Ancestry UK

Blue Coat School, Reading, Berkshire

The Blue Coat School at Reading, Berkshire, was founded in 1646 through a £4,000 legacy by Richard Aldworth, a Reading-born merchant of The Skinners' Company and a Governor of Christ's Hospital. The new establishment, which was also known as Aldworth' School, was intended to be for 'the education and upbringing of twenty poor male children, being the children of honest, religious poor men in the town of Reading.' With Christs' Hospital as its model, the boys at the Reading adopted a uniform of a blue gown, yellow stockings, and buckled shoes. Their instruction was to include reading, writing and the casting of accounts.

In 1660, the School took up residence at The Talbot, a former inn on London Street, Reading. The premises eventually proved inadequate for the growing school and were rebuilt in 1723.

Over the years, the school received a further benefactions, notably through the will of J. Hall in 1696, and an endowment by A. Norwood in 1794. In 1842, its funding allowed 44 boys of Reading and three of Sonning to be educated, lodged, maintained and clothed. Aldworth's original endowment also provided for a further 30 boys to be educated. Hall's gift made provision for boys to be apprenticed.

In 1852, the school relocated to a larger property known as Brunswick House on the Bath Road, Reading,

Blue Coat School, Bath Road, Reading, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Blue Coat School, Bath Road, Reading, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Blue Coat School garden, Bath Road, Reading, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Blue Coat School, Bath Road, Reading, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Blue Coat School, Bath Road kitchen, Reading, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Blue Coat School wash room, Bath Road, Reading, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Blue Coat School toilets, Bath Road, Reading, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

The school remained at Brunswick House until 1947 when it moved to the Holme Park estate at Sonning, where it continues as an independent day school for boys, though now has a co-educational sixth form.

The Brunswick House building is now occupied by a care home.


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  • Van Went, Peter Truth Conquers All (2013, Shire Publications)
  • Jones, M.G. The Charity School Movement: A Study of Eighteenth Century Puritanism in Action (1938, Cambridge University Press)