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LIVES OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE
The E.J. Boys Archive

Added 7.4.12

ROYAL MILITARY ASYLUM, CHELSEA


The Asylum shortly after construction. It is unlikely that life for the boys was ever as idyllic as this scene suggests. See, for example, descriptions of duties and punishments at http://www.achart.ca/duke-of-york.htm.

Founded in 1803, the school's original purpose was to educate the orphans of British servicemen killed in the Napoleonic Wars of 1793-1815.

Between 1803 and 1909 the Royal Military Asylum was located near the Royal Hospital Chelsea at what is now known as the Duke of York's Headquarters (which currently serves as the Saatchi Gallery). Initially a co-educational boarding school (girls were removed to a sister asylum in Southampton in 1823), it was renamed The Duke of York's Royal Military School in 1892, and in 1909 relocated to Dover, Kent, where it still functions - incidentally, it returned to co-education in 1994.

A number of soldiers in the Light Brigade, or their sons or other close relations, are known to have attended the Asylum, including:



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Images from an article that appeared in The Graphic, 28 May 1888, shortly after our period. The last image, Orderly Boys, illustrates how "Life in the Duke of York's School is carried on in strict military style." The "monitorial system" adopted, where older boys exercised authority over younger ones, was also modelled on Public Schools of the day.


[Philip Boys, 7 April 2012]

For further information, or to express an interest in the project, please email the editors, Philip Boys & Roy Mills, via info@chargeofthelightbrigade.com