The School was founded in 1712 as part of Greenwich Hospital, a 'charitable institution for the aged, infirm or young', and was established to provide boys from seafaring backgrounds with the rare privilege of learning arithmetic and navigation. It was at this time located in the spectacular buildings which now house the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London.
As the School's reputation burgeoned, there were more applicants than places, resulting in a move to its current impressive purpose-built campus in 200 acres of Suffolk countryside in 1933. Here the boys could benefit from space and fresh air as well as excellent purpose-built facilities.
Through Greenwich Hospital, we continue to support the children of serving or retired naval personnel as well as families with other seafaring connections by awarding generous means-tested bursaries on boarding places. For more information, please contact the Registrar or visit Greenwich Hospital.
We are proud of our rich seafaring history and this maritime heritage lives on in the daily life of the School through a number of traditions, including:
- Sailing: All Year 7 pupils are given the opportunity to learn to sail, and talent in sailing is encouraged and developed throughout the School.
- Flag Ceremony: The daily raising and lowering of the School Ensign, referred to by pupils and staff as 'Flag'
- Divisions: All pupils are supplied with a naval uniform and taught the rudiments of marching for formal parades, called Divisions. These spectacular ceremonies, which generate tremendous pride in pupils and parents alike, are held on various dates during the year, five of which coincide with annual events: Harvest Festival (October), Remembrance Service (November), Confirmation Day (March), Founders' Day (May) and Sports Day (June).
- Marching Band: The School has an impressive Marching Band (all brass, drums, saxophones, clarinets, flutes and percussion) trained to the highest standards by the School Bandmaster who is a former Director of Music of the Royal Marines Band.
- Corps of Drums: The Corps of elite side and bass drum players performs impressive displays and is in much demand for ceremonial events throughout the country.
- Naval Commemorations: We have a tradition of marking key naval events, such as celebrating victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
- Houses: The School Houses are named after prominent naval figures.
We marked our tercentenary in 2012 by publishing a hard-backed coffee table style book celebrating 300 years and opening a Heritage Centre to display and store important historical documents and artefacts. The book can be purchased and visits to the Heritage Centre arranged by contacting [email protected].
The Royal Hospital School digital archive is hosted by SDS Group, experts in document scanning archiving and management solutions. A catalogue of some 17,000 images covering school magazines, periodicals, RHSA publications, photographs, historic documents are stored on the digital archive that can be accessed by creating a username and password.