St Edmund's School Canterbury

St Edmund's School, Canterbury is an independent day and boarding school located in Canterbury, Kent, England and established in 1749. The extensive school grounds were acquired in 1855. The school currently caters for girls and boys aged 3–18, including the Choristers of Canterbury Cathedral.

St Edmund's School, Canterbury
St Edmund's School.svg
St Thomas' Hill

, ,

Coordinates51°17′30″N 1°03′35″E / 51.2917°N 1.0597°E / 51.2917; 1.0597Coordinates: 51°17′30″N 1°03′35″E / 51.2917°N 1.0597°E / 51.2917; 1.0597
TypePublic school
day and boarding school
MottoLatin: "Fungar Vice Cotis"
(Be as a whetstone for others to be sharpened upon)
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1749; 273 years ago (1749)
Local authorityKent
Department for Education URN118998 Tables
Chairman of GovernorsAir Marshal C.M. Nickols, CB, CBE, MA, FRAeS
HeadEdward O’Connor
Age3 to 18
Colour(s)Red & Black    
Former pupilsOld Edmundians
Yearbook"The Chronicle"

The school charges full boarders up to £40,272 per annum (2021/2022)[1] and is among the most expensive Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) schools in the UK.

The School is currently headed by Edward O’Connor (2018 - Present)


St Edmund's School Canterbury was first established in 1749, as the Clergy Orphan Society (later the Clergy Orphan Corporation) in Yorkshire.[citation needed] In 1812, the school moved to St John's Wood at the nursery end of Lord's Cricket Ground. An associated school for girls was located on the same site, but later moved to become St Margaret's School, Bushey, in Hertfordshire.

St. Edmund's School facade

In 1855, the school moved to Canterbury. The acquisition of property and financing to build the school was provided by Samuel Wilson Warneford. The main school building was designed by Philip Charles Hardwick, architect of Charterhouse School and Adare Manor. The chapel wing of the school was completed in 1858 and remains in daily use.

The choristers of Canterbury Cathedral began their education at the school in 1972. Grant house was established from the former Big School. After 20 years the school reverted to the traditional 4-house system.[2]

In 1982, girls were admitted to the school for the first time.[3]

In 2016 the school was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,670, after a seven-year-old child nearly drowned at the Summerfest event held at the school. The school did not ensure the lifeguards held the relevant qualifications and it could not be sure the guards had any experience or competency.[4]

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the school’s patron.

1st photo of the School 1889


St Edmund's School West Dormitory, 1880

The main building houses classrooms, boarding facilities, dining hall, library and administration offices. Further buildings provide teaching areas for Art, Design Technology and Science. The Francis Musgrave Performing Arts Centre comprises a purpose-built music school with recording studio, practice rooms and recital hall. There is also a 450-seat theatre for concerts and drama productions.

Sports facilities include a sports hall, gym, all-weather astro pitch, golf course, playing fields, 8 tennis courts, a shooting range and a swimming pool. Additional boarding houses are set in the grounds of the school.

The Junior School and Pre-Prep School are located on the same site in their own buildings.

Main entrance


The Senior School is divided into four day houses:

Name Named After
Baker Baker. A Victorian benefactor of the school
Wagner Wagner. A Victorian benefactor of the school
Warneford Dr. Samuel Warneford. A Victorian benefactor of the school, who donated the site and the building of the current location in Canterbury.
Watson Watson. A Victorian benefactor of the school

In Junior School there are four houses:

Name Named After
Becket Thomas Becket
Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer
Marlowe Christopher Marlowe
Roper William Roper

The boarding houses:

Name Named After
Owen (Senior School) Owen. A benefactor of the school
School House (Junior School) N/A

Cathedral choirEdit

In 1972, the previously independent Canterbury Cathedral Choir School, which educated the choristers of Canterbury Cathedral, joined the Junior School as the Choir House. Choir House remains at a detached location beside the cathedral, and provided transport conveys the choirboys between the two sites.


  • The name of the first Headmaster, between the years 1751 and 1762, is unknown.
  • The Revd Daniel Addison (1762 – 1783)
  • The Revd Daniel Addison (1783 – 1804)
  • The Revd Thomas Cripps (1804 – 1805)
  • The Revd Evan Jones (1805 – 1813)
  • The Revd William Farley (1813 – 1816)
  • The Revd Thomas Wharton (1817 – 1837)
  • The Revd George Bewsher (1837 – 1841)
  • The Revd. Daniel Butler (1841 – 1867)
  • The Revd Charles Matheson (1867 – 1891)
  • The Revd Arthur W. Upcott (1891 – 1902)
  • The Revd Edward J.W. Houghton (1902 – 1908)
  • The Revd Walter F. Burnside (1908 – 1932)
  • The Revd Henry Balmforth (1932 – 1941)
  • The Revd Frederick F.S. Williams (1942 – 1945)
  • William M. Thoseby (1945 – 1959)
  • Walter Stephen Jones (1 term 1959)
  • B. Michael S.Hoban (1960 – 1964)
  • Francis R. Rawes (1964 – 1978)
  • John V. Tyson (1978 – 1994)
  • A. Nicholas Ridley (1994 – 2005)
  • Jeremy M. Gladwin (2005 – 2011)
  • Louise J. Moelwyn-Hughes (2011 – 2018)
  • Edward O'Connor (2018 – )[5]


The Good Schools Guide note that after the schools' rebranding it was no longer marketing itself as a music and drama school, nor did it continue to describe itself as "non-selective".[6]

The Independent Schools Inspectorate reported in 2015 that the school met all the requirements of the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations.[7]

Notable former pupilsEdit


  1. ^ "Fees". St Edmund's School. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  2. ^ "History – St Edmund's School Canterbury". Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  3. ^ Foundation on a Hill by Jock Asbury-Bailey.
  4. ^ "Boy, 7, nearly drowns at school event". 14 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Announcement of New Head for September 2018". St Edmund's School. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Good Schools Guide".
  7. ^ "2015 ISI Inspection report".

External linksEdit