Ancestry UK

Licensed Victuallers' School, Kennington London / Slough, Buckinghamshire

In 1794, the Friendly Society of Licensed Victuallers was set up to help publicans distressed by illness, age or poverty. Much of the Society's income derived from the publication of a trade paper, the Publicans' Morning Advertiser. On January 10th, 1803, the Society opened the Licensed Victuallers' School for the children of deceased or distressed members. The initiative for the institution has been attributed to Mr W.R.H. Brown, who was later the Warden of the Fleet Prison and Keeper of Westminster hall.

The school was opened in premises on Kennington Green in south London.

Licensed Victuallers' School, Kennington, c.1828.

The original building was extended as funds permitted, eventually accommodating over 100 children. Eventually, however, it was decided to erect a much larger building on the same site and the existing property was demolished in 1835. While the rebuilding work was taking place, the School moved to temporary premises at Grove House, Camberwell.

The foundation stone for the new School was laid on 21st January, 1836, by Lord Melbourne. The building, which could accommodate up to 250 children, was designed by Henry Rose and its construction cost £14,000. The official opening took place on March 14th, 1837. A few months later, Queen Victoria agreed to become the School's Patron in succession to her uncle, the late William IV.

Licensed Victuallers' School, Kennington, c.1858.

Like many charities of the period, admission to the school was through a periodic ballot of the institution's subscribers. A summary of the school's admission procedures is included in its entry from an 1890 directory:

Object.—The maintenance and education of children of deceased or distressed licensed victuallers who have been subscribers during the time they were in business. Admission.—By election of subscribers, generally annually in March (applications received until 31st December), after approval by Committee. Annual subscribers of £1. 1s. are entitled to one vote; donors of £5. 5s. (ladies) have two votes; of £10. 10s. (gentlemen) — have four votes at all elections. The age of admission is between 7 and 12; and both girls and boys now remain until 15 years of age. After leaving, the boys, if apprenticed, are presented with £5. Boys and girls going to service are given £3 upon completing six months service at one or more situations, and producing a good conduct certificate from their employers.

In 1922, the school moved out of London to a property on Mackenzie Street, Slough, in Buckinghamshire. The premises, originally a hotel, had previously been home to the British Orphan Asylum until financial problems had caused its collapse.

British Orphan Asylum, Slough, c.1907. © Peter Higginbotham

The old hotel was demolished in 1938 and replaced by a new building on another part of the site.

Licensed Victuallers' School, Slough, c.1939.

In the late 1980s, the school moved to a new site at Ascot in Berkshire. Now known as LVS Ascot, it continues as a successful independent school.

Other children's institutions that have been run by the Society include the Clevedon House School at Ben Rhydding, West Yorkshire (early 1980s-2005), and the LVS School at Hassocks for children with learning difficulties.

Clevedon House School, Ben Rhydding, 1976

In 2004, the Society of Licensed Victuallers became part of the Licensed Trade Charity.

From 1921 to 1992, the Kennington Road building, renamed Imperial Court, was the headquarters of the Navy, Army and Air Forces Institute (NAAFI). It has now been converted to residential use.

Imperial Court, c.2012.


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