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The London Oratory School, commonly known as The Oratory or The London Oratory to distinguish it from other schools, is a Catholic day secondary school for boys aged 7–18 and girls aged 16–18 situated in Fulham, London. Founded in 1863 by The Fathers of The London Oratory in Chelsea, London, The London Oratory is historically linked to two fellow Oratorian institutions: the nearby Brompton Oratory and The Oratory School in Berkshire. The school is renowned for the quality of both its choral and its instrumental music. The London Oratory is one of England's oldest Catholic boys' schools.

The London Oratory School
London oratory school arms.png
Seagrave Road

Fulham, London
, ,

United Kingdom
Coordinates51°28′56″N 0°11′38″W / 51.4823°N 0.1938°W / 51.4823; -0.1938Coordinates: 51°28′56″N 0°11′38″W / 51.4823°N 0.1938°W / 51.4823; -0.1938
TypeCatholic Academy
MottoRespice Finem
("Look to the end")
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
FoundersThe Fathers of the London Oratory
Department for Education URN137157 Tables
Provost of The London OratoryThe Very Revd Julian Large
HeadmasterMr Daniel Wright MA[1]
(Coeducational Sixth Form)
Age7 (Junior House) to 18
Colour(s)Red and black
PublicationThe Oratorian, The Review
PublicationsThe Oratorian, The Review
Former pupilsOld London Oratorians (informally Old Oratorians)



The London Oratory School admits 160 boys to the first form, as well as twenty boys who join the senior school from the Junior House. The School educates boys aged 7–16 and boys and girls aged 16–18 in the sixth form. There are around 1,350 pupils including about 350 in the sixth form.

The School shares its religious and cultural identity with the Congregation of the Oratory who founded the School and are its trustees. The school's formal links with the Brompton Oratory go back to the foundation of the school by The Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri (London) and continue as the Fathers of this Congregation are the trustees of the School. The London Oratory School and The Brompton Oratory continue their close working relationship which includes the Oratory Fathers supplying chaplaincy to the School and the School supplying the Schola choir for the parish.[2]

The school is notable for educating the children of a number of prominent politicians, including the children of the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, children of Harriet Harman and former deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.[3]


The education of children has always been an important part of the work of the Fathers of the London Oratory in Brompton, Knightsbridge. They opened their first school in King William Street in the City of London in 1852 and two parochial schools in Chelsea in 1856. Seven years later, in 1863, at the request of Cardinal Wiseman, who wanted to provide a wider education for Catholic children than was available at that time, the Oratory Fathers established a school for boys in Chelsea, and in 1870 a school for girls staffed by the Daughters of the Cross. These schools were fee paying and they were the forerunners of the present school.

Both schools flourished but in the early part of the last century Cardinal Vaughan asked the Oratory Fathers to inaugurate the first Central Schools for Catholic children. This they did in 1912, developing the two schools which ceased to be fee paying, into Central Schools on a site in Stewart's Grove, Chelsea. During both World Wars, sixty six Oratorians lost their lives fighting for their country. In 1959 the two central schools were amalgamated and in 1962 it was decided that the Daughters of the Cross were to be withdrawn after almost a century of devoted work. In 1963 the school was classified as a four-form entry grammar school admitting only boys since there were already many more selective places for girls than boys in the schools in the diocese. However those girls currently at the school were, on the insistence of the newly appointed headmaster (who had applied for and been appointed head of a mixed school), allowed to remain at the school to complete their education.

The school moved to its present site in 1970, now with six forms of entry (180) at 11+, with girls being admitted annually to the sixth form.

In September 1989 the school, formerly a voluntary-aided school, became a grant-maintained school, continuing in the trusteeship of the Fathers of the London Oratory, who own the building and grounds and appoint the majority of the governors.

The Junior House, occupying a newly built block adjacent to the Arts Centre, was opened in September 1996, to which 20 seven-year-old boys are admitted for a specialist music education, with a strong emphasis on Catholic liturgical music.

Under the Academies Act 2010, the school became an Academy in August 2011.

The school marked its 150th anniversary on 27 September 2013 with the celebration of Mass in Westminster Cathedral.


  • Daniel Wright (2018–present)
  • Pauline Devereux & Daniel Rooney (2017–2018) (Job Share)
  • David McFadden (2007–2017)
  • John McIntosh, CBE.[4] 1977–2007
  • Ian G. Gaffney (1963–1977)
  • Laurence Summerbell (1930–1957)
  • Dr. John Menzies Duffy (1890–1930)


House Colour Patron Saint
Campion St. Edmund Campion
Fisher St. John Fisher
Howard St. Philip Howard
More St. Thomas More
Owen St. Nicholas Owen
Southwell St. Robert Southwell
Junior House St. Edward the Confessor

Junior HouseEdit

Twenty seven-year-old boys are admitted to the Junior House for a specialist musical education, including instrumental tuition. Some of the boys are admitted as choristers and sing in The Schola. Boys admitted to the Junior House are full members of the school and are expected to continue their education at the school for the remainder of their Secondary Education. This is up until the age of sixteen.[5]

Pupils are selected on the basis of their musical aptitude and are required to take part in musical and, in the case of choristers, choral activities arranged outside normal school hours, including weekends and holidays, and to learn at least two musical instruments.[5]


The school follows the national curriculum. In the Junior house students are taught mathematics, English, science, information technology, religious education, art, geography, history, physical education, music, Italian and Latin. Key stage 2 examinations are sat in the final year of Junior house.

From first to third form in the senior school students are taught a broad range of subjects including mathematics, religious studies, English, science, information technology, art, design and technology, history, geography, French or German, Latin, physical education and games.

In the fourth and fifth form, all students work towards GCSEs. Religious education, mathematics, English language, English literature, physics, chemistry, biology and French or German are compulsory at GCSE. On top of this students can choose from a wide range of subjects such as art, geography, Spanish, Latin, Ancient Greek, computing and music.

In sixth form most pupils are expected to take three full A-levels, with either an Extended project qualification (EPQ) or a further AS level to be completed in lower sixth. Some pupils, however, may choose to take four subjects. Subjects normally on offer at A-level include art, Ancient history, Ancient Greek, biology, chemistry, economics, English literature, French, geography, German, history, history of art, Italian, Latin, mathematics, further mathematics, music, physics, government and politics, Spanish and theology. All sixth formers, with the exception of those taking theology must attend a weekly timetabled religious education lesson.



1st XV vs St Paul's (2014)

The traditional sport of the school is rugby and the London Oratory is commonly seen as a 'rugby school'. During the sport's history at the school, 56 Middlesex county championships have been won. Furthermore, a large number of Oratorians have gone on to represent England at international level, both at junior and senior levels. Three OOs have also played in the Cambridge varsity XV. All teams in the school compete in their respective leagues, including the Daily Mail Cup. In the first form, rugby is compulsory. The majority of the 180 boys turn out to play most Saturdays for fixtures against other schools. By the VI form, the number of boys is reduced to a first and second XV. Both the 1st and 2nd XV play a full calendar of matches over the course of the season, against fellow schools in the South East, including The Oratory School, Dulwich, St. Paul's, Wimbledon College, Eton, Berkhamsted and Harrow, as well as a number of schools from further afield. The first overseas rugby tour was to Galway, Ireland in 1970, winning all matches and then to New York in 1979 and was followed by tours to San Francisco in 1983, Canada in 1988 and Australia in 1990. The 1st XV and 2nd XV toured Australia in July 2011, the first major tour for 21 years.

The school organises its own U12/U15 Sevens Tournament and also organises a national sevens competition at U16 level, which is held at London Irish. Rugby is played at the School's sports grounds at Barn Elms on the banks of the River Thames. The house rugby competition also takes place in the Michaelmas term.


Cricket is also a sport at the School with at least one team representing the School in each year. There are 4 cricket nets in the School grounds which are used for after school practice during the summer months. The School's cricket teams host matches at Barn Elms and play in a few county cups and leagues, for example the Middlesex Schools' Cup. Cricket is also the main sport in the Junior House.

Other sportsEdit

The School has a 25-meter, indoor swimming pool in its grounds. The School holds its annual house swimming gala in the pool with teams competing from each of the six houses. There are no football teams who represent the school, however each form from each house puts forward a team for the annual house football competition. The London Oratory School Fencing Club was recently founded. Other sports offered by the School include volleyball, tennis, netball, hockey, angling and athletics. As well as the pool, the school has a newly renovated gym, which contains weights apparatus, bikes, treadmills and ergos.[citation needed] The school formerly supported its boat club (LOSBC), which in recent years had qualified for Henley Royal Regatta and won the 1st VIIIs category at The National Schools Regatta, but this ceased in December 2017 due to budget cuts.

London Oratory School ScholaEdit

London Oratory School Schola in performance

The Schola Cantorum was established as a means of providing Catholic boys from the age of seven with a rigorous experience of choral education within the maintained system, something hitherto only available in the independent system. The development carried the full support and encouragement of the late Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Hume.

The school's close association with the Oratory places it in a strong, if not unique, position to provide this form of specialist education and to contribute to the development of traditional liturgical music. The partnership between the Oratory and the school allows the school to train boys within the context of a living tradition and liturgy.

The Oratory in London is part of a dynamic liturgical and musical tradition which goes back to the 16th century when the first Oratory was established in Rome at the time of the Counter-Reformation. Both Palestrina and Victoria[clarification needed] were closely associated with the Oratory and Philip Neri, its founder, and Victoria became an Oratorian. In particular, the Oratory in Europe has been closely associated with the development of polyphony and the chant. The Oratory in London has a reputation for maintaining this tradition and for providing some of the finest liturgy and liturgical music in Europe today. The school has a strong musical tradition and for many years has been closely associated with liturgy and music of the Oratory.

The Schola sings at the Saturday evening Mass at the Oratory every week in term time and at other Masses and services during and outside term, and in the School Chapel during the week. In addition to the liturgical commitment, concert work and touring are a regular feature of the choristers' lives.

Choristers normally join the school at the age of seven and are selected by audition, examination and interview, although places may sometimes be available to boys who join the school at a later stage.

The Choristers rehearse at 8 o'clock every morning, as well as for an hour immediately before services, and frequently during the lunch break and after school. They receive voice training from one of London’s top vocal coaches and all boys are given individual voice lessons. When their voices change, they devote more time to their instrumental music. Their interest in singing is kept alive until their voices have developed sufficiently to enable them, where appropriate, to return to the Schola as Choral Scholars, when they benefit from the unique opportunity of singing alongside professional lay clerks from the Oratory Church Choir. Choristers are fully involved in other aspects of the musical life of the school. In addition to liturgical and concert performances, the choir has recorded film soundtracks and audio albums.[6] The choir is most famous for its contribution to the double-platinum award-winning soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The choir also works extensively for charity, helping raise funds for various charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Save the Children and the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program.[7]

The Patronal FestivalEdit

The School Patronal Festival Presentation of Awards

Staff and Students assemble in the Brompton Oratory Church to honour the School's Patron, Saint Philip Neri.[8] The School celebrates its Patronal Festival with a Pontifical High Mass on the feast of Saint Philip Neri, 26 May, or on the nearest Friday that falls during the Trinity term. The Mass is followed immediately by the distribution of prizes to Award Winners and the presentation of Ties and Badges of Office are presented to the Senior Prefects. The official handing over of duties from the outgoing Senior Prefects to the incoming Senior Prefects occurs when the Senior Prefects Badges and Ties of Office are issued. All members of Staff traditionally wear full academic dress on this occasion.

The Principal Celebrant is usually a high-ranking official of the Catholic Church. Recent Celebrants have included: Leo Cardinal Burke (2013) The Right Reverend Bishop Alan Hopes, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster (2012); The Reverend Paul Keane, Old Oratorian and Chaplain to the University of Essex (2011); The Very Reverend Richard Duffield, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Promoter of the Cause of Canonisation for John Henry Cardinal Newman (2010); The Very Reverend Robert Byrne, Provost of the Oxford Oratory (2009); The Right Reverend Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop Emeritus of Lancaster (2008);[9] The Right Reverend Dom Aidan Bellenger, Abbot of Downside (2007);[10][11] Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville, Archbishop Emeritus of Birmingham (2006);[12] The Right Reverend Dom Cuthbert Brogan, Abbot of Farnborough (2005);[13] The Right Reverend Bishop Alan Hopes, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster (2004);[14] The Right Reverend Bishop George Stack, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster (2003);[15] Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster (2002);[16] Bishop Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds (2001);[17] Bishop Victor Guazzelli, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster (2000);[18] The Abbot of Ampleforth (1999);[19] The Catholic Chaplain to Harrow School (1998); the Provost of the London Oratory (1997); the Apostolic Nuncio (1996); George Basil Cardinal Hume (1995); Dom Stanislaus Hobbs of St Benedict’s Abbey, Ealing (1994); the Master of St Benet’s Hall, Oxford (1993); and the Provost of the Oxford Oratory (1992). Traditionally the Principal Celebrant also preaches on the life of Saint Philip, although this is not an absolute rule. It is customary, however, for concluding comments to be directed to those pupils leaving the School.

The Guard of Honour is a tradition employed by The London Oratory School for the Principal Celebrant of the Mass and senior guests. It is customary for the Combined Cadet Force,[20] consisting of the Army and RAF divisions to mount the Guard of Honour before the Mass as the Principal Celebrant enters the Brompton Oratory. The London Oratory School CCF has been badged to the Irish Guards since 2010. Previously the Army Section wore the cap badge of the Royal Green Jackets. Major General W G Cubitt, CBE, Major General Commanding the Household Division and General Officer Commanding London District was the Reviewing Officer at the CCF Biennial Inspection and oversaw the re-badging, together with the Regimental Adjutant and staff from Regimental Headquarters, making the London Oratory CCF the only Combined Cadet Force badged to the Irish Guards and one of the few CCFs badged to a Household Division Regiment.

Music at the Mass is provided by The Schola Cantorum[21] and Chamber Choir assisted by The London Oratory Sinfonia. Organists for the ceremony have included David Terry, Nicholas O'Neill, Steven Grahl and Jeremy Filsell.

Awards are offered for many aspects of School life, from the curricular to the extra-curricular life of the School.

The end of the Patronal Festival is traditionally marked with the School and congregation singing the School Song, "Quam bonum est".[22] After Mass there is a reception for the Guests, Senior Prefects, Award Winners and their parents in Saint Wilfrid’s Hall, which is adjacent to the Brompton Oratory.

The John McIntosh Arts CentreEdit

The Arts Centre which was inaugurated in 1991 by the then Prime Minister John Major, has a 305-seat theatre, with fly-tower, dressing rooms and orchestral pit, art studios and gallery space, a pottery, music teaching rooms, music technology suites, a recital area, practice rooms and four classrooms dedicated to each of the Junior House classes. In the foyer there is a large bronze sculpture of Athena by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi and major series of his original prints. In December 2006 the Arts Centre was renamed the John McIntosh Arts Centre in honour of the recently retired headmaster.[23]

Throughout the year there is a varied programme of concerts, recitals, plays, and exhibitions by pupils, parents and visiting artists and performers. In previous years the school has presented Macbeth, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado about Nothing and The Tempest, Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and The Hypochondriac, Gogol's The Government Inspector, Shaw's The Devil's Disciple and Pygmalion, Beckett's Endgame, Edward Bond's The Sea and Stone, Toad of Toad Hall, The Elephant Man, a number of one act plays including four by Chekhov, Arthur Miller's The Crucible and A View from the Bridge, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Peter Shaffer's Black Comedy, Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit, Alan Bennett's Habeas Corpus, and a production of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.[24] The sixth form usually put on two productions a year, with a play in the Michaelmas term and a musical in the Lent term.

Notable Old London OratoriansEdit


  1. ^ "STAFF CONTACTS - London Oratory". Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  2. ^ "The London Oratory School – Inspection Report". Ofsted. 12 June 2006. Archived from the original on 10 January 2011.
  3. ^ [1], Tatler, Accessed 11 January 2015
  4. ^ "The London Oratory School". London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. Archived from the original on 4 April 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  5. ^ a b "The London Oratory School Junior House". Retrieved 28 March 2014.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "London Oratory School Schola – Filmography", The New York Times, Accessed 2 May 2008
  7. ^ "The London Oratory School Schola News page". Retrieved 28 March 2014.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ The Oratorian, Claremount Press
  9. ^ The Oratorian 2009, Claremount Press
  10. ^ "Welcome to Downside Abbey from the Abbot, Fr Aidan Bellenger" Archived 25 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ The Oratorian 2008, Claremount Press
  12. ^ The Oratorian 2007, Claremount Press
  13. ^ The Oratorian 2006, Claremount Press
  14. ^ The Oratorian 2005, Claremount Press
  15. ^ The Oratorian 2004, Claremount Press
  16. ^ The Oratorian 2003, Claremount Press
  17. ^ The Oratorian 2002, Claremount Press
  18. ^ The Oratorian 2001, Claremount Press
  19. ^ The Oratorian 2000, Claremount Press
  20. ^ "The London Oratory School CCF". Retrieved 28 March 2014.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "The London Oratory School Schola". Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  22. ^ The London Oratory School Service Book and Hymnal, Gresham Books Ltd, Oxford Page 480-1
  23. ^ "Visual & Performing Arts | London Oratory". Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  24. ^ "Drama | London Oratory". Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  25. ^ Jackson, Alan (6 September 2008). "The meteoric rise of actress Hayley Atwell". The Times. London. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  26. ^ "Cherie Blair becomes a Schola patron". The London Oratory School Schola Foundation. 21 April 2009.[permanent dead link]
  27. ^ a b c Shepherd, Jessica (4 March 2013). "Nick Clegg chooses London Oratory – not your average comprehensive". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  28. ^ "10 Things You Didn't Know About Charles Ejogo Jr". 8 April 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  29. ^ Betzi at the Haymarket Theatre (1975) / Program Biography
  30. ^ Tony Geraghty (1998). The Irish War: The Hidden Conflict Between the IRA and British Intelligence. JHU Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-8018-6456-8. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  31. ^ "Edinburgh Fringe 2014 winner: From tour guide to best stand-up". 24 August 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  32. ^ "Know Your Character Actor – Gene Lockhart". 30 December 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  33. ^ Meagher, Gerard (4 January 2018). "Beno Obano: 'I didn't want to be sitting in the City just telling stories about Maro'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  34. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (14 January 2017). "Aslef rail union boss Mick Whelan: 'I'm not a great fan of glorious defeats'". Retrieved 14 January 2017.

External linksEdit