Merchiston Castle School

Merchiston Castle School is an independent school for boys in the suburb of Colinton in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has around 470 pupils and is open to boys between the ages of 7 and 18 as either boarders or day pupils; it was modelled after English public schools. It is divided into Merchiston Juniors (ages 7–13), Middle Years (ages 13–16) and a Sixth Form.

Merchiston Castle School

EH13 0PU

Coordinates55.911729°N 3.253568°W / 55.911729; -3.253568
TypeIndependent day and boarding
FounderCharles Chalmers
Local authorityHer Majesty's Inspectorate of Education
Edinburgh City
Chairman of GovernorsGareth Baird
HeadmasterJonathan Anderson
Staff90 full and part time
Age7 to 18
Enrolment450 (approx)
HousesPringle House
Chalmers West
Chalmers East
Colour(s)Navy, red & white             
PublicationThe Merchiston Messenger
The Merchistonian
HMIE ReportsReport
Former pupilsMerchistonians


In May 1833, Charles Chalmers took a lease of Merchiston Castle (the former home of John Napier, the inventor of logarithms) — which at that time stood in rural surroundings — and opened his academy, starting with thirty boys.[1]

Over time, the number of pupils grew and the Merchiston Castle became too small to accommodate the school. The governors decided to purchase 90 acres of ground at the Colinton House estate, four miles south-west of Edinburgh. Building began in 1928 including the Chalmers and Rogerson boarding houses, designed by Sir Robert Lorimer.[2] In 1930 the school moved to Colinton.[3]

Three years later, in 1933, Merchiston celebrated its centenary, attended by the Duke and Duchess of York.[4] Fifty years on, in 1983, at a time of further expansion and with 350 boys on the roll, their daughter, now Queen Elizabeth II, visited the school for its 150th anniversary.[4]

Academic performance

In 2018, 50% of grades achieved at A Level were A*/A.[5]

Sports and games

A range of sports and activities is available at the school; particularly in rugby union, which over 60 Merchistonians have played at international level. The Merchistonian Football Club for former pupils of the School was a founder member of the Scottish Rugby Union and was involved in the very first rugby international,[6] supplying three players.[7] The former 1st XV coach, Frank Hadden, who was at the school from 1983-2000, was the head coach of the Scottish national team from 2005-2009. The school has won the Scottish Schools U18 Rugby Cup six times; 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2008, and 2018.[8] Merchiston also participates, with the Edinburgh Academy, in the oldest continuous rugby football fixture in the world, the first being on 11 December 1858.[9]


The houses are:[10]

  • Pringle
  • Chalmers West
  • Chalmers East
  • Rogerson
  • Evans
  • Laidlaw

Alleged historical sexual abuse

Two previous staff members of the school are being investigated. According to Detective Inspector Morag Bruce, "Police in Edinburgh are carrying out enquiries into claims of historic abuse at Merchiston Castle School, which date back to the 1960s. As a result of this ongoing investigation, two men, aged 62 and 69, have been charged and will appear at court at a later date."[11]

Merchiston International School in Shenzhen

Merchiston Castle School developed Merchiston International School's after a year of collaboration with Chinese investor Lyu Jianjun. Lyu's son attended the boarding school in Edinburgh. Merchiston International School opened its doors in August 2018 as the first school in Longhua District, Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China. It offers student living arrangements along with a British education. The school is the first overseas campus for the 185-year-old Merchiston Castle School. The school can cater to 1,200 students aged between 5 and 18. Lessons are taught in English and pupils from grades 1 to 9 follow the English national curriculum, with additional access to Mandarin language learning. Senior students study for the IGCSE and A-levels. With accommodations for 600, the senior school is exclusively for boarding students. 80 percent of the teaching staff are from the United Kingdom.[12]

Notable alumni

Notes and references

  1. "Merchiston Castle School". Scottish Places. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  2. Dictionary of Scottish Architects: Robert Lorimer
  3. "Merchiston and Glenalmond. Edinburgh and Perthshire: The Public School Tradition. School Life in Admirable Surroundings". The Glasgow Herald. 4 February 1938. p. 10. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  4. "Merchiston marks the arrival of Prince George". 14 November 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  5. "Academic results". Merchiston Castle School. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  6. Alex Gordon. "The first international rugby match". Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  7. Rugby Football History. "Historical Rugby Milestones 1870s". Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  8. Schools Rugby. "Scottish Schools Competitions". Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  9. Chris Thau. "The oldest running rugby fixture in the world". Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  10. "Key fact Sheet". Merchiston Castle School. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  11. Hutcheon, Paul (14 June 2015). "Two ex-staff charged amid abuse probe at top private school". Herald & Times Group. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  12. Bo Leung (15 August 2018). "Scottish school opens branch in Shenzhen". China Daily.
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