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George Heriot's School: Wikis


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George Heriot's School
Motto "Impendo" ("I Distribute Chearfullie[sic]")
Established 1628 (as George Heriot's Hospital)
Type Primary, Secondary, Independent[1]
Headmaster Alistair G. Hector
Chaplain Ailsa Maclean
Founder George Heriot
Location Lauriston Place
Old Town, Edinburgh
LEA Edinburgh City
Staff 129 (FTE, as of Sept. 2005)
Students c. 1600
Gender Coeducational
Ages 3 to 18
Houses Castle, Greyfriars, Lauriston, Raeburn
Publication The Herioter
Coordinates: 55°56′45″N 3°11′40″W / 55.945918°N 3.194317°W / 55.945918; -3.194317

George Heriot's School is an independent primary and secondary school on Lauriston Place in Old Town, Edinburgh, Scotland, with around 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.



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] In 1676, Sir William Bruce drew up plans for the completion of Heriot's Hospital. His design, for the central tower of the south façade, was eventually executed in 1693.[6]

The school is a turreted building surrounding a large quadrangle, and built out of sandstone[7]. 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 also the first large building to be constructed outside the Edinburgh city walls. It sits next to Greyfriars Kirk, built in 1620, in open grounds in a fine position, overlooked by the Castle directly to the north. Parts of the seventeenth-century city wall (the Telfer Wall) are still to be found serving as the walls of the school grounds. The grounds contain a selection of other buildings of varying age; these include a swimming pool and a granite war memorial, dedicated to the school's former pupils and teachers who died in World War I and World War II.


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, fitherless 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 finally opened in 1659, with thirty pupils 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 a sizable number of fatherless children, referred to as "foundationers". It was not all plain sailing, however, and in 1846 there was an insurrection in the hospital and fifty-two boys were dismissed.[8]

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.

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 1700 pupils.


School Headmasters have included :

  • 1947 - 1970: William McLean Dewar
  • 1970 - 1983: Allan McDonald
  • 1983 - 1998: Keith Pearson
  • 1998–Present: Alistair Hector


Pupils at the school belong to one of four houses:

School Publications

The school magazine is called the Herioter. Published annually, this magazine contains sections for aspects of the school; including clubs and activities, work from pupils, articles on the drama productions of the year and a letter from the headmaster. The magazine is written by many contributors, generally pupil written articles about the clubs, and is designed and edited by 6th year pupils under the guidance of staff. The Junior School-specific Magazine is called the Junior School Journal (shortened to JSJ), which holds a cover competition for the pupils to take part in. There is also an annual school newspaper called The Heriot Herald. In addition, there is a less formal internal online magazine written by the pupils themselves and aimed at their peers called The Blazer, which can be accessed through the school's intranet. there is also a Former pupil magazine called "The Quadrangle", which is published by the heriot club for all former pupils, for the purpose of arranging reunions and similar Heriot Club activities.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ Scottish Schools Online 2007 - - George Heriot's School - Edinburgh City
  2. ^ "Facilities and Staff". George Heriot's School. George Heriot's School. Retrieved 1-Dec-2008.  
  3. ^ "George Heriot and his Bequest". George Heriot's School - Our History. George Heriot's School. Retrieved 1-Dec-2008.  
  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, p.569-70; Gifford, John, McWilliam, Colin & Walker, David, (1984) The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh, Penguin, p.179-82
  6. ^ Gifford, John, McWilliam, Colin & Walker, David, (1984) The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh, Penguin, p.180
  7. ^ "Architectural Detail and Tower". George Heriot's School - Our History. George Heriot's School. Retrieved 1-Dec-2008.  
  8. ^ Gilbert, W.M., editor, Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century, Edinburgh, 1901: 116
  9. ^ "Biography: John The Painter by Jessica Warner". London: The Times Online. 15 February 2005. Retrieved 22 December 2008.  
  10. ^ "Obituary - Professor Sir Abraham Goldberg - Physician, scientist and academic" (PDF). Royal Society of Edinburgh. 19-May-2008, originally published (sans commentary by McColl & Dargie) in The Herald 9-Oct-2007. Retrieved 30-Nov-2008.  
  11. ^ Gowenlock, Brian G; B J Aylett, J C Bevington, D C Bradley, T S West, W P Richards, A G Hector (18-Aug-2004). "Obituary - Sir Harry (Work) Melville" (PDF). Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 30-Nov-2008.  
  12. ^ "The Official Website of The British & Irish Lions - History - Ken Scotland". British and Irish Lions. 18-Aug-2004. Retrieved 30-Nov-2008.  
  13. ^ Connor, Jeff (22-Feb-2001). Giants of Scottish Rugby. Edinburgh,Scotland: Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-8401-8478-7.  

External links



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