Merchiston Castle School

For other uses, see Merchiston (disambiguation).
Merchiston Castle School
Established 1833
Type Independent day and boarding
Headmaster Andrew R Hunter
Deputy Headmaster Peter Hall
Chairman of Governors Gareth Baird
Founder Charles Chalmers
Location Colinton Road
EH13 0PU
Coordinates: 55°54′42″N 3°15′13″W / 55.911729°N 3.253568°W / 55.911729; -3.253568
Local authority Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education
Edinburgh City
DfE number 558/1036
Staff 90 full and part time
Students 470 (approx)
Gender Boys
Ages 7–18
Houses Pringle House
Chalmers West
Chalmers East
Colours Navy, red & white             
Publication The Merchiston Messenger
The Merchistonian
HMIE Reports Report
Former pupils Merchistonians

Merchiston Castle School is an independent school for boys in the suburb of Colinton in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has around 470 pupils and is open to boys between the ages of 7 and 18 as either boarders or day pupils; it was modelled after English public schools. It is divided into Merchiston Juniors (ages 7–13), Middle Years (ages 13–16) and a Sixth Form.


In May 1833, Charles Chalmers took a lease of Merchiston Castle (the former home of John Napier, the inventor of logarithms) — which at that time stood in rural surroundings — and opened his academy, starting with thirty boys.[1]

Over time, the number of pupils grew and the Merchiston Castle became too small to accommodate the school. The governors decided to purchase 90 acres of ground at the Colinton House estate, four miles south-west of Edinburgh. In 1930 the school moved to Colinton.[2]

Three years later, in 1933, Merchiston celebrated its centenary, attended by the Duke and Duchess of York.[3] Fifty years on, in 1983, at a time of further expansion and with 350 boys on the roll, their daughter, now Queen Elizabeth II, visited the school for its 150th anniversary.[3]

Merchiston Castle School at Colinton

Academic performance

In 2014 81% of pupils achieved between A* and B at A Level.[4]

Sports and games

A range of sports and activities is available at the school; particularly in rugby union, which over 60 Merchistonians have played at international level. The Merchistonian Football Club for former pupils of the School was a founder member of the Scottish Rugby Union and was involved in the very first rugby international,[5] supplying three players.[6] The former 1st XV coach, Frank Hadden, who was at the school from 1983-2000, was the head coach of the Scottish national team from 2005-2009. The school has won the Scottish Schools U18 Rugby Cup five times; 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008.[7] Merchiston also participates, with the Edinburgh Academy, in the oldest continuous rugby football fixture in the world, the first being on 11 December 1858.[8]


The houses are:[9]

Alleged Sexual Harassment from the Faculty

Two previous staff members of the school are being investigated. According to Detective Inspector Morag Bruce, "Police in Edinburgh are carrying out enquiries into claims of historic abuse at Merchiston Castle School, which date back to the 1960s. "As a result of this ongoing investigation, two men, aged 62 and 69, have been charged and will appear at court at a later date." [10]

James Rainy Brown, a teacher at the school was accused of lewd comments to pupils. He committed suicide shortly after being notified of the allegations. [11]

Notes and references

  1. "Merchiston Castle School". Scottish Places. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  2. "Merchiston and Glenalmond. Edinburgh and Perthshire: The Public School Tradition. School Life in Admirable Surroundings". The Glasgow Herald. 4 February 1938. p. 10. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  3. 1 2 "Merchiston marks the arrival of Prince George". 14 November 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  4. "Top Scottish Independent Boys School". Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  5. Alex Gordon. "The first international rugby match". Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  6. Rugby Football History. "Historical Rugby Milestones 1870s". Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  7. Schools Rugby. "Scottish Schools Competitions". Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  8. Chris Thau. "The oldest running rugby fixture in the world". Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  9. "Key fact Sheet". Merchiston Castle School. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  10. Hutcheon, Paul (14 June 2015). "Two ex-staff charged amid abuse probe at top private school". Herald & Times Group. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  11. Grant, Graham (20 May 2013). "Teacher Found Hanged". MailOnline. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
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