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Davenant Foundation School

Davenant Foundation School
Motto Nurturing mind,body and spirit
Established 1680
Type Academy
Religion Christian
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Mr Chris Seward

Chester Road
IG10 2LD
England Coordinates: 51°39′45″N 0°05′05″E / 51.66253°N 0.08470°E / 51.66253; 0.08470{{#coordinates:51.66253|0.08470|region:GB_type:edu_dim:100|||||| |primary |name=

DfE number 881/5426
DfE URN 136625 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 1078
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses Debden, Abbey, Valley, Epping, Nazing and Theydon
Website Davenant Foundation School

Davenant Foundation School is a coeducational, Christian Ecumenical secondary school, founded in 1680, currently located in Loughton, Essex, England.


Foundation in Whitechapel

In February 1680 the Reverend Ralph Davenant drew up his will leaving all of his household goods and plate to his wife with the provision that it should eventually be sold and that the monies raised should be used to build a school for 40 poor boys of Whitechapel

Ralph Kevin Davenant was the son of the Rector of Gillingham in Dorset. Mr Davenant became Rector of Whitechapel (St.Mary's) and was awarded the degree of M.A. by Cambridge University as a result of a directive from King Charles II. It is not known what the connection between Ralph Davenant and the King, but the King was clearly impressed.

In addition to the monies raised from the sale of plate and goods, a number of properties were also given over to the school so that rents and capital could be raised. These consisted of a farm at Sandon near Chelmsford, the site where Tilbury Fort is built and much of the land upon which the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway is built. Funds raised thereby went towards the additional educating of 34 poor girls. Boys were to learn reading, writing and arithmetic whilst the girls were to learn reading, writing and sewing.

A site for the proposed school was found in the Whitechapel Road on the Lower Burial Ground, the site is still occupied by the old school buildings and can be clearly seen when passing along the Whitechapel Road.

In 1813, a dramatic change took place when Davenant earned itself the title of 'Cradle of the National Schools of England'.

Monitorial system

Dr Andrew Bell invented a system for educating hundreds of children with only one Master assisted by senior boys. This became known as the monitorial system. 1,000 children (600 boys and 400 girls) were educated by this system in a new building which was erected in Davenant Street.

The Charity School continued to function in the original buildings which were eventually enlarged in 1818 to accommodate 100 boys and 100 girls. The school by now maintained two institutions educating 1,200 children — extraordinarily large for 1818. The third strand of the school came into being in 1858 when a Commercial or Grammar School was built in Leman Street under the direction of the Reverend Welden Champneys, the then Rector of Whitechapel. In 1888 the two charities of Whitechapel and Davenant merged to become 'The Foundation School'.

New buildings

In 1896, the new Renaissance Building was erected behind the 1818 building providing additional up to date classroom space and a magnificent assembly hall which remains to this day. In 1939 the school was evacuated and the buildings were taken over by the Heavy Rescue Service who did irreparable damage to the buildings and destroyed many of the documents and honours boards - which were used to board up broken shop windows. In 1944 the school became Davenant Foundation Grammar School for Boys, a title which it retained until 1980. By now it educated only some 200 boys.

Move to Loughton

In 1966, at the invitation of the Essex County Council, the school moved to the leafy suburb of Loughton. Many East End families had in any case moved out to the suburbs by this time. The population in London was in decline and there was a need for grammar school provision for boys in Loughton. There were, in 1966, many fine grammar schools in the East End including Raine's, George Green, Coopers Coborn and Parmiter's. Davenant's best chance of survival was to move.

The new buildings at Loughton were located on the edge of the town and open farmland between Loughton and Theydon Bois, and were opened in 1966 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Comprehensive and coeducational school

The school continued as a two form entry boys' grammar school until 1980. It was then that, after much deliberation, the Governors and Trustees decided that the time was right to further develop the work which Ralph Davenant had put into motion some 300 years before and so it was that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother made her second visit to the school to mark the restoration of the co-educational nature of the school and its ongoing development as a Christian Ecumenical School for 1,000 girls and boys.

The school also gained specialist status as a Language College and a Sports College.


The school converted to academy status on 1 April 2011.

House system

At least until the 1980's a House System was in place with three houses.

Boys were allocated to each house on the first day at school - and were allocated in strict rotation from the register (1st on register to Abbey, 2nd to Forest, 3rd to Roding, etc). There was little activity associated with house membership - as far as the author can recall the only established event was that athletics in the summer term were competed in teams based on house membership in each year (presumably because numbers required per sport were low - there were only 20 members of a house in each year). During that period other sports (rugby, football etc) had an annual match between the 2 forms in each year instead.

It is not known if this system was abandoned before 2005, or simply changed in 2005 (see below).

A new house system was introduced in 2005 with the school being divided up into six houses, one for each form in each year. The houses are named after places in the surrounding area of the school.

The houses are:

  • Debden - Mascot: Dragons - Colour: Red
  • Abbey - Mascot: Angels - - Colour: Blue
  • Valley (after Roding Valley) - Mascot: Lions - Colour: Yellow
  • Epping - Mascot: Tigers - Colour: Orange
  • Nazeing - Mascot: Shark - Colour: Purple
  • Theydon (after Theydon Bois) - Mascot: Phoenix - Colour: Green

The first initials of each house spell out D, A, V, E, N, T; which are the letters that make up the school's name - Davenant (minus the repeated letters). Each house has a member of staff as head of house, a house colour and mascot. They also all have sixth form house prefects. However, the House system is taken seriously by students (particularly on sports day)


The school has been on 4 rugby tours so far; Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and South America. The tour to South Africa was a successful tour where the team won 3 matches out of 5 - while on this tour Davenant played a team which came from the local townships. The Canada tour in 1994 was more successful as all 5 tour games were won. The school have had many players who have represented at county level (Mainly Essex but also Middlesex). Every year the school is entered for the Daily Mail cup at both Under 18 and Under 15 levels.

The current Davenant 1st XV squad has recently taken on a new coach in the form of notable Blackheath Flanker, former Wales Rugby League and Head of Business studies Dave Brown. He succeeds long time servant Richard Vaughan who left after the 2007/2008 season after 9 glory-filled years as head coach at the school.

In the past years the school 1sts have consistently reached the 3rd or 4th round of the Daily Mail Schools' Cup and last year was knocked out by eventual winners St Benedict's School, Ealing. There is a great rivalry between Davenant and schools close by in the area such as West Hatch and Debden Park.

Notable former pupils

Davenant Foundation School

See also

  • Davenant International
  • Davenant Centre
  • The History of the Davenant Foundation Grammar School by Roland R. Reynolds, M.A., Former Headmaster
  • The Davenant Foundation Grammar School: The War Years 1939 - 1945. Edited by Arnold A. Zimmerman. ISBN 0-934314-49-7. (LCCN 00-13242)


External links