Schools: Latymer and Godolphin Schools

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1, Physique, Archaeology, Domesday, Ecclesiastical Organization, the Jews, Religious Houses, Education of Working Classes To 1870, Private Education From Sixteenth Century. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.

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'Schools: Latymer and Godolphin Schools', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1, Physique, Archaeology, Domesday, Ecclesiastical Organization, the Jews, Religious Houses, Education of Working Classes To 1870, Private Education From Sixteenth Century, (London, 1969), pp. 305-306. British History Online [accessed 19 June 2024].

. "Schools: Latymer and Godolphin Schools", in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1, Physique, Archaeology, Domesday, Ecclesiastical Organization, the Jews, Religious Houses, Education of Working Classes To 1870, Private Education From Sixteenth Century, (London, 1969) 305-306. British History Online, accessed June 19, 2024,

. "Schools: Latymer and Godolphin Schools", A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1, Physique, Archaeology, Domesday, Ecclesiastical Organization, the Jews, Religious Houses, Education of Working Classes To 1870, Private Education From Sixteenth Century, (London, 1969). 305-306. British History Online. Web. 19 June 2024,

In this section



Edward Latymer (1557 or 1558-1627), an official of the Court of Wards, by his will dated 1624 left property in the Hammersmith area to provide, amongst other things, clothing and education for eight poor boys of Edmonton and eight of Fulham, which then included Hammersmith. The clothing, which incorporated a red cross on the left sleeve, was to be distributed twice a year on Ascension Day and All Saints Day, and the boys were to learn reading in English and 'God's true religion' at existing petty schools, where they were to remain until the age of thirteen. Separate groups of trustees administered the property on behalf of the boys in the two parishes. Latymer died in 1627 and the property was conveyed to the Edmonton trustees in 1628. (fn. 1)

Other educational bequests for the benefit of Edmonton boys were made by John Wild (1662), who founded a scholarship to Cambridge, and Thomas Style (1679), who left £20 a year for the teaching of grammar and Latin to twenty poor boys aged between five and seventeen. In 1724 Thomas Hare, the parish clerk, was appointed Latymer schoolmaster by the vestry, while the Revd. John Button taught the Style boys. In 1737 Zachariah Hare succeeded his father; two years later the various charities were amalgamated and land and a school-house were purchased, Zachariah becoming the first headmaster under the new scheme. (fn. 2) In 1781 John Adams (fn. 3) was appointed headmaster. His friend, J. T. Smith, related that plates of Hogarth's Industry and Idleness hung in the schoolroom; once a month Adams read a lecture on these examples and then rewarded the industrious boys and caned the idle. (fn. 4) He was succeeded in 1802 by his son, John Adams junior, clerk to the vestry and an able and efficient teacher. Nine years later a legacy of £500 from Mrs. Ann Wyatt, an eccentric widow who lived in circumstances suggesting great poverty, made possible the building of a new and larger schoolroom. (fn. 5) Adams numbered the 106 boys in the school according to their seniority. Each number was on a leather medal which, together with eight other medals recording school position in particular subjects including Latin, mathematics, and behaviour, was strung on a cord worn by the pupil. The numbers were registered from time to time and prizes were presented by the trustees to boys who had excelled. (fn. 6)

Charles Henry Adams succeeded his father in 1821 but failed to maintain the standards of the school. A vestry inquiry in 1848 found that the system of education was unsatisfactory; Latin was no longer being taught and many of the pupils were not receiving clothing. (fn. 7) Nevertheless he was still in charge of the school with his son, as usher, a member of the fourth generation of the family to teach in the school, when it was inspected in 1865. There were 89 boys on the books, of whom 65 were present in the morning but only 29 returned after lunch. Latin teaching was confined to reading aloud from a grammar and the standards in elementary subjects were very low; the income of the Cambridge scholarship was used for church repairs. (fn. 8) In 1868 Adams agreed to retire on a pension. The Revd. C. V. Dolbe was appointed headmaster, and under a new scheme £210 of foundation income was diverted to elementary schools attached to St. Paul's Winchmore Hill, Christ Church, Southgate, and St. James, Upper Edmonton. The residue was to provide two Latymer schools: an upper for foundationers and fee-payers in the existing buildings, and a lower or elementary school. (fn. 9) In 1897 W. A. Shearer, the new headmaster of the upper school, found not only that the buildings were inadequate and defective, but also that R. S. Gregory, Vicar of Edmonton, wanted to close the school and use the funds for the Church of England elementary school, a proposal which aroused much opposition, especially from the Edmonton Urban District Council. In 1901 the lower school was accommodated in new buildings in Maldon Road, and a site in Hazelbury Road was acquired for a new upper school, but in 1908, before building began, Shearer was killed in an accident. The upper school was temporarily closed, but in 1910 it reopened as a co-educational grammar school with 25 pupils and R. Ashworth as headmaster. Numbers increased rapidly and the school was enlarged in 1924 and 1928. Soon after this Ashworth died while still in office, leaving a flourishing school of over 700 pupils. (fn. 10) V. S. E. Davis, who became the next headmaster, was a young man and guided the school with great skill through one of its most difficult periods. The school was granted voluntary aided status in 1951. Davis retired in 1957 and was succeeded by Dr. Trefor Jones. In 1964 there were nearly 1,100 pupils.


At Fulham, as at Edmonton (fn. 11) the Latymer bequest did not at first result in a Latymer school, but by the end of the 19th century three Hammersmith schools bore that name. From 1628 to 1648, with one short interval, the Latymer boys attended the school in Fulham churchyard erected partly at the expense of Dr. Thomas Edwards (d. c. 1618), but in 1648 the boys were transferred to another school lately erected in Hammersmith by Mr. Palmer and Mr. Bull. About 1657 a parochial charity school was established, and it was there that the Latymer boys attended for the next hundred years. (fn. 12) A girls' school came into existence at some time before 1689, and it is possible that the three schools were conducted under the same roof but with separate finances. By 1755 the existing building had become dilapidated, and it was replaced by one of two storeys to accommodate 25 girls on the ground floor and 20 boys above. The cost, however, proved a serious drain on the income of the charity and the numbers were reduced to 15 boys and 15 girls. In 1819 two rooms were added and the numbers increased to 80 boys and 50 girls, who were educated on the 'National' system. Later the income of the girls' charity decreased and it was absorbed into the St. Paul's parochial school, but the Latymer boys' school flourished, having 100 boys but no room for extension. In 1863 a new building for 125 boys was erected in Great Church Lane (Hammersmith Road). Sixteen years later a new scheme was drawn up which diverted the bulk of the income to a new Upper School to provide secondary education for 150 boys; clothing was not provided and fees were to be charged. The existing school was to be conducted as an elementary school to be known as the Latymer Lower School. (fn. 13) Under the name in fact of the Latymer Foundation School this became an L.C.C. school with a roll in 1960 of over 300 boys aged between nine and seventeen. The 'silver pens', a representation of two quills arranged in saltire, was instituted in 1820 as an award for an outstanding boy, (fn. 14) and there were silver medals given in 1842 for arithmetic and orthography. In 1961 the governors decided that a modern education could not be given in the existing building, that it was impossible to rebuild, and that they must therefore close the school. (fn. 15) It closed in July 1963.

New buildings for the Upper School, erected between King Street and the river, were opened by the Bishop of London in 1895. In less than two years the numbers reached 300 and in 1901 accommodation was increased to admit 450 by the addition of five classrooms, laboratories, and a workshop.

In 1930 the main block was extended southward and in 1934 further additions were made by the acquisition of existing buildings at the corner of King Street and Weltje Road. These were altered for school use, a biology laboratory was added, and a room on the top floor was converted into a chapel, consecrated in 1938. In 1951 the governors bought Rivercourt House on the river bank, and this made it possible to increase the number of boys to over a thousand. Between 1957 and 1961 new physics laboratories were built, largely as a result of a grant from the Industrial Fund for the Advancement of Science in Schools. The total number of boys in the school in 1964 was approximately 1,150.

In 1945 the school was placed on the direct grant list, and F. Wilkinson, headmaster 1937-57, was invited to join the Headmasters' Conference.


Sir William Godolphin (1634-96), Charles II's ambassador to Madrid, left a fortune and three different wills. The first and third were combined by Act of Parliament to make Sir William's nephew Francis and niece Elizabeth heirs on condition that £1,520 was devoted to charity. In 1703 Elizabeth and her husband, the Hon. Charles Godolphin, purchased land to the west of St. James's, Piccadilly, to establish a fund for educating and apprenticing children, relieving decayed gentlefolk, and for other charitable purposes. (fn. 16) In 1852 the whole trust was devoted to education and in 1856 the Godolphin School for boys was opened in Great Church Lane, Hammersmith. Initially it was very successful and moved into new premises in Iffley Road, where there were soon 150 fee-payers, including 40 boarders, and 30 free pupils, all receiving a decidedly classical education. (fn. 17) Later the school was unable to meet the competition of St. Paul's (from 1884) and Latymer Upper School, and in 1900 it closed. A new scheme was drawn up which created the Godolphin and Latymer School for Girls, with the assistance of a grant of £8,000 and £500 a year from the Latymer Foundation. At the same time £4,000 was transferred to the Godolphin School, Salisbury, which Elizabeth Godolphin had founded from her own resources in 1707. (fn. 18) The school opened in temporary premises in 1905, and in January 1906 some 200 girls moved into the converted boys' school which was formally opened by the Duke of Leeds, a descendant of William Godolphin. (fn. 19) It later became a voluntary aided grammar school of 650 girls, 180 of whom are in the Sixth forms. The buildings were considerably extended, particularly by the addition of a large science block, a second library, and enlarged music and art rooms.


  • 1. P.C.C. 15 Skynner; W. Wheatley, Edward Latymer and His Foundations, 44, 114-16, 184-5.
  • 2. W. Robinson, Hist. and Antiquities of Parish of Edmonton, 142-3, 179-80; 9th Rep. Com. Char. H.C. 258, pp. 176-7 (1823), ix.
  • 3. Author of Mathematician's Companion (1796) and Extracts from a Meteorological Journal kept at Edmonton (1814).
  • 4. J. T. Smith, Nollekens and His Times, 95.
  • 5. Robinson, Edmonton, 145; G. W. Sturges, Schs. of Edmonton Hundred, 17-25.
  • 6. Lond. Jnl. of Arts and Sciences, v. 195-7: names of 30 boys given.
  • 7. Sturges, Schs. of Edmonton Hund. 27; Rep. Edmonton Char. Investigation Cttee. (1849), 28, 36.
  • 8. Schs. Enquiry Com. [3966-XI] H.C., pp. 17-19 (1867-8), xxviii (10).
  • 9. There was opposition: Law Reps. Equity Cases, vii (1868-9), 353.
  • 10. Sturges, Schs. of Edmonton Hund. 33-38; correspondence in Tottenham Herald, Sept. 1899-June 1900, 21 July 1933.
  • 11. See above.
  • 12. W. Wheatley, Edward Latymer and His Foundations, 119-20.
  • 13. Ibid. 131, 140-7.
  • 14. Ibid. 153.
  • 15. The Times, 13 Sept., 3 Oct., 5 Oct. 1961; The Observer, 28 July 1963.
  • 16. D.N.B.; Act for administration of estate of Sir William Godolphin, 9 & 10 Wm. III, c. 19 (priv. act). Schs. Enquiry Com. [3966-IX] H.C., p. 62 (1867-8), xxviii (10); Godolphin and Latymer Sch. 1905-55, 9-10.
  • 17. Schs. Enquiry Com. (1867-8), pp. 62-63.
  • 18. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 362-3.
  • 19. Godolphin and Latymer Sch. 10-13; Wheatley, Edward Latymer, 173.