George Heriot's School

George Heriot's School
Motto "Impendo"
("I Distribute Chearfullie [sic]")
Established 1628 (as George Heriot's Hospital)
Type Independent day school[1]
Principal Mr Cameron Wyllie
Head of the Senior School Mr Robert Dickson
Head of the Junior School Mrs Lesley Franklin
Chairman of Governors Mr Michael Gilbert
Founder George Heriot
Location Lauriston Place
Old Town, Edinburgh
Coordinates: 55°56′45″N 3°11′40″W / 55.945918°N 3.194317°W / 55.945918; -3.194317
Staff 155 teaching, c.80 non-teaching
Students c.1600
Gender Coeducational
Ages 3–18
Houses Castle, Greyfriars, Lauriston, Raeburn
Colours Navy Blue, White
Publication The Herioter
School song "The Merry Month of June"

George Heriot's School is a Scottish independent primary and secondary school on Lauriston Place in the Old Town of Edinburgh, Scotland, with over 1600 pupils, 155 teaching staff and 80 non-teaching staff.[2] It was established in 1628 as George Heriot's Hospital, by bequest of the royal goldsmith George Heriot,[3] and opened in 1659.


George Heriot's School, south side facing Lauriston Place (rear)
The Quadrangle.

The main building of the school is notable for its renaissance architecture, the work of William Wallace, until his death in 1631.[4] He was succeeded as master mason by William Aytoun, who was succeeded in turn by John Mylne.[5][6] In 1676, Sir William Bruce drew up plans for the completion of Heriot's Hospital. His design, for the central tower of the north façade, was eventually executed in 1693.[7]

The school is a turreted building surrounding a large quadrangle, and built out of sandstone.[8] The foundation stone is inscribed with the date 1628. The intricate decoration above each window is unique (with one paired exception - those on the ground floor either side of the now redundant central turret on the west side of the building). A statue of the founder can be found in a niche on the north side of the quadrangle.

The main building was the first large building to be constructed outside the Edinburgh city walls. It sits next to Greyfriars Kirk, built in 1620, in open grounds overlooked by Edinburgh Castle directly to the north. Parts of the seventeenth-century city wall (the Telfer Wall) serve as the walls of the school grounds. When built the building's front facade faced the entrance on the Grassmarket. It was originally the only facade fronted in fine ashlar stone, the others being harled rubble, but in 1833 the three rubble facades were refaced in Craigleith ashlar stone. This was done as the other facades had become more visible with the new entrance on Lauriston Place. The refacing work was handled by Alexander Black the then Superintendent of Works for the school, who later designed the first Heriot's free schools around the city.

The north gatehouse onto Lauriston Place is by William Henry Playfair and dates from 1829. The chapel interior is by James Gillespie Graham (1837) who is likely to have been assisted by Augustus Pugin. The school hall was designed by Donald Gow in 1893 and boasts a hammerbeam roof above the later mezzanine floor. The chemistry block to the west of the site was designed by John Anderson in 1911. The science block is by John Chesser (architect) and dates from 1887 incorporating part of the former primary school of 1838 by Alexander Black (architect).[7]

The grounds contain a selection of other buildings of varying age; these include a wing by inter-war school specialists Reid & Forbes, a swimming pool, now unused, and a granite war memorial, by James Dunn (1922) dedicated to the school's former pupils and teachers who died in World War I and World War II.


Statue of George Heriot in the quadrangle

On his death in 1624, George Heriot left around 25,000 Pound Scots equivalent to several tens of millions today to found a "hospital" (then the name for this kind of charitable school) to care for the "puir, faitherless bairns" (Scots: poor, fatherless children) of Edinburgh.

The construction of Heriot's Hospital (as it was first called) was begun in 1628, just outside the city walls of Edinburgh. It was completed just in time to be occupied by Oliver Cromwell's English forces during the invasion of Scotland during the Third English Civil War; the building was used as a barracks, with horses stabled in the chapel.

The hospital opened in 1659, with thirty sickly children in residence; its finances grew, and it took in other pupils in addition to the orphans for whom it was intended. In the 1880s, it began to charge fees; however, to this day it serves its charitable object, providing free education to fatherless children, referred to as "foundationers". In 1846 there was an insurrection in the hospital and fifty-two boys were dismissed.[9]

Front view of Heriot's Hospital

In 1837 the school founded ten "free schools" in Edinburgh, educating several thousand pupils across the city; these were closed in 1885. One of them, with a copy of several of the features of the original Lauriston Place building, is at the east end of the Cowgate (now serving as a Salvation Army hostel).

The school also provided funds for the establishment of an institution which later merged with the Watt Institution (named after James Watt) in the 1870s to form Heriot-Watt College, a technical college that became Heriot-Watt University in 1966.

In 1979 it became co-educational with the arrival of the first girls, and now has around 1600 pupils. Today, the school is Edinburgh's best performing school by Higher exam results[10] with leavers (in 2014) attending the country's most selective and prestigious universities including St Andrews (31), Glasgow (26) and Edinburgh (14) in Scotland and Oxford (2), Cambridge (4), Bristol (4) and King's College London (3) in England.[11]

Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh by Henry Fox Talbot, 1844.


Rugby team of Serbian students at George Heriot's school in 1918

Chronological list of the headmasters of the school, the year given being the one in which they took office.[12]

Thereafter, the title of Headmaster was changed to that of Principal.


Pupils at the school belong to one of four houses:

Extra-curricular activities

George Heriot's School has a wide range of extra-curricular activities in which pupils participate.

Notable alumni

Carving of a 17th-century classroom with a dominie and his ten scholars. Positioned at the school's main entrance, the motto reads, DEVS NOBIS HAEC OTIA FECIT - "God hath given us this leisure"..


  1. "George Heriot's School - Edinburgh City". Scottish Schools Online. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  2. "Facilities and Staff". George Heriot's School. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  3. "George Heriot and his Bequest". George Heriot's School. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  4. Colvin, Howard (1978). A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840. John Murray.
  5. Colvin, Howard (1978). A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840. John Murray. pp. 569–70.
  6. McWilliam, Colin; Walker, David; Gifford, John (1984). The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. Penguin. pp. 179–82.
  7. 1 2 McWilliam, Colin; Walker, David; Gifford, John (1984). The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. Penguin. p. 180.
  8. "Architectural Detail and Tower". George Heriot's School. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  9. Gilbert, William Matthews (1901). Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century. J. & R. Allan.
  10. Private schools up to mark with best ever exam results
  11. Higher Education Destinations of Leavers 2014
  12. Jinglin' Geordie's Legacy, 2009, Brain Lockhart, ISBN 978-1862322578 page 333
  13. Appointment of Principal. "George Heriot's School". Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  14. Appointment of Principal. "George Heriot's School" (PDF). Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  15. "The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association".
  16. Holgate, Andrew (15 February 2005). "Biography: John The Painter by Jessica Warner". London: The Times Online. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  17. "Hippolyte Jean Blanc". Retrieved 2014-03-09.
  18. "Obituaries:Colonel Clive Fairweather". Daily Telegraph. 15 October 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  19. "Biography:Professor Adam Watt". Exeter University. 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  20. Professor Kenneth McColl, Professor Henry Dargie (19 May 2008) [originally published (sans commentary by McColl & Dargie) in The Herald 9 October 2007]. "Obituary - Professor Sir Abraham Goldberg - Physician, scientist and academic" (PDF). Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 30 November 2008.
  21. Gowenlock, Brian G; B J Aylett; J C Bevington; D C Bradley; T S West; W P Richards; A G Hector (18 August 2004). "Obituary - Sir Harry (Work) Melville" (PDF). Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 30 Nov 2008.
  22. "The Official Website of The British & Irish Lions - History - Ken Scotland". British and Irish Lions. Retrieved 30 Nov 2008.
  23. Connor, Jeff (22 February 2001). Giants of Scottish Rugby. Edinburgh, Scotland: Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-478-7.

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.