The King’s School is a highly selective British co-educational independent school for both day and boarding pupils in the English city of Canterbury in Kent. It is a member of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference and the Eton Group. It is held to be the oldest continuously operating school in the world, having been founded in 597 AD.
The school originated as a medieval cathedral school said to have been founded during the Late Antiquity in 597 AD a century after the Fall of the Roman Empire by Augustine of Canterbury considered the “Apostle to the English” and a founder of the English Church, therefore making it the world’s oldest extant school. This is based on the fact that St Augustine founded an abbey (within the current school’s grounds) where it is known that teaching took place. When the dissolution of the monasteries occurred in the reign of King Henry VIII, the school was refounded as The King’s School, Canterbury under the ownership and stewardship of the Dean and Chapter of the cathedral church.
Kingsdown House is the newest addition to the school. It was built on the site of what was formerly the Diocesan Payne Smith primary school, adjacent to the Precincts.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the school remained a grammar school. During the Victorian era the school began to establish itself as a “public school”. The school evacuated to Cornwall following the outbreak of World War II and received a new Royal Charter at the end of the war. Girls were admitted for the first time when the sixth form became coeducational during the 1970s. In 1990, the school became fully coeducational. The school is also the oldest charity in the UK.