Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School: the Origin of the Name
Students at LCHS may have wondered about the meaning of the name ‘Christ’s Hospital’, and especially the name ‘Hospital’. In the 16th century the term ‘hospital’ not only referred to places where the sick were given treatment, but also to charitable institutions for the education of the young, and especially those who came from poor backgrounds. The name is no longer used for that purpose but survives in ‘proper’ names such as Christ’s Hospital School, which is a well-known public school in Horsham, Surrey.
The original Christ’s Hospital School was in London, and living close by was a man called Richard Smith, who was a native of Welton in Lincolnshire and a medical doctor. He had made his fortune in London and was determined to provide money for a similar school in Lincoln. His house in London was next to the Christ’s Hospital yard, and it must have been a familiar sight for Dr Smith to see the ‘Blue Coat’ boys and the ‘maidens’ in their brown uniforms, and this might have been a major influence on his determination to found a similar school in Lincoln.
The 17th and 18th centuries in England were the golden age of the Charity School movement, and Lincoln benefited from this movement through the creation in 1611 of the Christ’s Hospital School for boys from money left by Dr Richard Smith in his Will. The School was known locally as the ‘Bluecoat School’ because of the colour of the uniform. Its final location was in an attractive building which is still standing on Christ’s Hospital Terrace, off Steep Hill. If you look for the building, you will notice a stone bearing the words: Founded by Richard Smith 1612. The boys were given lessons in reading, writing, English and arithmetic.
The Bluecoat School on Christ’s Hospital Terrace
There were twelve boys in the school when it was opened, and Dr Smith’s Will stated that six had to come from Lincoln, three from Welton and three from Potterhanworth, a village south of Lincoln. They were educated at the School until the age of 16 and prepared for apprenticeships in a variety of trades. When the School closed in 1883, some of Dr Smith’s money was used to found a girls’ grammar school in Lincoln. There was considerable opposition to this at the time, but the school was eventually built on Lindum Hill and was called Lincoln Christ’s Hospital Girls’ High School, often abbreviated to Lincoln High School. You can still see the building half way up Lindum Hill on the left-hand side as you go up the hill from Lincoln, next to the Greestone Stairs.
The Christ’s Hospital Girls’ High School opened in 1893, and in 1897 there were 196 girls on roll. The curriculum consisted of;
- religious instruction in accordance with the principles of the Christian faith;
- reading writing and arithmetic;
- geography and history;
- English grammar, composition and literature;
- Latin, and at least one foreign European language;
- natural science;
- drawing, ‘drill’ (PE) and vocal music
A Headmistress was to be appointed on an annual salary of £100, with some extra payments based on how many girls were in the school.
Lincoln Christ’s Hospital Girls’ High School: the Original Building
Meanwhile Lincoln Grammar School for boys was moved from Lindum Terrace to the Wragby Road site in 1905, which is now the home of LCHS. When the Bluecoat School closed in 1883 its most able boys were sent to the Lincoln Grammar School, where some of Dr Smith’s money was used to support boys who needed it.
Lincoln Grammar School for boys and Lincoln Christ’s Hospital Girls’ High School combined with Myle Cross Secondary Girls’ School and St Giles Secondary Boys’ School in 1974 to form a new school with the name Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School. The remaining funds from Dr Smith’s will are still used, several hundred years after his death, to maintain the building and to provide money for projects agreed by the Foundation Governors.
From the Garton Archive at LCHS