Queen Elizabeth's Hospital

Queen Elizabeth's Hospital

The main building
Motto dum tempus habemus operemur bonum
(Latin: "Whilst we have time, let us do good.")
Established 1586
Type Independent day school
Headteacher Stephen W Holliday
Founder John Carr
Location Berkeley Place

Coordinates: 51°27′18″N 2°36′32″W / 51.455°N 2.609°W / 51.455; -2.609
DfE number 801/6014
DfE URN 109370 Tables
Capacity 670
Students 670
Gender Boys
Ages 7–18
Houses Bird's
Colours Blue and yellow
Former pupils Old Elizabethans
Website qehbristol.co.uk

Queen Elizabeth's Hospital (also 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. The Queen is the School's patron, although 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 is now Bristol's only 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, and boarding closed completely in July 2008.

A Junior School opened in September 2007 in terraced Georgian town houses in Upper Berkeley Place, adjacent to the main school.[1]

The school is located in central Bristol, near Cabot Tower, in a 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.[2] The terrace steps and walls are also grade II listed,[3] as are the walls, lodge and gates.[4] 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). QEH has had close associations with Red Maids' School since the oldest girls' school in the UK's founding.[5]

To celebrate 425 years since the school's opening, a new school song was composed in 2015.[6]


For much of its history, QEH has provided education for boys aged 11 to 18, although it now has an all-boys junior school from age 7 as well. In 2014 QEH began working with Redland High School on a co-educational infant school from age 2 – 7 years. QEH Senior School has an entrance examination in January for students entering at Year 7 and Year 9 levels, boys take papers in Maths, English, Verbal Reasoning and Non Verbal Reasoning.[7] These papers are used to select those eligible for John Carr academic scholarships.[7] Boys applying for Music scholarships are invited to an interview and audition, at which they perform music and complete an aural and sight reading test.[7] Sports scholarships are awarded based on an interview and practical tasks.[7] The Year 7 entrants are generally chosen by around Easter and attend an initiation day during the summer term. Boys also regularly enter the school at sixth form level, including international students as part of a scheme run in partnership with Redland High School for Girls.[8] In April 2016 the school announced that it will be accepting girls into the sixth form as of September 2017


The Sixth Form Centre

The school has multiple ICT suites and laptops, and most classrooms contain Smart Boards.[9] Boys are given a school email address and can connect to the school network from home to access files and other resources.

The school library, located at the top of the main building, contains more than 10,000 books and takes 35 periodicals, including magazines and national newspapers. Pupil librarians help to run the library and the role of Head Librarian is given to a boy in the Upper Sixth.[10]

The school possesses 23 acres of playing fields outside Bristol, near the village of Failand, which are managed in partnership with Bristol City F.C., who use the land for training.[11]

The sixth form centre includes its own IT suite, communal study area and common room, with a cafeteria serving hot and cold food at break and lunchtimes.[12]

Currently work is underway on a new Science and Art building.

School day

The Yard, used for ball games during break and lunch

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 35-minute periods. The first two are from 9–10:10 am, followed by a 10-minute break known as 'movement time', then two more periods, before break starts at 11:30 am and ends at 11:50. After two more lessons, at 1 pm, lunch break starts. This lasts until 2 pm, when there is a 15-minute form period before three more periods between 2:15 pm and 4 pm.[13]

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. 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, biology, physics and chemistry, as well as periods for sport. 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 2 creative subjects (design technology, information technology, art, drama, music or Latin, the latter occupying both choices), which are each taught once a week for a double period. Boys are expected to take ten GCSEs, including a modern foreign language, maths, English language, English literature, and two out of the three sciences, taught as separate disciplines. Boys take four AS Levels in the lower sixth form, with new subjects such as economics, classical civilisation, further mathematics and politics also available. One subject can then be dropped for their final year at the school in the upper sixth.

Annual events

The 2004 Prize Giving ceremony at the Wills Memorial Building. The boarders and prefects can be seen in their bluecoat uniforms at the centre of the picture.

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


The Captain of School 2002/3 standing next to statue of QEH boy, both wearing the bluecoat uniform

Standard school uniform for Years 7 to 11 consists of blue blazers, grey trousers, white shirts and the house tie.

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

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 charter day.

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 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, Mayor of Bristol 1589-90 and major benefactor of the school; 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 senior school students up to year 11 wear a tie with a stripe of that colour. Sixth Form students who are house captains also wear ties bearing their house colours. The colours for the houses are:

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.


The QEH News, Autumn 2008 edition.

The school publishes several periodicals. QEH News is a small newsletter, published biannually and available from the school's website, containing information on sports activities, school trips, development plans and future events. There is also an annual publication, The Elizabethan, which gives a more in-depth commentary, as well as showcasing pupils' artistic and literary talents. A group of students, the Elizabethan Committee, supports the editor of The Elizabethan by taking photos and writing articles for the magazine.

QEH Theatre

The QEH Theatre

The QEH theatre seats 210, 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. Student volunteers often assist in school productions as technical and front of house staff.

Notable former pupils

Former pupils of the school are known as Old Elizabethans.


Records of QEH are held at Bristol Archives, including foundation records, administrative, property and financial records, admission records and illustrative material (Ref. 42536) (online catalogue).


  1. "About QEH". Retrieved 5 April 2011.
  2. "Queen Elizabeth's Hospital". Images of England. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  3. "Terrace wall, steps and lamps to west of Queen Elizabeth's Hospital". Images of England. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  4. "Walls, lodge and gates to Queen Elizabeth's Hospital". Images of England. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  5. "Queen Elizabeth's Hospital". www.qehbristol.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-04-17.
  6. "New QEH '425' School Song". Queen Elizabeth's Hospital. 13 February 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 4 "QEH Senior School Further Information" (PDF). www.qehbristol.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-04-15.
  8. "International Students". Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  9. "Queen Elizabeth's Hospital". www.qehbristol.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-04-15.
  10. "QEH library | Bristol library | Library in Clifton". www.qehbristol.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-04-15.
  11. "QEH Senior School Prospectus" (PDF). www.qehbristol.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-04-15.
  12. "QEH Sixth Form Prospectus" (PDF). Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  13. Note: all information in the school day section was correct as of the 2014-15 school year.
  14. Bristol Evening Post 15 July 2008
  15. "Jennings, Sir (William) Ivor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (subscription required). Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  16. "Match of the Day star's an outstanding role model". Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  17. "QEH Matters January 2015" (PDF). Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  18. "The Creative Society, board of trustees". Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  19. "Martin Bright's eulogy Richard's funeral" (PDF). Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  20. "UK Polling Report". ukpollingreport.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
  21. "QEH OE Wins Triple Blue". Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  22. QEH Bristol News
  23. "Could he be Bristol's first F1 driver?". Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  24. "Bristol City's Joe Bryan ready to leap at FA Cup chance against West Ham". Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  25. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/antarctica/10581992/British-16-year-old-Lewis-Clarke-sets-South-Pole-record.html
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