master (so termed, by tradition, rather than Headmaster) is responsible for running Christ’s Hospital, in particular the education and welfare of the children. In this role, he now reports to the Board of School Governors, previously (since 1891) to the Council of Almoners, and before then to the Court of Governors. There were Head Masters at both London and Hertford, lists of whom can be reached by clicking on the relevant icon at the foot of this page.. For much of the pre-Horsham era, boys were admitted first to Hertford, usually aged around seven to nine, and then going to London when aged 11 or 12. During the Victorian era, for example, the average number of boys at London was around 750, compared with about 350 at Hertford. This page refers mostly to the London Heads, although a brief mention is made of their Hertford counterparts. 

Prior to 1868, with CH operating essentially as a number of separate ‘schools’ each with its own Head, there was no formal position of Head Master, the Upper Grammar Master (who taught classics to the Grecians, the senior pupils) being regarded as Head primus inter pares. The School was run by the Court of Governors who, amongst other things,  appointed staff, determined the curriculum and had general responsibility for discipline outside the classroom, all this greatly limiting the role of the Head. The formal recognition of the post of Head Master (it being conferred first on Revd George Bell) did bring with it some increase in responsibility in these three areas, but it was not until the introduction of the Scheme of Administration in 1891 when the incumbent (Revd Richard Lee) could be said to be performing the conventional Head Master role.

Amongst the list of CH Head Masters (or Upper Grammar Masters) special mention is made here of three. First, Ralph Waddington, who was appointed in 1564 and served for 48 years; secondly, Revd James Boyer, an Old Blue, whose tenure – between 1776 and 1799 –is often referred to as ‘The Golden Era’ for the School, the period including amongst its pupils, Samuel  Taylor Coleridge, Charles Lamb and James Leigh Hunt; and thirdly, Revd Arthur William Upcott (1902-1919), the first Head at Horsham, who guided the School through a demanding transitional phase, later coping with the difficult years of WW1.

At Hertford, for the first 100 or so years of its founding, the Writing Master was regarded as ‘Head’, but as classics gained in importance, around 1780 the Grammar Master took precedence. Two particular Hertford Heads, both Old Blues, were Revd Nathaniel Keymer (1838-1870) and Revd John Thomas Bell (1879-1902), his term covering the move of the boys from Hertford to London.         

Head Masters Hertford Boys' School

Head Masters Hertford Boys' School

Head Masters London and Horsham

Head Masters London and Horsham