Independent boys’ schools

These are just a few of the most successful Peckham boys’ schools.

Peckham Collegiate School

Queen’s Road   (1770-1880s)

In the Queen’s Road, at the corner of the Burchell Road, is the Peckham Collegiate School, conducted by the Rev. Thomas Ray, LL.D. The school was originally founded by the Rev. Martin Ready (about 1770) ; and adjoining his house Mr. Ready built a chapel, which he used on week days as a school-room. . . At Mr. Ready’s death the school was continued by Dr. Paul, and afterwards by Mr. Kirby and the Rev. F. A. Willis, D.C.L. (now of Hastings). Mr. Ray succeeded Mr. Willis in 1855, and when the house and grounds were sold, the school was removed to Queen’s Road, where it is now carried on.

Ye Parish of Camerwell W.H. Blanch (1875)

Rutland House School


Established in Peckham more than half a century. It was formerly under the management of Mr. Cargill, who was succeeded by Mr. Stevens. Mr. Harper, the present proprietor, has met with well-deserved praise, for through his energy and ability the school has been raised to a very high standard. There are at present seventy boys on the roll, whilst the girls’ school, under the management of Mrs. Harper, numbers more than twenty. Mr. Harper for many years held the appointment of master of St. Andrew’s Middle- Class School, Wells Street, Marylebone, and has also had considerable experience in Continental Academies. The organist of Dulwich College gives instructions on the pianoforte, and the curriculum of the school is at once liberal and comprehensive.

Ye Parish of Camerwell W.H. Blanch (1875)

Sugden House School


Now conducted by the Rev. Thomas Harper, has long been connected with the parish of Camberwell. It was conducted for thirty-three years by the late Mr. Sugden. In 1861, when Mr. Harper assumed control, the number of scholars was exceedingly limited, only about thirteen boys being then on the books. There are at present more than 100, a fact which speaks volumes for Mr. Harper’s success as a teacher. A preparatory school for little boys is also conducted in the same building by Miss Harper.

Ye Parish of Camerwell W.H. Blanch (1875)

Upper School Peckham


Founded by Dr. Yeats, has for twenty-one years enjoyed a high reputation for training boys for commercial life. More than 2,000 youths have been educated at this establishment. The school is now conducted by Mr. Lydgate, late of Guildford, who has added a collegiate course to the former curriculum.

Ye Parish of Camerwell W.H. Blanch (1875)

The Birkbeck Schools

(1852-after 1885)

Were built by Mr. Ellis on freehold land purchased by him in the year 1852. Mr. W. A. Shields, who deservedly occupies a high position in the educational world, has been head master since their establishment. The schools are described as being unsectarian, or, as Mr. Shields puts it, his teaching would be extra-theological, not anti-theological. The Lancaster, or monitorial, system is largely used, by which the children are employed to teach each other. The average attendance of the schools have been about 600. There are three departments the infants’, junior, and upper schools, with proportionate fees. The fee was originally sixpence a week, but has since been raised for the elder children to a shilling a week.

From the minutes of evidence given by Mr. Shields before a committee of the School Board for London, in March, 1871, that gentleman stated that his infants’ school-room was about 30 feet square, that it was well attended, the average age of the children being about 4 years, and that he never knowingly permitted any child’s exercise to last over half an hour. The age of admission to the junior school was 7 years. In this school the sexes were separated, and he had always striven to carry out Mr. Ellis’s design for improving character as well as imparting knowledge. In the upper school boys were accepted as soon after 7 years of age as their parents wished. It was a question of means on the part of the parents whether the children were placed in the upper or lower school.

The elements of morality were given, but no theological instruction whatever. The Bible was not read in school, as he could not teach from that book without imparting his own knowledge and belief. He had the children of Roman Catholics, Dissenters, and Jews, all taught on the same floor. Most of the children went to Sunday school, and some of the elder ones were teachers. The children were instructed in physical science, physiology, and chemistry of an elementary nature. He also taught drawing, singing, and drill. Corporal punishment was unknown in the school.” The buildings have been enlarged from time to time to meet the growing requirements of the neighbourhood.

Ye Parish of Camerwell W.H. Blanch (1875)

Manilla College

Peckham Rye   (1854-1882)

The principal of this establishment, Mr. John Douglas, states in his prospectus that  “the sons of gentlemen are liberally boarded and carefully instructed in the subjects necessary to prepare them for the various public schools, the Civil Service, legal, medical, and middle-class examinations, as well as for professional or commercial pursuits.” The school was established in 1854, and its proximity to the great cricket-ground of this parish is no doubt considered to be an advantage by many parents.

Ye Parish of Camerwell W.H. Blanch (1875)

St Mary’s College

Hanover Park   (1868-1890s)

A self-supporting semi-public school. It was established in 1868 at the sole cost of the present principal, Mr. J. G. Thompson, M. A., to provide at a moderate charge a superior commercial and classical education on Church of England principles. The Bishop of Winchester acts as visitor. The religious education is under the control of the wardens, who at present are the Rev. R. Gregory, M.A., Canon of St. Paul’s, appointed by the National Society Middle-Class School Committee, with which the school is in union ; the Rev. M. Briggs, M.A., of St. Mary Magdalene, Peckham ; the Rev. J. Fleming, B.D., of St. Michael’s, Chester Square; the Rev. G. K. Flindt, M.A., of St. Matthew’s, Denmark Hill ; the Rev. J. H. Hazell, M.A., of St. Andrew’s, Peckham ; and the Rev. J. Richardson, M.A., of Camden, Peckham. The principal is entirely responsible for the secular instruction. There are twelve scholarships in the gift of the wardens, entitling the holders to three years’ gratuitous education in the school. The numbers are now 260, and every year seems to bring an increased number of young collegians to Peckham.

The school-buildings stand in about three acres of ground, and are particularly spacious and well ventilated, the large lecture-room being about 80 feet long by 35 feet wide, and at each end are large and well-arranged class-rooms. In the examination of the various schools in union with the National Society Middle-Class School Committee, this institution has stood first for five successive years. From the published returns of this year we find that at the last examination of the first eight boys, five were from this school. It appears also to have taken the first place in religious knowledge, mathematics, and book-keeping. For the last three or four years and this year it has carried off the honours in French, model drawing, and linear perspective.

Ye Parish of Camerwell W.H. Blanch (1875)