Petyt School

Survey of London: Volume 4, Chelsea, Pt II. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1913.

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'Petyt School', in Survey of London: Volume 4, Chelsea, Pt II, (London, 1913) pp. 53-54. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

In this section


The present building is a re-erection of the Schoolhouse given by William Petyt in 1707. In 1890 it was re-built on its original lines. It follows the old design fairly well, although the three arches of the cloister are partly filled in. The building is used as a Church house and Sunday school, and in the lower room hangs a contemporary portrait of William Petyt. An inscribed stone on the west wall bears the following inscription:—

Anno domini mdccv in the fifth
yeare of the gloriovs reigne of
the most serene ovr gratiovs
sovereigne lady qveen anne this
bvilding for the pvblick good of this
parish at the only costs and charges
of william petyt of the inner
temple london esqvire keeper of
her maiesties records within the
tower of london was erected
which doth contain one vestry
roome wherein the affairs of this
parish are to be considered and set
tled one school roome wherein the
children of this parish are to be tavght
and instructed and vpper roomes
for lodgings for a school master
to all which may god give a blessing

The site, which adjoins the churchyard on the north, was formerly waste land, but in 1603, (fn. 1) with the consent of the Earl of Nottingham, Lord of the Manor, a dwelling for the Parish Clerk and a schoolhouse were built by Dr. Richard Ward, who was rector from 1585 to 1615. The cost was met partly by the rector and partly from money left by Richard Fletcher, Bishop of London, who lived at Arch House, close by. A century later, William Petyt, an inhabitant of Chelsea, who held the office of Keeper of the Records at the Tower of London, offered to rebuild the school, and his proposal was accepted by the parish. (fn. 2) Petyt's building comprised a schoolroom on the first floor, rooms for the schoolmaster in the roof, and on the ground floor a vestry room for the parish with a covered cloister of three arches in length. In the cloister the scholars were to be ranged twice each Sunday "with their caps off and there to stand until the Congregation be passed by," and they were to "be given to understand who are their Benefactors and instructed that as often as they pass by any of them they pull off their caps and make them a bow." (fn. 3)

Condition of repair.


In the Council's ms. collection is:—

(fn. 4) Photograph of School.


  • 1. Faulkner's Chelsea and its Environs, II., p. 144.
  • 2. Ibid., I., pp. 255–6.
  • 3. Quoted by Beaver, Memorials of Old Chelsea, p. 108 from British Museum Addl. MS, No. 15609.
  • 4. Reproduced here.