There are plenty of buildings and structures in London that date back centuries so there’s no shortage of historic attractions to visit. This little Listed Grade 1 building situated on Caxton Street, Westminster – a two-minute walk from Victoria Street – was once a charity school that dates back to the 17th century. It is believed to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
The Blewcoat was built in 1709 as a school for the poor (a Bluecoat school). It was used as a school until 1926. The school was founded in Duck Lane in about 1688 by voluntary subscription as a charity school for the education of poor boys to teach them reading, writing, religion, and trades. Pupils were clothed in a distinctive uniform, with a long blue coat which gave the school its name. The colour blue was traditionally the colour of charity and was a common colour for clothing at the time. The uniform included a blue frock coat and yellow stockings with white bands.
It moved to purpose-built premises in Caxton Street. From 1714 to about 1876, it also admitted girls. In 1899, it was agreed that the school should move to a site that had been owned by the Christ Church National Schools Trust, and the Caxton Street site was then used for an elementary school. The school closed in 1926.
During World War II, the building was used by the American services as a store. Afterwards, the Girl Guides used it as a youth club.
In 1954, it was purchased by the National Trust who used it as their London membership and head office. Later, it was converted into a gift shop and information centre.
In 2013 fashion designer Ian Stuart was granted permission to refurbish the interior to house his bridal gowns, special occasion wear & evening gown collections. Ian Stuart still occupies the building today.