Archbishop Tenison's Church of England High School, Croydon

Archbishop Tenison's School
Motto Tenaciter
Established 1714
Type Voluntary Aided, selective, day school
Religion Church of England
Headmaster R Parrish, MA (Oxon)
Chair of Governors S Smith
Founder Thomas Tenison
Location Selborne Road
Greater London
Coordinates: 51°22′10″N 0°04′55″W / 51.36943°N 0.08191°W / 51.36943; -0.08191
Local authority Croydon
DfE URN 101811 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Staff 90
Students c. 800
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses Fisher (Yellow), Ramsey (Blue) , Temple (Red), Becket (Green)


Publication Tenaciter
Principle Sports Association Football, Rugby Union, Netball, Cricket, Athletics
Former Pupils Old Tenisonians
Website Archbishop Tenison's CE High School

Archbishop Tenison's Church of England High School, commonly known as Tenison's, is a selective historic 11-18, voluntary aided, mixed school in the London Borough of Croydon, England, part of the educational provision of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark and Croydon Council. It is a specialist Mathematics and Computing College. Its 11- to 18-year-old pupils are predominantly active in the Church of England, as selected by the Governors, with a minority of places available to members of other Christian denominations.


Several schools were founded by Thomas Tenison, an educational philanthropist, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In 1714, Tenison, by then Archbishop of Canterbury, founded a school for some “ten poor boys and ten poor girls” on a site which is now close to the heart of Croydon’s shopping centre. Just over 300 years and three sites later, it is thought that the School is the oldest surviving mixed-gender school in the world.

Due to the hostilities of the Second World War, the School was moved away from the dangers of the Blitz in South London and relocated to Craigmore Hall in the countryside near Crowborough, East Sussex, with pupils being evacuated and billeted with the local populace. After the War, the School returned to Croydon and Craigmore Hall returned to private use.

The School now occupies a site established almost 50 years ago in a leafy residential area of Croydon – Park Hill, just ten minutes' walk from East Croydon station. It caters for around 770 pupils, of whom approximately 270 are in the Sixth Form. Since 1959, the facilities have been augmented by the building of a Sixth Form Centre, an Art block, and Geography and Technology Centres.

In its Ofsted report, from February 2008, the Lower School and Sixth Form were both described as being "Outstanding", receiving the highest inspection grades available.

Founder’s Day

A Tenisonian tradition is that once a year, usually the morning of the first Friday in May, the entire school gathers to celebrate the anniversary of its foundation in 1714, the life of the founder Thomas Tenison and the achievements of the past academic year. The event is attended by pupils, the governors and representatives from the Diocese of Southwark.

The annual report is read by the headmaster and a short speech is given. After the service pupils do not have to return to lessons. It is also a long-standing custom for girls in the lower sixth to dress in 18th-century school uniforms and greet visitors to the church, in reference to the historic origins of the school.

School armorials

The badges of both the surviving schools founded by Thomas Tenison are based on his personal coat of arms, which consist of the arms of the see of Canterbury impaled with the Tenison family arms. The former, placed on the dexter side of honour, are blazoned as: Azure, an archiepiscopal cross in pale or surmounted by a pall proper charged with four crosses patee fitchee sable. The arms of Tenison, placed on the sinister side of the escutcheon are blazoned as: Gules, a bend engrailed argent voided azure, between three leopard's faces or jessant-de-lys azure. In standard English: a red field bearing a white (or silver) diagonal band with scalloped edges, and a narrower blue band running down its centre. This lies between three gold heraldic lion's faces, each of which is pierced by a fleur-de-lys entering through the mouth.


Arms of Denys of Gloucestershire, 13th century

These arms are a difference, or variant, of the mediaeval arms of the family of Denys of Siston, Gloucestershire, and may have been adopted by the Tenison family because its name signifies "Denys's or Denis's son". The arms were originally those of the Norman de Cantilupe family, whose feudal tenants the Denys family probably were in connection with Candleston Castle in Glamorgan. St Thomas Cantilupe(d.1282), bishop of Hereford, gave a reversed (i.e. upside down) version of the Cantilupe arms to the see of Hereford, which uses them to this day. A version of the Denys arms was also adopted by the family of the poet laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson, not known to have been a descendant of Archbishop Thomas Tenison.


All pupils wear a distinctive blue blazer with the school crest embroidered to the left breast. Ties must be worn at all times and are dark navy blue with bishop's mitres embroidered in house colours. Boys wear white shirts with grey trousers with an optional royal blue pullover with Archbishop Tenison's crest, girls wear light blue blouses, grey skirts, cardigans (optional) or jumpers and are allowed to wear trousers, however this is not widely practised. During the warmer summer months, at the discretion of the headmaster, blazers may be removed whilst in School and ties need not be worn. Sixth formers do not have to wear school uniform however boys are expected to wear a dark suit, shirt and tie, and girls are expected to wear similarly formal clothing.


Pupils at Tenison's are organised in a manner typical of historic British schools - they are sorted into a house system. These houses determine the colour of a pupil's sports kit and the colour of the mitres on their school tie. Pupils are actively a part of the house system from years 7 to 9, and compete annually for the House Points Cup and the Inter-House Cup (a sporting competition). Involvement within the house system lessens in years 10 and 11; however, there have been calls to put greater emphasis on the house system, and inter-house competitions, for all year groups.

The houses at Tenison's are named after famous Archbishops of Canterbury, and include:


Despite its urban location and comparatively small intake, Tenison's does very well in local and Surrey schools sporting competitions, and pupil involvement is high. There are very successful association football and netball teams in every year, 7 - UVIth, entry into various local athletic events, as well as rugby. The football 1st XI regularly reach the final of the Surrey Cup, most recently in 2008, losing on penalties to Richmond upon Thames College, and in 2009 the 1st XI won the Surrey Schools FA league for the 3rd year in a row. In 2006, Tenison's 1st XV rugby team hosted a touring side from a Canadian school, St. Mary's Catholic Secondary School, Cobourg, winning 33-22.

The school has no on-site grass playing fields but does enjoy the use of nearby Lloyd Park for many PE lessons and excellent facilities at nearby Coombe Lodge, providing pitches for both football and cricket, and a recently constructed all-weather surface on the School site enables the provision of tennis, basketball, netball and five-a-side football, as well as four other on-site tennis courts. Cross-country runs are also regularly held, with routes through Lloyd Park and the surrounding woodlands. The School holds its annual summer Sports Day at Croydon Sports Arena in nearby South Norwood.

Sixth form

There is a widely sought after, heavily over-subscribed sixth form, offering a variety of subjects to pupils who have finished their GCSEs. This is a joint sixth form which was established with St Andrew's High School, Croydon in 1978 but resides on Tenison's premises. Tenison's school sixth form is regularly the top performing, non-independent sixth form in Croydon, with pupils going up to Oxbridge most years, as well as other top British universities (approximately 80% of upper sixth leavers immediately enter university, with more entering after taking a gap year).

Old Tenisonians

Current pupils are known as Tenisonians and all former pupils are known as Old Tenisonians, often referred to as "OTs". Ex-pupils, along with former teachers and friends of the school automatically become members of the Old Tenisonian Society.

The society has existed for many years and its main objectives are:

OTs are to be found worldwide, both staff and pupils, and there are regular events including dinners and reunions, as well as a Society newsletter.

Notable Old Tenisonians include Surrey CCC and England cricketer Mark Butcher.

See also

External links

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