Loretto School
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Loretto School

Loretto School
Linkfield Road

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TypeIndependent day and boarding school
Established1827; 193 years ago (1827)
FounderThomas Langhorne
HeadmasterGraham Hawley
Age0 to 18
HousesSchool, Pinkie, Hope, Seton, Balcarres, Holm, Eleanora Almond
Colour(s)Langhorne, Tristram, Greenlees, Mackintosh.
PublicationThe Lorettonian
Former pupilsOld Lorettonians

Loretto School, founded in 1827, is an independent boarding and day school for boys and girls aged 0 to 18. The campus occupies 85 acres (34 ha) in Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland.[2]


The school was founded by the Reverend Thomas Langhorne in 1827. Langhorne came from Crosby Ravensworth in Westmorland. He named the school for Loretto House, his then home, which was itself named for a medieval chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto which had formerly stood on the site of the school. The school was later taken over by his son, also Thomas Langhorne. The last link with the Langhorne family was Thomas' son John, who was a master at Loretto from 1890 to 1897, and later headmaster at John Watson's Institution.[3][4] Loretto was later under the headmastership of Dr. Hely Hutchinson Almond from 1862 to 1903.[5]

In the 1950s the school increased the accommodation in science laboratories, established arts as a part of the curriculum and introduced the chapel service as part of the daily school life.[6]

The school originally accepted only boys, but in 1981 girls joined the sixth form and in 1995 the third form, so making the school fully co-educational by 1995.[7]

Loretto school's Pinkie House, built in the Scots baronial style

In 2001 the film director Don Boyd published an article in The Observer detailing his systematic sexual abuse by a teacher in the school in the 1960s.[8] The revelation led to further allegations about the teacher from other former pupils and subsequent calls for the teacher's prosecution.[9][10] The teacher, then 79 years old, was charged, but the case was dropped on the grounds of his ill health.[11][12] The teacher subsequently died.[9] In 2017, it was announced that the school would be investigated as part of Lady Smith's inquiry into child sexual abuse.[13]

In 2010 the school was sued by an employee for sex discrimination: the employee felt she had been treated unfavourably following the announcement of her pregnancy. Judge Stewart Watt rejected the sexual discrimination claim asserting that 'there appears to be have been no ulterior motive to make [the employee] redundant during the review of the department; the only motive was to try to better organise the school', but he stated that the school had breached maternity regulations. The tribunal Judge was clear in his findings that 'the school at no point acted with an ulterior or blameworthy motive and that the breach of maternity leave regulations was quickly corrected.'[14]

In 2013, Loretto School was informed by the Scottish Charity Regulator that it did not qualify for charitable status for failing to provide sufficient public benefit.[15] Subsequently, the school modified its means-tested bursary provision and has maintained full qualification as a registered charity ever since.[16]

Former Scotland rugby captain Jason White took his first steps into teaching with a role at the school in September 2017.[17] In the same month it was announced that Jacob Slater, 15, a pupil at the school, would appear in the American-Scottish historical action drama Outlaw King about Robert the Bruce and the Wars of Scottish Independence, which will be distributed by Netflix.[18]

Jamie Parker, former Loretto School pupil and Royal Academy of Dramatic Art student, was named Best Actor at the Olivier Awards in April 2017 for his performance as Harry Potter.[19]

In September 2018, the employment of a teacher at the school was terminated who had been accused of inappropriate behaviour towards students. The investigation did not relate to current pupils of the school. There was no Police case in association with the matter.[20][21]

Loretto School was listed as the fourth highest Scottish independent school in the 2018 A level league tables.[22]


Loretto School is set in an 85-acre (34 hectare) campus and is made up of three parts: the Nursery for children aged 0 - 5, the Junior School ('The Nippers') for children aged 5 - 12, and the Senior School for those aged 12 - 18.[23] Pupils attend as boarders, flexi-boarders and day pupils and are all attached to a specific house. Houses include Schoolhouse (day pupils), Seton House (boys' boarding), Holm House (girls' boarding), Balcarres House (girls' boarding), Pinkie House (boys' boarding), Hope House (boys' boarding) and Eleanora Almond House. It was announced on 27 June 2018 that Eleanora Almond House would be temporarily closed at the end of the academic year for renovation and extension.[24]

Loretto Golf Academy

The Loretto Golf Academy, established in 2002, offers golf to over 250 pupils using the local links courses and the School's new Indoor Golf Centre.[25]


Notable alumni

For a more inclusive list see Category:People educated at Loretto School, Musselburgh

Notable Old Lorettonians include:


The motto of the school, Spartam nactus es, hanc exorna, means literally "You have obtained Sparta: embellish it". The Latin is a mistranslation by Erasmus of a line from a Greek play, Telephus by Euripides. The words have been interpreted as meaning "You were born with talents: develop them" or "Develop whatever talents you have inherited".[62]

In the late 18th century, the words were quoted by Edmund Burke in his pamphlet, Reflections on the Revolution in France:[63]

"There is something else than the mere alternative of absolute destruction, or unreformed existence. Spartam nactus es; hanc exorna. This is, in my opinion, a rule of profound sense, and ought never to depart from the mind of an honest reformer. I cannot conceive how any man can have brought himself to that pitch of presumption, to consider his country as nothing but carte blanche, upon which he may scribble whatever he pleases ... a good patriot, and a true politician, always considers how he shall make the most of the existing materials of his country. A disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman.[63]


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  3. ^ The Langhorne Memorial, The Levite, Vol IV, No.7 (Spring 1927)
  4. ^ John Langhorne's grandfather (also John Langhorne, master of Giggleswick school) was the cousin and neighbour of Thomas Langhorne senior. See Crosby Ravensworth archives
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  8. ^ a b Don Boyd (19 August 2001). "Don Boyd: A suitable boy". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Sexually abused during his time at Loretto School, Don Boyd returns to Edinburgh and launches a book incorporating his abuse". The Scotsman. 25 August 2010. Retrieved 2012.
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  • Marshall, Howard; Jordon, J.P. (1951). Oxford v Cambridge, The Story of the University Rugby Match. London: Clerke & Cockeran.

External links


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