Old Blues


Former pupils of Christ’s Hospital are called Old Blues. The term is most likely a natural extension to the word Blues which was used during the London era – but rarely later – to describe pupils at the School, the word’s own origin deriving from the distinctive blue coats worn then and now. The term was included in the name of many Clubs and Societies formed for Old Blues, such as Rugby Football (OBRFC – earlier Football, OBFC) and a Dramatic Society (OBDS); however, the main Club did not include the term, being the CH Club.  This Body was replaced by the CH Association and is now called the CH Old Blues Association (CHOBA).

There have been, and still are, discussions about who exactly is an Old Blue, or rather how ‘pupil’ is defined. The main point of discussion is an historical one. Up to 1868, masters at CH were permitted to teach at the School a certain number of private pupils. These paid a fee (which the master could retain), unlike the other pupils, for whom fees were not introduced until 1892. Further, the names of these private pupils were not recorded in the School’s registers. These pupils, which include a number of illustrious names, are not regarded as Old Blues.

There have been about 65,000 pupils, who became Old Blues on leaving the School, since the School began in 1552. The names of 46,684 children who were admitted to CH between 1552 and 1902 are recorded in a book published in 2014 by Ken Mansell, a volunteer in the CH museum, called Christ’s Hospital Pupils 1552 – 1902.  This book gives a list of 900 ‘notable’ Old Blues, whom Ken has identified according to criteria which he has explained, together with brief biographical information on each.

In their final days at CH, pupils receive the Charge and a Bible, traditions whose dates of origin are uncertain. On leaving CH, CHOBA, working in partnership with the School, seeks to develop mutually beneficial and enduring relationships between Old Blues, CHOBA members and Christ’s Hospital.