Type Coat of Arms
In a broken pediment over door in high relief, a crest with three stags facing to left with right foreleg raised, and stars on a dark green painted background, with ornamentation of leaves on either side. The stags are grey but show traces of gold paint. There is a helmet on top surmounted by a stag's head. The helmet is painted cream and the stag's head gold. The motto is in a scroll beneath. A weathervane on top of the clock tower echoes the motif of the prancing stag.
The Greenwich branch of the Roan Family came from Northamptonshire and owned land in Greenwich. There are few details about the founder of the school, but he was possibly born in 1602 and died around 1644 as his will was proved on 4 March of that year. They were a family of servants of the Royal Household, with several of the name of John Roan, so there is some confusion about their identities. He was Yeoman of Harriers to King Charles I(1), and/or Yeoman of His Majesty's Greyhounds.
In the words of his will, Founder John Roan left his estate, 'to bring upp soe many poore towne-born children of East Greenwich aforesaid at schoole that is to reading, writing and cyphering, and each of them fortie shillings per annum towards their clothing until each of them shall accomplish the age of fifteene yeares'(2), a later leaving age than was common then.
Greenwich was at that time known as East Greenwich with Deptford being West Greenwich. There was poverty and rapid growth of the town, and the number of charities in Greenwich attracted people there, but there was no provision for the education of their children. John Roan left his estate to educate and clothe such children, as many as it would support.
John Roan had a son who died at a year old, but no other children. His will provided for his wife during her lifetime and then two daughters of a friend who had assisted him during the Civil War. After that the money was to be used to fund the school.
The full name was the Greycoat School of the Foundation of Mr John Roan, becoming after 1877 the Roan School for Boys.
Roan stipulated in his will that the children should wear 'on their upper garement the cognisance or crest of mee, John Roane'.(2) The uniform they wore consisted of a long, grey coat, breeches and a round hat, and they wore the crest in the form of an oval badge. This was in copper and depicted a stag's head facing to the left with a leafy twig in its mouth.(3)
In Hasted's History of Kent there is a reference to the Heraldic Visitation of Kent of 1619, in which the Roan family arms are described. 'Arg.: 3 stags in pale trippant proper attired or. Crest: stag's head erased proper, holding in its mouth an acorn of leaved vert'.(4) In the History of the Roan School this is described as 'three bucks trippant proper with a crest, a buck's head proper holding in its mouth an oak branch vert, acorn, or'.(5) These three stags and the stag's head are depicted on the crest on the present building.
In 1686 the first schoolmaster was appointed and in 1690 there were 20 boys in the school. Attendance at church was considered as important as attendance at the school. The quality of the education was often dubious. There was one schoolmaster. Some similar schools did not even have a schoolmaster who had been educated himself, although this was not the case at John Roan. There was criticism during the nineteenth century at the standard of education and in the reports are some amusing interviews between boys and inspectors which, if representative, indicate a very low level of instruction indeed. From 1853 government inspectors were invited to inspect the school in future and various reforms resulted.
The school had several moves and expansions before the present building of 1926, and a Girl's School was set up in 1814. In 1871 the London School Board (Education Act 1870) began to educate poor pupils, and entry to Roan's Upper Schools was now by competitive exam only. Half of the pupils were supposed to be educated for free, although this never actually happened. The Roan School for Boys moved from its 1877 premises to the present building on Maze Hill in 1926.
The foundation stone was laid on 6 December 1926 by Sir George Hume the Chairman of the London County Council. Alderman R S Jackson was Chair of the Governors and in charge of the proceedings. On Saturday 10 March 1927 the school was opened by the Rt Honourable H A L Fisher, the Warden of New College, Oxford.
Crest and arms of John Roan, founder of the school.
Incised in stone of architrave above front door:
THE ROAN SCHOOL
Incised in scroll across bottom of crest:
HONORE ET LABORE
On foundation stone to bottom right of doorway:
THIS STONE WAS LAID 6TH DECEMBER 1926 BY / ALDERMAN SIR GEORGE H. HUME KT, J. P., M.P. / CHAIRMAN OF THE LONDON COUNTY COUNCIL / ALDERMAN R.S. JACKSON J.P. CHAIRMAN OF THE GOVERNORS / J.W. ALTON BATCHELER CLERK / CONTRACTORS BOVIS LTD ARCHITECTS SIR BANISTER FLETCHER V.P.(?) RIBA ESI / PERCY B. DANNATT FRIBA ESI
PMSA recording information