Victorian London - Education - Schools - Naval Schools

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We here present our readers with an engraving of the building about to be erected for the use of this institution at New-cross. The site is on an eminence overlooking the public road to the right, at no great distance from the railway station. It will be 170 feet long and 280 feet deep when completed. A contract has been entered into for the erection of half the edifice, at an expense of £13,635; and the other will doubtless follow in due time, as soon as the funds of the establishment will bear the expense. That no long time may lapse before this may be the case we fervently trust, for there are few institutions whose sphere of action is more important, and whose objects are of greater public utility, than the Royal Naval School. It was established to provide a thoroughly good education or the children of naval officers, most of them destined to follow the profession of their fathers. If there are any of our youth who have a peculiar right to be entitled "the children of the state," it is the offspring of naval and military men who have grown grey in the service of their country, and many of them laid down their lives or its honour and interests. The style of the edifice which has called forth these few remarks is plain and unpretending, its prevailing character being that of elegant simplicity. The proportions, we understand are modelled on a design of the great Sir Christopher Wren. The architect is Mr. Shaw. The foundation-stone of this building was laid on Thursday last, in a temporary pavilion erected for the purpose, and gaily decorated with flowers and flags, by his Royal Highness Prince Albert, in presence of a distinguished company, which included several officers of the highest rank in the service. A great proportion of the company being ladies, the parterre of beauty displayed was such as we have never seen surpassed. The boys of the school, in blue jackets and caps and white trowsers, formed a prominent and interesting feature of the scene.

from The Illustrated London News, 1843

ROYAL HOSPITAL SCHOOL, Greenwich, stands between the Royal Greenwich Hospital and Greenwich Park-three spacious wings, each 146 ft. in length, being connected by a colonnade 180 ft. long; and part of the structure testifying to the genius of its architect, Inigo Jones, by whom it - was designed as a palace for Queen Henrietta Maria.
    The School consists of 800 boys, sons of officers and seamen of the Royal Navy, of officers and privates of the Royal Marines, and of the Coast Guard, also Sons of seafaring persons.
    Boys are eligible for admission between 10 and 11 years of age, if physically fit for sea-service, able to read an easy sentence, and possessing a knowledge of the four first rules in arithmetic.
    The practical instruction for the out-of-school hours consists of knotting and splicing, a knowledge of the parts of a ship and her rigging, and the great gun and cutlass exercise.
    On the lawn stands a model of the deck and upper works of a corvette of 500 tons, completely rigged, and with sails bent, wherewith the senior boys are exercised in reefing, furling, &c. The model ship has also small pieces of brass ordnance, in exercising which a number of the boys acquire a fundamental knowledge of gunnery. Under the bows of the ship is a large Turkish brass gun, captured by Admiral Sir John Duckworth's fleet at the passage of the Dardanelles, in 1807.
    The entrance-hall, 39 ft. square, is of good design, two stories high, and has a gallery round it. The wings contain the schoolrooms, dormitories, chapel, and refectory; their façades are of the Doric order. The front next the Park has a handsome Ionic loggia.

The ROYAL NAVAL SCHOOL, New Cross, Kent, was founded in 1844, for educating, at the least possible expense, the sons of the less affluent naval and marine officers (giving a preference to those whose fathers have fallen in their country's service).
    Upwards of 1600 boys have received board and education in this school, and the number at present is upwards of 210. In 1852, through the exertions of Admiral Bowles, a chapel was added to the school; and in 1857 a large swimming bath. The establishment is chiefly maintained by annual subscriptions, as the expenditure of the school is considerably larger than the income derived from the scholars. Civilian pupils are admitted at the annual charge of 50l., which includes board, books, washing, &c. The course of instruction is the same as at other public schools which qualify the pupil for the university, naval or military service.
    No pupil can be admitted before 8 or after 14, or remain after the age of 18 years. There are several prizes and scholarships attached to the school.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

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Royal Naval School, New-cross, is principally intended for sons of officers in the Royal Navy or Marines of ward-room rank, but sons of civilians are admitted at a somewhat increased rate of payment. Previous to admission a form of application must be filled up by the boyís parent or guardian. This, with all further particulars, may be obtained of the secretary at the school. The charges range from £58 per annum to £42 10s., but the cost of education in this school so greatly depends upon nominations, circumstances and professions of parents, &c.. that it is impossible here to give a detailed list. NEAREST Railway Stations, New-cross (L.B.& S.C. and SE.) Omnibus Route, New-cross-road.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

At Greenwich there is the Royal Naval School, for the children of officers and seamen who have been killed or disabled in the service of the Royal Navy. One of the conditions of entry is that boys shall be prepared here for a sailorís life; so none but strong, healthy boys enter. No boy is admitted under ten years of age; and if by the time they are thirteen years old they should not want to go to sea, or should be unfit for a sailorís life, then they must leave, and make room for those who are fit for the naval service. The thousand boys in this Home are taught seamanship; or as much seamanship as can be taught without the sea. They have for this purpose a full-rigged model of a slip on the lawn in front of the principal building, where the little nava1 lads go through the duties of seamen, and are taught the use of the compass, and all that belongs to navigation.

Uncle Jonathan, Walks in and Around London, 1895 (3 ed.)

see also Greenwich Hospital and Royal Naval College - click here