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Our History

Our History

Founded by Cardinal William Allen in 1568, St Edmund’s College is the oldest Catholic school in England, with distinguished alumni of 20 canonised saints and 133 martyrs.

Originally located in Douai, France, and intended as a seminary to train priests, it became a Catholic school for boys. During the French Revolution, the College transferred to England and found its present home on the beautiful site of Old Hall Green in 1793.

In 1874, during the Presidency of Monsignor James Patterson, the junior boys were separated from the rest of the College into Saint Hugh’s Preparatory School (now St Edmund’s Prep) in a house originally built by Pugin for the Oxford convert WG Ward. In 1893, his son, Bernard Ward, was appointed President of the College, and he started a scheme of rebuilding and improvements.

The College continued as a boys’ school and seminary until 1975 when girls from the adjacent Poles Convent were first admitted into the Sixth Form. The College became fully co-educational in 1986. Today, that wonderful Catholic heritage, combined with our magnificent 400-acre site, located deep in the Hertfordshire countryside, provides our inspiration as we continue to deliver our main objective, unchanged for over 400 years: to foster the spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional development of each person in our community.


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