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Highgate has been famed for its schools for centuries. Whilst initially they were modest affairs, with perhaps 30 pupils or fewer, Highgate’s schools were instrumental in bringing education to the local poor as well as the prosperous. Atop the hill, they were considered healthy, conveniently situated for prosperous potential parents living in cities of London and Westminster.

Highgate was also the closest place to London where children whose parents were not members of the Church of England could legally receive an appropriate education, whether Methodist, Unitarian or Jewish. In the decades after 1830 such schools slowly began disappeared, as Victorian worthies, religious bodies and later local and national government created larger schools for all ages in line with their own values: schools which are still with us.

In this session, we’re giving you the opportunity to learn about the unique past of several schools in particular.

Nick Peacey, one of Lauderdale House’s board members, will chair the talk, accompanied by:


  • Peter Barber, another Lauderdale House board member and expert on the history of Lauderdale. Did you know that Lauderdale itself became a school, from 1794 to 1837? Peter will be talking all about it.


  • Alma Evans, a teacher of English at local catholic school La Sainte Union. This school was built in 1861 by the congregation of the same name, initially founded by Father Jean Baptiste Debrabant in northern France. Accordingly, Father Debrabant believed that only a Christian based education offered a sure hope "for the future of religion and society."


  • Jade Francis, Head of Alumnae and Development at Channing School for Girls. Did you know that Channing remains the only Independent Unitarian school in Britain? Founded in 1885, their Unitarian heritage means the school is founded upon the doctrine that God is one being. However, their girls are encouraged to develop respect, tolerance and understanding of all faiths, as well as individual and social responsibility.


  • Sam White, former Head of William Ellis School. William Ellis has a long history of success to dive into; from standing out as a non-denominational ‘Voluntary Aid’ school to becoming one of the three boys schools in the country to earn Specialist Language College status in 1997, there’s a lot to discover…


  • Julia Hudson, Highgate School's Archivist and Records Manager. Julia's discussion will look at Highgate School's founder Sir Roger Cholmeley and the aims of the school set out in its two Elizabethan founding charters, going on to look at its links with the community and its involvement in charity work. Founded in 1565, it is the oldest school of our talk, so you won't want to miss this one!

Find out more about Heritage Weekend here