Queen Elizabeth's Hospital

Queen Elizabeth's Hospital (more commonly known as QEH) is an independent school for boys in Clifton, Bristol, England founded in 1586. Stephen Holliday has served as Headmaster since 2000, having succeeded Dr Richard Gliddon. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the School's patron though the QEH is named after its original patron Queen Elizabeth I.

Known traditionally as "The City School", Queen Elizabeth's Hospital was founded by the will of affluent merchant John Carr in 1586, gaining its first Royal Charter in 1590. It has 560 boys and is now Bristol's only all-boys school.

The school began as a boarding school, accepting 'day boys' for the first time in the early 1920s. Boarders continued to wear the traditional blue coat uniform on a daily basis until the 1980s. After that, it was only worn on special occasions. Following a steady decline in numbers, QEH stopped accepting new boarders in 2004. Boarding closed completely in July 2008.

A Junior School was opened in September 2007 in terraced Georgian town houses in Upper Berkeley Place, adjacent to the main school.

The school is located in the heart of Bristol, near Cabot Tower, in an imposing building built of Brandon stone, designed by local architects Foster and Son and dating from 1847. It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade II listed building. The terrace steps and walls are also grade II listed, as are the walls, lodge and gates. Before moving to the site on Brandon Hill, it was previously housed at Gaunt's Hospital mansion house, Unity Street (1590-1767) and St. Bartholomew's, Christmas Steps (1767-1847). The Red Maids' School, the oldest girls' school in the UK, is sister school to QEH.


The school's yard is a listed structure owing to the complex nature of the tiling involved in construction. It is one of the largest tiled surfaces in Europe. The buildings surrounding it were purchased when QEH moved from the original site in 1872.

The school also has an up-to-date ICT suite which allows boys access to the internet. Boys can log onto the school server through a link on the school website.

The school library, located at the top of the main building, contains both fiction and non-fiction. The library also takes 35 periodicals, including magazines and national newspapers, in English, as well as French, Spanish and German, which are the three modern foreign languages offered to the boys for curricular study.

The school possesses playing fields outside Bristol, near the village of Failand.

A new sixth form centre (designed by the architect Ashley Smith, employed at the time by GSS Architecture) was completed early in the new millennium.


For much of its history, QEH has been for boys aged 11 to 18 - though it now has an all-boys junior school. QEH has its own entrance examination in January for students entering at Year 7 and Year 9 levels (ages 11 and 13 respectively), and boys take papers in three subjects - Maths, English and Reasoning. The year 7 entrants are chosen by Easter (roughly), and attend an initiation day during the summer term. Boys also regularly enter the school at sixth form level.

School day

The school day begins at 08:35 with registration in each class's form room. This is followed on Mondays and Fridays by a full school assembly in the dining hall led by the headmaster or, occasionally, the school chaplain on Fridays. The day is divided into nine thirty five minute periods. The first two are from 9-10:10am, followed by a 10 minute break known as 'movement time', then two more periods before break starts at 11:30am which ends at 11:50. After two more lessons, at 1pm, lunch break starts. This lasts until 2pm, when there is a fifteen minute form period before three more periods between 2:15pm and 4pm.

All boys have one afternoon of sports per week. For year 7 and 8, it takes place on Wednesdays at the school's Failand playing fields, where Rugby is played during the autumn and spring terms, and cricket or athletics during the summer. Years 9 and 10 have games on Tuesdays, and are given a choice of sports, while year 11 and sixth form have games on Thursdays, with the option of private study. There are also gym periods for years 7-11 during the rest of the week.

In year 7, boys are taught Latin, English, French, Maths, Geography, History, Religious Studies, Art and Science, as well as periods for sport and general studies. In year 8, boys are taught all of the above as well as an extra language (German or Spanish). In year 9, boys must choose 3 creative subjects (Dt, It, Art, Drama, Music or Latin), which are each taught once a week for a double period, and science classes are divided into the separate disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Boys are expected to take ten GCSEs, including a modern foreign language, Maths, English Language, English Literature, and the sciences (either as three separate disciplines or as "dual award" which gives two GCSEs). Boys take four AS Levels in 6i, with new subjects such as Economics, Further Mathematics and Politics also available. One subject is then dropped for their final year at the school in 6ii.

Public occasions

As well as performances at the QEH Theatre, some school activities are open to the public. At the end of the first half of the autumn term, the school holds its prize giving in the Wills Memorial Building, part of the University of Bristol. The headmaster reads his annual report, and a guest speaker gives the prizes to the winning pupils.

At the end of the winter term, the school holds its carol service at Bristol Cathedral. The school returns to the cathedral at the end of the spring term for its Charter Day service, celebrating the founding of the school. This service is attended by the Lord Mayor of Bristol, and the school's charter is put on display. The final public event of the school year is the school's sports day at the Failand playing fields after the end-of-year exams.

In addition, the school choir often sings Council Prayers at the Lord Mayor's Chapel on College Green, where school founder John Carr is buried.

House system

QEH operates a house system whereby students are allocated to one of four houses and engage in house activities including academic competitions (such as literature or foreign language readings), sports competitions, house drama, house choir, house music ensemble, and many others.

Each house is named after one of the school's notable patrons. The four houses are Bird's, named after William Bird; Carr's, named after school founder John Carr; Hartnell's, named after Samuel Hartnell; Ramsey's, named after Lady Mary Ramsey. Hartnell was also a benefactor of the nearby school Clifton College a fact reflected in them also having a house named Hartnell's.

Each house has its own colour, and that colour is worn on the school tie for all students up to year 11. Sixth Form students who are house captains also wear house colours on their ties. The colours for the houses are:

  • Bird's (yellow)
  • Carr's (blue)
  • Hartnell's (green)
  • Ramsey's (red)

Students who excel at helping their house in some manner or other (usually sporting) are awarded "house colours" consisting of a rectangular badge in the colour of their house.

The organisation of each house is carried out by a designated House Master, and two sixth-form students, the Captain and Vice Captain of the house, who are picked by the House Master in conjunction with senior members of staff.


Standard school uniform for years 7-11 consists of blue blazers and trousers with white or grey shirts and the school tie.

Sixth-form students wear a grey or black suit with pastel-coloured shirt and blue QEH tie. Students who excel at sports are often awarded with "house colours" for that sport in the form of a special tie.

Traditional bluecoat

For a long time the school was a traditional bluecoat school. This dress was eventually phased out as day uniform, but was still sometimes worn by boarders (until the cessation of boarding in 2008), and is still worn by choir members, and by the Captain and Vice Captains of the school, for special occasions such as prize day.


The school publishes several journals. The QEH News is a small newsletter, published biannually and available from the school's website, containing information on sports activities, gap year students, development plans and future events. There is also an annual publication, The Elizabethan, which gives a more in-depth commentary, as well as giving a showcase of pupils' artistic and literary talents.

Notable Old Elizabethans
  • William Friese-Greene portrait photographer and inventor. Pioneer in the field of motion pictures.
  • Sir Ivor Jennings jurist, educator and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.
  • Hugo Weaving, star of The Matrix trilogy, The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and V for Vendetta.
  • Jonathan Pearce (1971-78), a British soccer commentator for the BBC.
  • Ashley Pharoah (1971-78), writer and co-creator of the television series Life on Mars.
  • Simon Mann (1975-82) Broadcaster. Test Match Special Commentator.
  • Martin Bright (1977-84) Journalist. Political Editor of the New Statesman.
  • Mike Smith (1982-84), Managing Director of Columbia Records.
  • Jack Cuthbert professional rugby player for Bath rugby club
QEH Theatre

Open to the public, the QEH theatre seats 220, and since opening in 1990 has been host to many productions both by QEH pupils and professional companies performing plays, dance and poetry. It also hosts concerts and other musical events, such as the biennial 'Battle of the Bands' and regular acoustic-only 'Unplugged' events, which showcase the musical talent in the school.

Building Activity

  • removed 2 media
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com