The Bluecoat Brotherhood
A uniform to unite.
In the 16th century a special type of charity boarding schools were founded, which consequently established a specific group of dress-defined brotherhoods: the "Bluecoat Schools”, named such because of the distinctive blue uniform originally worn by the pupils.
Blue was traditionally the colour of charity and a common colour for clothing at the time. The uniform included a blue “Frock Coat”, and yellow stockings with white bands. The schools were often established for male scholars from poor or disadvantaged backgrounds, to give access to decent education and progression.
Christ’s Hospital, the first documented bluecoat school, was for "the sons of decay'd gentlemen” and many of the boys were infants who were sent away to be looked after by nurses. Christ’s Hospital was founded in London and provided food, clothing, lodging and ‘a little learning for fatherless children and other poor men’s children’. The funding for such a reform was raised by the City of London as well as the Church, with additional support from local businesses and wealthy householders.
Later in history, other schools followed the footsteps of Christ’s Hospital. One of the schools that also provided education for society's poor boys is the well known Eton College, founded by King Henry IV as a charity school that provided education for poor boys who would then gain admission to King's College in Cambridge, founded by Henry IV too.
A common trait of these early English Boarding schools was the community they formed for the young men. Boys who came from tough conditions found fraternity and security together in their shared experiences and background. The “misfits” were finally given a chance to break out of their social legacy, defining themselves professionally whilst always being linked to a system which would forever support them like a family.