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Far reaching scheme breaks ground at St Paul’s Cathedral School

Project to improve education across the City and secure the future of Choristership at St Paul’s Cathedral

Today at St Paul’s Cathedral School, Alderman of the City of London William Bowater Russell broke ground on the construction of a new boarding house for the Choristers of St Paul’s. In conjunction with Kilburn Nightingale Architects, planning permission for additions to this Grade I/II listed site have been secured and Borras Construction, who have extensive experience in both education and heritage projects, will undertake the construction. 

Built in the 1960s for just 40 children and residential staff, the School now educates over 200 day pupils alongside the Choristers and the wellbeing of all the children is compromised by the current cramped conditions. Without a new boarding space there is a very real threat to the Cathedral’s ability to maintain this exceptional choir.

The approved design raises three floors of accommodation above the playground on pillars: two floors for the Choristers, and a further floor as boarding staff accommodation. Kilburn Nightingale will also rebuild the existing unsympathetic dining hall extension, whose roof will be used as valuable additional play space and will connect to the main playground via a steel and timber bridge. The new buildings will be clad predominantly in Portland stone, echoing the 1960s school buildings and St Augustine’s Tower, as well as St Paul’s Cathedral itself.  

The new Chorister boarding house will replace the nave of St Augustine’s Church, linking the Grade I listed St Augustine’s Tower with the existing Grade II boarding house. St Augustine’s was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666, rebuilt to Christopher Wren’s design in 1680-96 and then bombed during World War II in 1941, leaving only the Wren tower. 

Simon Larter-Evans, Headmaster, says: “What started as an urgent need to improve the quality of life for Choristers has transformed into a far reaching project to improve education across the City. We look forward to transforming the School and ensuring the continuation of sung worship at St Paul’s Cathedral through the 21st century and beyond. The new boarding house will also prove an outstanding opportunity for sharing our music-making expertise with visiting choirs and we look forward to forging new partnerships further afield in years to come.”

The Very Revd Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral and Chair of Governors, says, “Choristership is central to the Cathedral’s life and its tradition of sung worship, which has been a mainstay of the Cathedral for over 800 years. This new development will provide much needed space for the School and enable us to extend the offer we can give to visiting choirs as well as enhancing support for our flagship music outreach programme”

Ben Kilburn says: “We are honoured to be working in the vicinity of one of the best known architectural landmarks in the world and to be filling the gap left by the war-time destruction of the main body of St Augustine’s Church with a new building providing much-needed additional space for the school. Our aim was to find a sensitive architectural language that would connect the new building both with Wren’s restrained baroque church tower and the classic brutalism of the adjacent 1960s school buildings.”

More information about the project can be found here