In November 1552, the first 380 children were admitted to Christ’s Hospital. They arrived from a variety of sources; some – not long out of the cradle – were taken from the streets. In these early days, care and welfare were as important as education, and the young children were put out to ‘nurses’ before entering the Newgate Street School perhaps at around the age of 11. Since 1552, some 65,000 children (a rough three to one ratio of boys to girls) have been admitted to the School’s establishments in London, Hertfordshire and Horsham. Numbers have fluctuated markedly across the years, reflecting the position on finance and accommodation. The initial figure of 380 rose to a peak of around 1,500 in the middle of the 19th century. The level is now about 880, with equal numbers of boys and girls.   

Initially, arrangements for admission were somewhat haphazard. Over the years, procedures were formalised, in particular at first limiting admission to children of freemen and from the City of London (although this was later changed, greatly enhancing the geographical spread of admissions); introducing a minimum age for entry (initially four, but later increased), and debarring those who were lame or otherwise infirm. In 1676, a major review of arrangements took place and a specific set of rules was drawn up, these including the procedure whereby individuals, on becoming Governors through making a donation, were allowed to present children to the School. Other changes were made across the years, in particular following the introduction of the Scheme of Administration in 1891 and the move of the girls’ School from Hertford to Horsham in 1985. 

Each year the School has a head pupil (the Senior Grecian) and in recent years also a ‘second monitor’. The girls’ School at Hertford used the conventional designations and had a ‘Head Girl’. Pupils are recorded in an extensive collection of photographs relating to individuals and groups, such as for Sports teams, Boarding Houses  and large groups, including the Whole School although sadly names have not always been recorded.

One other interesting feature is that, before 1892, pupils admitted to the School were educated without charge, although up to 1868, teachers were permitted to educate a limited number of children for whom a fee was paid, this supplementing their income. These ‘private pupils’ were not recorded in the Admission Register (and are not generally regarded as Old Blues).