Illustration of The Hall, Blue Coat School


Christ’s Hospital, commonly referred to as the Blue Coat school in reference to the distinctive uniform worn by the scholars there, was founded in the sixteenth century as a learning institute for poor boys and bestowed with a charter by King Edward VI in 1553. The school was housed in accommodation in London’s Newgate Street and later re-housed in a building endowed by Sir Christopher Wren following the Great Fire of London, when its Royal Charter was renewed by Charles II. By the early 20th century a lack of accommodation resulted in the school moving to Horsham in Sussex where it remains a thriving co-educational institution of learning to this day, noted for its distinctive Tudor-style uniform and historical traditions.

The image shown here dates from the early 19th century and depicts two scholars wearing the distinctive blue coats as they address the school in the Great Hall on St Matthew’s day, still marked by the school as the occasion when governors are recognised formally by the Lord Mayor of London.

Background to the Microcosm of London collection of prints

The Microcosm of London was published in three volumes between 1808 and 1810 as a result of an ongoing collaboration between publisher Rudolph Ackermann, cartoonist and illustrator Thomas Rowlandson, architectural draughtsman Auguste Charles Pugin, engravers John Bluck, Joseph Constantine Stadler, Thomas Sunderland, John Hill and Richard Bankes Harraden, anonymous hand-colourists and authors William Henry Pyne and William Combe.

The Microcosm of London tapped into the demand for highly-coloured prints of real-life subjects that proved something of a publishing sensation during the Regency period. As such, the prints stand as a fascinating historical record of London life in the early years of the 19th century. While Pugin’s fine architectural drawings capture the size and shape of the capital’s principal buildings (both externally and from within) Thomas Rowlandson’s keenly observed figures depict the sheer colour and vitality of late Georgian society, rich and poor alike.

Full title:
The Hall, Blue Coat School from Microcosm of London
1808-10, London
Book / Illustration / Image
Rudolph Ackermann, W H Pyne, William Combe, Augustus Pugin, Thomas Rowlandson
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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