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 poor women and 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 have recently allowed us to fund two new 100% bursaries each year, making a Red Maids’ education available to any academically able girl.
Leading the Way-Independent Schools
We are the country's oldest existing girls' school, founded in 1634 due to the inspiration and vision of Mayor and MP of Bristol, John Whitson.
The school experience and curriculum in the 21st century has developed well beyond the imagination of our founder; we offer opportunities in science and the technologies and in many other subjects that he could never have envisaged. Every member of the Red Maids' community takes pride in belonging to a shared endeavour which stretches almost 380 years into the past and looks forward confidently to the future. Many people with links to Bristol will have family or friends who are proud to have been Red Maids'.
Today The Red Maids' School is a leading centre of girls' education which continues the vision and spirit of our founder, to empower and equip our young women to make their mark in the world. We are without doubt one of the leading independent schools in Bristol and the UK.
At The Red Maids’ School we aim to develop the academic ability of girls from many different backgrounds and cultures and to fulfil their potential by equipping them with the skills and knowledge to succeed in a changing world.
It is our aim that girls here will be happy, independent and ambitious students who enjoy learning and who are able to make a positive impact on their world.
We encourage them in their social, personal, moral and spiritual development and we foster a sense of community through a friendly and caring environment, a strong pastoral system and an extensive range of extra-curricular activities.
These aims are underpinned by a commitment to their professional and personal roles as young women connected to a global society, and by a strong awareness of the unique Red Maids’ heritage.