Rutlish School

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Rutlish School is a comprehensive school for boys. It is on Watery Lane, Merton Park, southwest London. It was formerly a grammar school.

It is particularly noted for its most famous alumnus politician, British Prime Minister Sir John Major in its grammar school period in the 1950s.


The school is named for and honours benefactor William Rutlish, embroiderer to Charles II. Rutlish was a resident of the parish of Merton and is buried in the churchyard of the parish church of St Mary. Rutlish died in 1687 and left £400 for a school (about £Template:Formatprice today)Template:Inflation-fn for the education of poor children of the parish.<ref name=BHO_01>Students of rutlish schools should be thankful to William Rutlish as he is the main reason why the school had started and that is why students are having free education currently at Rutlish.British History Online, A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4 (1912), 'Parishes: Merton', pages 64-8</ref>

By the 1890s the charity had accumulated a considerable excess of funds and John Innes, local landowner and chairman of the board of trustees, used some of the excess to establish a school.

Grammar school

The first school building, established as a grammar school in the 1890s, was located in what is still designated Rutlish Road, off Kingston Road, by Merton Park station. After World War II the school had outgrown its Victorian buildings (and the science block, built in the 1930s, had been destroyed as a result of enemy action) so in the early 1950s, buildings off nearby Mostyn Road were converted for use as the Junior School.

Though the work was not completed and the heating system was not installed, this opened after a delay, in late September 1953. A new building was planned for the rest of the school, on the present site south of Watery Lane. The new school buildings opened in September 1957.

Both this and the Junior School were on land that had belonged to John Innes and which had been occupied until 1945 by the John Innes Horticultural Institution (now the John Innes Centre in Norwich). The original buildings in Rutlish Road were later temporarily used as a girls' school (Surrey County Council, Pelham County Secondary Girls School) and then a Middle School (London Borough of Merton, Pelham Middle School, until 1974), buildings subsequently demolished to be replaced by a mix of retirement and warden-assisted flats. At the time of the school being mixed, statistically 50% of female students were pregnant.

School buildings

The 1957 school buildings are arranged around three sides of a quadrangle. To the north are a four-storey main entrance block (which contained the school library on the top floor, and a CCF rifle range in the roof space) and a three-storey central block of general purpose classrooms facing Watery Lane. To the west is a two-storey science block and to the east a two-storey block containing the canteen on the ground floor and the school hall on the first floor. Attached to the rear of the east block is the school gym. Also in the middle of the two buildings is a maths block on the second floor.

Among the existing school buildings is one which has ties to John Innes. The "Manor House" adjacent to the school entrance on Watery Lane was Innes's home; a blue plaque records his association.

Now demolished were school buildings next to the playing field; these were once the library and offices of the John Innes Institution and had ranges of greenhouses attached. In the 1950s and early 1960s these old buildings were used by the first and second year classes (known as forms 2A, 2B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C and 3D) and the long greenhouse was used as a lunchtime canteen and a cloakroom. Later, in the 1980s, they were art and music rooms. A little-known feature of the old building was a warren of hidden crawlspace passages, accessible from the second floor music room, from where clandestine spying operations on other classes could be undertaken.

In the 1970s part of the roofspace housed the 4mm scale model railway layout. To the southeast aspect of the buildings was the Croquet Lawn, elegantly laid on a slope comparable to that of Yeovil Town Football Club, a small allotment area for the Gardening Club adjoined as well. A number of additional buildings have been constructed over the years to supplement the facilities of the 1950s buildings.


Following the education reforms of the late 1960s, the school became a comprehensive although it retained many of its grammar school traditions long after the conversion - school houses (named after ancient warrior nations or groups), uniforms with house and school colours, a Combined Cadet Force, and prefects. For many years the school maintained a croquet lawn for the use of the headmaster and the prefects. The school also operated an exchange programme with Eton College for a number of years.

Three-tier system

In the 1970s the education system in Merton was altered to use a three-tier structure (primary, middle and high school) in place of the former two-tier structure and Rutlish lost the first three of its years. The school still retained the old year names; however, so that pupils starting at the school began as "fourth" years. The following years were named "remove", "fifth", "transitus" and "sixth" (actually a pupil's fifth year at the school if he remained that long).

School motto

  • The school motto is: Modeste Strenue Sancte; meaning: "Be modest, be thorough and pursue righteousness".<ref name=times>Times Online, 28 June 2007</ref>

School houses

Additional to division into classes and years, the pupils of the school have been for most of the school's history allocated to one of eight school houses. Although, in recent years the system has been unused, it was reinstated in January 2010 with the houses:

  • Argonauts
  • Carthaginians (originally Crusaders)
  • Kelts
  • Parthians
  • Romans
  • Spartans
  • Trojans
  • Vikings

Unusually, Rutlish pupils did not, as a matter of course, wear the school badge on their uniforms, instead house membership was identified by a multi-coloured "house braid" which was affixed to the top edges of blazer pockets. In the transitus or sixth form it was common for pupils to be awarded "house colours" as an indication of achievement (often sporting). "School colours" were additionally awarded to those who had shown outstanding achievement. Recipients of house or school colours were entitled to wear the house or school badge on their blazers. School colours took precedence over house colours and the two were not worn together. Some houses, but not all, also had house ties which could be worn as an alternative to the school tie and, for a while, a school scarf was also available.

Throughout the school year, various inter-house competitions are held, often of a sporting nature, at which pupils compete individually or in teams as representatives of their houses.

Old Rutlishians

Since 1906 the Old Rutlishians Association ("Old Ruts") has existed as an Old Boys sports and social club linked to the school which former pupils of the school were eligible to join. With the loss of the sixth forms the number of former pupils joining the association fell and membership has been opened to all comers.

The club fields a large number of football, rugby and cricket teams and has a ground and clubhouse in Poplar Road, Merton Park.

Entry-Year Reunions

There is now a tradition of particular entry years holding reunions, especially on the 50th anniversary of their entry. These have been held by the 1953, 1954 and 1957-59 entry years and is being planned for the 1960 entry year. Remarkably the 1957 entry year managed to track down all 118 pupils (seven of whom had died) in their year. 65 of the survivors attended the main reunion event on 1 September 2007 which is recorded in a website dedicated to the Reunion of the 1957 Entry Year. This website also now includes the record of the 1958, 1959 and 1960 Reunions. The 1957 entry year is planning to hold their 55th anniversary reunion on 1 Sept 2012.


Template:Unreferenced section Template:See also

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  • James Boiling, cricketer
  • Arif Butt, International Martial Arts Champion
  • Tom Braddock Labour MP from 1945-50 of Mitcham (1898–1903)
  • Raymond Briggs, illustrator, best known for "The Snowman" (1945–52)
  • Robert Chetwyn, TV and theatre director (born 1933 Robert Suckling), works include "Private Schulz" and "The Irish RM" (1945–52)
  • Francis Kenneth Chorley CBE, Chairman from 1983-6 of Plessey and President from 1987-8 of the Institution of Electronic and Radio Engineers (IERE, and now part of the IET) (1937–44)
  • Oswald Clark CBE, Principal from 1987-92 of the Society of the Faith (1929–36)
  • Sir Derek Cons, President from 2003-6 of the Court of Appeal, Brunei (1939–46)
  • Gerry Cottle, owner Gerry Cottle's Circus, Moscow State Circus, Chinese State Circus, Wookey Hole Caves (1956-61; ran away to join the circus)
  • Jason Cundy, Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Tottenham football player.
  • Rt Rev John Dennis, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich from 1986–96 and father of Hugh Dennis (1942–49)
  • Michael Doerr, Group CEO from 1992-7 of Friends Provident (1946–53)
  • Sir Frank Edward Figgures CB CMG, first Secretary General from 1960-5 of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and Director General from 1971-3 of the National Economic Development Office (NEDO) (1921–28)
  • Steve Finnan, Liverpool and Ireland footballer (1989–1992)
  • Sir David Follett, Director from 1960-73 of the Science Museum (1919–26)
  • Edward Brian Tubby Hayes, widely regarded as one of the greatest British jazz instrumentalists (1946–51)
  • Neville Heath, murderer, executed in 1946 (1928–33)
  • Colin Hicks CB, Director General 1999-2006 of the British National Space Centre (BNSC), and President since 2006 of Eurisy (1957–64)
  • Prof Edward Hillhouse, Professor of Medicine since 2002 of the University of Leeds (1966–68)
  • Sir Gilmour Jenkins CB MC, President from 1953-4 of the Institute of Marine Engineers (1905–12)
  • Tariq Knight, TV illusionist (1996–2000)
  • Sir John Major KG, CH, Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997 (1954–59)
  • Dean McDonald English Professional Footballer (1999–2003)
  • Sir Morien Morgan CB, aeronautical engineer and Master from 1972-78 of Downing College, Cambridge (1924–31)
  • Prof Patrick O'Neill, Professor of Japanese from 1968-86 at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and President from 1980-1 of the British Association for Japanese Studies (1935–42)
  • Sir Frederick Page CBE, important aeronautical engineer and Chairman from 1966-73 of SEPECAT, who also was Chief Engineer at English Electric when it built the much-praised Lightning (1928–35)
  • Rt Rev Geoffrey Paul, Bishop of Bradford from 1981-3 (1932-9)
  • Chris Perry, Professional Footballer for Tottenham Hotspur, Charlton Athletic and others
  • Sir Alfred Pugsley OBE, Professor of Civil Engineering from 1944-68 at the University of Bristol, and President from 1957-8 of the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) (1914–21)
  • Bernarr Rainbow, FRSA, organist (1926–33)
  • John Rostill, musician, The Shadows third bass guitarist (1953–59)
  • Douglas Seale, actor and director (1925–32)
  • Maj Gen Peter Shapland CB MBE, Colonel Commandant from 1981-6 of the Royal Engineers (1934–41)
  • Stephen Shaw CBE, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman since 2001 and Director from 1981-99 of the Prison Reform Trust (1964–71)
  • David Sherlock CBE, Chief Executive from 1997-2001 of the Training Standards Council, and Chief Executive from 2000-7 of the Adult Learning Inspectorate (1955–60)
  • Keith Sutton, artist (1935–40)
  • Mick Talbot, musician
  • Frank Taylor Conservative MP from 1961-74 for Manchester Moss Side (1919–26)
  • Mark Thomas, Editor from 2003-7 of The People (1980–85)
  • David Ward, Ambassador from 1998-2002 to the Dominican Republic (1953–60)
  • Prof Joseph Webb, Professor of Zoology from 1960-80 at Westfield College (1926–33)



External links

Template:Schools and colleges in Merton