Westminster is an ancient school. Its origins can be traced to the Benedictine monastery at Westminster Abbey, and its continuous existence is certain from the early fourteenth century. After the dissolution of the monasteries
in 1540, Henry VIII personally ensured the School’s survival by statute, and his daughter, Elizabeth I, confirmed royal patronage in 1560 and is celebrated as the School’s Foundress. Old Westminsters include John Dryden, John Locke, A.A. Milne, Henry Purcell and Christopher Wren.
Music plays an integral part in life at Westminster, where pupils are encouraged to learn and participate as fully as possible in a weekly routine of rehearsals, recitals and concerts. Many internationally renowned musicians have been educated at the school including Henry Purcell, Adrian Boult, Roger Norrington, Ian Bostridge, George Benjamin, Julian Anderson and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Westminster musicians regularly attend the junior departments at the Royal Academy, Royal College and Guildhall, and a good number are members of the National Youth Orchestra, National Children’s Orchestra, National Youth Jazz Orchestra and National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. The Choir of Westminster School has developed a national reputation for excellence, giving annual concerts at the Barbican and performing regularly at venues including Westminster Abbey, St John’s Smith Square and the Houses of Parliament. Under the direction of Timothy Garrard, Director of Music, the Choir rehearses regularly throughout the week in preparation for twice-weekly services in Westminster Abbey and evensongs in the School Chapel.