King’s School Rochester is the oldest choir school and the second oldest school in the world. The School is nestled in the Cathedral precinct of historic Rochester and in the shadow of Rochester castle which boasts one of the finest Norman keeps in the country. King’s is truly a School with a strong historical tradition and a clear vision of education for the 21st century.
The name of ‘King’s School’ dates from the Reformation, when, in 1542, King Henry VIII reconstituted the Cathedral Foundation after the dissolution of the Monastery, although there has been a school on the Cathedral site since 604 AD.
King Henry appointed a Dean and Chapter, a full choral establishment and ‘twenty scholars to be taught Grammar’, together with a Headmaster and Undermaster of the Cathedral Grammar School.
Associations with the Tudor monarchs were sustained, when Queen Elizabeth I stayed in the building which currently houses the administration block and the Sixth Form Centre. She offered grudging approval for her overnight stay with the word ‘satis’, a comment that is remembered in the name Satis House.
A turning point in the later history of the School occurred in 1842, with the appointment of the Reverend Robert Whiston as Headmaster. At the beginning of his term of office, a new School Room was built which still survives as part of Main School. Whiston was a man of strong convictions and his campaign for the rights of King’s Scholars led him into conflict with the Dean and Chapter of his day. The whole story formed the plot for Trollope’s novel ‘The Warden’.
A scheme for the administration of the School was made and sealed at the Court of Windsor in 1877 and this, with its amendments, forms the current Instrument of Government of the School – and thus the School took its place in the setting of nineteenth century Public Schools.
In 1909, the Headmaster of the day was elected to the Headmasters’ Conference (HMC), at which the School has been represented ever since.|
The last fifty years have seen the School grow in both size and stature and there are currently around 650 pupils from ages 3 – 18 years of age on the School roll.