Highgate School treasure trove including World War Two exploded bomb on show for first time at new museum

One of the capital’s most prestigious schools has opened a public museum displaying never-before-seen items from its rich 450-year history - including a charter signed by Elizabeth I and shrapnel from a World War Two bomb.

For years, a treasure trove of antique artefacts was hidden from sight deep within the archives of Highgate School, in North Road, Highgate Village.

However, unique items from the private school’s past are now on show for the first time after its £45,000 museum was officially opened on Thursday to mark the school’s 450th birthday this year.

The museum is open to the general public, who can look around the mix of permanent and temporary displays every Saturday morning during term-time.

Headteacher Adam Pettitt said: “It will open the doors, literally, to Highgate School, that mysterious brick Tardis which is a striking and distinctive feature of the village street scape but which is unknown to any other than our pupils and staff.

“We believe, we hope, that the museum will draw the village community in and anchor the school even more firmly in Village life.”

The museum’s oldest item dates back to January 1565, the year Queen Elizabeth I agreed to sign a royal charter allowing Sir Roger Cholmeley to found a school for “the education, institution and instruction of boys and youths in grammar”.

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Other relics include shrapnel from a V-1 flying bomb, which exploded in the school’s playing field 10 minutes after pupils had gone inside after break time.

Poignant letters of a First World War soldier who went onto to become a master at the school are also on display.

Works of art by Highgate artists line the walls of the museum, housed in the school’s oldest building The Tabernacle in Southwood Lane.

The school can now be classed among the likes of elite boarding schools Eton and Harrow, which also have museums.

More than £45,000 was donated towards the opening of the museum and the money raised will pay to preserve the artefacts for years to come.

Funds will also be used to create an online “virtual museum” and smartphone app.