A brief history
The Red Maids’ School is the oldest surviving girls’ school in the country. Since its foundation in 1634 by John Whitson, Lord Mayor and MP for Bristol, the school has been dedicated to creating opportunities for girls and young women.
In spite of accumulating enormous personal wealth as a merchant, John Whitson outlived all three of his daughters. Perhaps because of this, he chose to leave his estate for the foundation of a unique establishment – The Red Maids’ Hospital.
Whitson’s will stipulates that The Red Maids’ Hospital would be created for "40 poore women children" and that they would be "apparelled in red" – a cloth that he himself manufactured. His importance to the school is celebrated each year on Founder’s Day when the school processes through the streets of Bristol to a service at Bristol Cathedral where his will is read aloud.
The school has grown from the original 40 to over 500 students but still benefits from Whitson’s legacy, allowing us to provide scholarships and bursaries to girls from a wide range of backgrounds and income brackets. Additional donations and legacies now allow us to fund two 100% bursaries each year, making a Red Maids’ education available to any academically able girl.