London History

A walk by Blewcoat School, Westminster

There are plenty of buildings in London that date back centuries so there’s no shortage of historic sites to visit.


This little Grade 1 listed building located in Caxton Street, in Westminster – a two-minute walk from St James’s underground station – was once a charity school that dates back to the 17th century. It is believed to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

Photo by Berto –

The school was founded in Duck Lane in Soho (before relocating to Caxton Street) around 1688 by voluntary subscription as a charity school for the education of poor boys to teach them reading, writing, religion, and trades.

The building in Caxton Street was built in 1709 and remained a school until 1926.

Pupils were clothed in a distinctive uniform, with a long blue coat which gave the school its name. The colour blue was traditionally the colour of charity and was a common colour for clothing at the time. The uniform included a blue frock coat and yellow stockings with white bands.

Photo by Berto –

From 1714 to about 1876, the school also admitted girls. In 1899, it was agreed that the school should move to a site that had been owned by the Christ Church National Schools Trust, and the Caxton Street site was then used for an elementary school. The school closed in 1926.

Photo by Berto –

During World War II, the building was used by the American services as a store. After the war, the building was used by the Girl Guides as a youth club.

Photo by Berto –

In 1954, it was purchased by the National Trust which used the building as their London membership and head office.  It was later converted into a gift shop and information centre.

Photo by Berto –

In 2013 fashion designer Ian Stuart was granted permission to refurbish the interior to house his bridal gowns and special occasion wear. 

Today the building is occupied by interior design company Studio Ashby,


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