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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/315
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1810-1995
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 30 production units.
Name of creator(s): St Paul's Cathedral | London


Administrative/Biographical history:

The first firm reference to the St Paul's Cathedral Choir School is in 1127 when Richard de Belmeis, Bishop of London, refounded the School of Choristers which consisted of eight boys in buildings near its later site in Carter Lane. In 1263 an Almoner was appointed to be "Master of the Children". The Choir School is a separate foundation from St Paul's School, founded by Dean Colet in 1510, whose records are not kept at LMA. During the Tudor period the Almonry, which housed the choristers, was situated on the north-west side of St Paul's Churchyard. After the Great Fire in 1666 it moved to London House Yard with later moves to St Paul's Bakehouse Court (Godliman Street), Old Fish Street and No.1 St Peter's Hill. Between 1794 and 1812 there were no boarding facilities, but for five years after 1812 the boys were accommodated at 27 Craven Street, Charing Cross, moving in 1817 to 7 Adelphi Terrace where eight St Paul's choristers lived with ten children of the Chapel Royal. In 1845, Archdeacon William Hale became the Almoner and the boys lived under his care in the Chapter House.

Between 1848 and 1875 there was again no boarding; the boys attended daily at the school in the Precentor's house at 1 Amen Court and used the Lord Mayor's vestry in the Cathedral as their practice room. Early in 1875 the school moved into the specially-constructed Choir House in Carter Lane. During the Second World War it was evacuated to Truro and, for teaching purposes, amalgamated with the Truro Cathedral School until its return to London in 1947. In 1967 the school moved to new, purpose-built accommodation in New Change. Until the 19th century, the numbers of boys remained small. In 1872 the organist, John Stainer, realised the need for a larger choir to fill the Cathedral and numbers were quickly increased from eight to forty. In 1891 the Guild of the Companions of St Paul (also referred to as the Old Boys' Guild) was founded to provide moral and financial support to former pupils. Until 1989 the school consisted of choristers only but, after this date, non-singing day boys were also admitted.


Scope and content/abstract:

The archives of the Saint Paul's Cathedral Choir School, which go back no further than the early 19th century, include registers of pupils, Ms 29518-29520; accounts, Ms 29521-29521A; administration papers, Ms 29522-29528; school magazines, Ms 29529-31; Roll of Honour, Ms 29532-29533; and photographs, Ms 29541-29545. They were catalogued by members of the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library.

These records are freely available for research with the exception of Ms 29520 which may only be examined with written permission from the Headmaster.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Records arranged by MS number, assigned during cataloguing at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information may be subject to access restrictions.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited by the school in the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library in June 1994. Ms 29746 was received from a private source in 1995. Ms 29521A was deposited by St Paul's Cathedral in 2002. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Payments to choristers (with surnames of recipients) 1873-6 may be found in CLC/313/G/065/MS25725/001 and 1876-81 in CLC/313/G/065/MS25725/002.

Publication note:

Further information may be found in the writings of Maria Hackett who campaigned vigorously during the early 19th century to secure improved care for cathedral choristers and those of St Paul's in particular. The St Paul's Cathedral Choir School Register, 1964 and 1991, contains historical notes as well as lists of former pupils and headmasters. A list of known choristers, early 18th century to 1873, can be found in Guildhall Studies in London History, vol.1, p.82. Copies of these items are available in the Printed Books Section of Guildhall Library.

The medieval choir school, run by the almoner, was distinct from the grammar school, run by the chancellor (and later re-founded by Dean Colet in 1510). See AF Leach, "St Paul's School before Colet" in Archaelogia vol.62 (1910), pp.191-238. This school was originally near the cathedral, but was destroyed in the Great Fire. It was rebuilt in 1670 and 1822, moving in 1884 to Hammersmith and in 1968 to Barnes. Until 1876 the school was run by the Mercers' Company, who continue to hold administrative records of it. See AH Mead, A Miraculous Draught of Fishes: A History of St Paul's School (1990); Sir M McDonnell, The Annals of St Paul's School (1959), and Registers of St Paul's School 1509-1748 (1977); and RB Gardiner, Admission Registers of St Paul's School, from 1748-1876 (1884), and 1876-1905 (1906).

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:
August to October 2010.

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