fonds YCT/BCS - Records of the Blue Coat School, York

Identity area

Reference code



Records of the Blue Coat School, York


  • 1768-1961 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.2 cubic metres

11 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

The Blue Coat School was founded on 14 June 1705 by York City Corporation. Funded principally by public subscription and a number of endowments, the school opened in St Anthony’s Hall in Peasholme Green and provided education, clothing, food and lodging for boys aged 7-12. Its name came from the blue coats worn by its pupils, which were modelled on the uniform of Christ’s Hospital School in Greyfriar’s, London.

Entry to the school was by a quarterly ballot when subscribers giving more than one guinea a year held two votes, one for a boy to enter the Blue Coat School and one for a girl to enter the associated Grey Coat School. In 1764 the Blue Coat School had 45 pupils and this had risen to 70 by 1850.

Initially the school came under the authority of a Gentlemen’s Committee, but from 1829 this was supplemented by an annual committee of 15 elected subscribers and a system of visiting directors, in addition to separate estate and audit (later financial) committees. This new committee structure became known as York Charity Schools.

Pupils at the school were expected to be of good character and were taught reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as receiving religious instruction. Upon completing their education boys were apprenticed to trades or the sea, or entered domestic service. Until 1900 pupils also supplemented the income of the school with daily spinning work.

School facilities were expanded in the early twentieth century with the addition of new classrooms and gymnasiums in 1914 and a new playing field and pavilion in 1938. After 1924 the school shared its premises with the pupils of the Grey Coat School and from the 1920s onwards pupils could take part in an annual pantomime and summer camp.

By the 1940s however subscriptions had fallen and in 1944 the Blue Coat School was refused classification under the new Education Act, leading to its eventual closure in 1947.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute in 1963. Further additions were made to the archive in 1980, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2015.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Committee minutes, 1824-1831; minutes of the Blue Coat Benevolent Society, 1913-1921; government inspectorate reports, 1927, 1930, 1934, 1938; financial papers, 1897-1908, 1923-1953; Headmaster’s correspondence, 1930s-1940s; pupil records, including admissions register, 1836-1920, discharge register, 1840-1883, pupils’ bank accounts ledger, 1934-1946, health records, 1837-1848, 1932-1945, class registers, 1935-1937, 1941-1943, 1946-1947, diary of Stanley Little at school camp, 1930, ephemera belonging to pupil Kenneth Gall, including badges, books and certificates, and photographs, c.1937-1940; records relating to social activities at the school, including programmes for pantomimes, 1929-1932, 1934-1939, Blue Coat Camp, 1930-1933, Blue Coat Concert, 1933, and Sports’ Day, 1939, 1944, a copy of the school magazine for the Blue Coat and Grey Coat School, 1942, news cuttings concerning Christmas, camp, pantomimes and anniversary services, 1930s; photographs of school buildings, pupils and activities, c.1920s-1947; film reels showing school camps and outings, 1930s; Headmaster’s address at old scholars re-union, together with research notes relating to history of Blue and Grey Coat Schools, includes some 18th century documents, 1886; annual reports of the Old Boys Association, 1934, 1937-1938; typescript reminiscences of life at the school, 1915-1923, by J. P. Pexton, 1981; article by former sewing maid on life at the school, 1991.

Additional uncatalogued material, 1790-1961, including deeds, accounts, correspondence and other papers.


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Includes film reels. Access to audiovisual material may be restricted due to technical requirements, please contact the Borthwick Institute for more information.

Finding aids

A typescript finding aid, to file level, is available for consultation in the searchroom of the Borthwick Institute. This includes all material received up to and including 2002. Later material has not yet been catalogued, please contact the Borthwick Institute for further information.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Selected records, including admission books, 1836-1889, and a log book, are also available on microfilm at the Borthwick Institute (Reference: MFB 2056).

Related units of description

The archives of the Grey Coat School, the Blue and Grey Coat Children's Home, St Stephen's Orphanage, York Charity Schools and York Children's Trust are also deposited at the Borthwick Institute. York Charity Schools archive includes records of the Committee of the Blue and Grey Coat School, 1770-1906, as well as school reports, rules, lists of benefactors, and correspondence. The Borthwick also holds 'Living in children's homes' (MD/154) which includes research on staff and pupils of the Blue and Grey Coat Schools, York.

Publication note

W.B. Taylor made use of the archive in 'Blue Coat Boys and Grey Coat Girls: the Blue and Grey Coat Schools and St Stephen's Home of York 1705-1983' (York, 1997).

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by S. A. Shearn, 01.06.15.




Accession area