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Historical Background


Background History

Archbishop Tenison’s School was founded in 1685 by Thomas Tenison, who was, at the time Vicar of St. Martins-in the-Fields, Trafalgar Square. Thomas wanted to provide the first free education for boys in London so he founded both a school and library within the precincts of the church. His innovative approach is still alive today, with our modern curriculum supported by traditional values. 


Other interesting facts about Thomas Tenison:
  • He preached a funeral sermon for Nell Gwyn in 1687
  • He attended Queen Mary during her last illness and preached her funeral sermon in Westminster Abbey
  • He attended King William III  on his deathbed. He crowned William's successor, Queen Anne
  • Thomas Tenison was presented by King Charles II to the important London church of St Martin's-in-the-Fields.

The School has continued to provide a high quality education for boys ages 11–19, with girls being admitted in the sixth form. The School’s first home was in Trafalgar Square on the grounds of the National Gallery. The School moved to its present location opposite the Oval cricket ground in 1928. Paintings of Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury currently hang in the National Portrait Gallery and to this day the school still retains its historic links with both Canterbury and St. Martins-in-the-Fields.

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© Archbishop Tenison's School