The English Department is housed in several historic classrooms, such as the Maugham Library and the Walpole Room. All pupils study both English Language and English Literature up to IGCSE. In the Sixth Form, English Literature is one of the most popular subjects.
Many notable writers were educated at King’s, including Christopher Marlowe (KS 1579-81), Walter Pater (KS 1853-58), Somerset Maugham (KS 1884-89) and Hugh Walpole (KS 1896-98). Modern authors include Philip Ardagh (KS 1975-79), James Hamilton-Paterson (KS 1955-61), Charlotte Mendelson (KS 1989-91) and the Children’s Laureate, author of War Horse, Sir Michael Morpurgo (KS 1957-62).
The Marlowe Society holds regular talks and seminars. Theatre trips are a frequent occurrence along with visits to literary festivals.
Head of Department: Dr Lilla Grindlay
Head of Creative Writing: Mr Anthony Lyons
“I slipped naturally into an early feel for history by growing up in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral while boarding at the oldest school in England, The King’s School, Canterbury. History’s embrace was always snug and warm and has offered much understanding of the human odyssey.” Anthony Pitch (KS 1952-56) in his preface to The Burning of Washington (1998).
History is housed in the Lardergate building. All pupils study History in the Shells, and the subject becomes optional in the Removes and Fifth Form when modern world history is covered for IGCSE. In the Sixth Form a variety of periods from the 15th to the 20th centuries are studied.
The Department organises an annual trip to Ypres for the Shells where a focal point of the visit is to locate the graves of OKS who gave their lives in the First World War.
The Durnford Society organises historical talks, mostly in conjunction with the Canterbury branch of the Historical Association.
Head of Department:
Ms Claire Anderson
Art History is a well-established option in the Sixth Form. Former pupils who have gone on to become art historians and writers include Edward Lucie-Smith (OKS 1946-51) the prolific writer on art; Norman Bryson (OKS 1962-67) now Professor at the University of California, San Diego and the ceramicist Edmund de Waal (OKS 1977-1981).
The Art History department follows the Pre-U syllabus. Work in the classroom involves a thorough grounding in art historical terminology and formal analysis. Pupils are introduced to a range of works of art and design and study these in relation to their historical context. Pupils are encouraged to conduct independent research andregularly give presentations in class.
There is a weekly activity ‘Art Forum’ which introduces pupils to wider themes and issues related to art and design. There are also Art History talks each term where speakers are invited to present a topic of their research.
Throughout the year study days and visits to local sites and London galleries enable pupils to respond directly to painting, sculpture and architecture.
Head of Department:
Dr Holly Barton
Religious Studies & Philosophy
The Department is based in the Lattergate classrooms. Theology is the intellectual attempt to examine claims that humans have made within the context of religious belief. Philosophy is the intellectual discipline that asks questions about the purpose behind any such claims.
The Philosophical tradition of asking what and how we know about the world (epistemology), along with how we should behave as moral agents (moral philosophy), has had an enduring presence within humanity amidst the ancient grounds of Canterbury Cathedral. Questions as to the ultimate nature and existence of God have been formulated within the very Cathedral Precincts that the School occupies today.
The King’s School has a long and learned tradition of this type of intellectual enquiry with both saints and scholars being former members of the school. St Aldhelm and St John of Beverley were both educated in Canterbury and are commemorated in a stained glass window in the Memorial Chapel. Other notable former pupils include George Sale (OKS c1710) translator of the Koran, William Broughton (OKS 1797-1804) first Bishop of Australia, and Alan Watts (OKS 1928-32) who wrote about Buddhism while still at school.
In the Shells, all pupils follow a Religious Studies course focusing on the major world faiths in an atmosphere of sympathetic understanding. The IGCSE course is optional and covers religious, philosophical and ethical issues. The A Level course covers Religious Ethics and Developments in Christian Thought. Philosophy is available as an A Level course.
The Theology Discussion Group meets regularly and is led either by an outside speaker or by a member of the Religious Studies Department.
Head of Department:
Dr Dan Cardinal