Renowned actors, sportsmen and musicians have been educated in Hammersmith. Earlier this month a group of 30 followed me along the River Thames to learn about some former pupils of Latymer School and St Paul’s School.
Latymer Upper School is nearly 400 years old, having been founded in 1624 by Edward Latymer (1557-1627). A prosperous lawyer, he eft part of wealth for the clothing and education of “eight poor boys” from Hammersmith. The clothing, which included a doublet, a pair of breeches, a shirt incorporated a red cross on the left sleeve, a pair of woollen stockings and shoes, was to be distributed twice a year on Ascension Day and All Saints Day.The boys were to learn reading in English and 'God's true religion' at existing petty schools, where they were to remain until the age of 13. Its motto was paulatim ergo certe (‘Slowly therefore surely’), incorporating his name.
Latymer was the son of an Ipswich cleric, who later became Treasurer of Westminster Abbey. Edward went to St John’s College, Cambridge and eventually became a wealthy lawyer. He purchased manor of Butterwick in Hammersmith but lived mostly near St Dunstan-in-the-West ‘at the sign of the Cock’, where he died in 1627. He never married, had no children and left most of his money to the parish of Hammersmith. Latimer Road Tube station and Latymer Roads and Court named after him. The school was initially at Fulham but by 1863 it moved to King Street, Hammersmith. In 1950s it became a direct grant grammar school, with many pupils’ fees paid by local government but became fully private in 1975.
Famous people who went there include: Music: two members of White Lies; jazz musician Cliff Townsend, father of Pete; Sport: rugby player Dan Luger; bowler and cricket correspondent Simon Hughes; Politics: MPs Andy Slaughter MP for Hammersmith; Others: Heston Blumenthal, Lily Cole, Milton Jones; Film and theatre: Ian McKellen’s uncle teacher; Mel Smith, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant.
St Paul's School was founded by the Dean of St Paul’s, John Colet (1467-1519). A son of a Mercer who was twice Lord Mayor, he was the only surviving child of 21 siblings. He founded St Paul’s School in 1509, then the largest school in England. In the 16th century it was usual for school governance to be entrusted to the Church, but Colet believed that “he yet found the least corruption” in married laymen. He therefore chose “the most honest and faithfull felowshipp of the mercers of London” the premier guild of the City of London – of which his father had been a leading member – as “patrones and defenders governours and Rulers” of his new school. The Mercers’ Company still appoints governors of school and has strong links.
Under Colet’s statutes, there were to be 153 scholars (a reference to the miraculous draught of fishes, St John XXI, 11) “of all countres and nacions indifferently”. Their High Master paid 13/6 weekly, twice the wage of Eton College. Scholars were taught for free but were required to be literate and to provide own candles. An early Master was Richard Mulcaster in 1580s. His description in positions of “footeball” as a ferried team sport is the earliest reference to organised modern football - considered the father of modern soccer. The school moved to Hammersmith 1884 then to a 45-acre site in Barnes in 1968, where it's been ever since. Site was traditionally the site of a reservoir, filled in it is said by spoil from Victoria Line.