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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 A/DAV
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1644-1980
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 3.5 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Davenant Foundation Grammar School
Whitechapel Foundation School x Davenant Foundation School


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Revd. Ralph Davenant, Rector of Whitechapel, provided for the building and staffing of a school for forty boys and thirty girls in the parish of Whitechapel by a deed of settlement dated 11 June 1680 (ref. A/DAV/I/13) and by his will proved 26 February 1680/81 (PRO ref. PROB 11 365). It was not, however, until 1686 that the trustees obtained a faculty to build a school and school houses on the Lower Burial Ground in Whitechapel.

Over the years the Foundation had a number of benefactors including an unknown woman who gave the sum of 1,000 in 1701. The money was used to buy an estate, Castle Farm at East Tilbury, Essex.

In the early nineteenth century the school was visited by Dr. Andrew Bell, who was famous for his monitorial system. The system was adopted and proved a great success. At the same time it was felt that there was a need for a public school for the education of the poor of the area. This school, known as the Whitechapel Society's School, was founded in 1813 and also built on part of the Lower Burial Ground.

By the mid nineteenth century there was a need felt for more advanced education than that provided by Davenant's School or the Whitechapel Society's School. In 1854 an Order was made under which the charities known as the Whitechapel Charities were to be appropriated and used for another charitable purpose, the establishment of The Whitechapel Foundation Commercial School. Among these charities was that of Thomas Holbrook (1644). The school opened in Leman Street in 1858 and was very successful.

In 1888 a revised scheme for the administration of the Whitechapel Charities and Davenant's Foundation was published by the Charity Commission. A secondary school for boys, the Foundation School, was to be provided and three elementary schools for boys, girls and infants, to be known as the Davenant Schools. The latter continued under the School Board for London and LCC Education Committee until the Second World War. They were not reopened after the War and finally closed in 1950.

The new building for the Foundation School was completed in 1896 but an extension was soon needed and a new wing was built in 1909. The school acquired a high reputation especially in the teaching of modern foreign languages. In 1930 the school celebrated the 250th anniversary of the Foundation and the name was officially changed from Whitechapel Foundation School to Davenant Foundation School. There was an increase in the numbers on the roll at this time and the Governors wished to improve their existing buildings rather than move to a new site. The outbreak of war brought these negotiations to a close.

The school was evacuated to Chatteris in the Fens and remained there throughout the war. When the school returned to London work started on rebuilding the Whitechapel premises which had been badly damaged. Following the Education Act 1944 the school applied for and was granted the status of a voluntary aided grammar school, an earlier application for direct grant status having been rejected. In 1956 the Ministry of Education suggested that the school should be transferred to another area where there was need of a grammar school. It was decided to move to Essex as nearly half the pupils were from that county. A site was chosen close to the LCC housing estate at Debden and despite objections permission was eventually granted in 1960. The school moved to Essex in 1965 and the new building was officially opened in 1966.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Davenant Foundation Grammar School and predecessors, including deeds; minute books; accounts; correspondence; report books; pupils' registers; certificates of pupils' academic achievements; maps and plans; histories and papers relating to special events.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

A/DAV/01-05: Administration; A/DAV/06-07: Pupils; A/DAV/08-11: Related Documentation.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited on 14 July and 17 August 1977. Further records deposited on 2 June 1980 and 16 July 1980.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
June to August 2010.

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