Ancestry UK

City of London Freemen's Orphan School, Brixton, London

The City of London Freemen's Orphan School was established in 1850 'to provide for the maintenance and the religious and virtuous education of orphans of Freemen of the City of London.'

In 1854, the School moved into new purpose-built premises on Shepherd's Lane (now part of Ferndale Road) in Brixton. The building, designed by the City Architect, James Bunning, could accommodate up to 65 boys and 35 girls.

The School site is shown on the 1896 map below.

City of London Freemen's Orphan School site, Brixton, c.1896.

City of London Freemen's Orphan School, Brixton, 1854.

Applicants for admission to the School were required to be 'children of Freemen of the City of London, who are orphans by the death of their father, and are without adequate means of maintenance and education.' Children who had been maintained by the poor rates were not eligible. Applicants had to be between the ages of 7 and 10 years of age and provide a medical certificate as to their general soundness of health. Before any child was admitted, a guarantee had to be provided by two respectable householders that they would receive it if removed from the School from any cause; and in case of death, to defray expense of funeral. Children admitted to the School were maintained, clothed, and educated until the age of 15 years.

In 1924, the Corporation purchased the 57-acre Ashtead Park estate at Ashtead in Surrey. The School, renamed the City of London Freemen's School, moved there in 1926, initially with accommodation for 54 boys and 53 girls. Fee-paying boys were also now admitted, with fee-paying girls joining them in 1933.

Ashtead Park.

The School is still in operation, an independent co-educational day and boarding school for children aged 7 to 18.

The School's former Brixton building was demolished in 1927 and the Ferndale Court police flats were built on the western part of the site, with the eastern section becoming the City of London Police Sports Club ground. The flats were sold by the Corporation to London Borough of Lambeth Council in the 1970s and renamed St Edmundsbury Court. The sports ground now houses the Ferndale Community Sports Centre.


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  • Jenkins, Patricia Their Moment To Shine — Reflections on the History Of the City of London Freeman's School 1854-2004 (2004, City of London Freeman's School)