British Schools Museum

British Schools Museum
41/42 Queen Street



All enquiries


01462 420144



01462 422133

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
venue representative image
baby changing facilities icon Food icon Guided tours icon Shop icon Study area icon Visual disability facilities icon Wheelchair access icon

1810 to 2010 - the British Schools site in Hitchin is over 200 years old! Today the British Schools Museum celebrates the history of elementary education in Britain from 1798 to the 1960s.

The listed buildings include the only surviving Lancasterian School-room (1837) where ONE master taught 300 boys, and the Galleried Classroom (1853) for 110 boys. Also includes refurbished Edwardian and WW2/1950s classrooms and include examples of children's work. The Girls' and Infants school (1857) includes display areas, cafe and gift shop. Headmaster's House is a listed mid-Victorian house has been restored and furnished to the late Victorian period.

Around the site there are Victorian toys to play with, and a Family Discovery Trail to explore this unique collection of buildings. Come and sit in the classrooms, use a dip pens, and discover what the headmaster kept in his parlour! Children can dress up in pinafores, bonnets and caps to experience early school days!

Follow us on Facebook

Venue Type:

Museum, Archive, Heritage site

Opening hours

Open to public between 14 February - 27 November 2012
Open Tuesdays 10am - 4pm; Saturdays 10am - 1pm; Sundays 2pm - 5pm

Visit website for information on extra openings and special events in 2012.

Schools groups, clubs, societies and private groups are accommodated throughout the year by arrangement. Please telephone for details.

Admission charges

£4.50 adults
£2 children (5 - 16 years)
Family ticket £12 (two adults and up to 4 children of school age)
Pre-booked group visits £7 incl refreshments and a Victorian lesson, or an extended talk on the history of elementary education.

Additional info

Regrettably the Victorian architects and builders did not cater for visitors with disabilities, but we have greatly improved accessibility by installing slopes and ramps where steps used to be. We regret that the Gallery Classroom is not accessible to wheelchairs. The Headmaster's House has one step to negotiate.

The Museum houses the Jill Grey Collection of Childhood and Educational Material. Around 35,000 items related to education of children from the 17th Century collected by Hitchin resident Jill Grey (one-time personal assistant to Frank Whittle). There have been many later additions to the museums resources acquired after the death of Jill Grey.

Collection details

Toys and Hobbies, Social History, Archives

Key artists and exhibits

  • School Museum
  • Schoolroom Museum
  • Schools Museum
  • British Schools
  • British & Foreign Schools Society
  • Jill Grey Collection of Childhood and Education Memorabilia.
  • Benchmark Collection of childhood material.
  • Joseph Lancaster - education for the working poor
  • Monitorial Teaching
  • Lancasterian Schoolroom
  • Galleried Classroom
  • A unique collection of 19th and 20th Century Schoolrooms.
  • Museum of Victorian life and childhood - toys to play with.
  • Victorian School lessons for School groups.
  • Early elementary education and educationalists.
  • Educational, School Registers and Archives.
  • Victorian Toys
  • Postcards
  • Cartes de Visite
Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.

2014 Opening times at the British Schools Museum

  • 18 February — 25 November 2014 *on now

Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Sundays 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. N>B> Last entry time for the museum is 30 minutes before closing time but the shop and cafe (free entry) will be open until the published closing times. We also open on Wednesdays in the Easter and Summer school holidays. Watch our website for details: We recommend that you allow at least two hours for your visit. The fist Sunday each month features a Victorian lesson experience at no extra charge beginning 2.30 p.m. & 3.30 p.m. Clean your fingernails, brush your hair and sample the joys of a Victorian lesson under the strict tutelage of the School-ma'am.

Suitable for

  • Any age


There is a small admission charge: £4.50 for adults, £2 for children over 5. Under 5s free. Or get a family ticket for just £12.

May Day Celebrations at the British Schools

  • 5 May 2014 10:30am-12:30pm

Maypole 7 country dancing, plus a visit by Offley Morris Men.

Suitable for

  • Especially for children
  • Family friendly


Children must be accompanied by an adult. Contact 01462 420144. Website:

Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Sundays with the Family

On the last Sunday of each month, enjoy events specifically for families to enjoy together at the British Schools Museum, for example experience a Victorian school lesson.
Times vary according to the event so check the website for specific details.

How to obtain

Admission fees apply to the museum. Check the website for details of specific events and extra charges. Booking is essential for most events so call the museum on 01462 42014 in advance.

Victorian Schooldays at the British Schools Museum

School classes dress as Victorian children for a sample Victorian school lesson, then visit the museum room with worksheets to work with displays of toys and home life. They then sit and discuss "treasures" with a "Victorian" lady or gentleman. Wednesdays and Thursdays are preferred days, from 9 or 9:30 am to around 1pm. Space available for pupils bringing packed lunches.

How to obtain

Please telephone the Education department on 01462 420144 to determine availability, and you will be sent a data pack and form.