Brethren Archive

Westminster Public School - School of John Nelson Darby


Looking across Dean's Yard to the main school entrance.
The entrance to the school in Dean's Yard, adjoining Westminster Abbey
Looking into the main school courtyard.
Looking past the school entrance to the exit from Dean's Yard. Many of the modern school buildings are located outside here in the back streets of Westminster.
The portcullis is the symbol of Westminster in the same way the dragon is of the City of London. Also we have an old gas lamp.
The other side of the gate.
Outside of Dean's Yard, modern day pupils move to and fro between their lessons.


"On February 17, 1812, J. N. Darby entered the Westminster public school. The headmaster at the time was Dr. Carey. The school was, one might say, just around the corner and down the street from where J. N. Darby lived; yet he was a boarder there. All the sons of Mr. Darby attended this school. The classes were conducted in a large open hall, one class beside the other along the walls of the building; the students sat on terraced benches with their teachers in front of them.

Westminster was one of the greatest, though not the most fashionable, of English public schools. Only children of rich parents, such as could pay the school fees, attended, though there were scholarships that provided free education for forty out of the three hundred boys attending. The instruction was given by clergymen, and the subject matter consisted almost exclusively of Latin and Greek, with some English composition. Discipline was very severe, and in keeping with the times; the boys were beaten by the headmaster with a birch rod for misbehavior.

The years that J.N. Darby spent at this school passed by uneventfully - so much so that his old schoolmaster, being questioned years later, could well recall a boy by that name, but could not think of anything worthy of special notice and actually did not know what had become of him. J. N. Darby once wrote that in a child many reflective and working abilities lie hidden and come out by being called upon. The ability to acquire knowledge may begin early, but the reflectiveuse of what has been acquired comes later. This was to prove itself well in his own case.

In later years J. N. Darby felt that public schools trained boys for the world, with little or no fear of God.12 He said, "My education was in my judgment not well directed, save by God" He was not entirely opposed to education, and he believed that a Christian was free to seek the necessary improvement and cultivation for his secular work and position. What he was opposed to was education for its own sake as a goal for Christians. His desire was not only to have humanity educated, but more importantly to have God made known, as he put it."

Max Weremchuk: John Nelson Darby, A Biography

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