History of Ashlyns School

While we enjoy the benefit of our modern facilities, the staff and students of Ashlyns School are equally proud and conscious of our formal surroundings: the stained glass windows in the chapel, the beautiful staircase in the entrance hall, the carved fireplace in the old ‘boardroom’ remind us of our heritage. We maintain close links with Coram and The Foundling Museum in London.

Housing London’s foundlings

Our school’s history dates back to 1740 when the first children were received into the the London Foundling Hospital. A retired sea captain, Thomas Coram, was concerned at how many unwanted children were wandering the streets of London and infant bodies were being abandoned on rubbish tips. His campaign for a hospital to accommodate the so-called foundlings was successfully granted a Royal Charter in 1739. Three years later, work started on the first permanent building, many features of which can be seen in our school building, at Lamb’s Conduit Fields in Bloomsbury, 1742.

Heading out to Hertfordshire

Governors of the hospital decided in 1926 to realise the value of the London site (it was sold for £2 million) and to build a new hospital on the Ashlyns site at Berkhamsted. The children were sent to temporary premises in Redhill until 1935 when the Georgian-style buildings in Berkhamsted were ready for occupation.

Hertfordshire County Council took responsibility for the school part of the hospital when it became Ashlyns School in 1951. Boarders at The Thomas Coram Foundation for Children were 'phased out' by 1955, when the Foundation sold the buildings to the County Council. The living accommodation was converted into additional classrooms and laboratories, and a ‘grammar’ stream was added to the school making Ashlyns the first bilateral school in Hertfordshire.

Changing with the times

Ashlyns School became the comprehensive upper school of the three-tier system of education in 1972. Another major change to the management of the school took place in 1993, when we became a self-governing state school (grant maintained): this was a decision taken by parents and governors to further the opportunities for Ashlyns’ pupils. Ashlyns changed status once more, in September 1999, to become a Foundation School working in partnership with the Local Authority while retaining control of our buildings and land.


Stained glassLink to Coram Foundation websiteRoll of Honour 1945
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