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The City of London School

Source: The Illustrated London News, Dec. 16, 1882

The large and stately new building, which displays its highly decorated front near the Blackfriars Bridge end of the Thames Embankment, was opened last Tuesday by the Prince and Princess of Wales, for the accommodation of the City of London School. The school, which has been hitherto situated in Milk-street, Cheapside, is under the government of the Corporation of London, since its original endowment was derived from estates left in 1442 by John Carpenter, Town Clerk of the City. The Milk-street building occupies the site of old Honey-lane Market, and Lord Brougham laid its foundation-stone in 1835. Mr. Pearse Morrison and his brother committee-men of the Court of Common Council have been working hard this year to complete the new building, which is now ready for occupation. The benefits of this school are not confined within the narrow limits of freemen and householders of the City, but the Corporation have wisely extended them to all who can secure the necessary nominations, countersigned by an Alderman or Common Councilman. It is a day-school only, for 680 boys. The Rev. Dr. Edwin A. Abbott, D.D., of St. John's College, Cambridge, author of several esteemed works of theology and English scholarship, is the present Head Master, having succeeded the Rev. Dr. Mortimer in 1865.

The new building has cost not less than 100,000, besides the site, which is of equal value. Messrs. Mowlem and Co. are the builders. Their contract for the building was 76,000, and there are some other minor contracts amounting to another 25,000. The architects are Messrs. Davis and Emmanuel, who have designed this edifice in the Italian Renaissance style. It is built of Portland stone, and the facade is effectively ornamented with sculpture and rich carved work. The statues are those of Shakspeare, Milton, Bacon, Newton, and Sir Thomas More. The remainder of the sculpture consists of allegorical groups representing the arts and sciences, and carvings of the coats of arms of the City Companies. The general appearance of the front is shown in our Illustration. At the front entrance a broad flight of steps leads through a handsome walnut doorway to the entrance-hall, which is about 33 ft. square. It is paved with marble mosaics, and marble pillars support the ceiling. On the first landing of the staircase, built of three kinds of marble, is the statue of the founder of the school, John Carpenter, which formerly stood in a similar place in the old school. A spacious corridor runs right and left from the top of the staircase. In the centre is the entrance to the great hall, which runs east and west along the whole front of the building. The interior is of Portland stone, beautifully carved, the dado and fittings are of walnut wood, and the floor of oak. At the east end is a dais, over which are two fine stained-glass windows worth 700, the gift of Miss Alston. At the opposite end is a music gallery, and adjoining it an organ-chamber, for which an appropriate instrument is being built. The open-timbered roof is particularly effective. The size of the hall is 100 ft. by 45 ft., and 38 ft. high to the springing of the ceiling, which rises another 22 ft., making the total height 60 ft. It will hold on the floor 800 people. Gilded tablets are filled in with the names of the most distinguished scholars, and the interior of this hall is very handsome. The rooms for the head master, the committee, the secretaries, assistant masters, and library are conveniently situated and beautifully fitted up. The scholars' entrances are on the western side of the building, where a new street is now being made to connect the Thames Embankment with Tudor-street, Blackfriars. Two flights of steps lead to the hat and cloak room, a spacious apartment 48ft. by 36ft. The hot air pipes are, arranged so as to enable the attendant to dry the boys' clothes when necessary. Opposite to the side of entry are doors opening onto the covered playground, which occupies the greater part of the space between the main building. The supporting pillars are faced with cream-coloured glazed bricks, and there is an asphalte flooring. The open-air playground runs back as far as Tudor-street, and comprises nearly an acre of ground, which is entirely laid with tar paving. On the eastern side are the Five Courts, two under cover, and three open; near them is a spacious gymnasium, where two trained instructors will teach the boys. At the north-west corner of the playground are the latrines, connected with the school by a covered way, and beyond the latrines is another entrance sloping down from the new street for the use of boys coming from the north of London. In the basement of the front part of the building is the dining-room, 50 ft. by 32 ft. and 16ft. high. The adjoining buttery will be supplied with wholesome refreshments at cheap rates, so that the boys will not have to leave the premises at lunch time. There will be no smell of cooking, as the kitchen is at the top of the building, and is connected with the basement by a commodious lift. In the basement also are the numerous lavatories, the "servery," the boiler-room, scullery, and larder. The class-rooms, twenty in number, are arranged on three floors on the western side of the building. They are reached by three wide staircases skilfully built, so that there can be no sliding down the balusters. In each room will be desks for forty boys. In the present school the classes average sixty boys each, so that the new arrangement will necessitate the employment of five extra masters. There will be open fire-places in these rooms, so as to make them as cheerful as possible. There is a wainscoat of pitch pine all round the rooms, and the lighting and ventilation seem to be perfect. All the desks and fittings throughout the school will be new. The lecture-hall is on the third floor. It will hold four hundred pupils, and is so arranged that everyone can see and hear well. The size is 58 ft. by 48 ft. Close by is a large well-lit drawing-class room, and adjoining is the practical elementary room and laboratory, both fitted with all the latest improvements.

A little book containing a description of the new building, and an official statement of the condition and arrangements of the school, has been printed by order of the school committee, of which Mr. Pearse Morrisson, Common Council Deputy for Aldgate Ward, is the chairman. His predecessor was the late Alderman Warren Stormes Hale, who served one year as Lord Mayor of London, and whose personal efforts contributed mainly to the establishment of the school in 1835. Mr. E. W. Linging has written a brief historical sketch of the City of London School, which is published by E. J. Stoneham, 79, Cheapside, and which may just now be read with some interest.