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Bloomsbury Institutions


London High School

Also known as University School

Not to be confused with University College School


It was founded in January 1832 by John Walker, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin

In August 1831 Walker had been appointed headmaster of the London University School (later University College School) in succession to its first headmaster, Rev. Henry Browne

Walker had taught under Browne at London University School, which opened in a rented house at 16 Gower Street on 1 November 1830 under the loose control of the Council of the University of London (later University College London)

He took over after Browne’s resignation in August 1831, but was removed in December 1831 after the Council became aware that he was a bankrupt with outstanding debts (Ipswich Journal, 17 December 1825; ‘London University School’, 5 October 1831, UCS Correspondence and Papers 1831, A/6/27, UCL Special Collections)

The University Council declined to give him six months’ notice, as it was giving up the Gower Street lease in order to bring the School within the walls of the University’s grounds in January 1832 (John Walker to and from Thomas Coates, College Correspondence nos 2233–2554, UCL Special Collections)

As Walker held the lease on 16 Gower Street until Lady Day (25 March) 1832, he refused to move out until then, and advertised his own school at the same address, keeping the same teachers (whom he had appointed and whom he paid out of pupils’ fees) and taking the liberty of calling the school ‘University School’ (The Times, 24 and 30 January, 13 February 1832)

On 12 March, shortly before he was obliged to leave 16 Gower Street, he advertised for the last time under the heading ‘University School, 16, Gower-street, Bedford-square’, announcing that his school was moving on 19 March to Tavistock House (The Times, 12 March 1832)

This allowed it more space and enabled a new preparatory school and playground to be added; the name was also to be changed to the London High School (The Times, 12 March 1832)

There seems little doubt that Walker originally used the title ‘University School’ to cause confusion, out of pique at his treatment by the University

The University’s Secretary, Thomas Coates, took legal advice in February and March 1832 about the respective rights of Walker and the University in the matter of his contract (UCS Coates v. Walker 1832, A/9/1, A/9/3)

Since the University Council had authorised the re-establishment of its own School inside its buildings in January 1832, run by the Professors of Greek and Latin at the University and called the University of London School, Walker’s initial title for his school, and his continuing for two and a half months at 16 Gower Street, was mischievous

By 23 April Walker was advertising his school as the London High School in Tavistock House; he took his teachers with him, including the Second Master, the Rev. Charles H. Maturin, Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge (The Times, 23 and 26 April 1832)

The London High School continued to advertise; in July 1833 it announced that it was opening a boarding house as well as a day school (The Times, 29 July 1833), but then Maturin was named as Headmaster and Walker as Classical Master, perhaps because the title of Reverend was likely to impress potential parents

Maturin and Walker were named in advertisements for the school until January 1835 (Morning Chronicle, 1 January 1835)

In November 1835 there was an announcement in The Times that “The London High School, on the King’s College system, will be opened next Monday, by the Rev. J. W. Niblock, DD, at the half quarter”; ironically, this was immediately followed by an advertisement for the University of London Junior School (The Times, 7 November 1835)

On 19 January 1837 the school’s re-opening was announced at Tavistock House, still with with J. W. Niblock, BD Oxon, as its Head (Morning Chronicle, 19 January 1837)

Rev. Joseph White Niblock’s obituary notices in the Gentleman’s Magazine and Annual Register of 1843 both claimed he was the founder of the London High School

Niblock was from Liverpool, and matriculated at St Edmund’s College, Oxford, in 1808, aged 21; the alumni records say that he “undertook a private school in London, and called it the London High School, but without success” (Oxford University Alumni, 1500–1886, online database)

In the 1820s Niblock had been a Master at Hitchin School; in 1827 he applied for, but did not get, the post of Headmaster of Rugby School (The Times, 6 December 1827)

According to Burke’s Peerage, his daughter Amelia married Captain William Wellesley RN, nephew of the Duke of Wellington, in 1843, the year Niblock himself died

By 30 January 1839 the School was no longer located in Tavistock House (which was to become the family home of Charles Dickens in 1851); Niblock was then advertising its re-opening at 1 Euston Place, Euston Square (Morning Chronicle, 30 January 1839)

The 1841 census lists Niblock as “Clergyman, London High School” in Euston Place, but no pupils are listed (the census was taken on 6/7 June 1841)

It no longer exists

What was reforming about it?

Apparently nothing, although it tried to capitalise on the reforming reputation of University College School

Where in Bloomsbury

It was located at 16 Gower Street in succession to University College School from late 1831 until early 1832

In March 1832 it moved to Tavistock House, where it remained until at least early 1835; it was re-opened in Tavistock House in 1837

It moved just beyond Bloomsbury to Euston Place in early 1839, and was still there in June 1841

Website of current institution

It no longer exists

Books about it

None found


None found

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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