Lincoln Christ's Hospital School

Lincoln Christ's Hospital School
Educating in Lincoln since 1090

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Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School: the Origin of the Name

From the Garton Archive at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School

Occasional Paper No 23

Compiled and edited by

Peter Harrod

The Christ’s Hospital Shield

Several members of staff and visitors to LCHS have asked me about the origin of the name ‘Christ’s Hospital’. This article is an attempt to summarise its long and complex history. Dr Mary Lucas informs us that one of the definitions of 'hospital' in the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘a charitable institution for the education…of the young’. The name has long since disappeared as a general term for a school, but survives in ‘proper’ names such as Christ’s Hospital School, a prestigious public school founded in London in the 16th century and now relocated in Horsham.  Education was originally religious in intent and execution, and many schools and colleges, like churches, were given Saints’ or God's names (e.g. Trinity, All Souls, Christ’s).

Mary also informs us that Saints’ names were largely abandoned in favour of God’s names at the Reformation, so the school founded by the Protestant Edward VI in 1552 on the old Greyfriars’ site in the parish of Newgate, London for the education of poor boys was named Christ’s Hospital School. Naylor (1951) explains that this school began its life as a home for ‘foundlings’, and was well-staffed and ordered, offering schooling for boys with separate accommodation for ‘maidens’. Living close by this Foundation was Doctor Richard Smith, a native of Welton in Lincolnshire and a physician, who had prospered in London and who was determined to endow a similar school in Lincoln, where he had wide contacts among the gentry and the citizens of the city. His house in London was adjacent to the Hospital yard, and it must have been a familiar sight for Dr Smith to see the ‘Blue Coat’ boys and the maidens in their russet uniforms, and this might have been a major influence on his mission to plan his Foundation in Lincoln.

The 17th and 18th centuries in England were the golden age of the Charity School movement, and Lincoln’s major share in this movement was the creation in 1611 of the Christ’s Hospital School for boys from an endowment in Richard Smith’s will. The original Foundation Deed of Christ’s Hospital, Lincoln disappeared from the Hospital chest during the Civil War, but a transcript was preserved and was later held in the library at Keswick Hall in Norfolk. Unfortunately it was sold in lots at Sotheby’s in 1936, and cannot be traced. A transcript, however, is printed in Latin in Naylor (1951), with a translation in which Richard Smith describes himself as a ‘wretched septuagenarian’, determined to found and establish a Hospital and House of God to be named and called the Hospital of the Lord Jesus Christ in the City of Lincoln.

The School was popularly known as the ‘Bluecoat School’ because of the colour of the uniform, and its final location, an attractive building currently occupied by the Lincoln School of Art, is still standing on Christ’s Hospital Terrace, off Steep Hill, where the archstone of the building bears the inscription: Founded by Richard Smith 1612.The Bluecoat School, as it will be referred to in this article, received additional benefactions, and in 1810 this allowed the numbers to increase to thirty-seven, although by 1877 the numbers had fallen to about twenty. Naylor (1951) writes that the Ordinances of the School were drawn up by Lord Ellesmere in 1613 who, under his earlier title Sir Thomas Egerton, was one of the most esteemed and experienced of the late Queen Elizabeth’s ministers. The Ordinances were practical, detailed, and framed to ensure efficient conduct of the Hospital and the welfare of the children. The chief provisions were;

  • An annual Governors’ Meeting to deal with matters affecting children, staff, premises, equipment and finances
  • Instruction in reading, writing, English and ‘casting accounts’,
  • Apt pupils to be sent to the city grammar school and others to be trained in industry and ‘not kept idle’
  • The Schoolmaster to live out unless circumstances such as infection dictated otherwise

Unlike Lincoln School, a grammar school which prepared boys for university, this new charitable institution specified the origins of its twelve original pupils; five from Lincoln, one from The Close and Bail, three from Potterhanworth (Potter Hanworth as it was formerly known) and three from Welton. They were to be educated until the age of sixteen and prepared for apprenticeships in a variety of trades. The master's salary was only £5 a year, less than a quarter of the equivalent at Lincoln Grammar School. This new school was housed for its first few years in St Mary's Guildhall and then, as its endowments grew and numbers increased, it moved to the house on Christ’s Hospital Terrace in St Michael's parish, where it remained until the controversial decision to close it in 1883. The Foundation monies were used, against formidable opposition, to found a girls’ grammar school, which opened in Lincoln in 1893 with 51 pupils, and which was named ‘Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School for Girls’, often abbreviated to ‘The Girls High School’ (LHS). It was the Charity Commissioners in London who had recommended that the Bluecoat School be closed, and that the bulk of the endowment be used for ‘exhibitioners’ at Lincoln Middle School, and for the founding of a girls’ school. Opposition to the latter led to a public outcry, and a deputation was sent to London.

A short extract from the Petition is reproduced below. It was pointed out that Her Majesty had not approved any of the said Schemes, and that a similar Petition had been lodged with the Lords of the Council on Education, by the Governors of Christ’s Hospital and another by the ratepayers of Lincoln.

 Photo 2 History of LCHS

The ’humble petition’ was politely received but flatly turned down. Under the Endowed Schools’ Act, a scheme which included provision for a girls’ school in Lincoln was approved on 23rd August 1883. The twelve silver cups belonging to the Bluecoat School are currently in the care of the City and County Museum in Lincoln.



St Mary’s Guildhall: the original home of the Christ’s Hospital, Lincoln            The Bluecoat School on Christ’s Hospital Terrace


A copy of the ensuing Royal seal of approval of the Scheme is to be found in the preface to a booklet titled Lincoln Christ’s Hospital Scheme, part of which is reproduced below:


The first co-optative Governors of the new Christ’s Hospital Scheme included household Lincoln names such as Alfred Shuttleworth and Nathaniel Clayton. Detailed provision for the administration of the Scheme, and the roles of the Governors, are included in the Booklet referred to above. There were to be established and maintained thirty-four Exhibitions for ‘needy’ boys, to be called Christ’s Hospital Exhibitions, and twenty-five Exhibitions (for day scholars only) at the Girls’ High School. The remainder were to pay tuition fees to be fixed from time to time by the Governors of the Girls’ School at the rate of not less than £4 or more than £10 for any girl. Provision for boys included a maximum of twenty-four Exhibitions for Lincoln, and five each for Potterhanworth and Welton. At a Special Meeting of the Governors of the Foundation of Christ’s Hospital at Lincoln, held at the Hospital House in Lincoln on 5th December 1883, it was ordered that the Hospital (Bluecoat School) ceased to be carried on after 21st December 1883. A list of boys was drawn up who would qualify to be admitted to the Lincoln Middle School (the lower school, housed in the Greyfriars building on Free School Lane), and then on to Lincoln Grammar until they attained the age of 16 years, or who ceased to pursue their education prior to reaching that age. The Declaration was signed by Thurstan G Dale, Clerk to the Governors, on the 12th December 1883. The following Certificate shows the award of an Exhibition to Thomas Broughton to the value of £20 tenable at the Lincoln Grammar School.

(Please note that the name of the school on the Certificate is changed from Middle to Grammar)


It took ten years for the plans for the Girls’ School in Lincoln to come to fruition. It was originally intended that the School would be housed in the existing buildings on Christ’s Hospital Terrace, but it was ultimately resolved on 14th march 1881 that the buildings be sold, and a Lindum Hill site would be purchased to build a girls’ school. Thus was born the Lincoln Christ’s Hospital Girls’ High School after a difficult and protracted birth. Even so, the buildings were not completed in time for the scheduled opening, and the School was temporarily housed at the Art School on Monks Road. In 1897 the Charity Commissioners reported that the School was ‘extremely flourishing’ with 196 girls on roll. The Christ’s Hospital Scheme stipulated that the curriculum should consist of;


  • religious instruction in accordance with the principles of the Christian faith;
  • reading writing and arithmetic;
  • geography and history;
  • English grammar, composition and literature;
  • mathematics;
  • Latin, and at least one foreign European language;
  • natural science; and drawing,
  • drill, and vocal music.


A Headmistress was to be appointed on a fixed annual stipend of £100, with a capitation payment to be determined by the Governors.


Meanwhile Lincoln Grammar School for boys was moved from Lindum Terrace to the Wragby Road site in 1905. The two schools had much in common; both were single sex grammar schools with boarding provision; both were fee-paying with scholarships for Lincoln residents and areas adjacent to the city; both had preparatory departments for 8-11 year olds and the High School also had a kindergarten.


Charles Garton (1988) informs us that the connection with the Lincoln Christ’s Hospital dates from the Christ’s Hospital Foundation in 1613, when provision was made for poor boys from the Hospital’s Bluecoat School, with an aptitude for learning, to attend Lincoln Grammar School, and to have a chance of going on to university. Few pupils managed to make this move but one or two did transfer to Lincoln School by another route; through becoming choirboys of Lincoln Cathedral. When the Bluecoat School closed in 1883 its most able boys were sent to the Middle School itself, where some of the Foundation monies were used to endow ‘exhibitions’, or ‘scholarships’. Then in 1893, when the Lincoln Christ’s Hospital Girls’ High School was opened, most of the money from the Christ’s Hospital Foundation was used to provide scholarships for ‘worthy’ girls. The photograph below shows the original building, opened in 1894.


As Charles Garton wrote, the Girls’ High School achieved a fine record and enjoyed an exciting kinship with Lincoln School, and for fifty years both schools were under the same Chairman of Governors, one of whom was the eminent Lincolnian Sir Francis Hill.

When Lincoln School and the Girls’ High School combined with Myle Cross Secondary Girls’ School and St Giles Secondary Boys’ School in 1974, it was deemed appropriate by the Chairman of Governors, Mr Philip Race, and the first Headmaster, Mr Arthur Behenna, for the new school, which enjoyed ‘significant enlargement and change of character’, to become ‘hospitalised to ensure a true grafting without trauma’ (Garton, 1988). Thus the newly formed School was named Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School, and the Foundation funds were used, and still are, to support building and other worthwhile projects and initiatives agreed by the Foundation Committee. Naylor (1951) concludes her comprehensive study of the Founder of Christ’s Hospital Lincoln, Richard Smith MD, with the following words;

‘So the servitium of this good Founder is carried on today, contributing distinctive benefits and something of tradition within the larger service.’

Reproduced below are extracts from a translation of the original Charter, and the Ordinances. Note that Richard Smith’s name is spelled ‘Smyth’ in the second extract. The Charter ordained that Richard Smith, deceased, was moved to piety in his last Testament to erect, found and endow … an Hospital of poor orphans and indigent boys in the City of Lincoln (Naylor, 1951).


Charles Garton (1988) Lincoln School: a Summary Honours Board   Published by OCHLS, Lincoln

Kate Naylor (1951) Richard Smith: the Founder of Christ’s Hospital Lincoln   Published by LCHS Foundation Governors

Notes provided for the Garton Archive by Dr Mary Lucas; local historian, former pupil and teacher at Lincoln Girls’ High School, and teacher at LCHS.

Lincoln Christ’s Hospital Scheme Undated booklet c. 1902

Documents and notes housed in the Garton Archive at LCHS including translations of the Charter and Ordinances, and a paper headed ‘Christ’s Hospital, Lincoln and the Lincoln Christ’s Hospital Girls’ High School’, published by Lincoln City Libraries, Museum and Art Gallery, May 1968.


The author wishes to thank Dr Mary Lucas for her contribution to the text, Catherine Forbes for her photographic skills, and Charlotte Hart for her technical assistance.

About the Editor

Peter Harrod is Archive Assistant and Foundation Governor at LCHS