fonds YCT/GCS - Records of the Grey Coat School, York

Identity area

Reference code



Records of the Grey Coat School, York


  • 1789-1961 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.1 cubic metres

7 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

The Grey Coat School opened in October 1705 in a house in Marygate, York. Like the Blue Coat School for boys, the Grey Coat School was funded principally by public subscription and owed its name to the uniforms worn by its female pupils.

Girls were provided with food, clothes and lodging and received an education that focused on religion and the acquisition of skills like knitting and sewing to prepare them for domestic service. Until 1900 the pupils also undertook spinning to supplement the school’s income.

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 Grey Coat School. In 1764 the Grey Coat School had 30 pupils and this had risen to 42 by 1819.

In 1783 the school moved from Marygate to new premises in Monkgate containing spinning and sewing rooms and in 1786 it underwent a significant reformation through the influence of Catherine Cappe, the wife of Newcome Cappe, the local Unitarian minister, and founder of a Spinning School for girls in York.

Under her leadership new mistresses and a matron were appointed at the school and a Ladies Committee formed to undertake its administration under the ultimate authority of the Gentlemen’s Committee who continued to manage both the Grey and Blue Coat Schools. Girls were to be taught wool spinning and provided with clothes on going out to service, whilst the practice of apprenticing girls was stopped completely.

By 1900 pupils received instruction in religion, arithmetic, history and geography as well as the more traditional domestic accomplishments, and in 1924 they began sharing lessons with the Blue Coat School in St Anthony’s Hall in Peasholme Green.

When the Blue Coat School closed in 1947 it was agreed to run the Grey Coat School as a girls’ hostel, with girls accommodated in the Monkgate building while attending local authority schools. In 1955 the decision was taken to admit boys aged 5-9 to the hostel and in 1961 the Monkgate buildings were sold, replaced by a residential Home for children on Stockton Lane to be run by a House Mother.

In 1969 the Grey Coat Home was amalgamated with St Stephen's Home, York. In 1973 the Social Services Department of the County Council took over responsibility for the Home and in 1976 the funds of the Blue and Grey Coat Schools, together with several related charities, were transferred to the newly established York Children’s Trust. The Home on Stockton Lane was closed in 1983 and the premises sold.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute in 1974. Further additions were made to the archive in 1980 and 2015.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Minutes of the Ladies Committee, 1789-1936, 1952-1959; minutes of the Gentlemen's sub-committee, 1853-1931; government inspectorate report, 1923; financial papers, 1827-1848, 1884-1901, 1931-1948; petty cash books, 1924-1948; register of visitors, 1847-1848; pupil records, including matron's record book, 1841-1927, admissions registers, 1830-1931, discharge registers, 1857-1859, 1870-1889, punishment book, 1908-1925, list of addresses for past pupils, 1920s, and correspondence concerning past pupils, n.d. entry papers of Ruth Siddall, 1907; photographs of school and pupils, c.1930s.

Additional uncatalogued material, 1790-1961, including deeds, 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. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

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

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

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 1980.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

The archives of the Blue 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