King Edward's School, Witley

King Edward's Witley is a private co-educational boarding and day school, founded in 1553 by King Edward VI and Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London and Westminster. The School is located in the village of Wormley (near Witley), Surrey, England, having moved to its present location in 1867.[1] The School became fully co-educational in 1952.[1] As of September 2010, the school has joined the small number of independent schools in the UK which offer the IB Diploma Programme in place of A-Levels in the sixth form. The school re-introduced A-levels as part of the curriculum from September 2015.

King Edward's Witley
King Edward's School Witley Logo.png
Petworth Road

, ,

Coordinates51°08′15″N 0°38′40″W / 51.137365°N 0.644500°W / 51.137365; -0.644500Coordinates: 51°08′15″N 0°38′40″W / 51.137365°N 0.644500°W / 51.137365; -0.644500
TypePrivate day and boarding school
Motto"United by Diversity since 1553"
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1553; 470 years ago (1553)
FounderKing Edward VI
Local authoritySurrey
PresidentThe Duchess of Gloucester
HeadJoanna Wright
Staffc.60 teaching
Age11 to 18
Houses8 boarding houses
Colour(s)Blue and Navy    
Former pupilsOld Witleians


King Edward VI, the school's founder, awarding the charter to the Lord Mayor of London, Sir George Barne. Watercolour by George Vertue, 1750. British Museum, London.

The school was founded as Bridewell Royal Hospital, after Nicholas Ridley petitioned Edward VI to give some of his empty palaces over to the City of London (governed by the City of London Corporation) to house homeless women and children.

In 1867 the school moved from the City of London to its present location in Surrey, at the same time adopting the current name. In common with other large building located outside of urban areas the school installed its own gasworks.[2]

The School was commandeered by the Royal Navy during the Second World War to test and develop the use of radar. The School still remembers this with a plaque in the central area, a junction of corridors known as 'Piccadilly'. The president of Bridewell Royal Hospital (the title was kept after the move of location) is now Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, appointed from 1 January 2006. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother held the title from 1953 to 2002. The school's creation was sanctioned by the same charter as that of Christ's Hospital and St Thomas' Hospital, and uses the same coat of arms as Christ's Hospital. The School maintains strong links with the City of London, and is still supported by it, with some pupils on bursaries funded by the city. As of the academic year 2021/22 Senior School day fees are £20,520 per year, with senior school boarding fees £33,675 per year, though a number of bursaries and scholarships are available.[3]

The school has had one known instance of impropriety. In early 2015 Edward Moore, a choirmaster, was convicted to a 9-month sentence for inappropriate conduct with a girl student.[4]

In July 2019 the Department for Education requested an unannounced additional visit by the Independent Schools Inspectorate to check the School's compliance with legal regulations and standards. The School was judged not to be meeting regulations including those relating to safeguarding.[5]

In February 2020 the school underwent an unannounced progress monitoring visit in order to check if the School had fully implemented the plans set out following the visit in July 2019. The findings of the inspection were that the school met the required standards for the regulations that were the main focus of the visit. The School met all of the requirements of the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulation 2014, National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools 2015, and no further action was required as a result of the visit.[6]


There are six senior Houses in total, four male and two female. The Houses at the School are paired, and, in the case of the senior pupils, conjoined in the centre of the buildings. This central area allows the boys and girls from the paired Houses to meet in the evenings and during spare time. The Lower School pupils board in Queen Mary House (QMH) where there are shared communal areas and separate sleeping quarters.[7]

The senior Houses were built in the 1970s, and the plans can be seen in the school museum, housed in the History Department. Boarders moved into these new buildings in fall 1976 and the inauguration was commemorated by a visit from Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

The school recently renovated some of the Senior Houses. Ridley relocated next to Grafton.[8]

Ridley's relocation leaves 'Old Ridley' and St Bridget's, a former girls House, empty and work has already begun on re-purposing these houses into a day-and-boarding, mixed house reserved for Upper Sixth pupils due to open in September 2022.[8]

The houses, in their pairs, are:


  • Queen Mary House - Queen Mary was president of the School from 1940 until 1953. It is known as QMH.


King Edward's School, as viewed from Petworth Road
  • Wakefield – After Charles Wakefield, 1st Viscount Wakefield, president and benefactor from 1916 to 1940. This is a boys' House. Paired with Elizabeth.
  • Elizabeth – After Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, president of Bridewell Royal Hospital from 1953 to 2002. She visited the School four times, in 1958, 1965, 1976 and 1991. This is a girls' House and is paired with Wakefield
  • Edward – After King Edward VI, the founder. This is a boys' House and is paired with Tudor.
  • Tudor – After The House of Tudor, the current royal family at the time of the School's founding. This is a girls' House and paired with Edward.
  • Grafton – After Richard Grafton, MP, printer and historian. The first treasurer of Bridewell Royal Hospital. This is a boys' House and was formerly paired with St Bridget's but is now a bachelor House.
  • Queens' - After the two queens who have been presidents (Mary and Elizabeth). This girls' House closed as of September 2019.
  • Ridley – Named after bishop Nicholas Ridley, who preached to King Edward to request Bridewell Palace be given to the City of London for charitable purposes. This House was unused for a number of years, but re-opened September 2013 having undergone extensive refurbishment. This is a boys' day House.
  • St Bridget'sSaint Brigid of Kildare was a 5th-century Irish saint who is associated with a well which gave its name to the church of St. Bride and then to the palace, Bridewell Palace, built by Henry VIII. St Bridget's and 'Old Ridley' are being renovated to create an Upper Sixth Form House due to open in September 2022.

School publicationsEdit

There school alumni magazine, KEStrel, published bi-annually, that incorporates recent school events and news.

Notable Old WitleiansEdit

Former pupils of King Edward's are referred to as Old Witleians, or Old Wits.


  • Joseph Myall ( –1856)
  • Edward Rudge (1856–1886)
  • Gerard Mason (1886–1900)
  • Charles Raynham (1900–1926)
  • Alfred Bellerby (1926–1951)
  • Gordon Humphreys
  • John Hansford (1969–1980)
  • Richard Wilkinson
  • Rodney Fox (1988–2000)
  • Kerr Fulton-Peebles (2000–2010)
  • John Attwater (2010–2019)
  • Joanna Wright (2019– )

Notable associationsEdit

Aerial view of King Edward's School


  1. ^ a b "History of King Edward's School, Witley". Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  2. ^ Tarplee, Peter (2007). "Some public utilities in Surrey: Electricity and gas" (PDF). Surrey History. 7 (5): 262–272. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 February 2021. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Fees". King Edward's School, Witley. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Young teacher jailed for sex with vulnerable student". ITV News. 18 April 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  5. ^ "King Edward's School Witley :: Independent Schools Inspectorate".
  6. ^ "King Edward's School Witley :: Independent Schools Inspectorate". Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  7. ^ "Houses | Independent Co-educational School in Surrey | King Edward's Witley". Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Ridley House is on the move | King Edward's Witley". 23 June 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  9. ^ Goldgar, Anne; et al. (2004). Anne Goldgar, Robert I. Frost (ed.). Institutional Culture in early modern Society. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 116. ISBN 9004138803.

Further readingEdit

  • King Edward’s School: Bridewell to Witley 1553-2005, Bertie Mawer, 2000. ISBN 0-7110-2776-5
  • Bethlem Hospital 1247-1997, Patricia Aldridge
  • The City of London, Mary Cathcart Borer, 1977
  • Bridewell Royal Hospital and King Edward’s Schools, Alfred J. Copeland, 1912
  • The Last Tudor King, Hesther W. Chapman, 1958
  • Chronicle, Richard Grafton
  • Old Bridewell (Monograph), R.S. Mylne, 1905
  • Bridewell Hospital Palace, Prison, Schools, E.C. O’Donoghue, 1929
  • Henry VIII, A.W. Pollard, 1905
  • Nicholas Ridley, Jasper Ridley, 1957
  • Works of Nicholas Ridley, Parker Society Cambridge, 1953

External linksEdit