Over much of its long history, the Brewers’ Company has been involved in the governance of two schools, Aldenham School and Dame Alice Owen’s School, which were entrusted to the Brewers by their founders. Today the Brewers’ Company has three distinct areas of responsibility:
- The Company is the Trustee of Foundations which support the schools – the Foundation of Richard Platt and the Dame Alice Owen Foundation.
- At Aldenham, the Brewers’ Company and the Clerk of the Brewers’ Company are the two Members of the Aldenham Foundation (a company limited by guarantee); while at Dame Alice Owen’s School, the Brewers’ Company provide the majority (two out of three) of the Academy Trust Board.
- The Brewers’ Company remains responsible for appointing governors – 6 of 18 at the Aldenham Foundation and 13 of 23 at Dame Alice Owen’s School.
In 1595, Alderman Richard Platt, a former Master of the Brewers’ Company, obtained Letters Patent from Queen Elizabeth I to found a school in Aldenham in Hertfordshire. In 1599 he drew up his orders for the School and appointed the Brewers’ Company as Governors. Among the orders to be observed by the Headmaster, Platt demanded that they should not “gyve themselves to games nor haunting of Alehowses and Tavernes…” – a bit rich coming from a brewer! The School’s crest is the coat of arms of Richard Platt and it shares its motto, “In God is all our trust”, with the Brewers’ Company.
In the early 19th century, the old Tudor school was demolished and replaced by two new schools; a Lower School which provided an elementary education for the local population, and a “Grammar School” for fee paying boarders. In the 20th century developments continued as the School became co-educational and the ratio of boarders to day pupils changed. In 2003 Aldenham Prep School for boys and girls aged 5-11 was opened on the same site as the Senior School and in 2014 St Hilda’s Prep School for Girls in nearby Bushey was added to the growing Aldenham family. The three Schools together now form the Aldenham Foundation.
The Aldenham Foundation Today
Today Aldenham School is an independent day and boarding school for boys and girls. Still occupying its original site of more than 110 acres in the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside, it is a small, smart institution, always striving for excellence. Students benefit from individual attention in small classes, with a personal tutor for each pupil enabling them fully to develop their intellectual, physical and cultural talents. The school seeks to develop pupils within the framework of the Aldenham Attributes of Aspiration, Co-operation, Courage, Curiosity, Independence and Respect.
Aldenham Prep School and St Hilda's Prep School for Girls, which both also incorporate nurseries for young children, strive to create a caring yet challenging environment for students to allow them to develop and thrive, ready to take the next steps of their educational journey when they leave. In March 2021 Aldenham Prep School moved into a brand new building, Vincent House, named after Field Marshal the Lord Vincent, an Old Aldenhamian.
Dame Alice Owen’s School
The School was founded in 1613 under the will of Dame Alice Owen, a wealthy widow who had outlived three husbands, one of whom had been a brewer. In her will she entrusted governance of the school which she had recently established in Islington to ‘her friends’ the Master and Wardens of the Company of Brewers of London. The reason for the foundation of the School has become something of an institutional legend: the story goes that Alice Owen (then Alice Wilkes) was walking in a field in Islington when an arrow fired by a nearby youth struck her bonnet, carrying it off her head but miraculously leaving Alice herself uninjured; realising what a lucky escape she had had, Alice swore on the spot that should she ever come into money she would use it to establish a charitable foundation to educate the young and help the needy. The School’s crest is the coat of arms of the Brewers’ Company surmounted by crossed arrows representing the legend of Alice Owen.
Initially a boys’ school, followed by the addition of a girls’ school in 1886, Dame Alice Owen’s School became co-educational after moving to its present site in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire in 1973.
Dame Alice Owen’s School Today
Today Dame Alice Owen’s School is a partially-selective state academy with a national reputation for achievement and academic success, but the school is so much more than just its outstanding results. The school believes in helping its students to discover and continually develop their skills and talents, seeking to promote success and happiness through the OWEN’S way: Opportunity for all; Window on the world; Excellence in everything; Never stop learning; Supportive community. In 2017 Dame Alice Owen’s School was named the Sunday Times State Secondary School of the Year and in 2020 it was named Sunday Times Southeast State School of the Decade.
Part of the role of the Court of the Brewers' Company in governing their schools was an annual inspection. The Court would visit to check on the progress of the schools, view displays and demonstrations of sports and activities and take an inventory of the schools’ property. To this day the formal celebration at the end of the academic year where speeches are made and prizes are given out is called ‘Visitation’. Although no longer a formal inspection by the Court, the Master of the Brewers’ Company is still the guest of honour at the event and is invited to deliver a speech and awards prizes.
Each year, students from both secondary schools visit Brewers’ Hall to receive “Beer Money”. The Beer Money ceremony is believed to have evolved out of a beer allowance given to pupils in the early days of the schools. At this time, the Brewers’ Company were responsible for the wellbeing of the students and providing beer for them to drink was a key aspect of this, since beer was much safer than the dirty water available at the time. Later on, as the supply of drinking water became cleaner, money was substituted instead of beer itself. The ceremony in its current form, during which the Master presents each student with a commemorative crown (£5 coin), was established in 1985.
Livery Schools Link
The Brewers' Company is pleased to be involved with the Livery Schools Link Volunteering Platform. This technology driven concept lets teachers and schools put out requests for volunteers with ease and transparency.
Our Liverymen are invited to help with:
- Motivational career talks that inspire the next generation
- Supporting career days at a school
- Becoming a governor
The platform seeks to match volunteers with opportunities shared by schools and teachers.
You can find out more on the Livery Schools Link website.