An almost forgotten part of English Church Music history, I am researching over 41 choir schools which were formed as a direct result of the Oxford or Tractarian movement.
These were not in cathedrals, but in churches, chapels, private aristocratic households and schools which were independent of any establishment. They were founded to give the very highest standards of music to accompany the High Church ceremonial.
I shall update this page regularly with more Tractarian choir schools.
London, St Andrew's Wells Street. 1895
One of the classrooms in the purpose built choir school. St Andrew's was the first choir to issue a gramophone record in 1902.
London College for Choristers, 1930
A group of boys on tour in Wellington, New Zealand. The boys from the London College and the London Choir were deadly rivals!
Bristol All Saints, 1929
Choristers taking part in the Boy Bishop ceremony.
Newland Choir School, Malvern, 1914
Just outside of Great Malvern, this is where the Archive of Recorded Church Music is located. This once famous choir school survived until 1945.
Savoy Chapel Choir, 1930
The boys arriving in Canada for the start of their tour. Although the London Choir School which supplied the choristers to the Savoy closed in 1958, they now are educated at St Olave's School in Orpington
Upper St Leonards, St John's church, 1925
The Barham brothers, Edwin, Walter and Herbert
Holborn, St Alban-the-Martyr, 1928
Tenbury, St Michael's College, 1881
One of the very last surviving Tractarian Choir Schools, St Michael's closed in 1985.
London Choir School, 1937
A select group of boys from the school named 'The English Boy Choristers' who toured the USA & Canada on a regular basis to great acclaim.
London, All Saints Margaret Street. 1960
One of the last surviving Tractarian Choir Schools, it closed in 1968
Clumber Park Choir School, 1929
The choir, clergy and altar servers of the Duke of Newcastle's Choir School at Clumber Park, Worksop. The photo was taken by the Duke himself
Tenbury, St Michael's College, 1966
Choristers with Watkins Shaw in the famous library looking at the original manuscript score of Handel's Messiah, the college's greatest treasure
London, All Saints Margaret Street, 1960s
St Mary of-the-Angels Song School, 1934
Making Palm Crosses to raise money for the school
Newland Choir School, Malvern, 1943
The last photograph taken of the choristers before the school closed in 1945
London Choir School, 1953
Choristers hired out to sing at a wedding
Clumber Park Choir School, 1922
The choristers outside their newly built Choir Hostel, which is where they boarded.
St Mary of-the-Angels Song School, 1948
Photo published in a newspaper and entitled 'Reflections'
Newland Choir School, nr Great Malvern, was unique in being attached to the chapel of an Almshouse and is the now the home of the Archive of Recorded Church Music.
St Andrew's church and its famous Tractarian choir school was the first ever choir to make a gramophone record in 1902.
ââClick on all photos to view full size
The London Choir School : 1915-1958
and the Savoy Chapel Choir
Amongst the many choir schools in London during the first half of the 20th century, there were two which are now almost forgotton, yet in their hey-day were of immense importance.
One was the London College for Choristers, founded by James Bates in 1894 and which closed at the outbreak of World War II and the other was the London Choir School, founded by Carlton Borrowes in 1915 and which lasted until 1958.
The purpose of both these choir schools, which were day and boarding, was primarily to supply the London churches with choristers, either on permanent contract or as and when required. Between them, the two schools supplied over 150 London churches and Royal Chapels.
The London Choir School also supplied choristers for concerts, recitals and film work and their most famous appearance was in the film 'Sixty Glorious Years' starring Dame Anna Neagle, in 1938.
The Savoy Chapel and St Peter's Eaton Square were two of the many establishments where the LCS supplied the entire choir, St Peter's being the last before the school closed.
A video presentation, written by myself, on the history of the London Choir School and its links with the Savoy Chapel choir.
St Peter's Eaton Square, 1955
A brief extract from the 1938 film starring Dame Anna Neagle as Queen Victoria and featuring two 'Royal Choirs' singing in Westminster Abbey.
The Chapel Royal are instantly recognizable and one assumes that they are singing with the Abbey choristers. However, they are not, and the choristers you see on the screen are from the London Choir School, who regularly undertook film work.
John Gwilym Griffith was a chorister at the London Choir School.
Click the 1928 record to hear him sing.
The most outstanding choristers from the London Choir School broadcast a Christmas service in 1938 which was simultaneously recorded by the BBC onto eight gramophone records.
Listen to the only surviving record from the eight, with Keith Savage, opposite, singing the solo in verse two.
The London College for Choristers : 1894-1939
A separate and rival institution to the London Choir School, but fulfilling the same function.
Some exciting discoveries have been made regarding this choir school, details of which will be posted soon.
Clumber Park Choir School : 1893-1928
The Duke of Newcastle's private chapel at Clumber Park, Worksop was the size of a small cathedral. His purpose built choir school was equally as lavish and afforded the choristers a level of comfort unknown at that time!
The photo from 1925 is of the Duke, his chaplain, chauffeur and choristers heading off for a picnic, and not forgetting the famous Clumber spaniels!
The banner photo of this page also shows the Duke's chaplain, clergy, choir and altar servers in full Anglo-Catholic spendour.