History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HistoryIn 1688 a charity school was established on Duck Lane, Soho, with funds raised by public subscription. Its purpose was to teach 20 poor boys from the local parishes of St John and St Margaret to read, write, learn a trade, and gain instruction in religion.
Not only were these 'charity boys' taught, they were clothed in a distinctive uniform, with a long blue coat which gave the school its name. The eye-catching colours were a matter of expedience; blue dye was the cheapest, and the stockings were soaked in saffron because it was said to repel rats who might otherwise bite the children's ankles.
The charity boys were taught alongside students who paid a fee to attend. Many went on to become apprentices, and a very select few went on to further studies at university; a rarity in the days when only the sons of the nobility could afford to attend university.
From 1714 until 1876 the school also admitted girls. In 1709 the school moved to purpose-built premises on Caxton Street, donated by the Green family of brewers, and closed in 1926.
The building was used as a military store by US forces during WWII, and then as a youth club by the Girl Guides. The National Trust purchased the property in 1954 and used it as their main London headquarters, and later as a gift shop.
In 2014 the school building was opened by British designer Ian Stuart as a luxury boutique, specialising in exclusive fashions.
The Blewcoat School building was erected in 1709. It is built of a combination of yellow and red brick, dressed with stone around door and window openings. The exterior is embellished with neoclassical details, with Doric pillars at each corner. Over the doorway is a statue of a Blewcoat charity boy wearing the school's traditional uniform, with a long blue coat and bright yellow stockings.
Inside is a light, airy chamber lit by a gilded chandelier brought from Bruerne Abbey in Oxfordshire. We do not know who built the school building, but it is entirely possible that Sir Christopher Wren had a hand in the design; he was certainly working on St Paul's Cathedral at the same time, and the building is in his style.
Since the building is currently in use as a shop displaying exclusive fashions so there are no tours of the interior per se, but there's nothing to stop you poking your nose inside the shop to have a look.
About Blewcoat School
Address: 23 Caxton Street, Westminster, London, Greater London, England, SW1H 0PY
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: Near the junction with Buckingham Gate
OS: TQ295 794
Photo Credit: Tkeator, licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence
Nearest station: St. James's Park - 0.1 miles (straight line) - Zone: 1
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Guards Museum - 0.1 miles (Museum)
Buckingham Palace and the Queens Gallery - 0.3 miles (Historic House)
Westminster Cathedral - 0.3 miles (Cathedral)
Westminster Abbey - 0.3 miles (Cathedral)
Westminster Abbey Chapter House and Pyx Chamber - 0.3 miles (Historic Building)
Churchill War Rooms - 0.4 miles (Museum)
St James Park - 0.4 miles (Countryside)
Clarence House - 0.4 miles (Historic Building)
Nearest Accommodation to Blewcoat School:
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Nearest Tourist Information Centre ('as the crow flies')