Whitgift School

Whitgift School is an independent day school with limited boarding[2] in South Croydon, London. Along with Trinity School of John Whitgift and Old Palace School it is owned by the Whitgift Foundation, a charitable trust. The school was previously a grammar school and direct grant grammar school,[3] but the school's headmaster is now a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.[4]

Whitgift School
Haling Park

, ,

Coordinates51°21′36″N 0°06′05″W
TypeIndependent school
MottoLatin: Vincit qui patitur
("He who perseveres, conquers")
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
FounderJohn Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury
Local authorityCroydon
Department for Education URN101837 Tables
Head MasterChristopher Ramsey[1]
Age10 to 18
Houses     Andrew's
Colour(s)Gold and Navy
PublicationWhitgift Life Magazine
Former pupilsOld Whitgiftians
PatronPrince Andrew, Duke of York


Whitgift School was founded in 1596 by the Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift and opened in 1600[5] as part of the Whitgift Foundation which had the aim of building a hospital and school in Croydon for the "poor, needy and impotent people" from the parishes of Croydon and Lambeth.[6] Originally located in North End, Croydon in 1931 it moved to its current site, Haling Park, which was once home to Lord Howard of Effingham, the Lord High Admiral of the Fleet sent against the Spanish Armada.[7] The school was previously a grammar school and direct grant grammar school,[8] but the school's headmaster is now a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.[9]

Originally a day school, boarding was introduced in 1992,[10] and a boarding house was opened for the 2013–14 school year.[11] Between 1871 and 1946 the school was known as Whitgift Grammar School, after which it relinquished its direct grant and became a fully independent school known as 'Whitgift School'.[12]

Grounds and Buildings

Whitgift is located in a 45-acre (18 ha) parkland site. The ship (a model of HMS Ark Royal, the flagship of Lord Howard of Effingham against the Spanish Armada) that features prominently on the top of the school hall is a reminder of the history of the site. Additions since the 400th anniversary of the school have been a maze in the founder's garden, an aviary, an enclosure for Prevost's squirrels, ponds and a sports complex.

The original buildings have been supplemented by many additions and improvements including a Music School and Concert Hall, an integrated facility for science, technology, art and design together with library and resource centres, a separate Lower School building, and a major new Sports and Conference Centre which was opened in February 2005. A new Art Department, Performing Arts Centre and a new Sixth Form Centre were completed in the middle of 2011.

Whitgift has a wide variety of animals, including peacocks on the grounds since the 1930s, and flamingos.[13] In 2005 Sir David Attenborough visited the school to open the ponds, the enclosure of which also houses various waterfowl,[14] including Hawaiian geese, which the zoo successfully bred.


Most boys are admitted to the school at the ages of 10 or 11. Smaller numbers of boys enter the school at 12, 13, 14 and 16. Entry is based on performance in entrance exams and interviews, and an assessment of a boy's ability to contribute to wider school life and to benefit from the co-curricular activities offered.[15] Scholarships are awarded, offering a remission of up to 50% of the school fees. Aside from academic scholarships, they may be awarded for particular talent in music, art, design technology or sport, or as an all-rounder. A substantial number of bursaries are also awarded up to the value of the full fees.[16]


In year 7, boys must choose three languages to study; one Romance (French/Spanish), one inflected (German/Latin) and one Oriental (Japanese/Mandarin). In year 9, boys can drop a language, but can also take up either Italian or Ancient Greek[17] which is studied off-timetable. In the Fifth Form, boys undertake a broad curriculum in a mixture of GCSE and IGCSE subjects.

Since 2005, Whitgift has offered the International Baccalaureate[18] Diploma Programme to the Sixth Form as an optional alternative to A-Levels, as well as BTEC qualifications in sport and business studies.

Co-curricular activities

Whitgift School offers co-curricular activities within the school. This is reflected in the sporting facilities as well as an array of musical activities.

Combined Cadet Force

Whitgift has a combined cadet force. The school has partnerships with two local state schools St. Andrews C of E High School and Thomas More School, allowing their students to take part in CCF activities.[19]


The school has a sporting tradition, and fields teams in a range of sports. Whitgift has a sports and conference centre which hosts competitions in a wide range of sports[20] the Health & Fitness Centre, a 55 station gym and group exercise studio are open to students and their families.[20] Whitgift has a number of former sporting professionals currently coaching at the school. These include the former Surrey cricketer David Ward, the former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Colin Pates, the former Surrey spin bowler Neil Kendrick, and the former Crystal Palace and Chelsea midfielder and manager at Selhurst Park Steve Kember. The school was also once a training ground to Crystal Palace[21] The Women’s GB Handball team has trained on occasions at Whitgift School as has the England Korfball team.[20]

In rugby, the school has twice won the National Daily Mail Cup at Under 15 level (1999, 2003) and three times at under 18 level (2010, 2011, 2019).[22] In hockey Whitgift won the National Indoor Hockey Championships at Under 15 and Under 18 levels in 2011.[23] The school also become national Under 18 golf champions for the first time in 2014 at Carnoustie. In 2011 The school had links to the academies of Charlton, Chelsea and Crystal Palace football clubs, to Surrey County Cricket Club, London Wasps rugby club and East Grinstead Hockey Club.[24] The first recorded cricket match held on the school ground occurred in 1898 when the school played University College School.[25] From 2003 to 2011 the school ground hosted 12 List-A matches[26] for county club Surrey.


  • 1600–1601 Ambrose Brygges[27]
  • 1601–1606 John Ireland[27]
  • 1606–1616 Robert Davies[27]
  • 1616–1629 William Nicolson[27]
  • 1629–1648 John Webb[27]
  • 1651–1662 Thomas Day[27]
  • 1668–1675 William Crowe[27]
  • 1675–1681 John Shepheard[28]
  • 1681–1712 John Caesar[28]
  • 1712–1742 Henry Mills[28]
  • 1742–1751 Samuel Staveley[29]
  • 1751–1774 John Taylor Lamb[29]
  • 1774–1801 James Hodgson[30]
  • 1801–1812 John Rose[30]
  • 1812–1843 John Bisset[30]
  • 1843–1865 George Coles[31]
  • 1865–1871 William Ingrams[32]
  • 1871–1902 Robert Brodie[33]
  • 1903–1927 Samuel Andrew[34]
  • 1928–1939 Stanley Gurner[35]
  • 1939–1946 Gerald Ellis[36]
  • 1946–1961 Edward Marlar[37]
  • 1961–1970 Michael Hugill[38]
  • 1970–1991 David Raeburn[39]
  • 1991–2017 Dr Christopher Barnett[40]
  • 2017– Christopher Ramsey

Notable alumni

Former pupils of Whitgift are known as "Old Whitgiftians".

Notable staff

Southern Railway Schools Class

The Southern Railway V Class was known as the Schools Class because all 40 locomotives were named after public schools. "Whitgift", SR no. 916 and BR no. 30916, was built in 1934 and withdrawn in 1962. The Whitgift nameplate that was formerly mounted on the front driving wheel-splasher of the locomotive is now on display in the Raeburn Library in the school. Hornby Models created an OO gauge replica of the 916 Whitgift Schools Class locomotive. Whitgift has one on display in the Raeburn Library underneath the Whitgift nameplate from the 4–4–0 train.


  1. Headmaster's Welcome Whitgift School
  2. Boarding at Whitgift Whitgift School
  3. http://www.friendsofoldpalace.org/foundation4.htm
  4. https://www.hmc.org.uk/schools/whitgift-school/
  5. "Whitgift Foundation: records". NationalArchives.gov.uk. 3 February 1997. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  6. "The Whitgift Hospital almshouses; 2009". Museum of London Prints.
  7. "Whitgift School". Whitgift School. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  8. http://www.friendsofoldpalace.org/foundation4.htm
  9. https://www.hmc.org.uk/schools/whitgift-school/
  10. "Whitgift School Boarding". Whitgift School. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  11. "Whitgift School one of the leaders of the pack thanks to big investment and top–level coaches". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 3 November 2011.
  12. "Whitgift Foundation". Friends of The Old Palace. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  13. "Whitgift School in Croydon". Great British Life – Surrey Life. November 2007. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
  14. RHS
  15. "Admissions Policy" (PDF). Whitgift School. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  16. "Admissions Policy" (PDF). Whitgift School. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  17. "Academic – Languages". Whitgift School. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  18. "Whitgift School International Baccalaureate". International Baccalaureate Organization. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  19. "Whitgift School – Co-Curricular – Combined Cadet Force". Whitgift School. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  20. Whitgift and the Community Whitgift School
  21. Croydon Advertiser
  22. "Schools Rugby Daily Mail Cup". Schoolsrugby.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 August 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  23. "Whitgift School – Sports". Whitgift School. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  24. Samuel, Martin (6 May 2011). "The school that gives everyone a sporting chance". Mail Online. DMG Media.
  25. "Other matches played on Whitgift School". Cricket Archive. Retrieved 7 August 2011. (subscription required)
  26. "List A cricket matches played at Whitgift School". Cricket Archive. Retrieved 7 August 2011. (subscription required)
  27. The History & Antiquities of Croydon, with a Variety of Other Interesting Matter by David William Garrow W. Annan, 1818 – Croydon (London, England), p130
  28. The History & Antiquities of Croydon, with a Variety of Other Interesting Matter by David William Garrow W. Annan, 1818 – Croydon (London, England), p131
  29. The History & Antiquities of Croydon, with a Variety of Other Interesting Matter by David William Garrow W. Annan, 1818 – Croydon (London, England), p132
  30. The History & Antiquities of Croydon, with a Variety of Other Interesting Matter by David William Garrow W. Annan, 1818 – Croydon (London, England), p133
  31. "Ronald Gurner M.C. M.A. (1890–1939), Headmaster". Old Edwardians Association. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  32. Whitgift Foundation records National Archives
  33. "Dr Christopher Barnett Authorised Biography | Debrett's People of Today". Debrett's. 1 February 1953. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
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