A dignified and impressive design with later additions. Spiral staircase leads to the top of the tower, giving excellent views. Formerly a Drapers' Company charitable school in Mile End Road, Bancroft's moved to its present site in 1889.
Access to the Quadrangle, the Chapel & the Tower Only
Sir Arthur Blomfield,
History of the School
The buildings on the present site date from 1889 although the school was founded in 1737 and spent its first 150 years on the Mile End Road in East London. The move to Woodford was driven by a desire to leave the very unhealthy city and find a rural setting where fewer people might die!
The original buildings were those surrounding the main quadrangle; the money for them was provided by the Worshipful Company of Drapers, who have been associated with the school since its foundation. The design was by Sir Arthur Blomfield, and is very similar to that which he used later in Selwyn College, Cambridge.
Fewer than 200 boys, mainly boarders, were at the school in 1889. Now there are over 1100 pupils with equal numbers of boys and girls, and there is no boarding.
Each generation has in its turn refurbished and added to the buildings. The Science Block was added in 1910, the Great Hall in 1937 and the Prep Department in 1990. More recent projects have included the Courtyard Building, a Sports Hall on the edge of the field, and the Lyons Building (Art Block) which opened in 2011.
The parts of the building which are accessible to visitors at Open House London are the Quadrangle, the Chapel and the Tower.
The Chapel was part of the original building; its stained glass window was installed in 1907.
It is possible to climb the staircase to the Tower which offers excellent views over East London. The stone staircase is steep and narrow and therefore visitors enter at their own risk.